Inventors and Patents From Schenectady, New York
If you’ve never heard of Schenectady, New York, you’re missing out on some history. The city’s history is rich with innovation. The Great Migration brought new immigrants to the city, including African Americans and Eastern Europeans. The city was also home to several major industries, including General Electric and the American Locomotive Company.
Thomas Edison’s mother was a Presbyterian and her father was a minister in the local church. His parents emphasized education. They were adamant that his son go to college and earn a degree. Thomas Edison attended the Boston Tech University and later moved to New York City.
Thomas Edison patented the phonograph, a method of recording sound as indentations in paraffin-coated paper and reproducing it by moving the paper under a stylus. The phonograph took many years to commercialize. Edison then turned his attention to creating a safe, inexpensive electric light. Scientists had been grappling with the issue of how to replace gaslight with electricity for 50 years. He set up the Edison Electric Light Company and began research and development to make this goal a reality.
The city is full of history. It is the home of Thomas Edison, founder of the General Electric Company, and George Westinghouse, inventor of the air brakes. Schenectady’s American Locomotive Works produced virtually every steam, diesel, and freight locomotive. The city is also home to the Stockade, the first historic district in New York State.
Edison developed the first practical incandescent light bulb in 1879. His invention required a new electrical distribution system. This new system allowed him to install lighting systems in major cities. His patent, issued in 1881, also covered the method of manufacturing carbon filaments for light bulbs.
Edison was a prolific inventor who had many achievements. His contributions to the world’s electrical industry include the invention of the light bulb and the development of direct electrical current. He also helped create a dedicated industrial research lab. The New York State Library has a special exhibit on Thomas Edison and other early harnessers of electricity. Other inventors celebrated in the exhibit include George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, and the General Electric Company.
Schenectady’s population doubled by 1900, when GE transformed the city from a farming community into a world-famous industrial hub. GE is a part of the city’s history and has an archive of 1.6 million photographs. You can see Thomas Edison and his team of innovators in the early days of steam turbine technology in old black and white photographs.
Thomas Edison was 75 years old when he arrived in Schenectady. He was accompanied by his assistant, Henry Steinmetz, who was 57 years old. These two men were vital to GE’s success in the twentieth century.
Nikola Tesla was a fellow engineer and inventor. Nikola Tesla, who came to America from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, had a similar ambition. Tesla had a similar dream of developing alternating current to direct current. The two men eventually fell out, and Tesla’s patents were eventually bought by George Westinghouse. Today, they are worth millions.
Inventors in the city had a major impact on the advancement of electrical technology. After the invention of the alternating current (AC) system, electric lighting became the dominant source of illumination. The development of AC was made possible through the use of electrical motors. Eventually, small central stations dotted the U.S. cities. Meanwhile, Edison and Westinghouse fought each other and developed a competing system, based on alternate current.
Other people from Schenectady were integral in the creation of the electric light bulb. Charles Batchelor was responsible for the construction of the Edison exhibit at the Paris Exposition. Francis Upton managed the factory. His mechanical sense and versatility made him a valuable employee. In 1881, he was put in charge of the Edison Lamp Works. He also became the first president of the Edison Pioneers.
In the early 1880s, Thomas Edison was responsible for a variety of innovations. One of his most famous inventions was the phonograph, which he presented to the public when he was thirty years old. This invention made him famous and earned him the nickname “Wizard of Menlo Park.” His deafness was not a hindrance; he began his career as a telegraph operator despite being deaf. As he gained popularity, he was able to make a successful living as a telegraph operator.
Despite his humble beginnings, Edison’s early experiments led him to global fame. A man’s mind can never be too advanced to come up with a brilliant idea. In the early days of electricity, Thomas Edison was a trailblazer who paved the way to modern technology and society. His West Orange laboratory is now open to the public as the Thomas Edison National Historical Park.
George Westinghouse was a prominent inventor who invented a number of industries. His vision for electricity transformed the world and his company became one of the most trusted companies. Its innovations included the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine.
In 1865, George Westinghouse was only 19 years old when he was awarded his first patent. He had invented the rotary steam engine, but found it impractical and tried another invention: the water meter. He also invented a car replacer, which steered railroad cars back onto the tracks.
The city of Schenectady was home to many inventors, including Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Westinghouse had an industrial baron’s lifestyle. He cultivated friendships with presidents and sponsored up-and-coming inventors. He had a winter residence in Washington, DC and a summer retreat in Massachusetts. He also financed streetcar systems in Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
Westinghouse was born in Central Bridge, New York. He joined the Union army at age 15 and later went on to become an industrialist. He later lived in Pittsburgh. During his life, Westinghouse patented the first rotary steam engine and was a major industrialist.
Westinghouse died on March 12, 1914. After his death, the Westinghouse Electric Company continued to market his alternating current system and electrical devices. The company became the largest in the world, and Westinghouse’s inventions were used in many places across the world.
Westinghouse was born in a small village near Schenectady, New York. His father, also named George Westinghouse, was an inventor. His father ran a small shop and invented various machines. The shop still stands near General Electric’s Schenectady works.
Westinghouse is a prolific inventor and industrialist who paved the way for electricity in the United States. He also served in the Union Army and Navy and patented several devices for railroads. The alternating current power system is his most notable invention and is now used in power plants all over the world. The Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company has over four hundred patents, making it the largest electric manufacturing organization in the U.S.
Westinghouse’s highly successful enterprise had its share of hardships, however. After becoming chairman of the Westinghouse Electric Company, he took a leave of absence from the company. He never returned to his position, and the company underwent a second bankruptcy in 1907. During this time, Westinghouse suffered a great deal of financial difficulty. The company eventually went bankrupt and Westinghouse was forced to seek financial backing and eventually retire.
Another invention credited to Westinghouse was the air brake system for railroad cars. This new system allowed locomotive engineers to stop trains with fail-safe accuracy. The system was patented in 1869. Westinghouse’s air-brake company went on to manufacture the air-brake system, which greatly improved railroad safety. His inventions changed the railroad industry and led to more safety standards in North America, Canada, and Europe.