WESTINGHOUSE (Full Documentary) | The Powerhouse Struggle of Patents & Business with Nikola Tesla

WESTINGHOUSE (Full Documentary) | The Powerhouse Struggle of Patents & Business with Nikola Tesla


(xylophone tones, How Dry I Am) (old time big band music) Radio announcer: You can be
sure if it’s Westinghouse. (jazz music) Voiceover: George Westinghouse
changed the face of the world with his inventions, patents,
business sense, and personality. Not a day goes by that
we don’t use something pioneered by George
Westinghouse. He is the forgotten role model
that our country needs today to teach future
generations of Americans that hard work and
kindness pay off. George Westinghouse was
one of the most successful
men in the world; a respected engineer,
inventor, and America’s
greatest industrialist. He was a pioneer of the
Industrial Revolution and played a leading role
in turning the United States from a young agrarian society into a modern
economic powerhouse. The name Westinghouse has been
a household name the world over for more than 100 years
because of one man, his love of machines,
and his desire to make
the world a better place. Edward Reis: The accomplishments
that George Westinghouse had in his lifetime
had a major impact on the way we live today. His work in the railroad
industry with the
Westinghouse air brake, the electrification of the
world with Westinghouse
alternating current, him being instrumental
in developing natural
gas as a fuel, and his impact on
the shipping industry with the Westinghouse geared
marine turbine engine. George Westinghouse was
known as a good person. He always had a very good
rapport with his workers. There was never a strike at any
of the Westinghouse companies all the time he had
control of them. That was not common
back in those days. He certainly was not
motivated by greed or money. He really thought that
his accomplishments
would benefit mankind, and that alone was a
driving force for him. Jim Sutherland: The most
important thing about
George Westinghouse was the way he
treated his employees. He was unique. Quentin Skrabec: Westinghouse
really offers a role model. He was a passionate man and a lot of times he’s lost
in history under Edison. William Terbo: Nikola
Tesla had great regard for Thomas Edison of
being a workaholic, and Thomas Edison had great
regard for Nikola Tesla for his ability to
be a workaholic. My father tells me
specifically that of all
the people that Tesla met, that he had the highest regard
for George Westinghouse. (drum roll) Voiceover: George Westinghouse
was born on October 6, 1846 in Central Bridge, New York to George and
Emeline Westinghouse. Edward Reis: George was
the 8th of 10 children. Interestingly, he was
named George Westinghouse,
Jr. after his father. He was never really a
good student in school. He always had trouble
applying himself to coursework that he didn’t think
had immediate benefit. Later in life he was to
say that the very best
educational experience he had was the ability to work
in his father’s shops. His father owned a
company called the G.
Westinghouse and Company, manufactured agricultural
equipment and small
steam engines. He loved to make things
and build things. He built a working
waterwheel one time, a model. He built a working
steam motorboat that
he was able to use. He even made a violin. He developed these
early mechanical skills and later in life he was to say
those early mechanical skills he learned as a young
boy served him well
throughout his lifetime. Quentin Skrabec: George
Westinghouse, as a child, he’d probably be considered
today a problem child. He seemed to be
bored with school. He loved mechanics. He loved to come back and
work in his dad’s shop. Voiceover: George spent
most of his boyhood in
Schenectady, New York. He would be known as
George Westinghouse, Jr. for many years until
his father died, at which time he dropped
the Jr. from his name. Edward Reis: Interestingly,
everything that is written indicates that George
Westinghouse did not get a lot of encouragement
from his father, but he did get quite a bit of
encouragement from his mother, the local minister
encouraged him quite a bit, and we know that one foreman
in his father’s shops really provided George
Westinghouse with a great
bit of encouragement. He set aside an area in the
factory for him to work. He showed him how to
use the various machines and materials to make items. Obviously, this
had a major impact on George Westinghouse
throughout his lifetime. Voiceover: It was recorded
that he always felt more comfortable in
his father’s shops than he did at school. In 1860, at 13 years of age, George began to work
there for 50 cents a day. Even as a boy it was
clear that he posessed a unique talent for
understanding and
working with machines. Edward Reis: One story
about George Westinghouse
as a young boy was that he was in
a scouting group that was planning to take
a hike one afternoon. His father had given him
a chore to cut some pipe, and that chore was
certainly going to take
longer than that day. However, George rigged up
a machine with a saw blade. He was able to cut all
that pipe in a half a day and he was able
to go on the hike. From what was documented, it was said that George
Westinghouse, Sr.
was not at all happy even though George
Westinghouse was able to accomplish the task in
a very short period of time he wasn’t happy at what had
motivated him to do that. (drum roll) Voiceover: The
American Civil War broke out in April of
1861 when George was 15. He desperately wanted
to serve his country, but was prevented by
his father to do so. He said that George would
be allowed to enlist
at the legal age of 17, but prayed the war would
not last that long. The Civil War raged far longer
than anyone had expected. By 1863, the carnage
was staggering after battles like
Antietam and Gettysburg. It was clear then
that the war was not the romantic adventure it
was once thought to be. Even though the
casualties were mounting and the Union army
was demoralized after
years of defeat, George Westinghouse enlisted in
the New York Volunteer Cavalry as a private shortly
before his 17th birthday. The next year, he passed a
special mechanical examination to become an offer
in the U.S. Navy. His military service
made a huge impact. Later in life he said, “My
earliest greatest capital “was the experience
and skill acquired “from the opportunity
given me when I was young “to work with all
kinds of machinery, “coupled later with
lessons in the discipline “to which a soldier
is required to submit, “and the acquirement of
a spirit of readiness “to carry out the
instructions of superiors.” George’s older brothers,
John and Albert, serviced in the
military as well. Albert was captured at
the Battle of Gaines’ Mill and confined to Libby
Prison for a short while. After being exchanged
and released, he was killed in 1864
leading a Cavalry charge. Edward Reis: I’m convinced
that his father thought his brother was the one who was
going to be successful in life and spent a lot of time
with his older brother. Quite frankly, from
everything I’ve read is I don’t think his
father ever thought George Westinghouse was
going to amount to anything. (gunfire) Voiceover: The
war ended in 1865. Although more than 600,000
American lives had been lost, life began to return to normal. The 18-year-old George
Westinghouse, Jr. was
mustered out of service and enrolled at Union
College in New York. He quickly became bored. It was recorded that
the President of the
college said to him, “You’re wasting your time here. “A classical course
is nothing for you. “You have a genius
for invention. “Cultivate it and you will
become a great engineer.” He left school after
two months and returned
to his father’s shop. At that time, the country was
in a rapid state of change. For a man full of ideas,
there was much to do. Quentin Skrabec: It was an
excellent time for an inventor, for an industrialist
like Westinghouse to
come onto the scene. Lots of people came onto the
scene at that time, obviously. Even the Carnegies and so forth, a lot of what we call
today the robber barons, were just starting out
in that time frame. We had an economic boom going
that was a residual of the war. It was great time. Investment money was there. People were moving forward. Industries were cranked up. It was a time of expansion. (piano music) Voiceover: On October 31, 1965, the 19-year-old George
Westinghouse, Jr. was awarded his first patent
for a rotary steam engine. Edward Reis: He started working
on that patent at the age of 15. It was granted to
him at the age of 19. As we go through his
life, we can see the role
that rotating devices, the large rotating turbines
and large rotating generators, the impact they had on
the electrical industry. Then you look backwards and
see that George Westinghouse had this interest
in rotating engines from his very first
patent as a young boy; started at that work
at the age of 15. Voiceover: For the next 48
years, he would, on average, take out one patent
every month-and-a-half. Edward Reis: He had two
other early patents, for a car replacer
for getting cars back onto the tracks
when they derailed, and an item called
the railway frog was a device used
between the tracks where two tracks intersected. These two patents here
were very successful for George Westinghouse and
provided him the money he needed to get started with the
Westinghouse Air Brake Company. (slow band music) Voiceover: He planned
to have his car replacer and railway frog
manufactured in New Jersey, but instead looked west
to the booming town of
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Fortunes were being
made in Pittsburgh. The city’s location at the
joining of two major rivers made it the ideal spot for
manufacturing and distribution. In the 1860s, the air
was thick with smoke as the iron and
steel industry grew, churning out metal
for tracks, engines, and the myriad of machines,
tools, and devices used to build the
network of railroads crisscrossing the country. Legend has it that as George
stepped off the train, he practically walked
into one of Pittsburgh’s
wealthiest investors. Edward Reis: The very
first night he was here evidently he’d lost
his way downtown. He saw this gentleman
coming his way and stopped him and
asked him for directions. That fellow’s name
was Ralph Bagley. Ralph happened to be going
in that direction he said, so he walked along with
George Westinghouse to show him where he
was going that evening. From that chance meeting,
him and Ralph Bagley became great friends for
the rest of their lives. Quentin Skrabec: There’s some
mythology around the meeting. Within a week, he had
somehow made a business
connection there. That would have been typical. Westinghouse was the type of
guy that went into a city, He was a salesman. He was probably looking for
the industrialist in town. He had an invention. He needed some suppliers
to make that part. Westinghouse, type of guy that still even all through
his career would hustle. He’d be out there knocking on
the door of industrialists. (crash sounds) Voiceover: In a time of
relative peace and quiet, newspapers were once
again full of carnage. Catastrophic train
accidents were on the rise as the number of trains
in the country grew
in size and quantity, and with increasing speeed. As the body count escalated,
a clear solution was needed. Westinghouse was said to
have been personally effected by a terrible train
crash in 1866, which motivated him
to solve the problem. (train whistle) Nearly anyone could make
trains bigger and faster, but nobody had devised a working
solution to stop them quickly. (train whistle) At that time, stopping a train was a complicated,
inefficient ordeal. Edward Reis: In those days, for
example, on a freight train, the brakeman literally
rode on top of the
freight cars all day long. When the engineer gave
a blast of the whistle
to put down the brakes, they’d jump up, turn
the wheel on that car, then run down that car,
jump to the next car, run down the car to turn
the brakes on the next car, and that, again, applied
the brakes to the wheels. So stopping a train was a very
long, jerky kind of a process. By the way, the brakeman had
an extremely dangerous job. Many of them were
killed and injured, as you can imagine, the
conditions riding on top of those freight cars all day
long, rain, snow, whatever. Voiceover: A speeding
train could take up to two miles to come
to a complete stop. Not only were the lives
of brakemen at risk when jumping from car to
car on a moving train, but anything getting in the
way of a roaring locomotive was almost certainly destroyed. (breaking glass sounds) Westinghouse felt that
if an immediate powerful application of
breaks were available that these horrible
accidents could be avoided. Men had been tinkering
with train braking
concepts for years. There were other patents
dealing with brakes, but George Westinghouse
was the only man to put old and
new ideas together into a complete,
workable combination. (jazz music) In fact, one key ingredient
was discovered out of thin air. (jazz music) Edward Reis: George
Westinghouse had been reading a new scientific magazine
and there was an article that caught his attention
on a French company building a tunnel through the
Mont Cenis mountain in the Alps. It caught his attention. It was no ordinary
tunnel, you see. It was 8.5 miles long. It says they were
having great difficulty until two new
inventions came along. An Englishman had invented what
he called a hammer drill bit, and an Italian had invented
what he called an air motor. It caught George’s
attention because the
article said at that time that the pipe going
back into the mountain was 6 atmospheres of air to
drive the hammer drill bit to drill the holes
for the dynamite was
over 3,000 feet long. At that point in time
he thought surely if they can drive a hammer
drill bit into solid rock 3,000 feet away using air,
he could be able to use air to drive the breaks on a train. Voiceover: Many people
thought he was crazy because who in their
right mind would envision a roaring train being
stopped by the wind? But that didn’t stop him. George Westinghouse, Jr.
was issued his first patent for the air brake on April
13, 1869 at 22 years of age. With the air brake, the
engineer could control all of the brakes on
a train from the cab. This would allow
for longer trains carrying more people
and more goods. Edward Reis: The United States
was really moving westward. Industrialization
was taking place. They had the need to move a
lot more freight and people. With the Westinghouse
air brakes, the trains could become
longer and heavier. (upbeat music) Voiceover: At that time, George
was traveling the country, soliciting orders for
his railway devices and had many opportunities
to present his thoughts on air brakes to
railway officials. He said that none
of those approached appeared to have
faith in the idea. Edward Reis: George
Westinghouse was so sure that he would be successful
with the Westinghouse air brakes that he invested all his money, and also his good friend,
Ralph Bagley, invested money, and he built a
full set of brakes for a locomotive and four cars. Voiceover: The first
air brake apparatus was shown in a Pittsburgh
machine shop in 1868. It then came time to install
it on a full size train to test it in a real
world demonstration. Railroad officials were invited and the first air brake
trial became legendary. Edward Reis: They all boarded
the four passenger cars. George Westinghouse was riding
in the locomotive that morning with the engineer, Dan Tate. This trial was to go
to Steubenville, Ohio and return, a total of 80 miles. Voiceover: Upon emerging
from the tunnel, they came face to face
with two horses and a wagon standing on the tracks. Edward Reis: The horses
kind of panicked. A wheel got stuck. The wagon overturned. The horses fell down. The drayman fell down. Dan Tate applied the
Westinghouse air brakes for the very first time. They skidded up the track. George Westinghouse, they
say, was very, very concerned as they skidded up the track. Fortunately, they
stopped four feet short of running over that
wagon, those two
horses, and the drayman. They say everyone in the back got knocked to the floor. They got banged into each other. They got jostled quite a bit. The highest level superintendent of the Steubenville
and Panhandle Railroad put his arms in the
air and he said, “Gentlemen, we’ve just seen
the greatest demonstration “of this Westinghouse air brake
system we’re ever going to see. “I think we should
just back her up “to Grants Hill
and call it a day.” Voiceover: The future of
railroading was set in motion over the next several months as more tests were conducted
around the country. Railway officials were impressed resulting in immediate orders
of air brake equipment. Westinghouse Air Brake
suddenly began appearing on passenger trains
around the country. Quentin Skrabec: A lot
of people in those days, people like Charles
Dickens and so forth, they had phobias about
train travel in those days because the death
rate was so high. The air brake took
that phobia away. Voiceover: The Westinghouse
Air Brake Company was chartered on
September 28, 1869. The new company began
churning out parts with an initial work
force of about 100 men. Over the next decade
George Westinghouse made numerous improvements
to the air brake, and by 1877, most
American railroads had their passenger trains
outfitted with them. It was declared by one
writer that no railroad claims to be first class
that does not employ Westinghouse air brakes. Even with the success,
another major hurdle remained: the freight train industry. It was said that
the freight industry was the slowest to
adopt the air brakes because railroad companies did
not want to invest the money to protect the lives of
their cheap labor force. Brakemen were paid $1.50 a day and received nothing if
they were maimed or killed. It cost about $50 to install
air brakes on a train car. Edward Reis: A piece of
documentation I came across said that in one particular year there were 5,000 brakemen
killed or injured in the United States that year. It was an extremely
dangerous job, one of the most dangerous
jobs there ever was. Voiceover: This was
considered the age when railroad companies
could buy senators. The railroad business
was profitable, and they intended
to keep it that way. Quentin Skrabec: The air
brake offered nothing
to them, profit-wise. The hand brake system
seemed to be fine. You lose a few Irishmen. It didn’t seem to
upset them at all. Edward Reis: Pennsylvania
Railroad had a very
good reputation, but some of them did not. It was documented
that in those days, some of the railroads,
if a brakeman got killed, they felt no more obligation than to move the body to
the side of the track. Quentin Skrabec:
They balked at it and just like a lot
of companies do today they had to be dragged in
there by the government. They did everything they could
to slow that process down. Voiceover: Before any laws
could be put in place, standards had to be set so
that a car from California would couple with
a car from Maine. The Burlington brake trials were
organized to set those standards and would prove to be one
of the most critical events in the history of the air brake and in the life of
George Westinghouse. Quentin Skrabec: As
Congress in this country got more interested in the
problem of railroad safety and the pressure came on
to do something about it, these famous trials out
in Iowa came into being. They would test a number
of different types of
brakes at the time. Westinghouse air brake wasn’t
the only brake out there. Edward Reis: The first
Westinghouse air brakes were called straight brakes. As the air went back the
line, it applied the brakes to the wheels of the
train to stop the train. However, if the piping or
the coupling let go or broke, you would lose your brakes. Voiceover: To improve
upon his original design, he invented the automatic
air brake in 1873. Edward Reis: Now the
air was holding the
brakes off the wheels. When you wanted to
apply the brakes, you would simply reduce the
pressure to stop the train. The other advantage to that was if the pipe separated
or coupling separated
or the pipe broke, the train would
automatically come to a stop. It was referred to as
the brakes that worked
even when they failed. Voiceover: The automatic
air brake was powerful,
but not fast enough. Quentin Skrabec: Initially,
as the trials started, Westinghouse had some
problems with the air brake. Eventually came up
with the triple valve. It allowed a buildup of
pressure at the local car. You could release that
pressure very quickly versus waiting for the
pressure to come down
the line from the engine. Fast response was what the
triple valve was all about. Voiceover: The master
car builders accepted the new Westinghouse air brake. The train, fitted with
new quick action brakes, was sent on tour and
a series of trials were made in a dozen cities. Sales exploded. But Westinghouse
didn’t stop there. Edward Reis: George Westinghouse
also had an invention called the friction draft gear, which allowed the trains, when they were starting
out and stopping, to cushion the impact
between the cars. This was considered to
be a major improvement in the railroad industry. In fact, the president
of the Pennsylvania
Railroad at the time was quoted that the friction
draft gear by Westinghouse was every bit as important
as the Westinghouse air brake to the railroad industry. It basically still used
to this very day the
friction draft gear. Quentin Skrabec: In the
1880s they finally enacted, late 1880s, they finally
enacted several laws that required the
use of the air brake. That certainly was a big
boom for George Westinghouse and a success story for him. (train sounds) Voiceover: The booming
industrial companies in the United States
purchased these inventions as fast as he
could produce them, yet George Westinghouse,
Jr. remained a humble man. It was said that
progress was always a great deal more interesting
to him than profit. In fact, he would have said
that progress is profit. Edward Reis: Some
railroads were very slow in adopting the air brake. The New York Central,
under Commodore Vanderbilt, one of the wealthiest men
in the world at the time, was very slow in adopting
the Westinghouse air brakes. In fact, the story goes
that George Westinghouse was talking to a superintendent
at New York Central one time about the air
brakes, and he said, “George, as long as I’m
living there’ll never “be Westinghouse air brakes
on the New York Central.” Evidently, the story goes,
George Westinghouse said to him, “Well, I’m a lot
younger than you. “I guess I’ll just
have to outlive you.” Now on the other hand, the New
York Central had a great wreck and there were many people
killed in that particular wreck. At that point in time, Commodore
Vanderbilt backed down, got a hold of the
Westinghouse Air Brake Company to install Westinghouse air
brakes on the New York Central. Voiceover: A railroad
superintendent once said, “If the men who worked
the railroads ever
chose a patron saint, “it would be Saint George in
honor of George Westinghouse.” Westinghouse was not
all work and no play. It was said that he
loved the theater, music,
and a good clean joke, although he claimed that solving
mechanical problems relaxed him. When not working, he
spent most of his time with his biggest supporter
and closest friend, his wife, Marguerite. At the time of his very
first patents in 1867, even before the air brake, George Westinghouse, Jr. met
Marguerite Erskine Walker by chance on a railroad train. Edward Reis: George Westinghouse
met his wife, Marguerite, on a train ride. He was on the Hudson
River Railroad heading
toward Schenectady. He was not a smoker, so he passed up some available
seats in a smoking car and went on back to another car. There was an available
seat beside a very
attractive young woman. He struck up a
conversation with her. He really liked this young lady. Just before he deboarded, since
he was getting off before her, he wrote down the names
and addresses of three
friends of his family so that Marguerite could
write to those folks so they could attest
to the good character of George Westinghouse. When he returned home,
he immediately went
to the local minister and friend of the family
and had him write a letter to Marguerite, again attesting
to the good character of George Westinghouse. Today, we’ve kind of gotten
away from that practice. He went home that night and
told his mother and father that he had met the
young lady that day that
he was going to marry. Within a year, he and
Marguerite were married and they had a very long
and fruitful marriage. He always considered Marguerite
to be his very best supporter. She supported his
ideas no matter how
wild they really were. Voiceover: The two
honeymooned at Niagara Falls, a location that would prove
to be an important one later in the career
of Mr. Westinghouse. They had a happy relationship. It was said when they
were on the same continent they talked every single
day over the telephone, and when separated by
the Atlantic Ocean, would send a daily
cable message. It seems amazing that at
first George could not afford to move Marguerite
to Pittsburgh. In the early days
of the air brake, before it really took off, she lived in Schenectady
with his parents. When the money began to flow, he bought her a
home in the affluent Homewood district of
Pittsburgh in 1871. They added on to the
old house, which became
a luxurious dwelling, and dubbed it Solitude. A substantial lawn and
gardens would grow, along with their
substantial fortune. Edward Reis: The Westinghouses
only had one child, George Westinghouse, III. He was born 16 years
after they were married. When they were married,
George Westinghouse was 20. His wife, Marguerite, was 24, which means then that when
she had their only child she was 40 years old. Voiceover: As George
Westinghouse, III grew up, he spent a lot of time
at their summer home near
Lenox, Massachusetts. It became a favorite
of Mrs. Westinghouse. In the days before
energy conservation, it boasted 1,500 light bulbs and the world’s first
lighted tennis court. The massive estate even
had the world’s first private alternating
current power plant to supply the electricity. Solitude was
equally interesting. When looking at pictures of it, one might notice an object
that seems out of place with an opulent
estate and gardens; a natural gas derrick. Westinghouse decided to prospect
for gas in his own backyard. When Marguerite heard about
this, she was thrilled. It was recorded that
she said something like, “George, you travel so
much it would be nice “to have you working
at home for a while.” Edward Reis: In those days
when they drilled a well, as they drilled the
dirt and rock out, they’d strike a match to it. If it flamed up, they said
they had a vein of gas. At 300 foot they told him
they had a small vein of gas. At 900 feet they told him they
had another small vein of gas. He told them to keep drilling. At 1,500 feet they hit
a huge vein of gas. They immediately threw a
match and set it afire. It was over 100 feet
high, the flame. The roar could be
heard for blocks. For a few days it became the
great event in Pittsburgh. People came from everywhere. They came by street railway, they came by horse and buggy, they walked; throngs of
people in the neighborhood to see this great fire that
lit the sky for miles around. He was absolutely delighted, but his neighbors were not. Initially, neighbors like Henry
Heinz and Henry Clay Frick were a bit upset by this. However, George shared
his natural gas with them and with friends
around the block. Westinghouse would always prove
to be an interesting neighbor, at one point having 4
gas wells at Solitude, an alternating
current power plant, and a set of tracks to test
street railway equipment. As Marguerite had predicted,
George spent time at home with his new toys and
his evenings at the well, designing new drilling tools and
improvements in gas prospecting. In 1884, he went into
the natural gas business. Edward Reis: From all
this gas that he had, he decided he was going to
start a natural gas company. All his existing charters
wouldn’t allow him
to start a utility, so he looked around and
found an existing charter in the city of Philadelphia
that would allow someone
to start a utility. However, that charter
was not being used at the
time, so he acquired it. He brought that
charter to Pittsburgh and started his
natural gas company. He never, for whatever
reason, changed the name on that charter, and ironically,
the name of that company was the Philadelphia Company. He had this very successful
company in Pittsburgh named the Philadelphia Company. Later his street railway
company was added to the Philadelphia Company. When that company was
broken up by the federal
antitrust in 1951, it became Pittsburgh Railways, the largest streetcar company
in the city at the time, and it also became Equitable
Gas and Duquesne Light, both of those companies
existing to this very day. Voiceover: Two years after
he drilled his first well, Westinghouse had over 30 patents
in the area of natural gas. Quentin Skrabec: He had
seen in his trips to England the use of, what they had coal
gas over there, not natural gas, but they were using coal gas
to run a lot of their industry. He saw it as a cleaner,
more efficient fuel. Industries adapted to the
natural gas right away. It was cheaper, first of all. A lot of steel
companies went to it. Then, the engineer that he was, and what he had learned from
compressed air in air brakes was where he learned
how to transmit gas. Voiceover: Natural gas was
dangerous in the early days. Lines frequently broke and asphyxiation from gas leaks
and explosions were common. It’s usage was not even metered. Westinghouse worked feverishly
to solve these problems and developed escape
pipes, meters, and the automatic
cutoff regulator. (old time music) By the the 1880s and
’90s, George Westinghouse had founded dozens of companies. Even with those
constant distractions, under his leadership the growth of the Westinghouse
Air Brake Company moved full speed ahead. They quickly outgrew their
original works in Pittsburgh and moved across the river
to a larger building. Westinghouse could see
that the need for trains
was growing rapidly as the western states
exploded in population. He knew that a much larger
plant would be needed to keep up with the
increasing demand. In 1889, the air brake works
were moved to a massive site about 14 miles east
of Pittsburgh in the
Turtle Creek Valley. A building plan was made
having in mind topography, water supply, and the
disposal of sewage. Streets, homes, and a community
were built around the new shops and the town of
Wilmerding was created. In that day and age,
many industrial companies kept their workers in barracks
and cheap monotonous row houses, but Westinghouse Air
Brake built good homes with gas, water,
electricity, and baths. Many of them even had
lawns and gardens. They went on to establish
lawn and garden contests, and the little town
became a place of taste in an otherwise dreary
industrial region. (old time music) (train whistle) A trip through the
Westinghouse valley in 1904 gives an up-close look at the
air brake works and housing. (old time music) George Westinghouse
always thought of safety and
sanitation in his shops. They were well
ventilated with the best heating and lighting
available at the time. A century old blueprint
shows the elaborate sprinkler systems
which were installed
at the air brake works, which was very uncommon
and expensive at that time. A writer said that, “As one
walks about the factory, “he often thinks
that the men at work “are a good deal better off than
they are in their own homes.” Included in the plant was
a small emergency hospital with an operating
room and pharmacy, complete with a
surgeon and nurse. Both sick and accident
benefits were paid to workers years before it was a
common practice to do so. The cheapest way to take
care of factory injuries was, of course, to prevent them. At his plants, serious
accidents were rare. George Westinghouse felt
that tired, miserable workers were not as safe and efficient
as well-rested, happy ones. In the days of
demanding physical labor in the sweltering heat and
discomfort of factory shops, George Westinghouse
invented the precursor to the modern-day weekend. Edward Reis: As a young
man, George Westinghouse was working on a Saturday
one time, and he was
quoted as having said, “If I ever own my own company, “I’m going to give my workers
a half holiday on Saturday.” Later in life, at the
Westinghouse Air Brake Company, he was the first major
employer in the country to grant his workers a
half holiday on Saturday. This was a precedent that Henry
Clay Frick and Andrew Carnegie were not at all happy
that George Westinghouse had set this precedent of giving
his workers a half holiday. He always treated
his workers well. We know that the homes
that Westinghouse built for the Westinghouse
Air Brake people in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania
and the homes he built for the East Pittsburgh works of
Westinghouse Electric Company, those homes were rented
or sold to the employees. If the employees chose
to acquire the home, they could do it on
a monthly deduction. We know that George Westinghouse
had those homes insured so if something
happened to the worker, his family would
be taken care of, his wife and children would
have a home that was paid off. That, again, is the only
example that I could locate of someone, one of the great
business owners at that time, doing something like
that for his workers. (old time music) Voiceover: And his
workers loved him. Some of the quotes from
Westinghouse Air Brake employees give the closest look
at George Westinghouse available to us today. One letter reads, “George
Westinghouse stood
well over 6 feet tall. “When he raised his
great right hand, “palms towards you and
fingers spread a little, “and said in a gentle voice
with a hint of a smile, “‘But you don’t understand,’
it was quite plain “to the dullest mind that
the sooner he understood “the better for him.” His manner was the
same with princes as
it was with mechanics. It hurt him to hurt the
feelings of another. (old time music) Westinghouse was known as
having an amazing memory and it was said by company men, “Do not tell the
Old Man anything “you do not wish him to
remember 10 years from now.” It was written that
Mr. Westinghouse was an
incorrigible optimist. He experimented on
a full-size scale and backed the faith that
was in him to the limit. He never looked back, was never discouraged, and never had any regrets
over past failures. Another said, “George
Westinghouse is the embodiment “of imagination in
britches, walking about
the face of the earth “doing things that change
society just as birds sing.” It was unheard of at the time
for men of Westinghouse’s social standing to have
anything to do with the
common factory worker. But the former Cavalry private
didn’t see it that way. In 1894, the Civil War
veterans group of the north, called the Grand
Army of the Republic, would hold their 28th national
encampment in Pittsburgh. Edward Reis: George Westinhouse,
upon finding that out, went to the committee and
said, “Listen, I just finished “two big factory
buildings at my new “East Pittsburgh works of
Westinghouse Electric Company “and they’re completely done but
no equipment has been moved in. “What I’d like you to
do is bring out workers “and convert one of
those factory buildings
to a great dining hall. “I’d like it to be carpeted. “I’d like a great
staircase to be built “and a stage to be
built, all carpeted. “I’d like tables with linen
tablecloths and napkins. “I would like to
host one night during “Grand Army Week,”
as it was called, “for the Civil War veterans from
the Grand Army of the Republic.” He also told them,
“And by the way, “you wouldn’t have to use any
of your committee’s money. “You could send
me all the bills. “I’d be willing
to pay for that.” 6,500 Civil War veterans
came to that great dinner at East Pittsburgh that evening. (exciting opening movie music) Voiceover: Many people
know the name Westinghouse because they grew up in a house
full of Westinghouse appliances like roasters, dishwashers,
and refrigerators. Innovative industrial
products and home appliances from the Westinghouse Electric
and Manufacturing Company made Westingouse
a household name. But well before their
first dishwasher would ever roll off the assembly
line, George Westinghouse had to first win the
battle of the currents
again Thomas Edison. (old time music) Thomas Alva Edison
was born in 1847. He was a forceful,
egotistic, eccentric creator who had difficulty
working with others, all direct contrast
to George Westinghouse who was a military
trained engineer. Edison got his start
in telegraphy and
invented a stock ticker and other industrial
products early in his career. Around the same time
that Westinghouse was
perfecting the air brake, Thomas Edison invented
the phonograph. Whereas the air brake
was largely ignored
by the national press, the phonograph was hailed as the
greatest invention of all time. The phonograph was fun. The phonograph made music. The phonograph was unlike
anything 19th century people had seen before and the
population was in awe. Edison became famous and
the public loved him. And he loved that
the public loved him. He was regarded as the most
famous American in the world. He patented the electric
distribution system, and soon after activated
the Pearl Street electric
generating station which provided direct current
power to some streetlights and a couple dozen
customers in Manhattan. In the early 1880s,
America’s growing industries were crying for
more and more power that was less costly
and cumbersome than
steam-generated power. The development of
electricity was like the rapid development
of the automobile,
computers, or the internet. Everyone could see that
it was useful and amazing, but nobody knew quite
how to utilize it or what the standards would be. It could be said that Thomas
Edison created the idea of the centrally
located power station. The only problem was that
the direct current power he was using did not
transmit very far. Jim Sutherland: You could
only transmit direct current a few thousand yards from a
Edison generating station. William Terbo: It was quite
obvious to George Westinghouse that direct current was never
going to be a national model. It’s just a local model. Voiceover: That meant that
in order to power a city, he would need power
stations every mile or so that were small in practically
in their customers’ back yards. These facts did not stop
Edison from promoting DC power with the theatrics and
flare that he was known for. (smashing sound) Edison lived in New York City,
was politically connected, and loved to put on a good show. He leveraged his fame,
his name, and his face to his advantage in business. Direct current
power became popular and Thomas Edison became
a leader in the field. Quentin Skrabec:
Edison had the market and built the first
power station in New York for transmission of lighting. J. P. Morgan actually had
the first house that was lit. Voiceover: In contrast,
George Westinghouse did not even like
to be photographed. Yet the limitations of DC
power were very clear to him. He felt that electric power
should be generated in one place and be transmitted
to users far away. In 1885, George Westinghouse
became interested in the inventions of European
inventors Gaulard and Gibbs, relating to the use of single
phase alternating currents and distribution
with transformers. Jim Sutherland: George
Westinghouse was the first to recognize that you could use
a transformer in a large system. With alternating current,
you can transform the voltage up to a high voltage low current and send it hundreds
and thousands of miles
at the high voltage, then step it back down to the
low voltage where you use it. It was the key to
the entire system. Voiceover: He purchased the
American rights to their patent and threw himself into
the study and design of a
new kind of transformer. It was said that he
recalled his experiences in the gas industry
with the reducing valve that allowed high
pressure gas from the well to be transported
over a great distance and then delivered at low
pressure at the point of use. The transformer was his
reducing valve for electricity. Quentin Skrabec: That’s
exactly what he was doing with gas transmission. Voltage is pressure. It’s the exact same
term in electricity as it is in hydraulics
and gas fluid. He could step up the voltage to
transmit it at a faster speed and then when he got
to the houses he could
step it back down again. Voiceover: Those who watched
him work were stunned at his capacity to do
extraordinary things quickly. Through long evenings he would
work in his private railroad car and in his house, designing,
sketching, and dictating. When at home, he often
worked on his billiard table. It was said he
never had a pencil, but just borrowed one
from the nearest man. He never returned
any of the pencils and nobody knows what
happened to them. One writer said that his
trail through the world was blazed with
other men’s pencils. Jim Sutherland: He had a unique
ability to look at prolems and come up with
solutions of his own, but he was also willing to take
other ideas from other people. If he had to buy ides
or buy patents, he did. Voiceover: In a
miraculous three weeks, Mr. Westinghouse and
his staff redesigned the Gaulard and
Gibbs transformer. Male: Gaulard and Gibbs
certainly had the idea correct. It was the mechanical
part of actually manufacturing and building
these transformers that
they came up short. It was a rather crude device
when Westinghouse acquired it. Voiceover: The Westinghouse
Electric Company was
started on March 8, 1886 in the Garrison Alley
works in Pittsburgh. Male: The Garrison
Alley operation was really a research operation,
a developmental operation. He was working on a
number of projects there, including the transformer. Male: He was interested in
developing ideas into products, and products into companies, and companies
providing employment. Voiceover: In the beginning,
Westinghouse Electric
didn’t have it easy. Along with research into
alternating current, it was about that
time that Westinghouse began to seriously
compete with Edison in the incandescent
lamp business, with a full plant
making single pin lamps, which were a slightly
different design than the
Edison screw-in bulbs. (cartoonish music) This was the beginning of
the battle of the currents. The fierce competition between
Westinghouse and Edison for domination in the
electrical field would not
end for another decade. Interestingly, it
resulted in one of the
earliest known format wars between which standard
of light bulb and socket would be the dominant one. Customers who chose to go with
Westinghouse single pin sockets could buy this clever adapter
to use Edison’s screw-in bulbs. A few commercial
alternating current plants were put into operation
over the next few months but there were still problems. Even though AC power could
be generated in large bulk and transmitted many miles
away to light cities, there was still no
practical AC motor, and thus no practical
way to power machines
with alternating current. (slow old time music) Nikola Tesla arrived in
New York City in 1884 with a head full of ideas and
barely a cent to his name. He was a brilliant
Serbian-born inventor who spoke a dozen languages. William Terbo: He came to the
United States at the age of 28 with a letter from the director
of the Edison Company in Paris that was directed to
Thomas Edison saying “I know of only two
great geniuses in the
electrical business. “You are one and the
gentleman holding this
letter is the other one.” Voiceover: Thomas Edison
hired him and put him to work redesigning DC generators. The famous story is that
Edison offered to pay him an outrageous sum of
$50,000 for his work. William Terbo: Telsa came
to him and said okay, now where is my $50,000? Supposedly Thomas Edison
said, “Oh, my dear Nikola, “you don’t understand the
American sense of humor.” It was the straw that
broke Tesla’s back and almost immediately
after that he left Edison. Voiceover: The brilliant
inventor ended up digging ditches for a while,
literally, to support himself while he was still creating. In 1887, he constructed
the initial brushless alternating current
induction motor. A year later, he saw
patents issued to him on his motor and on
the associated method of transmitting power
by polyphase currents. William Terbo: When George
Westinghouse heard about that, it was like a light went on, an electric light went
on perhaps you might say. This was the possibility
where he could see that technology overtaking
everything else in the world, and he was right. Voiceover: Tesla’s
ideas would enable steam or hydro-powered generators
to generate polyphase currents that power induction motors
in machines in factories. William Terbo: The group
of patents that Tesla had, which essentially
identified the entire path from beginning to end, from the motor to use
alternating current to the method of
distributing the current and everything in between. It was the answer
to the question that
George Westinghouse had. Tesla had the answer. Voiceover: Unlike Edison who
was solely behind DC power, he listened to Tesla. He acquired the rights to
Tesla’s induction motor
and polyphase patents and Nikola Tesla came
to Pittsburgh to work for the Westinghouse
Electric Company. Quentin Skrabec: He
was also able to back
off, a guy like Tesla, who had tremendous intelligence, and Westinghouse
realized, probably more
intelligent than him, understood, certainly, the
sophistication of AC current, which is not an easy thing. Today we describe it in
differential equations; it’s a nightmare even
for young engineers today trying to learn that. Voiceover: Tesla’s
inventions combined Westinghouse’s
manufacturing skills and his ability to assemble
parts of a whole system brought practical alternating
current power to existence. One writer said, “The invention
of alternating current motors “and the system
for operating them “was one of the greatest
advances ever made “in the industrial
application of electricity.” Not everyone agreed. There was serious
opposition to AC power. (storm sounds) Assertions were made that
the alternating current
system was dangerous and that its use should not
be permitted commercially. Numerous articles appeared
throughout the country designed to prejudice public
opinion against the system. (wind) One bitter article
from a scientist read, “There is no plea which
will justify the use of
high alternating current “either in a scientific
or commercial sense, “and my personal desire would be “to prohibit entirely the
use of alternating current.” If anything was needed
to urge Westinghouse to greater effort, this
antagonism served the purpose. Edward Reis: If we
look at a comparison of Thomas Edison and
George Westinghouse, we find a number of
major differeneces. They had quite a difference
in personalities. An example, during the
great battle of the currents is Thomas Edison backed
the electric chair, not as a humane way to
eliminate convicted criminals, but as a way to get a
competitive advantage over his competitor,
George Westinghouse’s
alternating current. Thomas Edison was trying
to discredit Westinghouse’s
alternating current. He had a campaign to make
it look much more dangerous than it really was,
although it was dangerous, and obviously this very day
we know it could kill people. But George Westinghouse
believed electricity was there to benefit mankind and
should not be started off by executing
condemned criminals. Thomas Edison pushed that
in the state of New York and recommended the electric
chair as a humane way to execute condemned
criminals, and by the way, said you’d have to
use Westinghouse’s
alternating current; direct current just
wouldn’t do it. Now that wasn’t exactly
true but that’s the
position that he pushed. George Westinghouse was
appalled that Thomas Edison would lower himself to
that level of competition. When the electric chair
was first proposed, there was no term
“electrocution” in
existence at the time. Thomas Edison even
lowered himself to the
point where he suggested that the term to be used would
be called “Westinghoused,” so you Westinghoused
a condemned criminal, later to be called electrocute
a condemned criminal. He’d lowered himself pretty low at the point of how he
was willing to compete. Voiceover: Edison’s
connections with the media and politicians worked
overtime for him, spinning the evils of
alternating current power. It was said that Thomas
Edison went so far as to work with a man who electrocuted
dogs and cats on stage to give AC power a bad name. Moving footage
exists of an elephant being electrocuted
in front of a crowd. Although it is claimed
to be Edison’s work, the film clip is generally
accepted not to be part of the battle of the
currents; however, it gives an idea of the gruesome
inhumane acts that those men did in order to prove their
point about the dangers
of alternating current. Jim Sutherland: Westinghouse
came in with a system of alternating current
that immediately made the Edison direct current
equipment obsolete. Since Edison had provided
direct current equipment to a lot of small
municipal power companies
and light companies, they didn’t have money, they
didn’t have any capital, so he had taken paper. He owned large shares in
those municipal companies. He knew that if
Westinghouse was successful in replacing all of his
direct current equipment
that was installed, he would be financially hurt. That’s why he was so anxious
to do everything he could to make George Westinghouse’s
alternating current
system a bad word. (quiet chords) Voiceover: After years
of costly research, Westinghouse’s big chance
to show the complex polyphase system and
AC power in action would come during the 1893
World’s Fair in Chicago. But Thomas Edison would
not make it easy for them. (crowd applause and cheers) The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, known as the
Columbian Exposition, was set to commemorate
the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering
the New World. It was to be the
biggest, grandest, most spectacular
World’s Fair ever. It would be quite the party, and proved to be an
interesting event in the life of
George Westinghouse. It would also be ground zero
for the battle of the currents. (crowd noises) On May 23, 1892, as
the immense fairgrounds were being constructed on
the shore of Lake Michigan, the Westinghouse
Electric Company won the lighting contract
for the World’s Fair. David Cope: You have to remember
how people lived at the time. They lived in darkness. We don’t live in
darkness at all. Even if you go outside
at night, there’s light. Whoever wins this bid,
if it’s going to Edison or if it’s going
to be Westinghouse, it’s going to mean a great deal because people are going
to come to the Fair, they’re going to
see light at night. They’re going to be
able to extend the day. Voiceover: The story is
that the exposition company saved about a half a
million dollars by going with Westinghouse Electric
over General Electric. This loss to Westinghouse
was unexpected. Thomas Edison had counted on
his name and strong patents to guarantee the contract
and planned to make
a profit at the Fair. Westinghouse, on the other
hand, would make a risky move by going into it expecting
to lose money in order
to gain promotion, a gamble that could
sink the entire company because of the time and
money that went into the
polyphase development, leaving the Westinghouse
Electric Company in a weakened state to survive
the financial crisis of 1893. Quentin Skrabec: Edison
at the time represented
General Electric, but he had already
been bought out. That battle was a vicious one. Westinghouse finally
undercut and won it. Voiceover: George
Westinghouse told his managers the work must be done
right regardless of cost. He said that any loss could
be charged to advertising, and that was the main objective. David Cope: Hundreds
of thousands of people came at night just
to see the lighting. What they do is they go
back and they talk about it. Voiceover: The World’s Fair
was a massive undertaking, but Westinghouse had the
courage of his conviction that his men could do it. He closed the contract
before even consulting them. Edison was well known
for challenging people on patent infringement,
and even though Westinghouse had won the
World’s Fair contract, they were dangerously
close to a patent dispute and a massive lawsuit. The Westinghouse
alternating current system was going to power the
lights of the Fair, but the light bulbs that
were going to be used were too similar to a
patent owned by Edison, the one piece
incandescent light bulb. Some six months
before the opening, with all of the Westinghouse
work already installed, the patent on the Edison
incandescent lamp was sustained and Westinghouse was not
permitted to use the light bulbs that he had planned to use. George Westinghouse had a clever
way around this problem, though. Years earlier, he
had purchased rights to the Sawyer-Man lamp patent and chose to use
those lamps instead. Thus, originated
the famous two-piece
Westinghouse stopper lamp, so called because a
piece of ground glass held an iron filament fitted
into the bulb like a cork. Edward Reis: Good
business sense said he better have a backup
and that turned out to be the two-piece all glass
Westinghouse stopper lamp that was upheld in the court
as an independent patent. Perhaps wasn’t as good
an incandescent lamp as the Edison lamp at the
time, but it was good enough to successfully illuminate
the great Chicago
World’s Fair in 1893. Voiceover: Westinghouse
rushed through extensive new production facilities
to finish the bulbs the moment the Fair
was scheduled to open. Edward Reis: The Westinghouse
Company at that time manufactured 250,000
two-piece all glass Westinghouse stopper lamps. It was estimated at the
time that it was 25% of all the incandescent lamps
made up to that point in time anywhere in the world. Voiceover: It was a
quick and dirty job, and the opening of the
Fair on May 1, 1893 was not delayed an hour. In his tradition of surrounding
himself with smart people, Westinghouse was well served by his patent lawyers
and engineers. The World’s Fair lamps
did not last long and had to be changed often, but Fair visitors never
knew this at the time. All they saw was the
beautiful lighting, and the name Westinghouse. The Fair was a huge success, attracting nearly 28 million
visitors in its six month run. The Westinghouse exhibits
had prime real estate. Just off the court of
honor sat the massive
electricity building, which was one of the
most popular attractions. The Westinghouse Electric
and Manufacturing Company occupied a huge
chunk of floor space right alongside their
rival, General Electric. In machinery hall, the
Westinghouse Electric Company showed off their complete
polyphase system. The generating plant for
the World’s Fair lighting was the largest alternating
current central station then in existence. To further amaze visitors, the complex switchboard used
to control all of the machines required only one operator. George Westinghouse attended
the Fair that summer, but left all the
planning and construction of the exhibits to his managers. Mr. E. E. Keller, the
Westinghouse manager of the World’s Fair
contract, said, “Like most of his
helpers, I felt ready “to march through fire for
him, and was amply repaid. “Such was the man,
Westinghouse.” In the end, they even
turned a profit of $16,000, not including advertising. Jim Sutherland: I’d
like to have been there. That would have been
a great experience to
walk through that place. But I understand no one person
could see the entire Fair during the summer, there
was so much to see. Voiceover: Many believe that
the greatest single thing to come out of the
Columbian Exposition was not Cracker Jack
or the Ferris Wheel, but that it finally settled
the AC versus DC battle of the currents
once and for all. The World’s Fair
helped Westinghouse win one of the most important
contracts in history. (music and rushing water) The hope of harnessing
the tremendous power of Niagara Falls
had been a dream of scientists and
engineers for decades. Top minds like Lord Kelvin and
Thomas Edison were involved, but by the fall of 1893,
the project remained
stuck in the mud suffering from the bitter
controversy over whether alternating current or direct
current should be used. It was the impressive
display of AC power at the World’s Fair
that gave Westinghouse
just the edge he needed, and even skeptics
like Lord Kelvin, who was once on the
DC side, gave in. Man: People came into the Fair
remembering the name Edison. They came away
thinking Westinghouse. William Terbo: It gave
the publicity that
George Westinghouse needed to really put in
position his ultimate goal, which is also Tesla’s
ultimate goal from childhood, to put the power system
into Niagara Falls. Voiceover: Now all the
power could be generated in one spot, and
transmitted many miles away with the help of transformers. On October 24, 1893,
Westinghouse Electric was awarded the contract
for three 5,000 horsepower alternating current
generators for Niagara Falls. The first hydroelectric
generator unit was
tested on April 16, 1895. A year later, three
seconds after midnight on November 16, 1896, Buffalo,
New York was receiving power from the mighty Niagara
Cataract for the first time. The battle of the currents
had been won by Westinghouse. William Terbo: It
was such an event. Tesla was there and spoke,
and he spoke at length. I understand from some
newspaper comments, spoke
at excessive length. Voiceover: Pieces of
the original power line from the 1895 test were
saved to honor the occasion. The Westinghouse
Electric Company finally started seeing returns on
their enormous investments into alternating current
and the polyphase system. Orders began to flood in. The original Niagara Falls
generators were joined by the addition of seven
similar units a few years later. Today, newer plants
and technology continue to harness
the hydroelectric
power of Niagara Falls. Edward Reis: Later
in life Nikola Tesla
was quoted as saying, “The only man in the world
that could have pulled off “alternating current
was George Westinghouse, “for he was the only
man that would come up
against Thomas Edison.” Voiceover: Even though
the battle of the currents may have been over,
the fierce competition between Westinghouse
and Edison continued. Edward Reis: It’s well known
today that Thomas Edison had 1,093 patents
during his lifetime. History also records
that George Westinghouse is credited with 361
patents during his lifetime. But again, understanding
the differences in
their personalities has a major impact on how
many patents each was granted. It is well known
and well documented that if you were a worker
that worked on an item that was patented and worked
for Thomas Edison, the name on that patent
was Thomas Edison. It’s also well known
and well documented that if you were a
worker that worked for George Westinghouse
at the time and had worked an item
that was patented, the name on the patent was that
of the empoloyee or the worker. Benjamin Lamme, for
example, one of the great
Westinghouse engineers, perhaps best known
for having designed the first three 5,000
horsepower generators that went into Niagara Falls, Benjamin Lamme alone
had 162 patents during his career
at Westinghouse, Everyone of them recorded in
the name of Benjamin Lamme. I always thought if we
could get all these patents of all the great engineers
and others that worked
for Westinghouse, if he had the same
practice as Edison of putting his name
on those patents, he’d have well excess,
also, of 1,000 patents
during his lifetime. Voiceover: George Westinghouse
always surrounded himself with the best and the brightest. Man: He had a real knack as
a manager that Edison didn’t, in that he could bring
a lot of very creative, very intelligent
people together, and at least get them to
work towards a project. These people are hard
to bring together. They had big egos. He was able to manage that. He was a tremendous manager, something that Edison was not an most inventors were not. (old time big band music) Voiceover: By 1900, George
Westinghouse had started or was associated with
nearly 40 companies. By 1910, that number would
rise close to 60 companies. He was worth many millions of
dollars several times over, although some joked that
Marguerite spent it faster than even he could make it. Man: Later in life George
Westinghouse worked on some other ideas that
perhaps he’s not as
well known for today. Westinghouse Electric
Company actually went into the production of
full-size Westinghouse alternating current
electric locomotives in the early part of the 1900s. This came about in part
because the east coast of the United States, the New
York City area, for example, considered steam
locomotives too dirty, and also too unsafe. There had been a great
wreck in New York when an engineer on
a steam locomotive failed to see the signals
because of the smoke
from the locomotive, so the east coast
of the United States electrified their railroads. Taking advantage of
that opportunity, Westinghouse Electric
manufactured full-size electric alternating
current locomotives at the East Pittburgh works of
Westinghouse Electric here in Pennsylvania. Voiceover: On May 16,
1905, he made history by combining two
of his passions; transportation and alternating
current electricity, where his electric
train was matched against a steam locomotive
of similar size. As he stands front and center, his smile is no doubt covered
by his trademark mustache. That day, his electric
locomotive proved superiority in handling a train
of 50 steel gondolas, opening up the future of new
electric railroad innovations for the Westinghouse
Electric Company. Westinghouse made tremendous
advances in the areas of railroad signalling
and interlocking. The Union Switch
and Signal Company, regarded as one of
his least glamorous but most important companies, was found in 1881. Quentin Skrabec: A lot of
people remember the air brake; they don’t remember all the work that Westinghouse did with
switching and signalling. You had trains on
the same track. They had to pick up signals. They had to make switches. The tracks had to be manually
switched a lot of times so the trains wouldn’t collide. Voicover: Signals tell a
train when to reduce speed, when to stop, and when to start, when to proceed under control, and when to go
ahead at full speed. Quentin Skrabec: The railroads
weren’t too interested in it. It was a safety issue, and
they weren’t really … Just like the brakes, they
didn’t come on stream with that. Westinghouse sort
of pushed that. He saw a need. Voiceover: Interlocking
provided control and operation of
switches and signals so that they moved
in certain sequences. It was said that if a
man were blindfolded and pulled levers at random,
he could stop traffic, but he could not
produce a collision. Edward Reis: They were
using air to switch tracks
was new at the time. They were also using electric
current down the railroad tracks so they could tell
where the trains were without having
observer in a tower, which had a major impact
on the ability to move lots of trains through
heavy traffic areas. Those two items alone
had a major impact on
the railroad industry. Voiceover: Another of his
lesser known inventions was the steam heater, which
used steam from the locomotive to warm train cars in
the dead of winter. Edward Reis: Later in
life, George Westinghouse also worked on a marine
turbine engine for
the shipping industry. Quentin Scrabec: What you have
in steam engines in shipping is steam engines turn
a shaft very quickly. Reduction gear allowed
that fast turning to move down to slow
turning with a lot of torque so it could drive
through the water. So the reduction gear
allowed for very efficient steam power of ships. (old movie music) Voiceover: George
Westinghouse was involved with industries related to
the newest mechanical marvel of the 20th century:
the automobile. He was influenced by
a device a chauffeur in Lenox used to reduce
road shocks in his car. Westinghouse noticed
that it needs changing
to make it successful, and a year later
saw the first set of Westinghouse air
springs installed on
one of his vehicles. It was recorded that he said, “They make a wonderful
difference in the riding
qualities of the car.” Edward Reis: He came up
with the idea of using air for shock absorbers on a car. So, for example, he
owned automobiles and obviously the roads
were kind of rough and the ride was kind of rough, so he, in effect, invented
the shock absorber
as we know it today. Voiceover: George Westinghouse
was always working for ideals. He was always trying to
produce a perfect product and commercial success
was bound to follow, and so was the prosperity
of his employees. But not everything that
he touched turned to gold. Edward Reis: Like
all great inventors, George Westinghouse
did have some failures. I wouldn’t necessarily say
they were major failures. His rotary steam engine,
his very first patent, for example, he was never able
to make it a commercial success, and yet that idea
of a rotating engine stayed with him
throughout his lifetime. He also worked for many, many
years on a steam turbine, and eventually acquired
the Parson steam turbine
patents from England because it was a better
steam turbine than the one
he had been working on. Was he successful with
the development of
his own steam turbine? The answer is no. But long term, all the
experience that he gained from having worked on his own
Westinghouse steam turbine, they reduced the size
of that engine by 2/3 and keeping the
same power output. Quentin Skrabec: Also, you
could set them up anywhere. You didn’t need a Niagara
Falls in your backyard. This allowed for electrical
generation across the country. This is where Westinghouse
was brilliant. He could get in
there on something that somebody else
had started like that, and really bring it
into commercialization. Edward Reis: They made
major improvements to the Parsons steam turbine
even though it was basically a very good design
to begin with. (slow, sad piano music) Voiceover: George
Westinghouse showed faith in his enterprises by investing
his own money in them. Many of his new businesses
were financed at the beginning by borrowing from his
seasoned companies, which had already
become successful, like Westinghouse Air Brake. Several times he imperiled
his entire fortune and his credit by investing
practically everything into his start-up companies
when others lacked faith. This meant he had more at risk, but the payout was
higher if they succeeded. The risks of this
method of finance culminated in the
disaster of 1907, which came to be the
tragedy of his life. The Westinghouse enterprises
had spread all over the world and their requirements for
working capital were immense. When the widespread money
crisis of 1907 arrived, his loans were called. Quentin Skrabec: Because he
was fascinated in new projects, he borrowed a lot of
money at the time, which was not his usual stop. He was sort of anti-banking. Not sort of; he was. He didn’t like to borrow money. He liked to generate investment
out of his own profits. He had a dislike for
bankers and that would
hurt him in the long run. But in the case of a lot
of electrical projects like the Niagara Fall
generating plant at the time, he was overextended in
his electrical company, no question about it. J. P. Morgan up in New
York had wanted to bring Westinghouse in to
an electrical trust with at the time
General Electric. Westinghouse disliked
trusts and refused. That put him at
odds with Morgan. Edward Reis: The bankers
were very tough individuals. They had taken Edison
Electric Company away from Thomas Edison in 1888. He was not happy about
that, by the way. There was a downturn
in the economy, a depression, if you would,
here in this country. George Westinghouse had just
invested a huge amount of money in building the East
Pittsburgh works of Westinghouse
Electric Company. He had quite a number
of outstanding loans. Loans were callable
in those days. If he were here
today, he’d tell you, he believed the bankers
used that as a reason to force him out of
control of the Westinghouse
Electric Company, which they did. Quentin Skrabec:
Newspapers, the Pittsburgh
newspapers in particular, blamed it on Westinghouse,
his poor management. So on top of everything
else, he’s getting headlines that he’s a poor manager. Now Morgan didn’t take
over Westinghouse. There were other bankers. It was really a
crushing blow to him. Voiceover: It was written
that this was the most considerable mercantile failure
that America has ever witnessed. Control of the Westinghouse
Electric Company passed
out of his hands. Ironically, his name remained
as their greatest asset. The writer of his biography said that as he was riding
with him one night, when passing the great
works at East Pittsburgh, George turned his face
towards the bleak hills on the other side of the way with an expression so pathetic
as to break one’s heart. Quentin Skrabec: He didn’t have
enough cash to make the payment. It was a temporary situation. It just wouldn’t happen today
for a big company like that. They would be able to get
money on the open market. But because Morgan
basically controlled the
open market in those days, even for the government
with no Federal Reserve, he could make that decision and
block that type of cash inflow that Westinghouse would
have easily gotten today. (soft piano music) That electrical
company was the company he loved the most at the time. It was where he was doing
all his progressive projects, all his scientific research. The air brake company,
which he retained, was pretty much steady business, so he went after another
group of inventions in a lot of different
ways that he could utilize the resources and the money
of his air brake company. Voiceover: The short
years of his life that
remained after the tragedy were filled with the
same unceasing activity. A friend asked him if he would
slow down, and he replied, “No, I do not feel that it would
be right for me to stop now. “I feel that I have been
given certain powers to create “and develop enterprises
in which other men “can find useful and
profitable employment, “and so long as I am able, “it is my duty to continue
to exercise those powers.” Lifelong, he was temperate
in everything but his work. In an era where everyone smoked, George Westinghouse did not. He rarely drank, and he
never used profanity. One writer said of him
that, “While Westinghouse’s “head was in the stars,
his substantial feet
were on the ground.” Late in 1913, his
health began to fade. What was called an organic
disease of the heart developed and he retired to his
home in Lenox to rest. During the illness,
his quizzical humor and inventive spirit lived on. But his body slowly faded away. On March 12, 1914 he died. It was said that drawings
for an electric wheelchair that he was designing were
nearby at the time of his death. Edward Reis: Upon his
death, his eight pallbearers were all his oldest workers
from the Westinghouse
Air Brake Company, including the very first
worker that he had ever hired. To have that honor
to be a pallbearer at George Westinghouse’s
funeral certainly showed the interaction
he had with average
workers in his plants. Voiceover: Marguerite
died a few months later. George and Marguerite
Westinghouse are buried in Arlington National Cemetery
beneath a modest headstone. He had requested to be
buried there in honor of
his Civil War service. (old time music) The world and the
Westinghouse companies
continued on after his death. His brother became the President
of Westinghouse Air Brake, which continued its
operations and growth. His son, George III, who
had passed an apprenticeship at the air brake works,
carried on the legacy and managed the family finances. Man: Westinghouse Air Brake
Company changed their name at one point in time to Wabco, but they’re still with us
today with the name Wabtec. Voiceover: Westinghouse Electric
and Manufacturing Company remained at the forefront
of the modern era as the country rapidly
embraced electric power and purchased new
machines and appliances to aid in daily life. In 1920, Westinghouse
made history by airing the first commercial
radio broadcast in the country. Edward Reis: They started
radio station KDKA. The first transmittal on
that radio station was done in November 1920 from
atop the K buidling at the East Pittsburgh
works of Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing
Company as it was
called at the time. They broadcast the presidential
election returns that year. That was the very
successful first commercial radio broadcast in
the United States. KDKA went on to become a
very successful company. The very first year
that they operated, they operated from a
studio atop the K buidling at the East Pittsburgh works, and they actually had a tent. It was said you could
hear the train whistles in the background because
they were in a tent they had not way to
keep that sound out of the radio programs
at that point in time. (upbeat movie music) Voiceover: Say,
what Fair’s this? Female: It’s the
Westinghouse Freedom Fair. You’ll find it in every
Westinghouse dealer’s store in every town in
the United States. So go to the Fair
at your dealer’s. See these seven great
Westinghouse appliances and learn how they bring
you hours of freedom from drudgery every day. For instance, here’s
freedom from all the nuisance and
mess of defrosting. (slow big band music) Voiceover: For decades,
Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company
appliances were considered to be the leaders in
their field; well built, well engineered, and
fashionably styled. Their ads ran everywhere
and influenced American pop art and pop culture
for generations. Female: Oh, and that reminds me, when you cook the
Westinghouse Electric way, you’re free from an
overheated kitchen, and you’re free, too, from
all the grease and grime that forms on walls and curtains
from other kinds of cooking. Voiceover: Westinghouse
advertisements from the early 20th century showed just how
happy the American housewife was with a kitchen full
of Westinghouse
Electric appliances. No longer did she have to
slave over a hot oven all day. Now, she could set a
clock, go out on the
town with her friends, and come home to dinner
waiting for her and her family. (big band music) For the fellows out there, tired
of using a crank in the morning? Westinghouse gave them
batteries to start their cars. In 1916, Westinghouse
Electric introduced a revolutionary toaster
that flipped bread slices, evenly toasting both sides. Things we take for granted
now, were brand new back then. Electricity was used to
power fans, curling irons, light bulbs, radios,
coffee percolators, and a variety of
Westinghouse Electric wares. In the early days before
standardized AC wall outlets, these devices screwed right
in to your light sockets. Smooth curves, sleek
lines, and chrome accents are hallmark traits of
their famous 1930s line
of electric appliances. In the George
Westinghouse tradition of surrounding himself with
the best and the brightest, Westinghouse Electric
filled its ranks with industrial designers
like Ralph Kruck and created products with
such style and originality that remain collectors’
items today. These rare hand-drawn
sketches by Kruck and rough drafts of
refrigerators, washing machines, vacuums and other appliances show the amount of
work and ingenuity that went into their
manufactured goods for decades. In the 1950s, their
advertisements and slogans heralded a new era of
comfort and convenience. Female: And the
Westinghouse Electric sink frees you forever
from washing dishes. Here is freedom from
cooking drudgery. Voiceover: “You can be
sure if it’s Westinghouse” became a national
catchphrase in 1954. Famous actors like Ronald
Reagan, Betty Furness, and Edward G. Robinson appeared
in Westinghouse advertisements. Cartoon characters like
Blondie and Dagwood celebrated their electric
life on board games. Female: And remember, you can
be sure if it’s Westinghouse. (old movie music) Voiceover: The Westinghouse
marketing machine
knew no boundaries and had friends in
the highest places. In the 1940s the Walt
Disney Company produced
a promotional film for the Westinghouse
Electric Company, showing what advancements
Westinghouse was making in the area of
household appliances, electricity, and
modern comforts. Radio announcer: 1910,
however, brings into our lives what some people are
calling a miracle. A new servant, not
very well trained yet, but willing and
cheerful: electricity. It lightens our homes, but not yet does it
lighten our housework. David Cope: This is a
Westinghouse turkey roaster. My grandmother had this, and she had it back in
the late ’30s, early ’40s. We have used it every year
for Thanksgiving since then. Radio announcer: By the
1930s a new day at last. Our servant, electricity,
has learned to cool and heat, wash and iron, roast and toast. We get a house, stuff
it with furnishings, and then try to stuff
ourselves in last. David Cope: Dependable. It’s what you think
of Westinghouse. Old line, dependable, usable. You’re talking 60
years of dependability. Industrial designers
at the time knew that if they made something
aesthetically nice, people would by it. Then aesthetically
they could change it and people would have to
have the newer models. Radio announcer: Let’s
look inside that wall. You see, everything
is going along fine with only 1,950 watts
plugged into the circuit. The refrigerator, the iron, the coffee maker, and the radio. But, if we plug in
that extra 1,150 watts, just see what happens when it
hits and overloads the circuit. (cartoon sounds) Voiceover: Although some
of their predictions of the future were
a bit far fetched, much of what we see in the
film was brought to reality by the Westinghouse Electric
and Manufacturing Company. (smash) Voiceover: Oh,
goodness, what was that? Radio announcer: That’s
what happens when we try to load too many watts
on poor electric circuit. Female: And here are America’s
favorite laundry twins, the Westinghouse Laundromat
and the Clothes Dryer. Radio announcer: This
is the new Laundromat. It does everything but think. Quentin Skrabec: Industrial
designers consider the Westinghouse Laundromat and
the Westinghouse Clothes Dryer as excellent examples of early
modern industrial design. Actually, Westinghouse
created the name Laundromat for the washing machine, and they had the twin,
as they called them, the Westinghouse twins,
with the Clothes Dryer. Now one year and one year only, this Clothes Dryer
Westinghouse had, had a built-in unit that
when the Clothes Dryer finished the drying cycle, it would play the
song, How Dry I Am. Now we have the unit
mounted on top here so one can also see the
device that was used to play that song, How Dry I Am. Radio Announcer: Put in
the clothes, set the dials, add soap, and it washes,
rinses and damp dry, ready for the electric dryer, where the clothes are
tumbled about in heated air until they’re completely
dry, soft and fluffy. (excited music) Jim Sutherland: I think
Westinghouse Electric
had its golden age during and soon after
the Second World War. Now, of course this was 30 years
after George Westinghouse died so you can’t credit
that directly with
George Westinghouse, but it’s the legacy that
George Westinghouse, as a man, left that was
developed into a company that could produce
the many, many things that they made during the
Second World War and afterward. They made gun control
systems for tanks that allowed them to fire
while the tank was moving. It stabilized the motion
of the tank platform. They made torpedoes. They made DDT canisters. They made binoculars. They also made helmet liners. They fired chickens
through windshields to test airplane windshields
in East Pittsburgh. They had a compressed air cannon and they would fire dead
chickens at the glass panels that they’d set up
and see which panels could withstand a
head-on collision with
a chicken at 200 mph. (airplanes flying sounds) If you were a pilot,
it was pretty important to know that your glass
had been tested! (chuckle) (big band music) Voicover: In true
Westinghouse tradition, throughout the 20th century many of their most spectacular
marketing and advertising displays, innovations,
and spectacles were featured at World’s Fairs. As one newspaper
headline put it, “Everywhere Around the
Fairs, it’s Westinghouse.” George had always
like World’s Fairs because he believed that
they made the public more conscious of the
name Westinghouse. David Cope: World’s Fairs
were used as a promotional. You have to remember, they
didn’t have advertising, per se, that we have today where people
could see how things worked. Voiceover: Westinghouse had
been a constant presence at these massive events sine the
Centennial Exhibition in 1876. At the St. Louis
Exposition in 1904, Westinghouse occupied more
than 70,000 square feet of Exhibition space with their
growing empire of companies. In 1933, nearly 20 years
after their founder’s death, Westinghouse made a
memorable impression at the Century of
Progress Fair in Chicago. The motto for the Fair was “Science finds, industry
applies, man conforms.” It was once again held along
the shore of Lake Michigan. Man: So people came
away with the name … They knew that Westinghouse
was a good, solid name. It meant security,
it meant electricity that was going to
come into their homes and be able to provide
them a new way of life. Voiceover: In 1936,
Westinghouse was there again with a strong,
glamorous presence for the Great Lakes
Exposition in Cleveland. The main attraction in
the Westinghouse booth was the little theater
with the revolving stage of five scenes called
Leisure for Living. It was usually packed,
for it was the only air-conditioned
enclosure on the grounds. The Fair was deemed a
success as Westinghouse reported a dramatic sales
increase in the region following the event. Westinghouse Day was
celebrated as trains from East Pittsburgh brought
employees and their families to the Golden Jubilee,
commemorating the
50th anniversary of the Westinghouse Electric
and Manufacturing Company. Male: She’s [consistently]
diving into the bottom of the dark and greasy water
to search for knives and forks, dishwater splashing
around [unintelligible] all over Mrs. Drudge. The rubber apron
isn’t much help now. She’s splashing so hard
it’s getting all over me. Voiceover: The 1939 World’s
Fair could have been the one show where
Westinghouse really came close to outdoing its
1893 performance. Their marketing department
came out swinging with robots, singing
fountains, time capsules, and the battle of the
century’s dish washing contest. New York City hosted
the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows with its
theme The World of Tomorrow. It was thought that the
public had forgotten all about the battle
of the currents and they were going to
New York to dramatize Westinghouse’s mastery
of electricity. David Cope: Almost every
Fair building in 1939 had no exterior windows. Westinghouse differentiates
themselves because their building is
shaped like an omega with these two
marvelous glass fronts that people looked into and
saw what was going on inside. They showed
absolutely every part of their production
lines at the time without showing a great
deal of their products. Elderly lady: That’s
what I call smart, making time the theme
of the home exhibits. No one who hasn’t
cooked over a wood stove with the light of kerosene lamp can really appreciate
what it all means. Voiceover: A fierce
competition took place daily in the Westinghouse auditorium. The Battle of the Centuries
pitted Mrs. Drudge armed with only a
dishpan, soap, and towel, against Mrs. Modern, armed
with a Westinghouse dishwasher, in a dramatic dual to
see who could wash 50
dishes the fastest. Male: 7 minutes and 58 seconds. In that time Mrs. Modern
has washed 50 dishes and 40 pieces of silverware. It’s all over Mrs. Drudge. You may as well
rest now. (laughter) Voiceover: Contestants
were rated on the time they took to wash
50 soiled dishes, the cleanliness of the dishes, and the condition of
the contestants at the
end of the contest. Male: Now, point number 3. The condition of
the contestants. Mrs. Modern looks as
fresh and neat as when
she stepped into the ring, while Mrs. Drudge, well, I’ll
have to leave that to you! (audience laughing) So, ladies and gentlemen, I give
you the winner, Mrs. Modern. (audience applause) Voiceover: As if
that wasn’t enough, one of the greatest
publicity schemes of all time was created by Westinghouse when Elektro, the Moto-Man,
appeared at the Fair. (suspense music) Man: And so, ladies
and gentlemen, with a great deal of
pride and pleasure, I present to you Elektro,
the Westinghouse Moto-Man. Elektro, come here. And here he comes,
ladies and gentlemen, walking up to greet you
under his own power. David Cope: People have to
have something to remember. You can show an electric
iron and people say, oh,
that’s pretty exciting. But you can have a robot
that uses all the technology that Westinghouse had at
the time, put it together, and it does these
marvelous tricks. They’re not going to go home
and say, “we saw an iron.” “We saw Elektro!” Again, they’re
going home and say, “Where did you see Electro?” “Well, Westinghouse.” Voiceover: It was
thought that thanks to
Westinghouse engineering some day robots will do
all our household chores, and even walk the dog,
assuming that dog is Sparko, the robotic dog who
appeared with him
during part of the Fair. At 7 feet tall and 260
pounds, Elektro did some
pretty amazing things. Man: You see, all I need to do
is to speak into this phone, and Elektro does exactly
what I tell him to do. Voiceover: Elektro could
differentiate between
the colors red and green and would speak out
“red” or “green.” Most importantly, he smoked
cigarettes by the dozens, and not only puffed
them in inhaled, but blew the smoke in great
billows from his nostrils. (crowd noise) Male: And folks, he’s only two
years old, too; just learning. Elderly lady: Why
he’s almost human! Lady in gold hat:
If he wasn’t so big I’d take him for an engineer. Man: Westinghouse would
have loved Elektro. Westinghouse would have
loved the whole exhibit. It showed first of
all solid workmanship, and I think that’s what
Westinghouse means. When you think of
Westinghouse, you’re thinking of solid craftsmanship,
dependability,
and inventiveness. Electro: Who? Me? Male: Yes, you. Electro: Okay, toots. Voiceover: During a
radio interview with KDKA on his way to the World’s
Fair, Elektro said, “I’m so tough I’m the
only guy in the world “that really shaves
with a blow torch!” He was not so tough as to
withstand water, though. Specific instructions were given
not to take him out in the rain. Elektro was actually
the third in a line of Westinghouse robots that
started in 1927 with Televox. In 1932, Westinghouse
created Willie Vocalite. One far-fetched idea
for the 1939 Fair, which was mercifully scrapped, was to convert Willie
Vocalite into Electro’s
woman companion robot, and to have her do dishes
and vacuum at the Fair. David Cope: People for centuries
had put things into boxes. You’re building a building,
you put a cornerstone, you put a box and you
put some things in. Westinghouse comes
up with an idea. We’re going to have this
for 5,000 years later. People are going to open it
up and see what 1939 was like. Voiceover: The time capsule
was filled with artifacts of the day including a
slide rule, hats, seeds, cigarettes, and letters from
scientists like Albert Einstein. Made of cupaloy, it was meant
to be a 5,000 year time capsule and to be opened
in the year 6939. It remains buried
today in the same spot. The letters from
Einstein and other famous
scientists of the time hinted at the dangers
of atomic weapons and the possibility that mankind
might not be around in 6939 to open the time capsule. (exciting music) At the 1964 World’s Fair,
things began to change. Radio announcer: Near
the Astral Fountain in the federal and states
area of the World’s Fair is the time capsule
exhibit of the Westinghouse
Electric Corporation. Three tall towers poised
against the Long Island sky mark the spot where
Westinghouse buried the first time capsule in 1938. Man: I think 1893 and
1939 changed culture. I think ’64 only reflected
the change in the culture. I don’t know that Westinghouse
was devoid of ideas, but it was a time period when
they did repeat themselves. Not a very exciting exhibit. When you look at the
Westinghouse exhibit, they simply seemed almost tired. Radio announcer: The
Westinghouse time capsules; legacy for the people
of the year 6939, proving that man not only
endures, he also prevails. (music) (gentle big band music) Voiceover: Mirroring the
changes seen at the 1964 Fair, corporate culture
and consumerism were
changing America. Anti-trust laws through
the mid 20th century had been hard on the company,
forcing them to break up. The once mighty Westinghouse
manufacturing plants were regarded as outdated. Foreign competition was
creeping in, and energy
costs were rising. As times were changing
and lower performing
divisions had to be cut it was difficult to maintain
the kind of relationship with its workers that the
good old days permitted. Gone forever were company bands, the Westinghouse athletic teams, employee housing, and the
lawn and garden contests. Jim Sutherland: Now,
Westinghouse in 1955 had 55% of their refrigerator
market in the United States. For any company to have
55% of a market is amazing. Twenty years later they
had to sell the division to get money to
buy a cable system. Voiceover: Even
though Westinghouse
was widely thought of as having the best engineers,
designers, and technology, they could no longer
keep their costs down
to remain competitive. Joseph Deley: He said at
our display last night, all the products
really looked great, but I heard this morning
that all the products were stolen by a thief
except the toaster. The bottom line of that
was we had a lousy toaster
in the field. (chuckles) Voiceover: The remainder
of the 20th century and into the new millennium, the Westinghouse
companies and divisions went through various changes,
sell-offs, and mergers. In today’s global economy
where companies like Toshiba, Siemens,
Schindler Group, Philips,
and Northrop Grumman own former divisions of
the Westinghouse companies, it has been joked in articles, “Can you be sure if
it’s Westinghouse?” Jim Sutherland: Today there’s
only one company that’s called Westinghouse Electric
Company and it’s the group that is designing and
building nuclear power plants. All the other companies have
been changed to other names as they were bought by
Siemens and Emerson, Cutler-Hammer; large companies
that are very successful today. It’s the same engineers doing
the same development work, but the name Westinghouse
does not appear
outside over the door. Today, CBS manages
and licenses the use of the Westinghouse Electric
Corporation name and logo that appear on a variety
of products that rely
on the circle-bar “W” to market a familiar and
trusted brand name to consumers. It was said years
earlier by E. E. Keller, 1893 World’s Fair manager,
that George Westinghouse was an exceedingly modest
man, very unassuming, and almost retiring. He disliked self advertising, but strongly advocated
the advertising of
products and performance; therefore, the name Westinghouse had become synonymous
with ingenuity, initiative, courage,
and accomplishment, and was unquestionably the
company’s most valuable asset. Paul Kravath, a
friend and associate, said that he was the soul of
the enterprises that he created. That soul is immortal. Because of this, it
can be said today that Westinghouse is
remembered primarily as the name of a company,
while Thomas Edison is remembered as America’s
greatest inventor. Edward Reis: Yeah, history has
treated Thomas Edison quite well compared to George
Westinghouse, considering that the world was
electrified using Westinghouse
alternating current. Today many people
attribute all successes in electricity to Thomas Edison. It came about for a
number of reasons; personality primarily. George Westinghouse was a
very reserved individual. He did not seek the limelight. He did not seek media attention. In fact, he tried to avoid it. Thomas Edison, on the other
hand, liked media attention. He very much like to
be in the limelight, and he liked to talk about
his successes to the media. He was also from the New
Jersey/New York area, where the media provided
a lot more coverage than they would here in the
smokey city of Pittsburgh. The other advantage
that Thomas Edison had is he outlived George
Westinghouse by 17 years. Voiceover: In a twist of irony, the American Institute
of Electrical Engineers honored George Westinghouse
for his tenacious work in establishing the
alternating current system by awarding him
the Edison Medal. He was offered, and
accepted, the presidency of the American Society of
Mechanical Engineers in 1910. Westinghouse received
many other honors, including a spot in the Hall
of Fame for Great Americans. David Cope: Having been a
teacher, Edison is played up in every major American
history textbook. He is still that touchstone
inventor that we think about. Westinghouse gets the
mention but not the due
course that he should. Quentin Skrabec: Westinghouse
was a people person. He loved to have family picnics. He loved to have Christmas
parties for his employees. He loved to walk through the
plant and talk to his employees. He got involved with
them personally when
they needed help. Joseph Deley: One interesting
story that I can tell you while I was on the
trade was I was working with an older fellow
in the lathe group. His name was Harry,
who by the way, when he was in his
teens or my age, he was doing the same
thing, running a lathe, in East Pittsburgh. Poor Harry one day was having
problems making a part. He kind of got upset
and in his anxiety threw a hammer on
the floor in disgust. Unfortunately, when he looked
up, George Westinghouse was walking down the aisle and
saw Harry with his problem. George come over
to Harry and says, “How you doing? What’s
up? What’s the problem?” Harry told him, showed
him the blueprint that he was having
trouble making a part, George looked at it and said, “Move over,” took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, put down his briefcase, and helped Harry make the part, then put his jacket
back on, and said, “I’ll see you later,” and left. Harry told me that story
when he was in his 60s and I was 17 and I’ll
never forget that story
as long as I live. William Terbo: Among
the things that Tesla found most interesting
in Westinghouse was his patents on air
brake, the railroad business, because he recognized from
his background in Europe in which the trains were
doing the same as they
were in this country, their trains were running
together at all sorts of times and not stopping properly, that he saw that
George Westinghouse was a consummate
inventor himself. Quentin Skrabec: He had such a
following of his own employees. Very rarely do you see that. When he was even
in trouble in 1907 and he couldn’t get
money from the bank, his employees tried to chip in. They didn’t have enough. Jim Sutherland: People are
in Westinghouse Air Brake and Westinghouse
Electric and Union Switch
and Signal companies are very loyal to the spirit
of George Westinghouse that filled their companies. That spirit was something
that you could not purchase. It was a gift. Edward Reis: The
Westinghouse Electric Company was getting ready to
celebrate its 50th anniversay in the year 1936, so they wrote
a letter and sent that letter to some older retirees
in Westinghouse Electric, older workers from
Westinghouse Air Brake, the Union Switch
and Signal Company, the other Westinghouse
companies. They also sent letters to
people that they thought may have interacted
with George Westinghouse at one time or another. For example, they sent letters
to the various railroads. They asked these
individuals to write back with personal remembrances
of interactions with George Westinghouse. This large stack of
letters came back and they’re very interesting
letters; very personal. They’re a real insight
into his personality. They’re a real insight into
the various business practices that he had and his ability
to get along with people. It’s most interesting
and very fortunate that these letters exist today. Voiceover: Those who
knew George Westinghouse and served with him in
the army of industry considered him to be America’s
greatest industrialist and held him in
the highest regard. Personal letters from
Westinghouse employees speak volumes about the
character and personality of the man whom they
refer to as Uncle George. E. E. Keller said that
all of his employees who came in personal
contact with him seemed to catch his enthusiasm and were glad to do the job
in hand for Uncle George. Westinghouse had many nicknames. Former employees wrote letters
about how the “Old Man” paid for their train fare
and tickets to attend the 1876 Centennial
Exposition in Philadelphia where Westinghouse Air
Brake made their first World’s Fair appearance. The same employee said
that when the “Chief” asked them to work all weekend
to finish a job on time, they felt honored to do so. George Verity, former Director
of Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company,
said, “His industries “were so solidly and completely
built around his personality “that the name
Westinghouse was ingrained “in our national industrial
structure for all time to come. “As I knew him, he was
an outstanding man, “who not only created
many new things, “but he also put old things
together in a new way, “and then motivated
both the new and the old “with an invisible,
mystic and titanic power.” Paul Cravath said, “I
am sure that none of us “has ever known a man
who combine the qualities “of faith, imagination,
and courage “as they are combined
in George Westinghouse. “But he was never so engrossed
in his great achievements “that he did not have time
to help a friend in need. “I need not say that we shall
never see his like again.” A former foreman said,
“During the panic of 1893 “many men were laid off
at the Electric Company, “but Mr. Westinghouse said,
‘Get those men back to work. “‘I am not hard up.'” It was recorded that
he ordered his workers to do odd jobs around the
shop rather than be laid off. Scientific American
said, “He succeeded “because he believed in
himself and in his invention. “An inventor who is a pessimist
is doomed to failure.” Mr. Samuel Gompers,
former President of the American
Federation of Labor said, “I will say this for
George Westinghouse. “If all employers of men
treated their employees “with the same
consideration as he does, “the American Federation
of Labor would have to
go out of existence.” Andrew Carnegie summed
it up by saying, “George Westinghouse is a
genius who can’t be downed.” In the modern era, when
many billionaire CEOs are indicted for fraud,
corruption, and theft, their former employees celebrate
when they are sent to jail. In contrast, 16 years after the
death of George Westinghouse, in 1930, former Westinghouse
working class employees paid for the construction
and dedication of a monument honoring him that remains standing in
Pittsburgh’s Schenley Park. (music) It says, “George Westinghouse, “Union soldier,
citizen of Pittsburgh, “founder of
Westinghouse industries, “benefactor of humanity through
his labors and inventions.” (music) Much has changed since his
days as a Cavalry trooper. His companies have
come and gone, expanded, contracted,
and changed. Solitude was demolished in 1919 and the land donated
for a city park. The George Westinghouse
Memorial Bridge, built in 1932, remains standing. (music) Alternating current, air brakes, and many of his
other innovations continue to shape the modern
world that we live in today. (music) Man: George
Westinghouse once said, “If some day they say
of me that in my work “I have contributed
something to the welfare “and happiness of my fellow
man, I shall be satisfied.” (music) Jim Sutherland:
Everybody was proud to work for Westinghouse
in those days. If you asked a person
who was a Marine, “Are you a Marine or
were you a Marine?” they’ll say. ” I am a Marine,” even though it might
have been 40 years ago that they were serving
in the Marine Corps. As a Westinghouse engineer,
I am a Westinghouse engineer. (gentle music)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

100 Comments

  1. I did not see, any mention of Edison been responsible for the Brooklyn Doggers name, before the team moved to Los Angeles…Well basically Edison DC, was electrocuting people, as they done that poor Elephant…

  2. Love this documentary, and the fascinating people as well! Mr. Westinghouse was a great man and I wish I could’ve known him. I tend to agree with the comment made about Mr. Tesla being not from this world. LOL he truly was a genius.

  3. Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest inventor of our time, was never in any power struggle with Westinghouse or anyone else for that matter. The so called alternating current lighting that this documentary gave to Westinghouse was actually Nikola Tesla’s invention when he lit the Colombia fair with ac current!

  4. Westinghouse was a spoiled rich prick that worked hard with his Daddy's fourtunes to rape steal and murder his way to multi billionaire status.
    If I could go back in time I would prevent most all things we know today from ever leaving the minds of men.
    The world would know nothing but sticks and stones and bones forever.

  5. today, you pay the power bill, thanks to Mr. Westinghouse. If it were up to Mr. Tesla, you would never pay a power bill

  6. know nothing about him but he seems like a fraud who took advantage, what did he ever design? maybe ill google it so spare me the replies

  7. I absolutely love the production value of this video. This is what I miss of History Channel. Now they’re super weird. The narrator is fantastic as well. Very smooth, calm voice.

  8. My father got his engineering degree from Penn State and went directly from there to work for Westinghouse. He worked at Hunt Valley MD. My great-grandfather worked for Westinghouse in the Pittsburgh area. So proud of he fact that my family worked for that company. Westinghouse was the better man.

  9. No mention of the Hungarian ZBD, team nor Englishman Sebastian Ferranti.
    Mr. Westinghouse was a hero to all us engineers, but let us not forget the scientists that discovered the principles that enable engineers to invent.

  10. 2:50 '…Westinghouse has been a household name, the world over, for over 100 years…because of one man…'
    😁😯😟
    oh?!…oh, how embarrassing!? I'm so terribly sorry…it says here in my historical research that Nikola Tesla was most responsible for that whole ya know, '…hundred years…household name…technological innovative products used the world over.' Ehh, who cares about actual facts… baaaah!
    🖕👊👊

  11. As wolfu597 has stated in his comments George Westinghouse should be remembered as much as Thomas Edison, but I would go a step further and say that George Westinghouse deserves far more recognition and respect for his TRULY EGALITARIAN principles in employment.
    Westinghouse would give credit to any employee who came up with a workable system for any application in his factory, that man would have the patent registered in his name rather than Westinghouse. That is egalitarianism WRIT LARGE!
    Edison, if an employee of his came up with an idea for a device that proved workable, Edison would take credit himself, leaving the person who came up with the idea out in the cold and in obscurity. That is OBSCENE EGOTISM!

  12. What a Great Man He was To help the world and his works with houses etc
    It’s too bad company’s don’t car about anything but making them selves rich. And stepping on others

  13. The main problem with Americans, is they tend to forget that they have got a lot of there abilities from other countries,who else uses 110 to 115v as there supply voltage,and white cable as live

  14. Thomas Edison was the Dotard Trump of his age. Extraordinary self-promoter with little to do with anything except taking credit for other's work and not taking responsibility for his failures.

  15. The image at 29:28 is actually Andrew Carnegie and his mother being driven into Carnegie's birthplace of Dunfermline, Scotland- not good folks in Pittsburgh going to see George Westinghouse's gas well.

  16. America was the richest and greatest country in the history of the world and has been totally sold out very sad and pathetic

  17. America and the American people shed blood built gave wealth to the world now the laughingstock of the world heartbreaking sad times in the world

  18. Westinghouse was most likely a professional patent thief who had access to technological designs which far pre-dated him. Had that not been the case, there would have been no need for Tesla.

  19. What an interesting program this was…George Westinghouse was a brilliant, very talented engineer, and company founder, who had a good relationship and extreme loyalty with his employees… A very good businessman too… Thomas Edison seemed to be more interested in smearing the reputations of his competitors, instead of respecting their ideas…

  20. My dad was a welder for 36 years at Westinghouse transformer division in Sharon Pa. My grandfather worked there too after migrating from Ukraine. He would walk in the snow for 2 hours just to see if they would hire him for the day circa 1940. Then eventually got a full time job and bluffed his way into a welding position. They both worked there till retirement. The roof of the steel mills were shaped in a way that enemy bombers wouldn't recognize them should the US be invaded. They we're filled with smoke, enough noise to jar your teeth loose, and intense heat. The asbestos they had to wear to keep from becoming a human torch added to the rough work conditions. They spoke well of George W. and got the day off on his birthday although he had passed. When I struggle on a job I think about the conditions they worked under without complaining it helps me move forward.

  21. at one time in the past, company's wanted their employees to succeed , both thrived. now, company's only want to screw their employees otta everything they can. thats why we're in the shape we're in today.
    hats off, MR WESTINGHOUSE

  22. It's funny how all people who became great were never good at school and didn't like class hhh. That right there tells you that going to school is not a natural way to learn .

  23. You know that zit that's in the center of your back that no matter what you do you just can't reach it. That's Edison. Thank god Tesla was there to squeeze the puss out of that douche bag. Other wise there would have been a stamp on this comment!

  24. Dude in Chief! Not as famous as Edison or Tesla, but waaaaaay cooler! And clearly a better influence on humanity.. I wish I'd known this 40 years ago.

  25. In the 1980s I worked as an outside automation expert with the Westinghouse Combustion Division in Wooster Ohio. They were top notch people, innovative, well educated and absolutely dedicated. They proved to be disarmingly charming and gentlemanly in their interactions with everyone they brought on board to their projects.

  26. LOL we're not gonna talk about the Wardenclyffe Tower and how Westinghouse screwed over Tesla and the public because the system couldn't be metered!

  27. People worship Tesla like he was a scientific genius, yet he didn't believe the electron or radiowaves existed and thought Einstein and relativity was pseudo-science. But he invented a coil and people hail him a revolutionary?

    Tesla is a falsegod and you people are fools.

  28. GEORGE MY ASS…..WHITEWESTINGHOUSE FOOLS….FIRST L12 THE ROCK REFINERY LED MERQUIRY ALUMINUM SILVER PILAC TINGA 925 FROM MOUNTAIN TOP NORTH NEVADA CARSON CITY LAKE TAHOE LAKE BERRYESSA WATER FALLS RIVERSIDE WEST WASHINGTON EURICA SAN FRANCISCO TIJUANA… SEATTLE SAN FRANCISCO SAN DIEGO…MONO RAIL MAGNETICFEILDS..EURICA MUNICIPAL TRAIN TROLLEY VERRING AMERICAN CANYON CANALS CREEKS DAM PARKS FRESH WATER MOST HEAVIEST WITH MERQUIRY..SALTED ACIDS CORROSIVE

  29. THOSE STUPID STATE EUROPEANS UNATIONS..UNTED STATE EGYPTIANS….THOSE ARE PEOPLE ORGANIZATION UNIONS….NOT A PLACE LAND TREASURED JUST ASSHOLES MADE BY RELIGIONS FAUGET…..i9 j9

  30. Trees Snake Umans SAT URA TER SATURDAY STANDARD NO QUALITY…WHITE WESTINGHOUSE PFIZER FRIGEDAIRE VACUUMED DEHYDRATED MER DEHYDROXIDE DEHYDRAULIQUIDS DRY ICED VACUUMED WITH PRESSURIZED HYDRALIQUIDATIONS NITROGEN .. I DIED I RAISED BLUNDIES VULAKE ..BOUYS…

  31. MOTORS ARE ALL AC MAGNETIC COILS ALL UNATIONSINCE URA NEPH EUROPEANS. USTATE VEN SAT ESTABLISHED EGYPTIANS….WHITE WESTINGHOUSE EMERALDS QUIRYSTAL ROCKSTONES RUVYS ..AUPITER21 V2V2 MYRVLES 1 9 PLUTO VIOLET VIRGO PITER PACIFIC OSEAN TIERRAS PIER WATER CURRENTS GROUNDED . …VOLTEX VIRGO

  32. SHUT THE FUCK UP GRAYS …NOT BLOUNDIES NOT VLANDTRYS ….MACHINA BELONGS TO QUINAS RETARTED.. SEX TAMALES FEMALES.GEN DER EGY GRE DENMARK DECOY NOT DUTCH…RARE SPRITE NO CREATIONS BEINGS VEINGS PQRS TUVY

  33. Wealth ideas never become broke BANKRUPTCY LIKE THE ONLY REAL SON SPIRITS HAS RIGHTS TREASURY IN THIS LAND AMERIQUIA DONALD J TRUMP FIRST VBLUNDIES…HAS VISIONS MEMORABLE CREATE TO IMPROVE HOSPITALITY SERVICES HIGHEST QUALITY…NOT DEMOCRACY NOT REPUBLICAN..I KNOW PANDEMONIUM GET READY…UGLYS…

  34. George Westinghouse, according to the pseudo history they teach us, was a great man, I admire people with such quality, because they above anything material a man can possess. Money does not make great men out of scoundrels, but their deeds do. Apparently, he was greater than his accomplishments. That is why he is in my list of people to look up to, but Edison…he was a piece of shit.

  35. Westinghouse, Tesla and Edison, if they were re-born today, would be crushed by legislators, accountants and politicians. Plus the safety- and environmental fanatics.

  36. A pity there was no mention of the Westinghouse brake and signal company. Our railways are safer because of the signal control relays that he made and a system that still is used today.

  37. Wonderful documentary. Only knew the name, now I know about the man, Thank you. Lady narrating has a lovely voice btw.

  38. But of the two new informations reveal that Edison was the one most like modern bussinessmen; he lied, stole and, apparently, murdered other inventors to get to their inventions and patents!

  39. 1:03:40. Edison was probably committing inequitable conduct by naming himself on all of the patents emanating from his laboratory. The name of the true inventor must be stated on the patent application.

  40. A man opened his refrigerator. There sat a rabbit. He asked it what the hell he was doing. The rabbit said, "Well, it said Westinghouse and I'm just in here westing.

  41. My dad worked at Westinghouse for 40 years . 1st in Lima Ohio Westinghouse small motors. We move to Pittsburgh. It was about 1968. Dad was a Personal Director working building computers which were a new idea, then We moved to Orlando Fl. where Westinghouse Built COMPUTERS. I work 8 years building computers for Westinghouse. They paid for 2 years of my college on an educational reimbursement in the seventies. In Pittsburgh Westinghouse had about 17 large companies moving to Orlando was a Great step up for my father. the compassion for the employee my dad had I guess came from George Westinghouse as a Personnel director getting people their vacation and paychecks on Time.

  42. Employees could buy from the store with a payroll deductible. My dad worked Westinghouse over 40 years, my mom was very happy when dad let her buy something, not from the Company store The quality was good of the products though and many of them last a very long time.

  43. What a true testament to the way all people are supposed to be towards all people!!!!!!!! We need more George Westingthouses to com forward today as opposed to the so many Thomas Edison's in control!!! And I pray Thomas Edison paid penance for his cruelty to human and animal alike or was dealt with by GOD upon his death! IF Edison was not the one who pulled of the elephant cruel stunt may the same be for that individual as well!!!!!!!!! That is just wrong, disgusting and sick, as is all of the lies and stealing Edison did throughout his life all for the betterment of himself alone!! I would have loved to have worked with both Nickola Tesla and Westinghouse!!!! And Morgan and Edison would not have been so sure of themselves nor been as popular as they were if I had been in the same areas as were they!!!!!

  44. On the subject of Westinghouse patents, IF those numbers are ever found and added up, be sure to add just one more to the list, being that he stayed true to himself, but just as important to those he worked with, something truly GREAT!!!!!!The doings that lost him control of his companies was nothing more than the evil banksters, Morgan and the Rothschiild's wanting as much of the money as they could get!!

  45. 1:43:35 He takes off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, THEN he put down his brief case. After he was done he put his jacket back on and leaves WITHOUT his brief case. HE will never forget that story…

  46. I feel sorry for him. He was a genius and created something great. And like today the bankers and the wealthy elite didn't want a truly good man who cared for the average worker to get so influential and become one of the Masters of the universe because he does what's rite ! So what did they do. They kick him out and then use his name and reputation so they can continue to keep the common man down and they can retain their place of power and control! We really need to make laws to curb the power of the wealthy elite and give ot back to the common American so they can once again make money on their own brains and ideas and not have to pay a bunch of rich ass holes who do nothing but take the money from good people!

  47. They did the same to Henry Ford as they did to Westinghouse and they're still doing it today in small scale as well to the little man… Fuck Morgan, fuck the bankers but most of all fuck Rothschild…..

  48. "I'll take some E Pluribus….but hold the Unum" > CanadaFreePress(.)com
    Rockefeller/Rothschild stole every patent of Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse

  49. Someone opened an abandoned refrigerator in a field and found a rabbit sleeping inside, so he ask the rabbit what are you doing here, the rabbit ask"is this a Westinghouse?" the answer is yes, The rabbit then said ………Westing.

  50. How was he kind when he literaly took the rights for the ac motor from Tesla. Discusting. That saved his company bus Telsa died alone in bankruptcy. Complete bullshit. Same with Edison. Bastards

  51. This video is a bunch of lies and wishful thinking. He was a greedy old miser. He had to force Telsa to hand over his AC motor and it saved his company and died rich but Tesla died alone and poor after being swindled. And Edison was the worst ever. He destroyed Tesla because Teslas AC motor was better than his DC motor. Pathetic. Edison killed elephants in public to try and show how he was right. "He was wrong"

  52. He sure did love to buy pr take ideas in other ways. He didnt invent ac current. Such bullshiy. Tesla invented the AC motor and Westinghouse stole it. Such bullshit and a history rewrite

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