George Westinghouse

Powering the World


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About the Book

While most know Thomas Edison for his invention of the light bulb, his counterpart, George Westinghouse, is too often overlooked. Westinghouse, however, became known as one of the most prolific inventors and businessmen of the Industrial Revolution. This biography reveals the man whose teachers suspected was mentally disabled and who quit college after one semester, yet founded more than 60 different companies employing 50,000 people, and received 361 U.S. patents. He later fought the “Battle of the Currents” (AC vs. DC) with Thomas Edison and won. Westinghouse, with his engineers, provided power and light for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. They harnessed the massive power of Niagara Falls and sent it over wires to light Buffalo and eventually the Northeast. His electric engines powered trains, and his air brakes stopped them. His scientific contributions forever changed the world.

About the Author(s)

William R. Huber worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories and other major American technology companies before becoming an expert witness in patent litigation cases. He lives near Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

William R. Huber
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 291
Bibliographic Info: 115 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8692-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4414-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by Gary Hoover 1
Preface 3
Introduction 9
1. Origins 11
2. Working on the Railroad 19
3. It’s Hard to Stop a Train 22
4. The Smoky City 27
5. Straight Air Brakes 31
6. Automatic Air Brakes 37
7. What’s a Wilmerding? 44
8. Two Trains, One Track 53
9. Solitude 60
10. Gas Pains 67
11. More Energy 77
12. AC or DC 81
13. Assembling the Pieces 83
14. The Greatest Inventor Who Ever Lived 90
15. The Greatest Experimenter Who Ever Lived 99
16. Bankers Always Win 113
17. Dying for Electricity 118
18. The Worst of Times 126
19. The White City 135
20. Over a Barrel at Niagara 144
21. New Lands to Conquer 158
22. Rotary Redux 165
23. Trolleys and Trains 171
24. Panic! 181
25. Homes and Family 188
26. Retirement, Honors, and Death 202
27. Memorials 211
28. The Next Century 217
Appendix I—Westinghouse Family Genealogy 223
Appendix II—Automatic Air Brake Operation 225
Appendix III—Electrical Engineering 101 229
Appendix IV—How Does an Induction Motor Work? 235
Appendix V—How Does a Turbine Operate? 239
Appendix VI—Patent Law Primer 241
Chapter Notes 243
Bibliography 259
Index 271

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Huber is a Pittsburgh native and clearly an admirer of Westinghouse, his contributions to Pittsburgh, and his relatively humane treatment of employees. Huber writes well: compared to the previous biographies, this one is better illustrated and more informative…. The detailed, illustrated appendixes included in the book will assist readers wishing to understand Westinghouse’s technical accomplishments…recommended”—Choice

• “Excellent…filled with evocative pictures, maps and detailed diagrams…Huber unfolds a richly textured story about how one man’s persistence almost invariably paved a successful path to solving daunting problems.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette