The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Siemens, Ernst Werner von

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SIEMENS, zē'mĕns, Ernst Werner von, German engineer and electrician: b. Lenthe, Hanover, 13 Dec. 1816; d. Berlin, 6 Dec. 1892. He entered the Prussian artillery in 1834 and took out his first patent in 1842 for a process of silver and gold electro plating. In 1842 he went to England with his brother, Karl Wilhelm, to establish the business known there by the firm name of Siemens Brothers. In 1844 he took charge of the artillery workshops in Berlin. He aided in developing the telegraphic system in Prussia, and discovered the insulating properties of gutta-percha, which is utilized in underground and submarine cables. He left the army in 1849 and devoted his energies to electrical business, particularly the construction of telegraph apparatus. The first great continental telegraph line, that between Berlin and Frankfort-on-the-Main, was built by him in 1849, and the firm of Siemens Brothers laid six Atlantic cables. The pneumatic-tube system was invented by him and also various modifications of self-acting dynamos. In 1886 he gave 500,000 marks to found an institute of physics and technology. He published ‘Positive Vorschläge zu einem Patentgesetz’ (1869); ‘Gesammelte Abhandlungen and Vorträge’ (1881); ‘Wissenschaftliche und technische Arbeiten (1889-91); ‘Lebenserinnerungen’ (1892). His collected ‘Papers’ were translated into English (1892-99), also his ‘Recollections’ (New York 1893).