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George Westinghouse Jr. Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: October 6, 1846 in Schoharie, New York
Died: March 12, 1914 in New York City, New York
Biography | show moreshow less
By the age of 25, GEORGE WESTINGHOUSE, JR. (1846-1914) was a Civil War veteran who had already introduced his first major invention, air brakes that allowed an entire train to stop at once (1868); previously, the brakes on each car had to be applied before the train would slow down. After patenting this invention, he began his career as an industrialist by establishing the first of his 60 companies, the Westinghouse Air Brake Company (1869). Although direct current was the standard form of power in the U.S., Westinghouse learned that Europeans were experimenting with alternating current. Implementing their original plans, he and three engineers improved the transformer and united this device with Nikola Tesla's AC motor. In 1886, he organized the Westinghouse Electric Company to manufacture and market his new high-voltage alternating-current single-phase system for the transmission of electricity, the primary form of electricity now used in the U.S. Westinghouse, who served as President of the Westinghouse Electric Company from 1886-1911, also patented a number of devices for practicable and economical transmission of natural gas. In 1905, an internal review found sloppy management and financial irregularities in the books of the Equitable Life Assurance Company, the largest insurance firm in the US. Thomas Ryan, the firm's principal shareholder, persuaded George Westinghouse, former President Grover Cleveland, and New York Supreme Court judge Morgan J. O'Brien, to join the company's Board of Directors and oversee a housecleaning which restored the firm to a sound financial footing. Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), the only Democrat to serve as President between 1861 and 1913, was also the only President to serve non-consecutive terms (1885-1889, 1893-1897). Westinghouse's wish for a long life was fulfilled for Mrs. Cleveland, who remarried and lived until 1947; but not for the ex-President, long in failing health, who died on June 24, 1908.

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