Charles F. Brush: Chronology

Charles F. Brush:
A Chronology of Life Accomplishments and Awards

  • 1869 – Graduated from the University of Michigan with the degree of Mining Engineer.
  • 1876 – His first open-coil dynamo initiated the age of electricity.
  • 1877 – Created the first practical electric arc light, with associated ashless petroleum coke electrode, thus simultaneously founding two great industries: that of electric power and that of the carbon electrode.
  • 1880 – Founded the Brush Electric Company. Within two years, the streets of America, Europe, Shanghai and Tokyo were lit by “Brush lights”.
  • 1881 – Invented the compound field-dynamo (parent of the constant potential generator) and the commercial version of the lead storage battery, his patented “pasted plate” forming the basis of a third great industry.
  • 1884 – Designed the dynamo and electrodes for the electric furnace which produced the first electrolytic aluminum.
  • 1891 – The Brush Electric Company consolidated with Thomson-Houston and Edison companies to form the General electric company.
  • 1895 – discovered the presence of the element helium in the earth’s atmosphere by its fractional diffusion through porous septa.
  • 1905 – for the production of oxygen from liquid air, he investigated Linde’s process and hounded the Linde Air Products Company whose safe and successful operation in the U.S.A. depended on the removal of natural gas from the air to be liquefied; his means for accomplishing this became universally employed in the U.S.A. and was his essential contribution to a fourth great industry.

    Charles F. brush with his arc lamp in the basement of the family mansion on Euclid Avenue circa 1929

    Charles F. Brush with his arc lamp in the basement of the family mansion on Euclid Avenue circa 1929

  • 1910 – presented a new postulate entitled “A Kinetic Theory of Gravitation before the American association for the Advancement of Science.
  • 1929 – shortly before his death, read this final paper on the same subject before the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia. Awarded the Franklin Medal – last of his medals and decorations.

Other awards, medals and decorations included:

  • Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France;
  • Rumford Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences;
  • Edison Medal of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers;
  • High honorary degrees from the Universities of Western Reserve and Michigan, and from Kenyon College.