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Encyclopedia > Charles Steinmetz

Charles Proteus Steinmetz (April 9, 1865_October 26, 1923) was born in Breslau, Silesia, Germany. He developed theories for alternating current that made possible the expansion of the electric power industry in the United States. [1] (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0767088.html), [2] (http://www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/139.html)



Steinmetz studied electricity in Germany. Steinmetz adhered to the belief that electrification of societies would bring about a social revolution. He became a socialist but had to leave Germany when Bismarck began rounding up socialists. He immigrated to the United States where he eventually went to work for General Electric [3] (http://www.ge.com/en/company/companyinfo/executivebios/printable/printable_ew_rice.htm). His most influential work was to develop a theory of magnetic hysteresis. When Schenectady, where he was living, elected a socialist mayor, Steinmetz began serving in the city government. In his later years Steinmetz became interested in lightning.

An interesting anecdote, as told by Charles M. Vest (President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology)during commencement on June 4th, 1999, concerning Steinmetz recounts his mastery of electromagnetic phenomena and his engineering skills: [4] (http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/nr/1999/vestspeech.html)

In the early years of this century, Steinmetz was brought to General Electric's facilities in Schenectady, New York. GE had encountered a performance problem with one of their huge electrical generators and had been absolutely unable to correct it. Steinmetz, a genius in his understanding of electromagnetic phenomena, was brought in as a consultant __ not a very common occurrence in those days, as it would be now.
Steinmetz also found the problem difficult to diagnose, but for some days he closeted himself with the generator, its engineering drawings, paper and pencil. At the end of this period, he emerged, confident that he knew how to correct the problem.
After he departed, GE's engineers found a large "X" marked with chalk on the side of the generator casing. There also was a note instructing them to cut the casing open at that location and remove so many turns of wire from the stator. The generator would then function properly.
And indeed it did.
Steinmetz was asked what his fee would be. Having no idea in the world what was appropriate, he replied with the absolutely unheard of answer that his fee was $1000.
Stunned, the GE bureaucracy then required him to submit a formally itemized invoice.
They soon received it. It included two items:
1. Marking chalk "X" on side of generator: $1.
2. Knowing where to mark chalk "X": $999.

Charles Proteus Steinmetz is buried in Vale Cemetery, Schenectady, NY. At the time of his death, Steinmetz held over 200 patents. [5] (http://www.becklaser.de/hbeng/steinmetz.html)


  • Cedergren Medal : 1914.

Publications and patents

  • Steinmetz, "The Natural Period of a Transmission Line and the Frequency of lightning Discharge Therefrom". The Electrical world. August 27, 1898. Pg. 203 - 205.
  • Steinmetz, "Future of Electricity".


  • Steinmetz, US1025932 (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=1025932.WKU.&OS=PN/1025932&RS=PN/1025932), "Means for producing light". May 7, 1912.
  • Steinmetz, US533244 (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=533244.WKU.&OS=PN/533244&RS=PN/533244), "System of distribution by alternating current". January 29, 1895.

External links

  • U.S. Supreme Court, "U S EX REL STEINMETZ v. ALLEN, 192 U.S. 543 (1904) (http://laws.findlaw.com/us/192/543.html)". UNITED STATES ex rel. CHARLES P. STEINMETZ, Plff. in Err., v. FREDERICK I. ALLEN, Commissioner of Patents. No. 383. Argued January 12, 13, 1904. Decided February 23, 1904.

  Results from FactBites:
C. P. Steinmetz (456 words)
Charles Proteus Steinmetz, the mathematical wizard of the early electrical industry, was born in Breslau, Germany, in 1865.
Steinmetz found employment as a draftsman for Eickemeyer and Osterheld, a Yonkers-based electrical manufacturer, and was soon established in an experimental laboratory of his own.
Steinmetz, however, having been given the task of calculating and designing an alternating-current commutator motor, and wishing to calculate the hysteresis loss, derived the law of hysteresis mathematically from existing data.
Charles Proteus Steinmetz - Inventor of Alternating Current (516 words)
Charles Proteus Steinmetz was a giant of a pioneer in the field of electrical engineering, who invented a commercially successful alternating current motor.
Charles Steinmetz was born in Breslau, Prussia on April 9, 1865.
Charles Steinmetz was an active socialist and held strong anti-racist beliefs.
  More results at FactBites »



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