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Kruesi, John (15 May 1843–22 February 1899), master machinist and assistant to Thomas A. Edison, master machinist and assistant to Thomas A. Edison, was born Johann Heinrich Krusi in Heiden, Switzerland. Little is known of his parents, who died when he was still an infant. He was placed in an orphanage. He began an apprenticeship as a locksmith in St. Gall, and when he completed it he moved to Zurich and worked as a journeyman machinist. There he met August Weber and formed a friendship that would influence his career. The two young men traveled to Paris to view the exhibits of the great international exposition in 1867 and then on to Holland and Belgium to gain some practical experience. After three years they moved to London, where they took in the latest developments in machine tools and power transmission....

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Thorp, John (1784–15 November 1848), machinist and inventor, was born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, the son of Reuben Thorp, a wheelwright and coach builder, and Hannah Bucklin. Very little is known of Thorp’s early life, which was spent in Rehoboth or Pawtucket (the town was divided in half in a border dispute between Massachusetts and Rhode Island) and Providence, Rhode Island. His residence near Pawtucket, an enclave for artisans and metal workers, probably led Thorp to follow the metal-working trade and to develop several of his inventions. During this time a boy of twelve to fifteen might have apprenticed in a machine shop. Thorp may have acquired his interest in textile technology because Pawtucket was the home of the first water-powered cotton-spinning mill in the United States, and several textile-machine manufacturers operated there....