William Stanley, Jr.
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William Stanley, Jr.
William Stanley Jr.
William-Stanley jr.jpg
Born(1858-11-28)November 28, 1858
DiedMay 14, 1916(1916-05-14) (aged 57)
EducationWilliston Seminary
Alma materYale University
Lila Courtney (Wetmore) Stanley
ChildrenHarold Stanley
AwardsIEEE Edison Medal (1912)
Scientific career
FieldsElectrical engineering
InstitutionsGeneral Electric

William Stanley Jr. (November 28, 1858 - May 14, 1916) was an American physicist born in Brooklyn, New York. During his career, he obtained 129 patents covering a variety of electric devices.[1] In 1913, he also patented an all-steel vacuum bottle, and formed the Stanley Bottle Company.

Early life

Stanley was born November 28, 1858 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of William Stanley and Elizabeth A. Parsons Stanley.[2] William Jr. attended Williston Seminary and later graduated from Yale University with the class of 1881.[2]


Stanley was as an electrician working with tele keys and fire alarms of an early manufacturer. In Philadelphia, Stanley designed one of the first electrical installations (at a Fifth Avenue store). Shortly thereafter, George Westinghouse hired Stanley as his chief engineer at his Pittsburgh factory.

In 1885, Stanley built the first practical alternating current transformer based on Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs' prototype of 1881. This device was the precursor to the modern transformer. In December, under a new contract with Westinghouse, Stanley moved his operations to Great Barrington, Massachusetts.[3]

In 1886, on March 20, Stanley demonstrated the first complete system of high voltage Alternating Current transmission, consisting of generators, transformers and high-voltage transmission lines. His system allowed the distribution of electrical power over wide areas. He used the system to light offices and stores along the main street of Great Barrington - the location of his West Avenue family home. Stanley's transformer design became a prototype for future transformers, and his AC distribution system formed the basis of modern electrical power distribution. His work in the electrification of Great Barrington's Main Street was named an IEEE Milestone.[4]

Agreeing that the AC system had arrived, Westinghouse further tested the system in summer 1886 in Pittsburgh; it transmitted over a distance of 3 miles, and used an alternator designed by Stanley to replace the Siemens model, which regulated voltage poorly. Satisfied with the pilot system, Westinghouse began commercial production and shipped his company's first commercial to Buffalo NY, where a local utility placed it in service. Orders for 25 alternating-current plants followed within months.[3]

In 1890, Stanley founded the Stanley Electric Manufacturing Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In 1903 the General Electric Corporation purchased a controlling interest in the firm. The land on which the company once stood is now the site of the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires in Pittsfield.[5]


The practical coil circuits were the prototypes for the modern transformers. (U.S. Patent 349,611)

William Stanley Jr. was granted 129 patents for a range of products and electrical devices.[1][6] A selection of patents follow. Significant patents are in bold.

Stanley (second row, second from right) in Philadelphia on May 19, 1915 during the awarding of the Franklin Medal with Thomas Alva Edison

See also

Personal life

William married to Lila Courtney (Wetmore) Stanley in 1884.[2] In 1935, their son, Harold Stanley, went on to found the modern day financial firm of Morgan Stanley with J. P. Morgan's grandson, Henry Sturgis Morgan.[8]

Further reading

  • "William Stanley Dies", New York Times, May 15, 1916, pg 9, col 5.
  • "William Stanley" (Nov.22, 1858-May 14, 1916), Dictionary of American Biography, Vol XVII, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1935, pg 514.
  • "William Stanley", The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol XXIV, James T. White & Co., New York, 1935, pg 394.
  • William Stanley (1858-1916) -- His Life and Work, Laurence A. Hawkins, The Newcomen Society in North America, New York, 1951.


  1. ^ a b Owen, E.L., Rediscovering William Stanley Jr. Part I, Industry Applications Magazine, IEEE, Nov.-Dec. 2003 Volume 9, Issue 6 pg 9- 12 ISSN 1077-2618 INSPEC 7949020 doi:10.1109/MIA.2003.1245790
  2. ^ a b c "William Stanley Dies". The New York Times. May 15, 1916. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ a b Thomas Parke Hughes, Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930, p.103-104, (1993)
  4. ^ "Milestones:Alternating Current Electrification, 1886". IEEE Global History Network. IEEE. Retrieved 2011.
  5. ^ William Stanley Business Park
  6. ^ Stanley Archived 2007-11-16 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ This is the 1886 Stanley-Westinghouse Lamp Archived 2007-12-09 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Harold Stanley, 77, is Dead". The New York Times. May 15, 1963. Retrieved 2015.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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