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Hall of Fame

Learn about the pioneers of electrical technology.

In the lists below you will find some of the most influential and interesting engineers of the 19th and 20th century. We are profiling some with concise biographies, photos, and even videos.

This page is organized by:

1. Master List, by century
2. Pioneers of AC Power

3. Electric Light inventors

Scientists vs. Engineers:

The emphasis in this Hall of Fame is on engineers and experimental scientists who invented patentable devices or who made key discoveries that led to their development. Our Hall of Fame does not cover "scientists" but those who built and tinkered invention. Our list includes Mechanical, Chemical, and Electrical Engineers. Many of them worked for Westinghouse, General Electric, Western Electric and AT&T. There are many great engineers not listed here, it would impossible to list everyone, so beginning with a few great ones this is just a place to start.


1. Master list, by century

Founders of the Electrical Age 1750 - 1850

This period was a beginning of electrical experimentation and advanced science. Early important concepts such as conductivity and electromagnetism were discovered and tested. Batteries and electric motors were first developed but electric power was not yet commercially successful. Without commercial incentive the numbers of talented minds working with electricity in the world population was limited as well as the understanding of the science of electricity. The few founding fathers of electrical experimentation in this 100 year period were truly in an era of discovery.

Thomas Davenport

Inventor of the first powerful electric motor.

Sir Humphry Davy

Inventor of the incandescent and arc lamp. Chemist and inventor.

Ben Franklin

Discovered +/- in electricity. Charge concept and invented the lighting rod.

Michael Faraday

Pioneer in electromagnetism and electrochemistry

Joseph Henry
Pioneer in electromagnetism. Creator of the first electric device for the commercial use.
 Alessandro Volta

Creator of the first battery (in the Western world)

Hippolyte Pixii

A founding father of alternating current.

Other notable pioneers:  
Nicholas Callan Luigi Aloisio Galvani
Sanford Moss Eliphalet Nott
Hans Christian Ørsted William Sturgeon

The Golden Age 1850 - 1950

This period witnessed the exponential growth of scientific knowledge which allowed for engineering some incredibly complex and large scale feats in the world of engineering and power. We saw electric power go from an experimental stage with failed commercial attempts, to an extremely profitable industry. Improvements in science and communication allowed for the rapid growth of new inventions and uses of electricity. The difference between the life of average citizens 1850 to 1950 was perhaps the most dramatic change in the history of humankind. Industrialization and automation would not be possible to this level without the development of electric power and it's myriad of applications. We owe our modern quality of life to the work of some great engineers.

Ernst F.W. Alexanderson
- pioneer in wireless and TV transmission

Ernst Julius Berg
- developed two way wireless audio communication. Worked on AC power.

Katherine Blodgett
- Pioneer in surface chemistry

Charles F. Brush
- pioneered Generators, lamps, trolleys and an early profitable industry.

Edith Clarke
- pioneer in electrical engineering and mathematics

Charles Curtis
- pioneer of steam turbines

William D. Coolidge
- improved and improved and invented many technologies including the electric light and x-ray.

William Emmet
- pioneer in the steam turbine, naval propulsion, motors and generators

Lee De Forest
- Invented the vacuum tube, triode & audion. Improved wireless communication.

Mikhail O. Dolivo-Dobrovolsky
- pioneer of 3 phase AC power systems

Thomas Alva Edison
- Over 1000 patents from consumer goods to industrial needs

Galileo Ferraris
- Early AC power pioneer. Inventor of the polyphase AC motor.

Albert Hull
- invented the magnetron (radar) and advanced vacuum tubes (used in many applications)

Irving Langmuir
- chemist, physicist, improved many inventions. Invented cloud seeding and the high vacuum tube.

Oskar von Miller
- early pioneer of AC and HVDC power in Germany

Daniel M. Moore
pioneer of fluorescent and neon electric lighting

Edwin W. Rice, Jr
- AC power systems pioneer. Leader of the electrical industry.

CW Rice
- developed the loudspeaker, early radar, and other technologies

Frank Sprague
- pioneer in the DC electric motor, trolly systems

William Stanley
- inventor of the first modern transformer, heart of the AC power system.

Charles P. Steinmetz
- pioneer of AC power systems, first person to understand AC power mathematically.

Nikola Tesla
- improved upon many technologies, most notably AC power.

JJ Thomson
- physicist. Worked with cathode rays, induction, radioactivity.

Elihu Thomson
- improved DC and AC power systems, arc lights

George Westinghouse
- innovator in many technologies, business leader.

Modern Pioneers 1950 - 2050

The modern age of electricity is marked with great feats made possible by advanced forms of electrical technology. Computers and aerospace achievements take the highest profile, however many more simple advancements in the everyday home have resulted in some the greatest benefit for quality of life. Engineering has also played a key part in advancing medicine through testing and imaging devices.

David Packard
- pioneer in computers

Nancy Fitzroy
- pioneer in heat transfer and mechanical engineering

Ivar Giaever
- engineer, physicist and Nobel Laureate

Harold Chestnut
- pioneer in automatic control and systems engineering

Robert N. Hall
- pioneer in semiconductors, rectifiers, diodes, lasers, etc.

Carl H. Rosner
- Pioneer in superconductors

Charles Concordia
- Pioneer in electrical, computer and systems engineering

2. Pioneers of AC power:

See our page on AC Power History here.

3. Pioneers of Light:

Engineers and inventors who made possible our world of electric light. Click on the light type to see a video about the light and inventor.

Carbon Arc Lamp 1800
Sir Humphry Davy
Vasily Petrov
Jean Bernard Leon Foucault
Zenobe-Theophile Gramme
Pavel Yablochkov
William Wallace
Charles F. Brush
Elihu Thomson
E.W. Rice Jr.
Elmer A. Sperry

Incandescent Lamp 1802
Sir Humphry Davy
Frederick de Moleyns
Thomas Edison
Sir Joseph Swan
William D. Coolidge
Irving Langmuir
Lewi Tonks
Marvin Pipkin

Nernst Lamp 1897
Walther Nernst

Neon Lamp 1898
Heinrich Geissler
Daniel McFarlan Moore
Sir William Ramsay
Morris Travers
Georges Claude

Mercury Vapor Lamp 1901
Leo Arons
Peter Cooper Hewitt

Sodium Lamp LPS 1920
Aurthur H. Compton
Marcello Pirani
Unknown at Philips

Sodium Lamp HPS 1964
Robert L. Coble
William Louden

Fluorescent Lamp 1934
Heinrich Geissler
Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel
Nikola Tesla
Thomas Edison
Daniel McFarlan Moore
Peter Cooper Hewitt
William D. Coolidge
Georges Claude
Edmund Germer
Albert W. Hull
George Inman
Richard Thayer
Clifton G. Found and Willard Roberts
C.A. Nickel and G.R. Fonda
Edward E. Hammer
John M. Anderson

Halogen Lamp 1953
Elmer Fridrich
Emmet Wiley
Frederick A. Mosby
Unknown - Philips

Electroluminescent Lamp 1958
Georges Destriau
Elmer Fridrich
Nataliya Andreeva Vlasenko
A. Popkov
Aron Vecht
Tuomo Suntola
Hiroshi Kobayashi
Toshio Inoguchi
Christopher N. King
Xingwei Wu

LED and OLED 1962
HJ Round
Oleg V. Losev
Bob Biard
Gary Pittman
Nick Holonyak Jr.
M.George Craford
Shuji Nakamura
Thomas P. Pearsall
Ching Tang
Steven Van Slyke
Chihaya Adachi
Tetsuo Tsutsui
Jeremy Burroughes
Richard Friend
Donal Bradley
Teruo Tohma
Stephen R. Forrest
Mark E. Thompson

Metal Halide Lamp 1962
Charles P. Steinmetz
Robert Reiling
Frederick Espiau
Chandrashekhar Joshi
Yiang Chang

Induction Lamp 1967
J.J. Thomson
Johann Wilhelm Hittorf
Nikola Tesla
Peter Cooper Hewitt
John Anderson
Unknown at Philips Corporation
Michael Ury
Charles Wood
Andrew Neate
Unknown at Amko Solara



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