George Westinghouse

George Westinghouse

American inventor
Date of Birth: 06.10.1846
Country: USA

Biography of George Westinghouse

George Westinghouse Jr. was an American entrepreneur and engineer known for his inventions, particularly in the field of electrical engineering. He was born in Central Bridge, New York and displayed exceptional technical and entrepreneurial abilities from a young age. After the start of the Civil War, Westinghouse enlisted in the army as a volunteer but was convinced by his parents to return home. In 1863, he rejoined the army and served as a corporal in a cavalry regiment. He later transferred to the navy in December 1864.

George Westinghouse

Westinghouse completed his first invention, a steam engine, at the age of 19. By the age of 21, he had created a device that allowed derailed train cars to be returned to the tracks and a special mechanism for simplified railroad switching. In 1867, he married Marguerite Erskine Walker, and they remained married for 47 years, with one child born during their marriage.

One of Westinghouse's most famous inventions, the air brake for trains, was inspired by a horrific railway accident that he witnessed. In 1869, at the age of 22, he proposed a fundamentally new braking system based on a unified pneumatic line that ran through the entire train.

Over time, Westinghouse became increasingly interested in electrical systems. After studying Thomas Edison's existing work, he believed that Edison's systems were not entirely successful and did not scale well. In Westinghouse's opinion, alternating current (AC) systems had fewer drawbacks compared to direct current (DC) systems. His study of transformers further solidified his commitment to AC power.

Although the development of the first efficient AC model took time, Westinghouse and his colleagues eventually presented prototypes to the world. Their AC systems proved to be a formidable force in the "war of currents," especially with the help of Nikola Tesla's published work.

As electric networks expanded, Westinghouse shifted his focus to the production of electric power. At the time, hydroelectric power plants and steam turbines were commonly used but were not very efficient. Westinghouse developed fundamentally new variations of turbines and achieved significant success.

George Westinghouse continued his active inventing career at least until 1907 when he remained a prominent figure in business and engineering. However, due to the financial panic of 1907, he lost his leadership position, and by 1911 he was no longer involved in entrepreneurial activities. He passed away on March 12, 1914, in New York at the age of 67. As a veteran of the Civil War, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.