Westinghouse: Minutes of History
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His victory over Edison during the Battle of the Currents set the stage for the entire future of electric power. The Westinghouse air brake is considered one of the most important inventions in history. Automobile shock absorbers, railroad signaling and the modern day weekend all owe their existence to the man who Andrew Carnegie called 'A genius who can t be downed.'
Westinghouse may be most famous for the massive companies that he created but the man called Uncle George was a reserved creative giant who went out of his way to treat his workforce with dignity and respect. He was an honest millionaire in the days of robber barons an optimist in the days of skeptics and a generous CEO from whom today's executives can learn.
The film includes interviews with the following:
Edward J. Reis executive director George Westinghouse Museum (1998-2007)
William H. Terbo grandnephew of visionary genius Nikola Tesla
Quentin R. Skrabec Jr. PhD author George Westinghouse: Gentle Genius
Stills from Westinghouse (click for larger image)
Top Customer Reviews
You need not be an octogenarian authority on warehouse palletization to enjoy this documentary that profiles America's most prolific inventor and industrialist who was gifted with good business sense and a generous heart. It is accessibly crafted to hold general interest for anyone. The producers and director have assembled extraordinary images and facts about the man whose career began during the Civil War before he was even twenty and carried America into the 20th century. The documentary looks at the larger landscapes of the railroad and rise of factories and peers into the American home as all were revolutionized by Westinghouse's vision. Those who enjoy the history of World's Fairs and expositions will be gratified by footage from several of them. Westinghouse is an American hero on many counts, not the least that he was a generous employer who inspired an unparalleled depth of worker loyalty in an era when union violence was the norm elsewhere. It is to the credit of the makers of the documentary that they let the historical facts and images show the greatness; they do not overdress it with a boastful or maudlin narrative.
This runs nearly 2 hours and never bogs down. Additionally, there are interviews and other historical perspectives available in the extra features.
An interesting aspect brought to light by this documentary, which I was preciously unaware of, was the rivalry between Westinghouse and Edison, and how the former worked alongside Nikola Tesla to revolutionize alternating power. It was almost disturbing to see how ruthless Edison could be - at one instance in his rivalry with Westinghouse he utilized the new method of condemning criminals with Westinghouse's alternating currents in a smear campaign intended to associate a negative connotation to his business rival.
A good deal of high quality original film footage was used, and the narrative was highly absorbing. After his death, it did meander off to a feature on other products innovated by the company, though I felt this would have been better had it left off with the life and own inventions of Westinghouse. Still a great watch, and an excellent documentary about a man who was as much a great humanitarian as he was an engineering genius.
Some of you may know that Westinghouse played a major role in inventing automatic air brakes for railroads and bringing them to a mass market. It is easy to under appreciate what a life-changing invention this was.
Passenger rail used to be the main mode of long-distance transportation in early Industrial America, and traveling by train entailed significant risks. Information on the condition of tracks was paltry by today's standards. Trains had no mechanism for quickly skidding to a halt if a coupling between cars broke, lines were damaged by weather or falling rocks or there was another train on the track due to a horrifying miscommunication. There were ghastly accidents in which passengers cars would get crushed like an accordion, making it impossible to identify the remains of all the people inside. Many people were terrified of riding the rails.
Railroads had brakes, but using them was not easy. The brakes on each car had to be activated individually to get the whole train to slow down. To do this, brakemen had to race along the roof of car to car on a moving train, quickly twisting heavy wheels before moving on to the next car. If the brakes were not applied in a coordinated fashion, trains would jostle, passengers and luggage would be thrown about, and the cars might even derail. Due to icy rooftops or sudden jolts, it was not uncommon for brakemen to tumble off the train during this critical activity. These unfortunate souls would surely fall to their death while leaving the passengers on the unstopped train to a worrisome fate.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent biography of Westinghouse, without being over the top.Published 3 days ago by David W.
He did not insist on front and center position. unlike Edison, because he knew his greatness in Mind, which provided the wonderful inventions and productions that have made our... Read morePublished 14 days ago by knowledge actor
Excellent. Tesla is my hero and he got a little play but all of the facts are in the movie.Published 29 days ago by Joey Clements
Very interesting documentary on Westinghouse. Gives an insight of one of the greats in American industry.Published 1 month ago by Gene
Great documentary on the origins of gas and electricity powering the culture through Westinghouse guise.Published 1 month ago by Robert D. Ashcraft