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Armstrong, Edwin Howard (18 December 1890–31 January 1954), electrical engineer and inventor, was born in New York City, the son of John Armstrong, a publisher, and Emily Smith, a teacher. Armstrong attended public schools in New York City and in Yonkers, New York, where the family moved in 1900. Fascinated by machinery, he enjoyed repairing broken toys for friends and later learned to repair automobiles. In his teens he was impressed by ...

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Harold E. Edgerton Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103829).

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Edgerton, Harold Eugene (06 April 1903–04 January 1990), electrical engineer and photographer, was born in Fremont, Nebraska, the son of Frank E. Edgerton, a lawyer, and Mary Coe. Edgerton received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska in 1925 and a doctorate of science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1931. He married Esther May Garrett in 1928; they had three children. Most of Edgerton’s career centered on his invention, development, and application of the stroboscopic flash....

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Engelbart, Douglas Carl (30 Jan. 1925–2 July 2013), engineer and inventor, was born in Portland, Oregon, the middle son of Carl Louis Engelbart and Gladys Charlotte Amelia Munson Engelbart. His father, an electrical engineer, was born in Spokane, Washington, and was of German descent. His mother also born in the state of Washington, was of Swedish and Norwegian descent. A gifted student, Douglas Engelbart graduated from Franklin High School in Portland in ...

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Ginsburg, Charles Paulson (27 July 1920–09 April 1992), inventor and electrical engineer, was born and raised in San Francisco, the son of a Russian Jewish father who was a physician specializing in radiology and an American-born mother. Diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 1924, just two years after the discovery of insulin changed the disease from a fatal to a treatable condition, he was among the first to survive diabetes to advanced age through daily self-administered insulin injections. Ginsburg won admission to Lowell High School, a special public school for academically gifted students, graduating in 1937. That same year he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, intending to become a physician, but after two years of premedical studies his intellectual curiosity led him in other directions. In 1939 he transferred to the University of California, Davis, to study genetics and animal husbandry. But in 1940, lacking funds, he quit school and moved to San Jose, finding work as a sound technician, first for a recording company and then a broadcasting company. In 1942 he resumed his education as a part-time student at San Jose State College (now San Jose State University), pursuing a degree in engineering and mathematics. Excused from military service because of his insulin dependence, Ginsburg was in demand as a radio engineer during World War II....

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Hewitt, Peter Cooper (05 March 1861–25 August 1921), inventor, mechanical and electrical engineer, and manufacturer, was born in New York City, the son of Abram Stevens Hewitt, an iron manufacturer, merchant, and politician, and Sarah Amelia Cooper. Hewitt attended Stevens Institute of Technology at Hoboken, New Jersey, and Columbia University School of Mines in New York City. The fortune amassed by his father and his maternal grandfather, Peter Cooper, enabled him to pursue his own interests. As a result, he devoted much of his adult life to scientific investigation and experimentation, for which he received numerous patents. An orderly and determined individual, his strict work regimen was to attend to business interests in the morning while his afternoons and evenings were devoted to experimentation and investigations in his laboratory, located in the tower of the old Madison Square Garden. This intense schedule continued for three-quarters of the year and was followed by three months totally devoid of work and devoted to relaxation, travel, and sports....

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Jack Kilby with his 1958 invention, the world's first integrated circuit, at the Science Exposition in Tsukuba, Japan, 1985. Photograph by I. Inoue. Associated Press

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Kilby, Jack St. Clair (08 November 1923–20 June 2005), Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the microchip, Nobel Prize–winning inventor of the microchip, was born in Jefferson City, Missouri, the son of Hubert Kilby, an electrical engineer, and Vina Freitag. When Jack was four years old the family moved to Salina, Kansas, where his father worked for the Kansas Power Company. By sixth grade the family relocated again to Great Bend, Kansas, on the Arkansas River, where his father became president of Kansas Power, overseeing power distribution in the western third of the state. Jack spent his summers cleaning out oil tanks and steam generators. After an ice storm in April 1938 his father used a ham radio to keep up with the company's distant customers. Amateur radio appealed to Jack and sparked an interest in electronics. He became a Depression-era ham radio operator at call letters W9GTY....

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Latimer, Lewis Howard (04 September 1848–11 December 1928), engineer and inventor, was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, the son of George W. Latimer, a barber, and Rebecca Smith, both former slaves who escaped from Norfolk, Virginia, on 4 October 1842. When not attending Phillips Grammar School in Boston, Lewis spent much of his youth working in his father’s barber shop, as a paperhanger, and selling the abolitionist newspaper ...

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Sperry, Elmer Ambrose (12 October 1860–16 June 1930), engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur, was born in Cortland, New York, the son of Stephen Sperry, a farmer and carpenter, and Mary Burst, who died giving birth to him. Elmer was precocious mechanically and eagerly studied math and science at Cortland Normal School. His growing fascination for electrical technology and a visit to the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 helped ignite a lifelong drive to invent that would emphasize feedback control systems....

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Sperti, George Speri (17 January 1900–29 April 1991), engineer, inventor, and educator, was born in Covington, Kentucky, the son of Italian Roman Catholic immigrants George Anthony Sperti and Caroline Speri. George was educated in public schools in Covington and received in 1923 an E.E. from the College of Engineering of the University of Cincinnati. He had pursued his studies as a co-op student with the Union Gas & Electric Company of Cincinnati, for whom he read meters in Cincinnati households and repaired defective meters in the shop. He soon discovered that the domestic meters were efficient, but that the company did not have a reliable industrial meter. Sperti set to work to construct a meter that would measure the great amount of electricity consumed by large industries. At the age of twenty-one, he built on his mother’s breadboard a device he termed the kilo-volt ampere (KVA) meter, for use of which Westinghouse offered him a $50,000 long-term contract. He accepted a smaller sum of $23,000 and personally sold the European rights....

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Weston, Edward (09 May 1850–20 August 1936), electrical engineer, inventor, and industrialist, was born at Brynn Castle, near Oswestry, County Shropshire, England, the son of Edward Weston, a carpenter and mechanic, and Margaret Jones. When Weston was seven years old, his family moved to Wolverhampton, part of England’s highly industrialized “Black Country.” After his education in the town’s grade schools, he attended St. Peter’s Collegiate Institute. He studied chemistry and physics privately there with a fellow of the London Chemical Society, Henry A. Horton. Contrary to Weston’s wishes, his parents insisted that he pursue a medical career. A three-year-long apprenticeship convinced Weston that medicine was not his field. In spite of his parents’ bitter opposition, Weston abandoned that field of study in 1870 and went to London, intending to find work in a scientific field. When this hope proved futile, Weston disappointed his parents still more by leaving to seek opportunities in the United States....