Beautifully engraved early certificate from the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company
in 1897. This historic document was printed by the Homer Lee Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an allegorical bare brested maiden holding flowers while floating over a train wheel with sparks flying and cluds in the background. This item is hand signed by the company’s officers and is
over 113 years old.
In the beginning, there were 200 employees at a rented plant in
Pittsburgh's Garrison Alley when, on January 8, 1886, a charter was
granted to the Westinghouse Electric Company. George Westinghouse
and his associates already were on the way to developments that were
to change the course of the nation and the world.
In the Spring of 1885, Westinghouse had acquired the patent rights to a
device that would "transform" the voltage of alternating current, so that
electricity could be carried over long distances at high voltages, then
stepped down to the proper voltage for its intended use. Some features
of the device he had acquired were impractical, but in a few weeks
Westinghouse and his staff worked out a complete new design. That first
transformer, whose basic features have been standard ever since, was
the key to the Golden Age of Electricity.
On the night of March 20, 1886, in the village of Great Barrington,
Massachusetts, the new transformer demonstrated the feasibility of
alternating current for lighting purposes. And people began to marvel at
the electric lights "that produce no odor, heat or danger of fire."
But the alternating-current system had tough competition. Competitors,
like Thomas Edison, who had backed the old system of direct current
were firmly entrenched. And the battle of the currents was under way.
By 1890, the company's annual sales totaled $4 million, and
Westinghouse had installed more than 300 central power stations. The
first of these went to light the city of Greensburg, in Pennsylvania.
In a bold and daring move, Westinghouse won the contract to light the
great Columbian Exposition, to be held in Chicago in 1893. Getting
equipment ready in time was an almost impossible task, but the men and
women of Westinghouse made the deadline. The dazzling spectacle of a
quarter of a million lights stole the show, and paved the way for
Westinghouse to get the order for three generators to harness the power
of Niagara Falls. At Niagara, the Westinghouse polyphase alternating
current system - based on patents acquired from Nikola Tesla -
dramatically proved itself and soon ended the battle of the currents. In a
short time, alternating current represented 95 percent of all electric
power generated around the globe.
Development of the alternating current system had numerous
by-products. Tesla's induction motor opened the way for alternating
current to become the workhorse of the world. One of the earliest
applications of the motor was to drive a fan. Oliver Shallenberger
developed a meter to measure the current and Lewis Stillwell invented a
device to regulate its voltage.
By 1894, it was evident that the business had outgrown the Garrison
Alley facilities, and contracts were let for a machine shop, warehouse,
and boiler and powerhouse along Turtle Creek in East Pittsburgh.
From the beginning, the purpose of the company was to develop and
market generating and distribution apparatus for the alternating current
system as well as the lamps and motors and other electrical devices that
would put it to work. That focus led to many innovations and a long list
of "firsts" for Westinghouse. The list includes the first steam turbine for a
U.S. electric utility, the first main-roll drive for a steel mill, the first
geared-turbine drive for a Navy ship, and the first American-built
tungsten-filament lamp, the first commercial radio station-KDKA, the
first television camera tube, the first industrial atom smasher, the first
long-range warning ground radar, the first atomic engine for the Nautilus
submarine, the first full scale atomic power plant and the camera that
broadcast man's first steps on the moon.
In 1900, George Westinghouse introduced the slogan, "The Name
Westinghouse is a Guarantee." Today we say, "You can be sure…if it's
Westinghouse." However you say it, Westinghouse has been and will
continue to be known for innovation, for quality and for technology
designed to improve the welfare of mankind.
First U.S. demonstration of the alternating current system at Great
First commercial alternating-current generating station put in operation in
First practical a-c electric induction motor
First a-c electric meter
First-long distance alternating-current power transmission system in
U.S., from Willamette Falls to Portland, Oregon, 14 miles.
Lighted World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, greatest display of
incandescent lighting to that time.
First practical polyphase induction motors, providing convenient power
to drive industrial machines.
Built generators for first major alternating-current power plant, at
First trolley run by a-c in Buffalo, New York
Built first steam turbine-generator for U.S. electric utility (Hartford
Electric Light Company), revolutionizing generation of electricity from
coal; installed 1901.
First demonstration of main-line locomotive powered by single-phase
First electric motor drive for main rolls in steel mill.
First continuous-filament tungsten lamp.
First marine geared-turbine drive, with launching of U.S.S. Neptune.
First automatic substation; no attendants.
First fully-automatic electric range.
First U.S. diesel-electric ship propulsion plant.
First regularly schedule radio broadcast on KDKA
First factory-made radio receivers for home use.
First international radio broadcast by short wave.
First laboratory demonstration of television.
Developed first successful automatic electric iron.
Established industry's first high-power laboratory.
First electronic television camera tube demonstrated.
First diesel-electric rail car for U.S. revenue service.
Announced principle of Ignitron mercury-arc rectifier.
Introduced completely-self-protected (CSP) distribution transformer.
First completely electrified home, in Mansfield, Ohio.
First electrostatic air cleaner, Precipitron.
First industrial atom-smasher, installed at Research Laboratories site.
First long-range warning ground radar.
First American-designed and American -built jet engine.
First gyroscopic control for stabilizing guns on Army tanks.
First deck-edge elevators for aircraft carriers.
First volume production of pure uranium
First U.S. steam locomotive with geared-turbine drive.
First all-weather airport approach lighting. First coal-fired steam-turbine
First electronic amplifier for X-ray images.
First operatorless elevator systems for heavy traffic.
First operational "look down" radar.
First zirconium metal for nuclear reactors.
First atomic engine (Nautilus prototype).
First privately-financed atomic-equipment plant. Nautilus, first nuclear
submarine, went to sea, using propulsion equipment by Westinghouse.
First nuclear power plant in U.S. began to produce electricity, at
First rendezvous radar for space, Gemini 6 and 7.
First automated "people mover" system.
First all-solid-state airborne armament control radar.
Westinghouse cameras enable TV viewers to watch man's first walk on
First full-scale large-turbine test facility
First airborne surveillance system (AWACS).
First light-water breeder reactor.
First Ultralume lamp (near-perfect daylight).
First watt-hour meter using advanced microprocessor technology.
First American contract from People's Republic of China for technology
transfer and supply of components for steam turbines and generators.
First Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award presented to
Westinghouse Commercial Nuclear Fuel Division.
History from OldCompany.com
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