1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Westinghouse, George

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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica
Westinghouse, George
See also George Westinghouse on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

WESTINGHOUSE, GEORGE (1846-1914), American inventor and manufacturer, was born at Central Bridge, N.Y., Oct. 6 1846. In 1856 his father moved to Schenectady, N.Y., and began to manufacture farm implements. The boy early displayed inventive talent and when 15 designed and constructed a rotary engine. He entered the Union army in the Civil War in 1863 but in 1864 was appointed third assistant engineer in the navy. At the close of the war he resigned and entered Union College, but in his sophomore year, on the advice of the president, he withdrew to devote his time to mechanical invention. In 1865 he had invented a device for replacing derailed cars and also a reversible steel railway frog, but from lack of capital was unable to develop a business in Schenectady. In 1868 he went to Pittsburgh and arranged for the manufacture of his devices, which he himself sold to the railways. In 1869 he patented his air-brake and organized the Westinghouse Air Brake Co. In 1872 he invented the automatic air-brake (see 4.414). This brake was quickly adopted by railways in America and gradually in Europe. He also developed a system of railway signals, operated by compressed air with the assistance of electrical contrivances. In 1885 he acquired certain patents for alternating current machinery. In June 1912 he received the Edison gold medal for “meritorious achievement in connexion with the development of the alternating current system for light and power.” In 1893 this system was installed at the Chicago Exposition. Later his Pittsburgh establishment built dynamos for the power plants at Niagara Falls, for the rapid transit systems of New York City, and for the London Metropolitan railway. Westinghouse also devised a method for conveying gas through long-distance pipes thus making it a practicable fuel. In 1910 he was elected president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He died in New York March 12 1914. He was president of some 30 corporations with a capital of about $200,000,000, employing more than 50,000 persons.