George Westinghouse lived from 1846 to 1914. In that time he built a manufacturing empire that changed the world. His many inventions included the air-brake, which revolutionized train safety. He was involved in industries like electric components, natural gas, railroad manufacturing, and atomic research, to name but a few. By the time of his death he had joined fellow industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Frick as one of the leading figures in Pittsburgh's evolution.
In Pittsburgh there was the Westinghouse Electric Company, the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, and the Westinghouse Machine Company, employing thousands of Pittsburgh natives. In West Mifflin there was a Nuclear Research Facility, and at the Westinghouse Research Laboratories in Forest Hills was the world's first atom-smasher.
As with most of Westinghouse's revolutionary concepts, the atom-smasher, built in 1936, made a significant contribution in world evolution. It was designed to solve "most of the mystery surrounding the structure of matter." Research with the atom-smasher led to the discovery of photofission, the first use of gamma rays to split uranium atoms. It was a major contribution toward development of atomic energy and the atom bomb.
Today, much of the industrial might of the Westinghouse empire has been diluted, merged, consolidated, renamed and moved from the Pittsburgh area, but the legend of George Westinghouse and his contributions to humanity are secure, and many of these happened right here in Pittsburgh.
One thing that comes to mind when thinking of Westinghouse is the landmark sign that once hung over the Westinghouse Electic Plant on the North Side. The sign consisted of several Westinghouse logos (the "W" in the circle), lined up in a row, and it would light up in different patterns each time. The patterns would continue, indefinitely it seemed, without ever repeating.
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