A Little Known IEEE History Fact

Founding IEEE member.

Did you know fact?

Notable President of IEEE and founding organizations include Elihu Thomson (AIEE, 1889–1890)

Elihu Thomson (March 29, 1853 – March 13, 1937) was an English-born American engineer and inventor who was instrumental in the founding of major electrical companies in the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

Thomson founded the Thomson-Houston Electric Company. Notable inventions created by Thomson during this period include an arc-lighting system, an automatically regulated three-coil dynamo, a magnetic lightning arrester, and a local power transformer. In 1892 the Thomson-Houston Electric Company merged with the Edison General Electric Company to become the General Electric Company.

Between 1880 and 1885, Thomson averaged twenty-one patent applications annually, doubling that average between 1885 and 1890.

Thomson was the first recipient of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers AIEE (now Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)) Edison Medal, bestowed upon him in 1909 “For meritorious achievement in electrical science, engineering and arts as exemplified in his contributions thereto during the past thirty years.”; Thomson was also president of the organization from 1889-90. Near the end of his life, Thomson’s second wife Clarissa Hovey Thomson is reported to have said that she had to carry a basket with her to carry all of Thomson’s awards and honors.

In 1889 he was decorated by the French Government for his electrical inventions, being made Chevalier et Officier de la Légion d’honneur. He received the honorary degree of A.M. from Yale (1890). Tufts College in 1892 gave him the degree of Ph.D., and in 1899 he received a D.Sc. from Harvard.

This is only just a limited view of Elihu Thompson contribution to IEEE and the technologies he help invent. For a more complete portrait visit the following links:

IEEE History Centerhttps://www.ieee.org/about/history_center/newsletter/ieee_history_center_newsletter_99.pdf


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