SPRAGUE, Frank Julian, American elec trical engineer and inventor: b. Milford, Conn., 25 July 1857. While at high school in North Adams, Mass., he won competitive appointment to United States Naval Academy, from which he graduated with honors in 1878. He then became interested in electrical inventions and took a special course in physics under the late Admiral Sampson. Shortly after graduation he started on a tour of duty around the world, and was correspondent of the Boston Herald while General Grant was on the flagship of the Asiatic squadron. In 1882 he was appointed a member of the jury of awards at the Crystal Palace electrical exhibition, where he conducted the tests on dynamo-electric machinery, elec tric lights and gas engines, his report being published in full by the Navy Department. In 1883 he passed examination for promotion, then obtained a year's leave, resigned and became assistant to Thomas A. Edison; a year later parted company with Mr. Edison and formed the Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Com pany, which, with his newly invented constant speed electric motor, began active exploitation for industrial purposes. Began inventions in electric railways in the early '80s, and conducted extensive experiments on the New York Ele vated Railway in 1886. Is generally recognized as the pioneer of the modern trolley road, the first important installation of which was made by him at Richmond, Va., in 1887-88. (See TRACTION, ELECTRIC). In 1887 he invented the
°multiple unit° system of electric train Opera don, by which several cars in a train are inde pendently equipped, but all are under common control from several points. Has been an ac tive exponent of underground electric traction. He was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Ex hibition in 1889, the Elliot Cresson medal by the Franklin Institute in 1904, and the grand prize by the Louisiana Purchase Exposition for his inventions and developments in electric rail ways; also the Edison Medal, in 1910, for °inventive achievement in electrical science, engineering and arts' He was a member of the electrical commission which had charge of the electrification of the New York Central Rail road terminals, and coinventor of its protected third rail; also member of the commission which investigated the possibilities of electrifi cation of the Sierra Division of the Southern Pacific Company and was primarily responsible for the use of high potential direct current in railway work. He was chairman of commit tees on electricity and ship construction of• the United States Naval Consulting Board; presi dent of the Sprague Development Corporation and the Sprague Safety Control and Signal Corporation and inventor of system of auto matic braking control of trains. He has writ ten many scientific papers on electric motor and railways and kindred subjects.