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Edwin J. Houston picture, image, poster
Edwin J. Houston

Date of birth : 1847-07-09
Date of death : 1914-03-01
Birthplace : Alexandria, Virginia
Nationality : American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-10-03

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.


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