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The first incarnation of Westinghouse Electric Corporation, an American manufacturing company, was founded on January 8, 1886 by George Westinghouse. It was originally named Westinghouse Electric Company, and was renamed Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1945. The company acquired the CBS television network in 1995, and was renamed CBS Corporation before being acquired by Viacom in 1999.
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 an even bigger competitor, General Electric. Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company changed its name to Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1945.
In 1990, Westinghouse experienced a financial catastrophe when the Corporation lost over one billion dollars due to bad high-risk, high-fee, high-interest loans made by its Westinghouse Credit Corporation lending arm.
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 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, office furniture company Knoll, Thermo King, and residential security. With little remaining of the company aside from its broadcasting, Westinghouse renamed itself CBS Corporation in 1997.
During the 20th century, Westinghouse engineers and scientists were granted more than 28,000 US government patents, the third most of any company.
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 1,000 times the original 1901 unit) were supplied by Westinghouse from its factories in Lester, Pennsylvania; Charlotte, North Carolina; 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 WBZ in Springfield, Massachusetts 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.
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 2,000–horsepower model W21 was installed in 1948 at the Mississippi River Fuel Corp gas compression station in Wilmar, Arkansas. This was the beginning of a 50-year history of Westinghouse industrial and utility gas turbine development, 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, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia and the old Lester, Pennsylvania plant, until it was relocated to Power Generation headquarters in Orlando, Florida 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. Much of Westinghouse's higher voltage power equipment was sold to ABB in 1989 and renamed the ABB Power T&D Company.
The Westinghouse Transportation Division (est. 1894) supplied equipment and controls for many North American interurban and streetcar lines, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Washington DC METRO (WMATA), New York City Subway (NYCT) equipment from the 1890s elevated era to the R68A in 1988, among many other heavy rail and rail transit systems and built locomotives, often in partnership with Baldwin, Lima-Hamilton as well as supplying electrical and traction equipment for Fairbanks-Morsediesel locomotives. The division designed and built Automated People Movers (APMs) at several major U.S. airports, including Tampa, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Orlando. The Transportation Division was sold to AEG of Germany (1988), which merged into a joint venture of ABB and Daimler Benz named AdTranz in 1996. Ultimately, the unit was acquired by Bombardier of Canada in 2001 and is still headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA.
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.
There has been a number of Westinghouse-related environmental incidents in the US. Below is a short list of these. All of these are chemical pollution incidents; none of them involve nuclear reactors or nuclear pollution.
Sharon Plant: The Westinghouse Sharon Plant was a 58-acre Westinghouse transformer production facility in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. The EPA's recent Five Year Review Report (2016) of this Superfund site determined that the Shenango River has been polluted due to Westinghouse operations in this area. Because of the findings, the state of Pennsylvania has issued a "Do Not Eat" advisory for fish around the Westinghouse site. This plant was no longer operational after 1984. Westinghouse submitted their final cleanup plan in 1998, and further action beyond their dissolution has been liable to CBS. The transformer business unit was sold to ABB in 1989. This site now houses a product design company.
Adams County Plant: Westinghouse was fined $5.5 million in 1996 for polluting groundwater in over 100 wells, as well as other water sources, while operating its Westinghouse Elevator Company plant in Adams County, Pennsylvania. Degreasers and other toxic chemicals were released over a 5-year period in the 1980s.[verification needed] This business unit was sold to Schindler in 1988. Future liability for cleanup has been directed to CBS following the dissolution of Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1999.
Horseheads Site: Westinghouse operates a cathode-ray tube plant in Horseheads, New York. They were deemed responsible for pollution at the Kentucky Avenue Wellfield Superfund site in Horseheads, New York. Westinghouse polluted nearby soil, affecting the safety of a nearby aquifer and wells used by residents. One phase of the cleanup effort describes Westinghouse Electric Corporation's facility, designated "Disposal Area F" and the "Former Runoff Basin Area," which are contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and arsenic, will be cleaned up using a combination of soil excavation and soil vapor extraction. At Disposal Area F, the area of contamination is about 0.3 acres. At the Former Runoff Basin Area, the contaminated soils cover approximately 0.7 acres. Disposal of the excavated soils occurred at appropriate off-site facilities. The removal of the PAHs and arsenic contamination will protect site workers and employees at the Westinghouse facility and the cleanup of the VOCs will help restore the quality of the Newtown Creek Aquifer.[verification needed] In 1986, Westinghouse entered a joint venture at this plant with Toshiba to produce CRTs. In 1989, Toshiba become some owner of this plant and the Westinghouse CRT business unit. Future liability has been shifted to CBS.
Sunnyvale Plant: Westinghouse operated a plant which manufactured electronics for military systems in Sunnyvale, CA. Groundwater and soil near this plant are contaminated with PCBs, fuels, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Potential health threats to area residents include accidentally ingesting or coming into direct contact with site contaminants in soil or groundwater. There are municipal drinking water wells within 1/4 mile from this site, and 300,000 people get their drinking water from within three miles of the site.[verification needed] This business unit was sold to Northrop Grumman in 1996. Future liability for this action has been passed on to CBS.
Timeline of company evolution
1888 Westinghouse brochure advertising their Alternating system
Share of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, issued March 31, 1910
1884 - George Westinghouse begins developing a DC electric lighting system
1940s - enters aviation with airborne radar (defense electronics sold 1996), jet engine propulsion, and ground-based airport lighting, gets defense contract from U.S. military to produce plastic helmet liners for the M1 Helmet
1955 - buys KDKA-TV (then WDTV) and KYW (originally, and currently WTAM) radio Cleveland.
1955 - Westinghouse J40 engine failure causes all F3H fighters using the engine to be grounded, and all other jets using it to switch to other engines. Westinghouse forced out of aircraft engine business.
1994 - buys United Technologies' Norden electronic systems.
1994 - Cleveland operations and facilities purchased by Eaton Corporation for $1.6 billion. Cleveland Westinghouse facilities, as well as manufacturing plants converted into other commercial enterprises
199x - separates IT and phone service sales into Westinghouse Communications division
1995 - under the leadership of Michael H. Jordan buysCBS for $5.4 billion ($8.9 billion today)
2006 - Viacom is split into two companies in January, with a new Viacom being spun off of the company, and the old Viacom being renamed CBS Corporation thus reviving Westinghouse's last name prior to sale and reversing the 1999 Viacom-CBS merger.
2006 - BNFL sold its interest in Westinghouse Electric Company to Toshiba for $5.4 billion