George Westinghouse was a brave young man with head full of ideas, who took one oportunity after another, so he could create better, faster and more effective technologies. During this process he helped to make better lifes for countless people. He founded company, then another and then another dozen. Hid adventures outlived him and further evolved during wonderful decades to forms, which he could not foresee and without doubt even understand.
Westinghouse company was supplier of the first commercial pressure water reactor (PWR) in 1957 in Shippingport, Pensylvania (USA). Today there are more than 430 nuclear power plants in the world and so Westinghouse created biggest network of power plants in the world.
More than any other man George Westinghouse was responsible for developement and implementation of alternating current for use in lighting and electric energy supply. With the intention to change the ideas to business he founded company Westinghouse Electric and 59 other companies. During his work he acquired over 100 patents.
George Westinghouse was born October 6th 1846 in Central Bridge, New York and was 8th of 10 children. His family later moved to Schenectada, where his father founded business with agricultural and small steam engines. After his service in Union army during civil war he briefly attended college. But he soon returned to business of his father, where in the year 1865 he developed and have patented rotary steam engine. That same year he also developed device, which returned derailed train wagons to rails.
Interest in railroads lead Westinghouse to his first big invention. Observing the problems and limitations with stopping the trains using hand-controlled brakes he got the idea to control brakes using the compressed air. He brought this idea into effect and in the year 1869 he founded company Westinghouse Air Brake Company. With addition of other features air brakes became very popular and in the year 1893 passed the law requiring their use in all of the american trains. In time these brakes were used even in Europe and under the Westinghouse's leadership they became the standard.
With big developement of train transport and railroad network Westinghouse made a realization there are needed better signalization devices and sliding rails. He bought patents so he could combine them with his own inventions and develop complete signalization system which used electricity and compressed air. These ideas served to foundation of the company Union Switch and Signal Company, founded in year 1881 in Pittsburgh, Pensylvania.
Dozens of inventions in distribution and control of natural gas Westinghouse made thanks to the borehole at the land near his house. His ideas were fundament for foundation of company for gas distribution in Pittsburgh region. Newly acquired knowledge directed him to developement of better distribution of electric current. He invented reduction cylinder, which enables transmission of highly pressurized gas to end place under the low pressure. He thought that similar device could be used even for electricity transmission and found it in secondary generator developed in England. With the help of competent companions as William Stanley he upgraded raw secondary generator to transformer, which was in the end the key to electric energy distribution as we know it today.
His enduring faith in alternate current system lead in the year 1886 to foundation of Westinghouse Electric Company, which became brave competition to firmly rooted supporters of direct current with their leader Thomas Edison. But in 10 years alternate current proved its value. On the turn of the century Westinghouse's company already had 50.000 employees.
At his time he was said to be the greatest living engineer. George Westinghouse acquired many honorary appraisals in US and other countries, even after his death on March 12th 1914. Maybe greatest appraisal was by Nikola Tesla, who's patent to multiphase system of alternating current, which he gave to Westinghouse as a present, ensured leading in electric energy development. Westinghouse used Tesla's system for lighting of World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in the year 1893. This system also ensured contract to building of power plant on Niagara Falls, which bear Tesla's name and patent numbers. Mr. Tesla wrote: "In my opinion George Westinghouse was the only person on the planet, who could take my alternate current system and win with it the battle against prejudice and power of money. He was one of the noble men, to whom America can be proud and to whom the humanity owes great deal of gratitude."