George Westinghouse

Topics: Alternating current, Railway air brake, Thomas Edison Pages: 2 (661 words) Published: October 27, 2013
George Westinghouse was an American entrepreneur and engineer. He was responsible for the introduction and development of altering current for light and power. Westinghouse invented the railway air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry. He was one of Thomas Edison’s main rivals in the early implementation of the American electricity system. This man founded 60 companies, eventually receiving over 100 patents for his work with the desire to turn ideas into enterprises. George Westinghouse was a highly productive inventor who influenced the course of history by enabling the growth of the railroads through his inventions and by promoting the use of electricity for power and transportation. He was one out of the many famous, important and successful people during the Second Industrial Revolution.

Westinghouse was born in Central Bridge, New York, on October 6, 1846, was the eighth of 10 children. His father established a shop for agricultural machinery and small steam engines when the family moved to Schenectady, New York. In 1865, after serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, and briefly attending Union College, Westinghouse returned to his father’s shop where he developed and patented a rotary steam engine. He invented a devise for placing derailed freight cars back on their tracks that same year.

His continuing interest in railroads led him to his first major invention. After observing the problems and limitations of stopping trains by manually-operated brakes, he devised a method of using brakes that works by compressed air. Westinghouse turned this idea into the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, founded in 1869. The air brake became widely accepted with additional features added to the design, and the Railroad Safety Appliance Act of 1893 made air brakes compulsory on all American trains. In time, the use of air brakes spread to Europe, and under Westinghouse’s lead, brake equipment became standardized.

There was a vast increase in rail...
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