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Edwin J. Houston

AKA Edwin James Houston

Born: 9-Jul-1847
Birthplace: Alexandria, VA
Died: 1-Mar-1914
Location of death: Philadelphia, PA
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Inventor, Business, Educator

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Thomson-Houston Electric Company

Edwin J. Houston was a high school teacher and inventor who, with his friend, former student and fellow teacher Elihu Thomson, designed what was called the Thomson-Houston arc-light generator, a significant improvement in street lighting. In 1879, Thomson quit teaching to start their Thomson-Houston Electric Company, but Houston always thought of himself as an educator first, and continued teaching, while working part-time for their joint venture. His name appears on numerous company patents, but he left the business after just three years, and later established a new company, Houston and Kennelly, in partnership with radio and electronics pioneer Arthur E. Kennelly. Houston wrote more than 100 books, including textbooks, advanced procedurals explaining various aspects of electricity, and adventure novels involving science and technology targeting a juvenile audience. He was twice President of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (forerunner of today's Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), and he was chief electrician at the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, where numerous technological marvels were unveiled. After he left the Thomson-Houston Electric Company, it evolved through a series of mergers into General Electric.

Father: John Mason Houston
Mother: Mary LaMour Houston

    High School: Girard College, Philadelphia, PA
    High School: Central High School, Philadelphia, PA (1864)
    University: University of Berlin
    University: University of Heidelberg
    Teacher: Central High School, Philadelphia, PA (1872-94)
    Professor: Physics, Medico-Chirurgical College and Hospital

    American Institute of Electrical Engineers Past President
    American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers
    General Electric Co-Founder of Thomson-Houston Electric Co. (1879)
    American Philosophical Society
    Franklin Institute

Author of books:
The Elements of Physical Geography (1875, textbook)
The Elements of Natural Philosophy (1879, textbook)
The Elements of Chemistry (1883, textbook)
Electrical Measurements and Other Advanced Primers of Electricity (1893)
The Elementary Principles Underlying the Science of Forestry (1893, textbook)
Electricity and Magnetism (1893)
The Electric Transmission of Intelligence (1893)
Electricity One Hundred Years Ago and To-Day (1894)
Electric Heating (1895, with Arthur E. Kennelly)
Alternating Electric Currents (1895, with Kennelly)
Electrical Engineering Leaflets (1895, two volumes, with Kennelly)
Electric Incandescent Lighting (1896)
Electro-Dynamic Machinery for Continuous Currents (1896, with Kennelly)
The Electric Motor and the Transmission Power (1896, with Kennelly)
Electric Street Railways (1896, with Kennelly)
The Interpretation of Mathematical Formulae (1898)
A Dictionary of Electrical Words, Terms and Phrases (1902, two volumes)
Electric Arc Lighting (1902, with Kennelly)
Electricity Made Easy by Simple Language and Copious Illustration (1903)
The Electric Telephone (1906)
Volcanoes and Earthquakes (1908)


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