Thomson-Houston Electric Company

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Brochure for the Thomson-Houston Electric Company Thomson-Houston Electric Company 1888.png
Brochure for the Thomson-Houston Electric Company
Dynamo built by Thomson Houston Moulin Saulnier (Engines) 5.jpg
Dynamo built by Thomson Houston

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

General Electric American industrial company

General Electric Company (GE) is an American multinational conglomerate incorporated in New York City and headquartered in Boston. As of 2018, the company operates through the following segments: aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, digital industry, additive manufacturing, venture capital and finance, lighting, and oil and gas. GE has a subsidiary in Bermuda.



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]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Lynn, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Lynn is the 9th largest municipality in Massachusetts and the largest city in Essex County. Situated on the Atlantic Ocean, 3.7 miles (6.0 km) north of the Boston city line at Suffolk Downs, Lynn is part of Greater Boston's urban inner core. Settled by Europeans in 1629, Lynn is the 5th oldest colonial settlement in the Commonwealth. An early industrial center, Lynn was long colloquially referred to as the "City of Sin", owing to its historical reputation for crime and vice. Today, however, the city is known for its contemporary public art, international population, historic architecture, downtown cultural district, loft-style apartments, and public parks and open spaces, which include the oceanfront Lynn Shore Reservation; the 2,200-acre, Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Lynn Woods Reservation; and the High Rock Tower Reservation. Lynn also is home to Lynn Heritage State Park, the southernmost portion of the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway, and the seaside, National Register-listed Diamond Historic District.

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

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 of $10 million in sales and 4000 employees by 1892.

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.

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

In 1888 Thomson-Houston supplied the Lynn and Boston Street Railway with the generation and propulsion equipment for the Highland Circuit in Lynn, [4] [5] the first electric streetcar in Massachusetts.

The Lynn and Boston Street Railway was a streetcar railway chartered for operations between Boston and Lynn, Massachusetts in 1854. Following a number of acquisitions, the railway was a part of a 1901 street railway merger that formed the Boston and Northern Street Railway.

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.

Charles F. Brush American businessman

Charles Francis Brush was an American engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

Arc lamp a light created by electrical breakdown of gas

An arc lamp or arc light is a lamp that produces light by an electric arc. The carbon arc light, which consists of an arc between carbon electrodes in air, invented by Humphry Davy in the first decade of the 1800s, was the first practical electric light. It was widely used starting in the 1870s for street and large building lighting until it was superseded by the incandescent light in the early 20th century. It continued in use in more specialized applications where a high intensity point light source was needed, such as searchlights and movie projectors until after World War II. The carbon arc lamp is now obsolete for most of these purposes, but it is still used as a source of high intensity ultraviolet light.

Dynamo electrical generator that produces direct current with the use of a commutator

A dynamo is an electrical generator that creates direct current using a commutator. Dynamos were the first electrical generators capable of delivering power for industry, and the foundation upon which many other later electric-power conversion devices were based, including the electric motor, the alternating-current alternator, and the rotary converter. Today, the simpler alternator dominates large scale power generation, for efficiency, reliability and cost reasons. A dynamo has the disadvantages of a mechanical commutator. Also, converting alternating to direct current using power rectification devices is effective and usually economical.

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.

Schenectady, New York City in New York, United States

Schenectady is a city in Schenectady County, New York, United States, of which it is the county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 66,135. The name "Schenectady" is derived from a Mohawk word, skahnéhtati, meaning "beyond the pines". Schenectady was founded on the south side of the Mohawk River by Dutch colonists in the 17th century, many from the Albany area. They were prohibited from the fur trade by the Albany monopoly, which kept its control after the English takeover in 1664. Residents of the new village developed farms on strip plots along the river.

J. P. Morgan American financier, banker, philanthropist and art collector

John Pierpont Morgan Sr. was an American financier and banker who dominated corporate finance on Wall Street throughout the Gilded Age. As the head of the banking firm that ultimately became known as J.P. Morgan and Co., he was a driving force behind the wave of industrial consolidation in the United States spanning the late 19th and early 20th century.

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 the modern Thomson Group would evolve; demerged in 1999 to form Thomson Multimedia 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. The Thomson-Houston Road at Lynn, Mass. , The Electrical World, Dec. 8, 1888, page 303
  5. Electric Railway at Lynn, Mass. , Electric Power, January, 1889, page 21

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