Thomson-Houston Electric Company

Last updated

Brochure for the Thomson-Houston Electric Company Thomson-Houston Electric Company 1888.png
Brochure for the Thomson-Houston Electric Company
Dynamo built by Cie. Francaise Thomson Houston Moulin Saulnier (Engines) 5.jpg
Dynamo built by Cie. Française Thomson Houston
Thomson-Houston Electric Company
Founded1882;140 years ago (1882)
Defunct1892;130 years ago (1892)
Successor General Electric
Headquarters Lynn, Massachusetts, U.S.

The Thomson-Houston Electric Company was a manufacturing company which was one of the precursors of the General Electric company.



The Thomson-Houston Electric Company was formed in 1882 [2] in the United States when a group of Lynn, Massachusetts, investors led by Charles A. Coffin bought out Elihu Thomson and Edwin Houston's American Electric Company from their New Britain, Connecticut, investors. The company moved its operations to a new building on Western Ave. in Lynn, Massachusetts, because many of the investors were shoe manufacturers from Lynn. [3]

Charles A. Coffin led the company and organized its finances, marketing, and sales operations. Elwin W. Rice organized the manufacturing facilities, and Elihu Thomson ran the Model Room which was a precursor to the industrial research lab. With their leadership, the company grew into an enterprise with sales of $10,000,000(equivalent to about $302,000,000 in 2021) and 4000 employees by 1892.

In 1884 Thomson-Houston International Company was organized to promote international sales.

In 1885 the Lynn G.A.R. Hall was constructed using electric incandescent lighting by Thomson-Houston. [4]

In 1888 Thomson-Houston supplied the Lynn and Boston Railroad with the generation and propulsion equipment for the Highland Circuit in Lynn, [5] [6] the first electric streetcar in Massachusetts. [7] [8]

In 1889 Thomson-Houston bought out the Brush Company (founded by Charles F. Brush) which resolved the arc lamp and dynamo patent disputes between them.

Thomson-Houston was later merged with the Edison General Electric Company of Schenectady, New York (arranged by J. P. Morgan), to form the General Electric Company in 1892, with plants in Lynn and Schenectady, both of which remain to this day as the two original GE factories.

International companies

British Thomson-Houston

"Bijou" Crystal receiver manufactured in 1923 by the "British Thomson-Houston Co., Ltd." Bijou Crystal Receiver.jpg
"Bijou" Crystal receiver manufactured in 1923 by the "British Thomson-Houston Co., Ltd."

British Thomson-Houston (BTH) was created as a subsidiary of (American) General Electric in May 1896. It was previously known as Laing, Wharton, and Down which was founded in 1886.

BTH became part of Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) in 1928, which saw BTH merged with its rival Metropolitan-Vickers. This deal made AEI the largest military contractor of the British Empire during the '30s and the '40s, so during World War II. AEI would itself be acquired by the General Electric Company plc or GEC in 1967. GEC demerged its defense businesses in 1999 to become Marconi plc and Marconi Corporation plc, now Telent plc.

Compagnie Française Thomson-Houston

In 1893, the Compagnie Française Thomson-Houston (CFTH) was formed in Paris, a sister company to GE in the United States. It is from this company that Alstom would evolve. A demerger in 1999 formed what is now Technicolor SA and Thomson-CSF (now Thales Group).

References and sources

  1. The Utilisation Of The Electric Light , English Mechanics and the World of Science, Volume 26, Oct. 12, 1877, page 106
  2. "Elihu Thomson Papers, 1853-1955". Smithsonian Institution. July 23, 2014. Retrieved October 19, 2019. in 1882, founded one of the early electrical corporations in the United States, the Thomson-Houston Company
  3. "Elihu Thomson Papers" . Retrieved October 19, 2019. Elihu Thomson Papers at the American Philosophical Society
  4. "Lynn's G. A. R. Memorial". The Boston Herald. Boston, Massachusetts. April 22, 1886. p. 8. The edifice is lighted by the Thomson-Houston incandescent system, and presents a delightful appearance upon the interior when illuminated.
  5. The Thomson-Houston Road at Lynn, Mass. , The Electrical World, Dec. 8, 1888, page 303
  6. Electric Railway at Lynn, Mass. , Electric Power, January, 1889, page 21
  7. "Famous Firsts in Massachusetts". History of Massachusetts. Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved October 20, 2019. 1888 The first electric trolley in the state runs in Lynn.
  8. "A BRIEF HISTORY OF LYNN". About Lynn. City of Lynn. Retrieved October 19, 2019. The first Electric Trolley in the state ran from Lynn in 1888

Related Research Articles

Marconi Electronic Systems (MES), or GEC-Marconi as it was until 1998, was the defence arm of General Electric Company (GEC). It was demerged from GEC and bought by British Aerospace (BAe) on 30 November 1999 to form BAE Systems. GEC then renamed itself Marconi plc.

Arc lamp Light created by electrical breakdown of gas

An arc lamp or arc light is a lamp that produces light by an electric arc.

The General Electric Company (GEC) was a major British industrial conglomerate involved in consumer and defence electronics, communications, and engineering. The company was founded in 1886, was Britain's largest private employer with over 250,000 employees in the 1980s, and at its peak in the 1990s, made profits of over £1 billion a year.

Elihu Thomson American inventor

Elihu Thomson 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.

War of the currents Introduction of competing electric power transmission systems in the late 1880s and early 1890s

The war of the currents was a series of events surrounding the introduction of competing electric power transmission systems in the late 1880s and early 1890s. It grew out of two lighting systems developed in the late 1870s and early 1880s; arc lamp street lighting running on high-voltage alternating current (AC), and large-scale low-voltage direct current (DC) indoor incandescent lighting being marketed by Thomas Edison's company. In 1886, the Edison system was faced with new competition: an alternating current system developed by George Westinghouse's company that used transformers to step down from a high voltage so AC could be used for indoor lighting. Using high voltage allowed an AC system to transmit power over longer distances from more efficient large central generating stations. As the use of AC spread rapidly, the Edison Electric Light Company claimed in early 1888 that high voltages used in an alternating current system were hazardous, and that the design was inferior to, and infringed on the patents behind, their direct current system.

Thorn Lighting

Thorn Lighting Ltd, a subsidiary of the Zumtobel Group, is a global supplier of both outdoor and indoor luminaires and integrated controls.

Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) was a British holding company formed in 1928 through the merger of the British Thomson-Houston Company (BTH) and Metropolitan-Vickers electrical engineering companies. In 1967 AEI was acquired by GEC, to create the UK's largest industrial group. A scandal that followed the acquisition is said to have been instrumental in reforming accounting practices in the UK.

British Thomson-Houston

British Thomson-Houston (BTH) was a British engineering and heavy industrial company, based at Rugby, Warwickshire, England, and founded as a subsidiary of the General Electric Company (GE) of Schenectady, New York, United States. They were known primarily for their electrical systems and steam turbines.

The Marconi Company was a British telecommunications and engineering company that did business under that name from 1963 to 1987. Its roots were in the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company founded by Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi in 1897, which underwent several changes in name after mergers and acquisitions. The company was a pioneer of wireless long distance communication and mass media broadcasting, eventually becoming one of the UK's most successful manufacturing companies. In 1999, its defence equipment manufacturing division, Marconi Electronic Systems, merged with British Aerospace (BAe) to form BAE Systems. In 2006, financial difficulties led to the collapse of the remaining company, with the bulk of the business acquired by the Swedish telecommunications company, Ericsson.

Metropolitan-Vickers, Metrovick, or Metrovicks, was a British heavy electrical engineering company of the early-to-mid 20th century formerly known as British Westinghouse. Highly diversified, it was particularly well known for its industrial electrical equipment such as generators, steam turbines, switchgear, transformers, electronics and railway traction equipment. Metrovick holds a place in history as the builders of the first commercial transistor computer, the Metrovick 950, and the first British axial-flow jet engine, the Metropolitan-Vickers F.2. Its factory in Trafford Park, Manchester, was for most of the 20th century one of the biggest and most important heavy engineering facilities in Britain and the world.

British Westinghouse Electrical and Manufacturing Company was a subsidiary of the Pittsburgh, USA based Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. British Westinghouse would become a subsidiary of Metropolitan-Vickers in 1919; and after Metropolitan-Vickers merged with British Thomson-Houston in 1929, it became part of Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) in 1959. Further consolidation saw AEI taken over by GEC in 1967.

Edwin J. Houston

Edwin James Houston was an American electrical engineer, academic, businessman, inventor and writer.

General Electric has a long history, involving numerous mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures.

Charles A. Coffin

Charles Albert Coffin was an American businessman who was the co-founder and first president of General Electric corporation.

Edwin W. Rice

Edwin Wilbur Rice Jr. was a president and considered one of the three fathers of General Electric.

General Electric Research Laboratory United States historic place

General Electric Research Laboratory was the first industrial research facility in the United States. Established in 1900, the lab was home to the early technological breakthroughs of General Electric and created a research and development environment that set the standard for industrial innovation for years to come. It developed into GE Global Research that now covers an array of technological research, ranging from healthcare to transportation systems, at multiple locations throughout the world. Its campus in Schenectady, New York was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

G.A.R. Hall and Museum United States historic place

The G.A.R. Hall and Museum is a historic museum at 58 Andrew Street in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Canadian General Electric

GE Canada is the wholly-owned Canadian unit of General Electric, manufacturing various consumer and industrial electrical products all over Canada.

Edison Machine Works Former manufacturing company owned by Thomas Edison

The Edison Machine Works was a manufacturing company set up to produce dynamos, large electric motors, and other components of the electrical illumination system being built in the 1880s by Thomas A. Edison in New York City.

The Lynn and Boston Railroad was a streetcar railway chartered for operations between Boston and Lynn, Massachusetts in 1859. Following a number of acquisitions, the railway was a part of a 1901 street railway merger that formed the Boston and Northern Street Railway.