Westinghouse Electric Corporation was founded by George Westinghouse in 1886. He devised the use of alternating current (AC) for electric power transmission. He was a prolific inventor, beginning with the air brake for railways in 1868, and then added 360 patents for railways, electricity and natural gas. He invented the gas meter and pioneered a control system of pipes to transmit natural gas into homes safely.
His hydroelectric development of Niagara Falls in 1896 initiated the practice of placing generating stations far from consumption centers. The Niagara plant transmitted massive amounts of power to Buffalo, New York, 20 miles away. To solve the problem of sending electricity over longer distances, Westinghouse developed the transformer. They are still used today to step up the voltage for efficient long-distance power transmission and then step it down at the point of use.
The electric transmission and distribution (T&D) business of Westinghouse Electric developed into a dominant and sustained industry leader in North America. In 1989, ABB acquired the T&D business of Westinghouse. This gave ABB a leading production position for distribution and power transformers, instrument transformers, transformer components, high-voltage breakers, medium-voltage breakers and reclosers, surge arresters, and capacitors.