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Thomas E. Murray

Thomas E. Murray

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Thomas E. Murray was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 inventor and businessman who developed electric power plants
Power station
A power station is an industrial facility for the generation of electric energy....

 for New York City as well as many electrical devices which influenced life around the world, including the dimmer switch and screw-in fuse
Fuse (electrical)
In electronics and electrical engineering, a fuse is a type of low resistance resistor that acts as a sacrificial device to provide overcurrent protection, of either the load or source circuit...

. It has been said that he "invented everything from the power plant up to the light bulb".

Murray is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history after Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. In addition, he created the world’s first industrial...

, holding 462 U.S. patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

s in his name. However, unlike Edison, Murray did not patent the work of others under his name; the employee would have the patent in their name, and assign it to the Murray company. Also, if Murray worked with anyone else on an invention, their name would be listed on the patent.

Early life

Thomas E. Murray was born in Albany, New York
Albany, New York
Albany is the capital city of the U.S. state of New York, the seat of Albany County, and the central city of New York's Capital District. Roughly north of New York City, Albany sits on the west bank of the Hudson River, about south of its confluence with the Mohawk River...

, one of 12 children. Upon the death of his father when he was nine, he took three jobs to help support his family.

His son, Thomas E. Murray Jr., was also an engineer who worked with Edison.


In 1875 he was an apprentice at the Albany Iron & Machine works. In 1881, at the age of 21, he became the Chief Engineer of the Albany Waterworks. In 1887, Anthony N. Brady
Anthony N. Brady
Anthony Nicholas Brady was an American businessman born in Lille, France who emigrated to Troy, New York in 1857. Settling in Albany, New York he was first employed by a local barber and at age 19 went into business for himself, opening a tea store that he soon expanded with other outlets...

 hired Murray to run the power station of the Albany Municipal Gas Co,

Murray was responsible for the power stations that powered New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 for the first half of the 20th century. He eventually was in complete charge of all the allied Edison companies in New York City, Brooklyn and Westchester.
  • 1898: Gold St. in Brooklyn
  • 1899: Waterside I and II (1906)
  • 1913: Sherman Creek @ 201 St.
  • 1921: Hell Gate in South Bronx
  • 1924: Hudson Avenue
  • 1926: E 14th Street Station
  • Many in Upstate NY / out of state
  • Brooklyn Transit System


Thomas E. Murray died on July 21, 1929, at "Wickapogue", his summer estate in Southampton, Long Island, New York
Southampton (town), New York
The Town of Southampton is located in southeastern Suffolk County, New York, U.S., partly on the South Fork of Long Island. As of the United States 2000 Census, the town had a total population of 54,712...


Honors and awards

In 1910, Murray won the Edward Longstreth Medal from the Franklin Institute
Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is a museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the oldest centers of science education and development in the United States, dating to 1824. The Institute also houses the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial.-History:On February 5, 1824, Samuel Vaughn Merrick and...


Books and publications

External links