James Wimshurst

James Wimshurst ( born April 13, 1832 in Poplar, † January 3, 1903 in Clapham, London ) was an English inventor.

Life and work

Wimshurst was the son of Henry Wimshurst. He grew up in Steabonheath House in London and became an apprentice at the shipyard Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. Ltd.. until 1853. 1864 he married Clare Tubb. After moving to Liverpool in 1865, he worked at the Liverpool Underwriters' Registry.

In 1874 he joined the Board of Trade, part of the Chamber of Commerce, at a ship surveyor at Lloyds. In 1890 he was the representative of the Board of Trade at an international conference in Washington.

Wimshurst spent most of his free time with experiments. In addition to his electrical work Wimshurst improved later also an instrument with a vacuum pump to display the ship's stability, and developed methods to connect Lighthouses electrically connected to the mainland.

In 1878 he began to experiment with influence machines to generate electric spark jumps for entertainment and academic purposes. From 1880 showed interest in Wimshurst electrostatic influence machines. His house in Clapham was equipped with a versatile workshop that allowed for a wide range of tools and equipment for electrical experiments.

Wimshurst designed different types of electrostatic generators, as had already been developed before him by William Nicholson, Ferdinand P. Carré and Wilhelm Holtz. Wimshursts further development is now called " Holtz- Wimshurst machine".

Shortly thereafter, he developed his " duplex machine". The device has two discs that rotate in opposite directions, with metallic sectors on their surface. Compared with its predecessors, this machine was less susceptible to ambient atmospheric conditions and did not need any electrical power supply. This apparatus was even improved again by other developers, such as the " Pidgeon machine", which, developed by WR Pidgeon, by a greater effect in the induction yielded higher output voltages.

1882 Wimshurst developed his " Cylindrical machine" and improved his apparatus until 1883, which became known in complete form later as " Wimshurst influence machine after " or " Wimshurstmaschine ".

1885 one of the largest " Wimshurstmaschinen " in England was built, it is now at the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago.

Wimshurst was in 1889 a member of the " Institution of Electrical Engineers ." In 1891 he described a machine which generates alternating current of high voltage. 1896 was his multi-plate Wimshurst application to supply an X-ray generator for radiography and for electroshock therapy. For his services to medicine Wimshurst was elected in 1898 a member of the Royal Society.

James Wimshurst died on January 3, 1903 in Clapham at the age of 70 years.

  • Inventor
  • Member of the Royal Society
  • Briton
  • Born in 1832
  • Died in 1903
  • Man