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Steinmetz : engineer and socialist

Author: Ronald R Kline
Publisher: Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, ©1992.
Series: Johns Hopkins studies in the history of technology, new ser., no. 13.
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
When he died suddenly at the height of his fame in 1923, his face was as familiar to Americans as that of Babe Ruth, Henry Ford, Jack Dempsey, or Warren G. Harding. Newspapers quoted his views on religion, politics (he was a Socialist), science, and future technological wonders. All were intrigued by the Horatio Alger tale of the penniless, hunchbacked German immigrant who rose to fame as the Wizard of Science,  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Biography
Named Person: Charles Proteus Steinmetz; Charles Proteus Steinmetz; Charles Proteus Steinmetz
Material Type: Biography, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Ronald R Kline
ISBN: 0801842980 9780801842986
OCLC Number: 24430464
Description: xii, 401 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Series Title: Johns Hopkins studies in the history of technology, new ser., no. 13.
Responsibility: Ronald R. Kline.

Abstract:

When he died suddenly at the height of his fame in 1923, his face was as familiar to Americans as that of Babe Ruth, Henry Ford, Jack Dempsey, or Warren G. Harding. Newspapers quoted his views on religion, politics (he was a Socialist), science, and future technological wonders. All were intrigued by the Horatio Alger tale of the penniless, hunchbacked German immigrant who rose to fame as the Wizard of Science, chief engineer at General Electric, and symbol of the new breed of scientists who daily surpassed the feats of Thomas A. Edison. In Steinmetz: Engineer and Socialist Ronald R. Kline presents the intellectual biography of Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865-1923). Educated in Germany, Steinmetz came to America in 1889 and soon found work with a Yonkers electrical firm. After General Electric purchased the company in 1893, Steinmetz rose to the position of chief consulting engineer. Obtaining nearly two hundred patents, he made his most important contributions in electrical energy loss (or hysteresis), the understanding and wider use of alternating current, and high-voltage power transmission. The General Electric corporation, Kline explains, became Steinmetz's home, his identity, and a platform from which he stepped onto the wider stage of world affairs. As leader of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Socialist councilman in Schenectady, and part-time professor of political economy at Union College, Steinmetz attempted to "engineer" society in the direction of a technocratic utopia by promoting welfare capitalism, Lenin's electrification of the Soviet Union, and other schemes--all with limited success. According to Kline, the legend of Steinmetz illustrates a shift in hero worship from inventors to scientists after World War I. It also encouraged the powerful (and paradoxical) American myth that a rugged individualist could make his mark in a bureaucracy. In a life filled with contrasts--here was a prominent Socialist serving as chief engineer of a major corporation--possibly even Steinmetz, Kline argues, was not always able to separate the myth from the man.

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