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Charles Proteus Steinmetz
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Inventor
    (April 9, 1865-October 26, 1923)
    Born in Wroclaw, Poland
    Birth name was Carl August Rudolph Steinmetz
    Mathematician and electrical engineer
    Worked for General Electric
    Made alternating current practical for distributing electricity
    Held over 200 patents
    Inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame (1977)
    He claimed to have fled Germany to avoid arrest as a socialist, but he may have left for the more prosaic reason of skipping out on the back tuition that he owed the University of Breslau.
    He was almost turned away at Ellis Island as medically unfit because he was a dwarf and a hunchback.
    He had a menagerie of animals at his home that included owls, raccoons, a monkey, alligators and rattlesnakes.
    He constantly smoked cigars.
    He wrote to Lenin offering his services to the Soviet Union (1922).
    In an example of hunchback pride, he took the middle name Proteus from a hunchbacked sea god in 'The Odyssey' who could answer any question and assume any shape.
    He was allowed into America after a friend convinced Ellis Island officials that he was a mathematical genius.
    He served as the head of the electrical engineering school at Union College and refused a salary for it.
    He bought presents for every orphan in the city of Schenectady at Christmas.
    He had a mischevious sense of humor, with one GE colleague noting, 'It seems extraordinary that so much real work was done because we played so much.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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