Great Engineers & Scientists Blog

Great Engineers & Scientists

In 1676, Sir Isaac Newton wrote "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants." In this blog, we take Newton's words to heart, and recognize the many great engineers and scientists upon whose shoulders we stand.

So who do you think of when you hear "Great Engineer"? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add him or her to the pantheon. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

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Elisha Graves Otis

Posted April 23, 2006 11:25 AM by Chris Leonard
Pathfinder Tags: April 8 August 3

Moose writes:
Elisha Graves Otis

Elisha Graves Otis was born on August 3, 1811 in the small farming community of Halifax, Vermont. After several failed business attempts and bouts of serious illness, he moved to Albany, New York, where he worked as a master mechanic in a bedstead factory. During his three years with O. Tingley & Company, Otis devised a way to run rails for four-post beds and invented a railway safety brake. In 1852, Otis moved to Yonkers, New York to work as the head machinist for Josiah Maize, whose bedstead company needed a hoist for lifting heavy equipment safely.

Although neither hoists nor elevators were new, the elevator safety brake that Otis invented helped change the face of urban America. Known originally as the "safety elevator", Otis's invention permitted the building of skyscrapers by preventing passengers from crashing to the ground if an elevator cable snapped. Simple but strong, the elevator safety brake meshed a steel spring with a ratchet. If a rope or cable failed, tension would cause the spring to catch and hold. The ratchet, which was attached to the lower ends of levers in gears with racks, would then lock into place.

To demonstrate his confidence in his invention, Otis ascended an elevator in an open-sided shaft at the Crystal Palace Exposition in New York. Perched high above the crowd, Otis ordered the only hoisting cable to be cut. As onlookers gasped, the platform dropped a few inches and then came to a stop. Otis's elevator safety brake held, and the company he had recently formed began its rise to the top.

In December of 1853, the Otis Elevator Company reported an inventory of just $122.71, including two oilcans that were assessed at $1.50 apiece. Although the patent which Otis received in 1860 provided the inventor with a measure of protection, diphtheria soon took its toll. On April 8, 1861, Elisha Graves Otis died, leaving the business to sons, who grew the Otis Elevator Company into a multi-million dollar corporation.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisha_Graves_Otis

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Anonymous Poster
#1

One small problem...

04/24/2006 8:54 AM

"...and the company he had recently formed began its rise to the top. "

And a good thing, too, because Otis was stuck there at the top after cutting the cable!

Otis obviously didn't take the 'How do you put a Giraff in a Refrigirator' quiz.

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Anonymous Poster
#2
In reply to #1

Re: One small problem...

12/10/2006 3:33 PM

You are stupid. That doesn't even make sense.

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