Born Nov 28 1858 - Died May 14 1916
Induction Coil / Transformer
Patent Number(s) 349,611
In the 1880s every system for distributing electricity used direct current (DC). But DC transmission over long distances was impractical. Transmitting at low voltage required thick wires. Transmitting at high voltage was dangerous and could not be reduced for consumer uses such as lighting. It was known that alternating current (AC) voltage could be varied by use of induction coils, but no practical coil system had been invented.
Stanley's design for such a coil-or 'transformer' as it is now called-became the prototype for all future transformers.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Stanley attended private schools before enrolling at Yale University. He began to study law at age 21 but less than a semester later left school to look for a job in the emerging field of electricity.
Stanley's first job was as an electrician with one of the early manufacturers of telegraph keys and fire alarms. He then worked in a metal-plating establishment before joining Hiram Maxim, inventor of the machine gun and already a pioneer in the electrical industry. As Maxim's assistant, Stanley directed one of the country's first electrical installations, in a store on New York's Fifth Avenue.
Inventor and industrialist George Westinghouse learned of Stanley's accomplishments and hired him as his chief engineer at his Pittsburgh factory. It was during this time that Stanley began work on the transformer. Because of ill health-some say he worked himself too hard- Stanley left Pittsburgh for Great Barrington, Massachusetts. There, in 1886, he demonstrated the first AC system, providing lighting for offices and stores on the town's Main Street.
Stanley established the Stanley Electric Manufacturing Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to make transformers and auxiliary electrical equipment as well as electrical appliances. The company was purchased by General Electric in 1903.
During his lifetime he was granted 129 patents covering a wide range of electric devices.