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Thomson

electrical, american, electric, president and company

THOMSON, Elihu, American inventor and electrician: b. Manchester, England, 29 March 1853. In 1858 he came to the United States, was educated in the public schools in Philadelphia and from 1870 to 1880 was professor of chemis try and mechanics in the Central High School there. After a visit to the Paris Exposition in 1878 he became interested in the subject of lighting by electricity and his experiments, car ried on with the aid of E. J. Houston, resulted in patents secured in 1878 and 1879. The fol lowing year he became electrician to the Ameri can Electric Company, afterward known as the Thomson-Houston Electric Company. This, by consolidation with the Edison Company in 1892, became the General Electric Company, the largest plant for producing electrical ma chinery in the world. His patented inventions in electrical appliances number over 600 and many of them have come into universal use. Among these are the three-coil armature for dynamos and motors; the induction-coil sys tem of distribution; the induction the constant-current regulator for arc-lighting dynamos; the process of welding metals by electricity; the magnetic blow-out for switches and fuses and the electric meter for direct and alternating currents. Since 1892, when the Gen eral Electric Company established its plant in Lynn, Mass., he has resided there, retaining his connection as consulting electrical engineer. In 1889 he became president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and in 1890 received from the Paris commission half the prize of 10,000 francs for his meter. He was decorated in 1889 for electrical inventions by the French government as Officer et Chavalier de la legion d'Honneur; given the honorary degrees of A.M.,Yale, D.Sc., Harvard and Ph.D.,

Tufts; has received many medals and awards, among which is the Rumford Medal, and was awarded Grand Prix at Paris expositions of 1889 and 1900. He is past president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London, the American Chemical So ciety, the American Physical Society, the Na tional Academy of Sciences and of many other societies, and was official United States delegate to Chamber of Delegates, Electrical Congress, in 1893 at Chicago. He has been for many years a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, serving as vice-president at the Columbus meeting, Sec tion B, Physics; and has been vice-president of the American Physical Society. He was president of the International Electrical Con gress at Saint Louis in 1904 and also president of the Chamber of Official Delegates at the said Congress. He was elected honorary mem ber of the Institution of Electrical Engineers of Great Britain in 1904. In 1909 he was elected president of the International Electrotechnical Commission, succeeding the late Lord Kelvin in that capacity upon the decease of the latter. Professor Thomson was the first recipient of the Edison medal and also received the award of the Eliott Cresson gold medal by the Frank lin Institute, Philadelphia, for his electrical work. Among the most notable of his papers prepared for scientific societies are that on (Electric Welding,' read before the Boston Society of Arts in 1886, and one prepared for the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1887, on 'Novel Phenomena of Alternating Currents.'