George Westinghouse (October 6, 1846 – March 12, 1914) was an American inventor and businessman who was instrumental in the development of the American railway system and the AC current. He was born in Central Bridge, New York, and spent much of his early life working as an engineer and inventor.
Westinghouse’s most notable contribution to the railway industry was the development of air brakes. Before the invention of air brakes, trains were equipped with mechanical brakes that were unreliable and prone to failure. Westinghouse’s air brakes were a game changer, making trains safer and more reliable. They were quickly adopted by railroads around the world and are still in use today.
Westinghouse was also a prolific inventor, with over 400 patents to his name. He was particularly interested in the application of electricity and was a strong advocate for alternating current (AC) technology propelled by Nikola Tesla. He was in direct competition with Thomas Edison, who was a strong proponent of direct current (DC) technology. The battle between AC and DC was known as the “War of Currents” and Westinghouse ultimately emerged as the victor, with AC becoming the dominant form of electrical power transmission.
In addition to his work in the railway industry, Westinghouse was also a successful businessman. He founded the Westinghouse Electric Company in 1886, which became one of the largest electrical companies in the world. He was known for his innovative management style and was a strong advocate for worker safety. He was also a major philanthropist and gave generously to various charitable causes throughout his life.
Westinghouse’s impact on the world was not limited to the railway and electrical industries. He was also involved in the development of natural gas pipelines and was a major investor in the oil and gas industry. He was a strong believer in the importance of science and technology and was a major supporter of the arts and humanities.
Despite his great success, Westinghouse was not without his controversies. He was accused of monopolizing the electrical industry and was involved in several legal battles over patents and business practices. Nevertheless, he remains an important figure in American history and is remembered as a symbol of American entrepreneurship and innovation.
Interesting facts about George Westinghouse:
- Westinghouse was a veteran of the Civil War: George Westinghouse was a veteran of the Civil War, having served in the Union Army as a young man. He was wounded in battle and was awarded a medal for his service. This experience had a profound impact on his life and shaped his views on the importance of technology and innovation.
- Westinghouse was a strong advocate for women’s rights: Westinghouse was a strong advocate for women’s rights and was one of the first employers to offer equal pay and opportunities to women in the workplace. He believed that women had the same capabilities as men and that they should be given equal opportunities to succeed.
- He was a supporter of Nikola Tesla: Westinghouse was a strong supporter of Nikola Tesla and provided him with the financial backing and resources he needed to pursue his ideas. Tesla was one of the most important inventors of his time and Westinghouse’s support was critical to his success.
- Westinghouse was a major investor in the oil and gas industry: In addition to his work in the railway and electrical industries, Westinghouse was also a major investor in the oil and gas industry. He was a strong believer in the importance of natural resources and saw the potential for oil and gas to provide a reliable source of energy for the future.
- He was a collector of rare books: Westinghouse was a collector of rare books and had an extensive collection of books on science, technology, and history. He was particularly interested in the works of Leonardo da Vinci and was a strong advocate for the importance of art and culture in society.
In conclusion, George Westinghouse was an American inventor and businessman who made significant contributions to the railway and electrical industries. He was known for his innovative ideas and his commitment to worker safety, and was a major philanthropist who gave generously to various charitable causes throughout his life. Despite his controversies, he remains an important figure in American history and is remembered as a symbol of American entrepreneurship and innovation.