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George Westinghouse
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    (October 6, 1846-March 12, 1914)
    Born in Central Bridge, New York
    Invented the railroad air brake (1869)
    Founded Westinghouse Electric (1886)
    Held 361 patents
    He dropped out of college after three months.
    While inventing regulators for natural gas, he drilled a gas well in his backyard, creating a hundred-foot high flame for several weeks.
    He feuded with Thomas Edison during the 'War of the Currents' (Eidson favored direct current; Westinghouse promoted alternating current).
    During his tenure, Westinghouse Electric twice underwent bankruptcy reorganization, the second one ending with his ouster as chairman (1909).
    He tried to invent a heat pump that would produce enough energy to power itself, and kept at it even after scientists pointed out he was trying to build a perpetual motion machine that would violate the laws of thermodynamics.
    He served in both the Army and Navy during the Civil War.
    By greatly reducing the distance needed to stop a train, his air brake made high-speed rail travel practical.
    His AC system was far more efficient than Edison's DC system and quickly became the standard.
    Over a 49-year period, he averaged an invention every seven weeks.
    He was happily married to Marguerite Walker for 47 years until his death.

Credit: C. Fishel

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