Prof. Elihu Thomson's Pioneer Experiences

Wednesday, March 18, 1891
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5 THE ELECTRICIAN, MARCH 20, 1891 Prof. Elihu thomson’s Pioneer Experiences In his address _on “ Pioneers' Day"at the recent meeting of the National Electric Association at Providence (R.I ) Prof hhhu Thomson gave the following interesting account of his early experiences R counting my own experience in electric lighting I may say that I built a small dynamo about 1876 to run an are light It was a success, and it led to the construction of other dynamos When I came, however, to the commercial part of the business, which began in 1878 or 1879, I found that there were many difhculties to overcome, and not the least of these difhculties was the getting of steady power to run the machines The first Thomson-Houston three-coil armaturs machine intended for commercial use was capable of running flom four to eightllghts in series. I carefully examined every inch of the vure and in sulnted' the whole thing myself Our first machine was put up in a bakery in Philadelphia, where it was used all night, and it was rathcr tenderly nursed by us Sometimes we “ere up all night tending to this baby, and under conditions which were not altogether agreeable in the summer, as there is a good deal of waste heat in a bakery. The temperature was sometimes as high as 140 deg. After running these machines some time a Company was organised, which is now the Thomson Houston Electric Company. It was organised in a modest way in New Britain, Conn. I became electrician of this small Company, and the apparatus was made in New Britain in an old basket shop This was the beginning of our experiences We soon got into another shop and began the construction of apparatus for com inercial use. After we got into operation our difficulties were not by any means, over. We had to develop all sorts of devices We had to overcome conditions constantly arising to discourage us When one thing was accomplished we were met by other re verses. The Brush Company saw our beginnings of success and tried to buy up a majority interest in our little Company in New Britain, apparently for the purpose of entirely swallowing us. Subsequently, however, in the same year certain parties in Lynn purchased a majority interest 1n the stock, and what was the American Electric Company of New Britain started opera tions in Lynn. The Brush Company as you are probably aware, has been swallowed up by us, the infant they tried to swallow. Such is fate. We have the firmest confidence in the expansion of the electrical industries We are absolutely cer tain that the business is going to be greater and greater as time goes by. We have calls now for machines and dynamos up to 500 and 1,000 H.P., where a few years ago we thought it an unusual thingto have 100 and 200 H P machines, and it looks very much as though in the near future machines of much larger capacity would be demanded for the work of installation. `