Westinghouse Electric Corporation

This article is about the defunct Westinghouse Electric Corporation founded in 1886, renamed CBS Corporation in 1997, and purchased by Viacom in 1999. For the present-day industrial company, see Westinghouse Electric Company. For other uses of the term "Westinghouse" including modern incarnations and recent licensing deals, see Westinghouse (disambiguation).
Westinghouse Electric Corporation
Fate Dissolved
Successor Westinghouse Electric Company, Westinghouse Licensing Corporation, Viacom
Founded Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. (January 8, 1886 (1886-01-08))
Founder George Westinghouse
Defunct 1999 (1999)
Headquarters Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, United States
Area served
Subsidiaries CBS
Website www.westinghouse.com

The Westinghouse Electric Corporation was an American manufacturing company. It was founded on January 8, 1886, as Westinghouse Electric Company and later renamed Westinghouse Electric Corporation by inventor and entrepreneur George Westinghouse (1846-1914). George Westinghouse had previously founded the Westinghouse Air Brake Company. The corporation purchased CBS broadcasting company in 1995 and became CBS Corporation in 1997.


George Westinghouse

Westinghouse Electric was founded by George Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1886. The firm became active in developing electric infrastructure throughout the United States. The company's largest factories were located in East Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and Lester, PA[1] and in Hamilton, Ontario, where they made turbines, generators, motors, and switch gear for generation, transmission, and use of electricity.[2] In addition to George Westinghouse, early engineers working for the company included Frank Conrad, Benjamin Garver Lamme, Oliver B. Shallenberger, William Stanley, Nikola Tesla, Stephen Timoshenko and Vladimir Zworykin.

Early on Westinghouse was a rival to Thomas Edison's electric company. In 1892 Edison was merged with Westinghouse's chief AC rival, the Thomson-Houston Electric Company, making even bigger competitor, General Electric. Westinghouse changed its name to Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1945.

Westinghouse purchased CBS in 1995 and became CBS Corporation in 1997. In 1998, CBS established a brand licensing subsidiary Westinghouse Licensing Corporation (Westinghouse Electric Corporation). In 1997/1998 the Power Generation Business Unit, headquartered in Orlando, FL, was sold to Siemens AG, of Germany. A year later, CBS sold all of its nuclear power businesses to British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL). Soon after, BNFL gained license rights on the Westinghouse trademarks and they used those to reorganize their acquired assets as Westinghouse Electric Company. That company was sold to Toshiba in 2007.

Products and sponsorships

The company pioneered in the power generation industry[3] and in long-distance power transmission and high-voltage alternating-current transmission, unveiling the technology for lighting in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

The first commercial Westinghouse steam turbine driven generator, a 1,500 kW unit, began operation at Hartford Electric Light Co. in 1901. The machine, nicknamed Mary-Ann, was the first steam turbine generator to be installed by an electric utility to generate electricity in the US. George Westinghouse had based his original steam turbine design on designs licensed from the English inventor Charles Parsons. Today a large proportion of steam turbine generators operating around the world, ranging to units as large as 1,500 MW (or 1000 times the original 1901 unit) were supplied by Westinghouse from its factories in Lester, PA, Charlotte, NC or Hamilton, Ont. or were built overseas under Westinghouse license. Major Westinghouse licensees or joint venture partners included Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan and Harbin Turbine Co. and Shanghai Electric Co. of China.

Westinghouse boasted 50,000 employees by 1900, and established a formal research and development department in 1906. While the company was expanding, it would experience internal financial difficulties. During the Panic of 1907, the Board of Directors forced George Westinghouse to take a six-month leave of absence. Westinghouse officially retired in 1909 and died several years later in 1914.

Under new leadership, Westinghouse Electric diversified its business activities in electrical technology. It acquired the Copeman Electric Stove Company in 1914 and Pittsburgh High Voltage Insulator Company in 1921. Westinghouse also moved into radio broadcasting by establishing Pittsburgh’s KDKA, the first commercial radio station, and Boston’s WBZ in 1921. Westinghouse expanded into the elevator business, establishing the Westinghouse Elevator Company in 1928. Throughout the decade, diversification engendered considerable growth; sales went from $43 million in 1914 to $216 million in 1929.[4]

Westinghouse produced the first operational American turbojet for the US Navy program in 1943. After many successes, the ill-fated J40 project, started soon after WWII, was abandoned in 1955 and led to Westinghouse exiting the aircraft engine business with closure of the Westinghouse Aviation Gas Turbine Division (Kansas City) in 1960.

During the late 1940s Westinghouse applied its aviation gas turbine technology and experience to develop its first industrial gas turbine. A 2000 hp model W21 was installed in 1948 at the Mississippi River Fuel Corp gas compression station in Wilmar, Arkansas.[5] This was the beginning of a 50-year history of Westinghouse industrial and utility gas turbine development,[6] prior to the sale by Westinghouse of the power generation business to Siemens, AG in 1998. Evolving from the Small Steam and Gas Turbine Division formed in the early 1950s, the Westinghouse Combustion Turbine Systems Division was located in Concordville, PA, near Philadelphia and the old Lester, PA plant, until it was relocated to Power Generation headquarters in Orlando, FL in 1987.

As a result of its participation in the US government's military program for nuclear energy applications (e.g. The Nuclear Navy) Westinghouse was instrumental in the development and commercialization of nuclear energy systems for electric power generation. This business currently operates as the Westinghouse Electric Company, and is owned by Toshiba of Japan. Electricite de France (EDF) a major global player in the nuclear power business, was a long-time licensee of the Westinghouse nuclear technology.

Additional major industrial products in the widespread Westinghouse portfolio included electric motors of all sizes, elevators and escalators, controls and lighting. The Large Motor Division, once headquartered in Buffalo, NY, entered a joint venture with Taiwan Electric Co. (TECO) in the 1970s and today operates as TECO-Westinghouse.

The Westinghouse Transportation Division supplied the equipment and controls for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) and the Washington, DC METRO, as well as Automated People Movers at several large US airports, including Dallas-Ft. Worth and Orlando. That business was sold to AEG of Germany (1988), which in turn sold it to a joint venture of ABB and Daimler Benz Transportation, Inc (named ADTRANZ) in 1996. Ultimately, the business was acquired by Bombardier of Canada in 2001 and is still headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.[7]

Westinghouse was also a leader in the design and manufacturing of household electrical products including radios, televisions, and other audio/video equipment, and both small and large electric appliances of all kinds, from hair dryers and electric irons to clothes washers and dryers, refrigerators and air conditioning units. For many years Westinghouse was a familiar household name and favored brand. After more than 50 years, and after playing a strong No. 2 to rival General Electric for most of that time, Westinghouse decided to exit the appliance business in the mid- 1970s. White-Westinghouse was formed when White Consolidated acquired the Westinghouse appliance unit in 1975.

The company is also known for its time capsule contributions during the 1939 New York World's Fair and 1964 New York World's Fair. They also participated in the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. They sponsored the Westinghouse Auditorium at the fair, where they showed films documenting Westinghouse products and company plants.[2] Westinghouse was one of the original corporate sponsors and exhibitors at Walt Disney World's EPCOT attraction in Orlando, FL.

Financial Catastrophe and Corporate Reinvention

In 1990, Westinghouse experienced a financial catastrophe when the Corporation lost over one billion dollars due to bad loans made by its Westinghouse Credit Corp. lending arm.[4]

In an attempt to revitalize the corporation, the Board of Directors appointed outside management in the form of CEO Michael Jordan, who brought in numerous consultants to help re-engineer the company in order to realize the potential that they saw in the broadcasting industry. Westinghouse reduced the work force in many of its traditional industrial operations and made further acquisitions in that broadcasting to add to its already substantial Group W network, purchasing CBS in 1995. Shortly after, Westinghouse purchased Infinity broadcasting, TNN, CMT, American Radio Systems, and rights to NFL broadcasting. These investments cost the company over fifteen billion dollars. To recoup its costs, Westinghouse sold many other operations. Siemens purchased non-nuclear power generation, while other firms bought the defense electronics, Knoll Office Furniture, Thermoking, and residential security. With little remaining of the company aside from its broadcasting, Westinghouse renamed itself CBS Corporation in 1997.

See references 29 through 35 for a history of the fall of Westinghouse.


During the 20th century, Westinghouse engineers and scientists were granted more than 28,000 US government patents, the third most of any company.[8]

Timeline of company evolution

1888 Westinghouse brochure advertising their Alternating system



1900s to 1920s

1930s and 1940s

Close up of Westinghouse logo on historic kitchen stove at John & Mable Ringling Museum, Sarasota

1950s to 1970s

Pittsburgh Westinghouse Sign, 1967.


1990s to 2000s


See also


  1. 1 2 History of Tinicum Township (PA) 1643-1993. http://tthsdelco.org/: Tinicum Township Historical Society. 1993.
  2. 1 2 "Steam Hammer, Westinghouse Works, 1904". World Digital Library. 1904-05. Retrieved 2013-07-28. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. "Westinghouse Power Generation". 1993.
  4. 1 2 "Westinghouse Electric Corporation".
  5. "Westinghouse W21, Mississippi River Fuel Corp". 1948.
  6. Scalzo. A, et. al. (1994). "Evolution of Heavy Duty Industrial and Utility Combustion Turbines in the US" (PDF). ASME Gas Turbine Division.
  7. "Bombardier, Pittsburgh Fact Sheet" (PDF).
  8. 2009 Westinghouse corporate profile
  9. Richard Moran, Executioner's Current: Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and the Invention of the Electric Chair, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group - 2007, page 42
  10. Center, Copyright 2015 Edison Tech. "William Stanley - Engineering Hall of Fame".
  11. John W. Klooster, Icons of Invention: The Makers of the Modern World from Gutenberg to Gates, page 305. Books.google.com. 30 July 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  12. 1 2 "Bombardier Fact Sheet: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania" (PDF). Bombardier Inc.
  13. 1 2 "WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORP. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History". Case Western Reserve University.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 "Westinghouse: Chronology". Ketupa.net. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  15. Westinghouse Company Enters Wireless Field (1920). Earlyradiohistory.us (1920-10-16). Retrieved on 2013-11-02.
  16. "Westinghouse Electric Corporation". ExplorePaHistory.com.
  17. Feurer R (2006). Radical Unionism in the Midwest, 1900–1950. University of Illinois Press.
  18. "Heartland of UE Struggle". UE. September 2002. Retrieved 2008-04-20.
  19. "Westinghouse Sign". Pittsburgh Press. 16 January 1968. p. 49.
  20. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  21. "Three Decades of Wall Street's Muzak Fixation - Ray Gustini". The Atlantic Wire. March 24, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  22. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  23. "Bombardier in the United States, page 3" (PDF). Bombardier Inc.
  24. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Who Killed Westinghouse? - In the beginning". Old.post-gazette.com. March 12, 1914. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  25. "The Milwaukee Journal - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  26. "The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  27. "The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  28. "The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  29. Gwilym A. Price, 89, a high school dropout who became... - Orlando Sentinel. Articles.orlandosentinel.com (1985-06-04). Retrieved on 2013-08-18.
  30. http://www.marspapers.org/papers/Shirk_2011_contrib.pdf
  31. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Who Killed Westinghouse? - Chapter 1: Doing Well by Doing Good". Old.post-gazette.com. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  32. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Who Killed Westinghouse? - Chapter 2: Sue Me, Sue You Blues". Old.post-gazette.com. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  33. Douglas Danforth: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek. Investing.businessweek.com. Retrieved on 2013-11-02.
  34. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Who Killed Westinghouse? - Chapter 3: Money, It's a Hit". Old.post-gazette.com. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  35. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Who Killed Westinghouse? - Chapter 4: Big Money and Bad Choices". Old.post-gazette.com. June 29, 1990. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  36. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Who Killed Westinghouse? - Chapter 5: Coming Apart at the Seams". Old.post-gazette.com. January 15, 1991. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  37. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Who Killed Westinghouse? - Chapter 6: Free at Last". Old.post-gazette.com. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  38. "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Who Killed Westinghouse? - Chapter 7: Free at Last". Old.post-gazette.com. Retrieved April 20, 2013.

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