Steinmetz, Charles Proteus

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Steinmetz, Charles Proteus

Charles Proteus Steinmetz (stīn´mĕts), 1865–1923, American electrical engineer, b. Breslau, Germany, studied at the Univ. of Breslau. Forced to flee Germany because of his socialist activities, he came to the United States in 1889. Rudolf Eickemeyer, who had just begun to build electrical apparatus in his factory in Yonkers, N.Y., gave him his start in electrical engineering research. When the General Electric Company bought out Eickemeyer in 1892, Steinmetz joined the new owners. He discovered the law of hysteresis, which made it possible to reduce the loss of efficiency in electrical apparatus resulting from alternating magnetism; developed a practical method of making calculations of alternating current, thus revolutionizing electrical engineering; and did valuable research on transient electrical phenomena (lightning). He built a generator that produced artificial lightning. Professor (1902–23) at Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., Steinmetz wrote many scientific papers and a number of standard texts. He remained a socialist and was president of the Schenectady board of education (1912–23) and of the common council (1916–23).

See biographies by J. W. Hammond (1924) and J. N. Leonard (1929).

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