engineer and business leader of electrical innovation, one of the founders
of three phase alternating current technology and early developer of
high voltage direct current (HVDC).
Oskar Von Miller was
born in Munich in the Kingdom of Bavaria (Germany) in 1855. He was raised
in a family of industrialists; his father occupied a high level position
at the Royal Ore Foundry in Munich. His brother Baron Ferdinand von
Miller became an ore caster and director of the Munich Academy of Fine
Oskar decided to learn about
the new field of electricity and build it into a business using his experience
in the foundry business. He studied at the Technical University Munich
HVDC, his First Innovation:
Miller noticed the success of the Exposition of Electricity in Paris
in 1881 and wished to create a similar exposition in Munich. He created
an exposition in 1882. Marcel Deprez - a Frenchman who created
the DC distribution system for the Exposition in Paris helped Miller
create the first long distance high voltage direct current transmission
ever. They transmitted 1,500 watts at 2000 volts over 35 miles from
Miesbach (the foothills of the Alps) to the Glaspalast in Munich.
Oskar von Miller became the
co-director of the German Edison Company in 1883. His company built
Munich's first power station in 1884. In 1887 the company was renamed
Allgemeine Elektricitats Gesellschaft or AEG.
Innovation in AC power:
Miller joined the efforts in Frankfurt to create the Electrotechnial
Exhibition of Frankfurt in 1891. He directed the efforts and worked
with electrical engineer Mihail Dobrovolsky on the first major
demonstration of three phase AC power in the world. (Dobrovolsky was
the inventor of three phase electric power, he had created the first
three phase generator in 1888.) The power system transmitted 20,000
volts of AC three phase current 109 miles from Lauffen to Frankfurt,
Germany. This was the longest distance high voltage transmission to
date. It operated with minimal losses at 75% efficiency. To
learn more about this event click here.
The German version of
Oskar von Miller was the visionary behind a high quality national museum
on science and technology called the Deutsches Museum. He used his high
position and connections to gain financial and technical support in
creating the museum. King Wilhelm II laid the cornerstone of the museum
on Museum Island in Munich. The museum continues to operate more than
100 years later under full support of the German government. The
Deutsches Museum has been compared to the Smithsonian due to its
vast size and quality of exhibits. The Museum as many specimens of electrical
history including the original 3 phase
generator from Lauffen in 1891.
From 1918 Miller managed
the largest pumped storage power station in the world for 6 years. He
suffered a heart attack at his museum in 1934 and passed away shortly
-Exhibiting Electricity by K.G. Beauchamp 1997 The Institution of
-Jos Arrillaga. 1998. High Voltage Direct Current Transmission. Institution
of Engineering and Technology (IET)
-Britannica Online Encyclopedia
Museum. Frankfurt, Germany
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