Sperry, Elmer Ambrose, 1860-1930

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Elmer A. Sperry was born on October 12, 1860, in Cortland, N.Y. He attended the local elementary schools and then enrolled in Cornell University. At Cornell he developed an interest in electrical engineering and began working with a group of Syracuse industrialists in order to construct an arc lighting system. By 1882 Sperry was recognized as being one of America's electrical pioneers. He is primarily known as for his work with feedback devices and servomechanisms and as the founder in 1910 of the Sperry Gyroscope Company. Sperry died on June 16, 1930.

From the description of Chicago-Cleveland papers, 1890-1910. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 650279239

Elmer A. Sperry was born on October 12, 1860, in Cortland, N.Y. He attended the local elementary schools and then enrolled in Cornell University. At Cornell he developed an interest in electrical engineering and began working with a group of Syracuse industrialists in order to construct an arc lighting system. By 1882 Sperry was recognized as being one of America's electrical pioneers. He is best known for his work with feedback devices and servomechanisms and as the founder in 1910 of the Sperry Gyroscope Company. Sperry died on June 16, 1930.

From the description of General correspondence, 1919-1930. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 86119099

From the description of Patent records and laboratory notebooks, 1882-1933. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122516042

Elmer A. Sperry was born on October 12, 1860, in Cortland, N.Y. He attended the local elementary schools and then enrolled in Cornell University. At Cornell he developed an interest in electrical engineering and began working with a group of Syracuse industrialists in order to construct an arc lighting system. By 1882 Sperry was recognized as being one of America's electrical pioneers. He is best known for his work with feedback devices and servomechanisms, and as the founder in 1910 of the Sperry Gyroscope Company. Sperry died on June 16, 1930.

From the description of Personal papers, 1860-1929. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122568024

Elmer A. Sperry was born on October 12, 1860, in Cortland, N.Y. He attended the local elementary schools and then enrolled in Cornell University. At Cornell, he developed an interest in electrical engineering and began working with a group of Syracuse industrialists in order to construct an arc lighting system. By 1882 Sperry was recognized as being one of America's electrical pioneers.

In 1883 Sperry moved to Chicago where he established the Electric Light, Motor, and Car Brake Company. He, however, found that he could notcompete with the more established Edision and Brush Electric companies so he began experimenting with electric coal-mining equipment. In l886 he founded the Sperry Electric Mining Machine Company. During these years Sperry also developed an electric street car. After selling his patents to General Electric, he went to work for the company as a consultant.

In 1901 Sperry became associated with a young patent examiner, Clifton Townsend, and the two men worked together to develop an electrolytic process to manufacture white lead. Sperry and Townsend opened a production plant in Niagara Falls, N.Y., which was sold to Elon Hooker's Development and Funding Company.

In 1907 Sperry began to experiment with the gyroscope. Three years later, he founded the Sperry Gyroscope Company in Brooklyn, N.Y., in order to develop, manufacture, and market marine gyrostabilizing devices. Working closely with the Navy, he developed the gyrocompass, ship stabilizer, and high-intensity search light. During the First World War, the Sperry Gyroscope Company became a major defense contractor, and Elmer Sperry sat on the Naval Consulting Board. After the war, Sperry Gyroscope moved into aeronautics as it developed airplane stabilizers, gyrostabilized bombsights, and the aerial torpedo. Elmer Sperry died on June l6, l930.

From the description of Papers, 1876-1931. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 86123624

Elmer A. Sperry was born on October 12, 1860, in Cortland, N.Y. He attended the local elementary schools and then enrolled in Cornell University. At Cornell he developed an interest in electrical engineering and began working with a group of Syracuse industrialists in order to construct an arc lighting system. By 1882 Sperry was recognized as being one of America's electrical pioneers. He founded the Sperry Gyroscope Company in 1910.

During the 1920s Elmer Sperry turned over the day-to-day operation of the Gyroscope Company to a cadre of professional managers and turned his attention to a technological problem that had first captured his attention as a young man: the compound diesel engine. Correspondence with Charles Kettering of General Motors shows that by 1919 Sperry sought to develop a diesel engine because he had concluded that the world was exhausting its oil supplies and more efficient ways to use energy had to be found. Also, he was convinced that flammable aviation fuel had to be replaced by a safer form of energy.

From the description of Diesel engine papers, 1908-1929. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 86094008

Elmer A. Sperry was born on October 12, 1860, in Cortland, N.Y. He attended the local elementary schools and then enrolled in Cornell University. At Cornell, he developed an interest in electrical engineering and began working with a group of Syracuse industrialists in order to construct an arc lighting system. By 1882 Sperry was recognized as being one of America's electrical pioneers.

In 1901 Sperry read a journal article which described the electrolytic process used by a young Washington patent examiner, Clinton P. Townsend. The Townsend process liberated sodium hydroxide and hydrogen from a brine solution. Upon learning about it, Sperry immediately realized this reaction could potentially supply a new form of energy for industrial chemistry. He contracted Townsend and offered to finance his experimental work in exchange for rights to his patents. Together, Sperry and Townsend began working on the development of an electrolytic cell and made plans to set up a production facility to manufacture caustic soda and white lead.

For a while this operation was promising, and Sperry moved to Niagara Falls to open a production plant. In 1903 and 1904 a number of other companies expressed keen interest in Sperry's and Townsend's experimental work. The Solvay Process Company, Anaconda, and Grasselli Chemical offered to buy Sperry's Niagara plant, but after a number of lengthy patent infringement suits, Hooker's Development and Funding Company purchased the operation. After the sale to Hooker, Sperry began working on a detinning process that he was forced to sell to the American Can Company when he found himself the defendant in a series of patent infringement suits.

After this experience, Sperry began to turn his attention to gyroscopic technology, developing the ship stabilizer and gyrocompass in the years before the First World War. In 1910 he founded the Sperry Gyroscope Company.

From the description of Electrochemistry files, 1896-1921. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122333713

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Forbes, Thomas C. Thomas C. Forbes correspondence, 1909-1910. Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sperry, Elmer Ambrose, 1860-1930. Chicago-Cleveland papers, 1890-1910. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Sperry, Elmer Ambrose, 1860-1930. Patent records and laboratory notebooks, 1882-1933. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Hammond, John Hays, 1888-1965. John Hays Hammond papers, 1908-1965 (bulk 1912-1953). Library of Congress
creatorOf Sperry, Elmer Ambrose, 1860-1930. Electrochemistry files, 1896-1921. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Sperry, Elmer Ambrose, 1860-1930. General correspondence, 1919-1930. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Michelson, Albert A. (Albert Abraham), 1852-1931. Papers, 1803-1989 ; (bulk: 1861-1965). American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Sperry-Sun Drilling Services, Inc. Records, 1888-1999 (bulk 1930-1995). Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Sperry Corporation. Sperry Gyroscope Company Division. Records, 1910-1970. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Sperry, Elmer Ambrose, 1860-1930. Personal papers, 1860-1929. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Sperry, Elmer Ambrose, 1860-1930. Diesel engine papers, 1908-1929. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn John Hays Hammond Papers, 1908-1965, (bulk 1912-1953) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Sperry, Elmer Ambrose, 1860-1930. Papers, 1876-1931. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Sperry Corporation. Sperry Gyroscope Company Division. Historical card file, 1945-1961. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Lawrence Sperry Aircraft Company. Records, 1918-1927. Hagley Museum & Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Can Company. corporateBody
associatedWith American Locomotive Company. corporateBody
associatedWith American Society of Mechanical Engineers. corporateBody
associatedWith American Tin Plate Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Anaconda Copper Mining Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Anshutz Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Baekeland, L. H. (Leo Hendrik), 1863-1944. person
associatedWith Baldwin Locomotive Works. corporateBody
associatedWith Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Ltd. corporateBody
associatedWith Betts, Anson. person
associatedWith Brush Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Castner Electrolytic Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Chemical Reduction Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Cornell University. corporateBody
associatedWith Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Curtiss, Glenn Hammond, 1878-1930. person
associatedWith Dana, Arthur G. person
associatedWith Development and Funding Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Dutton, William F. person
associatedWith Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931. person
associatedWith Forbes, Thomas C. person
associatedWith Ford, Edsel, 1893-1943. person
associatedWith Ford, Henry, 1863-1947. person
associatedWith Ford Motor Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Fricke, Otto. person
associatedWith Fuse and Wire Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Gabriel, George. person
associatedWith General Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith General Motors Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Goldschmidt Detinning Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Goodman family. family
associatedWith Goodman, Herbert E. (Herbert Edward), 1862-1917. person
associatedWith Goodman Manufacturing Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Grasselli Chemical Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Hammond, John Hays, 1888-1965. person
associatedWith Hooker, Albert H. (Albert Huntington), 1865-1936. person
associatedWith Hooker Electrochemical Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Hooker, Elon Huntington, 1869-1938. person
associatedWith Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964. person
associatedWith Hughes, Thomas Parke. person
associatedWith Illinois Central Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Independent Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Jourdan, A. Sauvaire. person
associatedWith Keller, Helen, 1880-1968. person
associatedWith Kettering, Charles Franklin, 1876-1958. person
associatedWith Lawrence Sperry Aircraft Company. corporateBody
associatedWith LeMaire, Ernest B. person
associatedWith Link-Belt Machinery Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Mauran, Max. person
associatedWith Michelson, Albert A. (Albert Abraham), 1852-1931. person
associatedWith Millikan, Robert Andrews, 1868-1953. person
associatedWith Morse Dry Dock and Repair Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Mussolini, Benito, 1883-1945. person
associatedWith National Battery Company. corporateBody
associatedWith National Electric Light Association. corporateBody
associatedWith National Research Council (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith New York Central Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith North American Aviation, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Rockefeller, John D. (John Davison), 1874-1960. person
associatedWith Sarco Fuel Savings and Engineering Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, David Eugene, 1860-1944. person
associatedWith Snow, Henry C. person
associatedWith Solvay Process Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry Corporation. Sperry Gyroscope Company Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry Corporation. Sperry Gyroscope Company Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry Electric Illuminating Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry Electric Light, Motor and Car Brake Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry Electric Mining Machine Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry Electric Railway Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry family. family
associatedWith Sperry Gyroscope Company, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry, Henry A. (Henry Ambrose). person
associatedWith Sperry, Lawrence B. (Lawrence Burst), 1892-1924. person
associatedWith Sperry, Stephen D. (Stephen Decatur). person
associatedWith Sperry-Sun Drilling Services, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Sperry, Zula G. (Zula Goodman), d. 1930. person
associatedWith Standard Oil Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Taylor, D. W. (David Watson), 1864-1940. person
associatedWith Th. Goldschmidt and Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Th. Goldschmidt and Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Thomson, Elihu, 1853-1937. person
associatedWith Thomson-Houston Electric Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Townsend, Clinton P. person
associatedWith United States Metal Recovery Company. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Navy. corporateBody
associatedWith Velie Motors Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Washburn, Frank S. (Frank Sherman), 1860-1922. person
associatedWith Whitely Exerciser Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Whitley Exerciser Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Willett, Helen Sperry. person
associatedWith World Sunday School Association. corporateBody
associatedWith YMCA of the USA. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Niagara Falls (N.Y.)
Subject
Diesel locomotives
Automatic control
Fire control (Naval gunnery)
Naval art and science
Electricity in transportation
Science and state
Coal mines and mining
Electric current regulators
Feedback control systems
Japan--Foreign relations--20th Century
Internal combustion engines--Ignition
Electric railroads
Defense contracts
Laboratory notebooks
Diesel motor
Inventors
Inclinometer
Electrolytic cells
Electric lighting, Arc
Electric power plants
Electric lamps, Arc
Electric machinery industry
Gyroscopes
Electric power
Air distance recorder
Internal combustion engine industry
Electric battery industry
Technological innovations
Drift indicator
Electrochemistry
Railroads--Dieselization
Science and industry
Coal mines and mining--Electric equipment
Lead plating
Bombsights
Servomechanisms
Chemical industry
Air compass
Marine diesel motors
Air-speed indicators
Street-railroads
Electric batteries
Patent laws and legislation
Electricity in mining
Research, Industrial
Automobile industry and trade
Electrolytic reduction
Electric networks
Coal-handling machinery
Electric generators
Aeronautical instruments industry
Automobiles--Motors
Diesel motor--Drawings
Electrical engineering
Nautical instruments
Guided bombs
Coal-mining machinery
Aeronautics
Naval research
Bombers
Navigation (Aeronautics)
Coal-cutting bits
Electric automobiles
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1860-10-12

Death 1930-06-16

Information

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