William Stanley, Jr.

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William Stanley, Jr.

Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, Kings County, New York, United States
Death: May 14, 1916 (57)
Great Barrington, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of William Stanley and Elizabeth Adelaide Stanley
Husband of Lila Courtney Stanley
Father of Harold Stanley

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About William Stanley, Jr.



William Stanley, Jr. (November 28, 1858–May 14, 1916) was an American physicist born in Brooklyn, New York. In his career, he obtained 129 patents covering a variety of electric devices.


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

In 1885, Stanley built the first practical alternating current device based on Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs' idea. This device was the precursor to the modern transformer. Stanley's work led him to be hired by George Westinghouse as his chief engineer in Pittsburgh.

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, Massachusetts - the location of his West Avenue family home. Stanley's transformer design became the prototype for all future transformers, and his AC distribution system formed the basis of modern electrical power distribution. He was the first person to make an electrical transformer.

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.

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William Stanley, Jr.'s Timeline

November 28, 1858
Brooklyn, New York, Kings County, New York, United States
October 2, 1885
Great Barrington, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States
May 14, 1916
Age 57
Great Barrington, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, United States