The Westinghouse Electric Corporation was an American manufacturing company founded in 1886 by George Westinghouse. It was originally named "Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company", and was renamed "Westinghouse Electric Corporation" in 1945. The company acquired the CBS television network in 1995, and was renamed as the first incarnation of "CBS Corporation", until being acquired by Viacom in 1999. That merger was completed on April 26, 2000.
The Westinghouse trademarks are owned by Westinghouse Electric Corporation. The nuclear power business, Westinghouse Electric Company, was spun off from the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1999.
George Westinghouse, founder
Westinghouse Electric was founded by George Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on January 8, 1886. The firm became active in developing electric infrastructure throughout the United States. The company's largest factories were located in East Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and Lester, Pennsylvania and in Hamilton, Ontario, where they made turbines, generators, motors, and switch gear for generation, transmission, and use of electricity. In addition to George Westinghouse, early engineers working for the company included Frank Conrad, Benjamin Garver Lamme, Bertha Lamme (first woman mechanical engineer in the United States), Oliver B. Shallenberger, William Stanley, Nikola Tesla, Stephen Timoshenko and Vladimir Zworykin.
Early on, Westinghouse was a rival to Thomas Edison's electric company. In 1892, Edison was merged with Westinghouse's chief AC rival, the Thomson-Houston Electric Company, making an even bigger competitor, General Electric. Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company changed its name to Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1945.
Financial catastrophe and corporate reinvention
In 1990, Westinghouse experienced a financial catastrophe when the Corporation lost over one billion dollars due to bad high-risk, high-fee, high-interest loans made by its Westinghouse Credit Corporation lending arm.
Westinghouse purchased CBS Inc. in 1995, for $5.4 billion. Westinghouse Electric Corporation changed its name to and became the original "CBS Corporation" in 1997. Also in 1997, the Power Generation Business Unit, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, was sold to Siemens AG, of Germany. A year later, CBS sold all of its commercial nuclear power businesses to British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL). In connection with that sale, certain rights to use the Westinghouse trademarks were granted to the newly formed BNFL subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric Company. That company was sold to Toshiba in 2006.
In an attempt to revitalize the corporation, the Board of Directors appointed outside management in the form of CEO Michael H. Jordan, who brought in numerous consultants to help re-engineer the company in order to realize the potential that they saw in the broadcasting industry. Westinghouse reduced the workforce in many of its traditional industrial operations and made further acquisitions in broadcasting to add to its already substantial Group W network, purchasing CBS in 1995. Shortly after, Westinghouse purchased Infinity Broadcasting, TNN, CMT, American Radio Systems, and rights to NFL broadcasting. These investments cost the company over fifteen billion dollars. To recoup its costs, Westinghouse sold many other operations. Siemens purchased its non-nuclear power generation division, while other firms bought its defense electronics division, its metering and load control division (which was sold to ABB), its residential security division, the office furniture company Knoll, and Thermo King. With little remaining of the company other than its broadcasting division, Westinghouse renamed itself CBS Corporation in 1997.
During the 20th century, Westinghouse engineers and scientists were granted more than 28,000 U.S. government patents, the third most of any company.
There have been a number of Westinghouse-related environmental incidents in the US. Below is a short list of these. All of these are chemical pollution incidents; none of them involve nuclear reactors or nuclear pollution.
- Sharon plant: The Westinghouse Sharon Plant was a 58-acre Westinghouse transformer production facility in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. The EPA's recent Five Year Review Report (2016) of this Superfund site determined that the Shenango River has been polluted due to Westinghouse operations in this area. Because of the findings, the state of Pennsylvania has issued a "Do Not Eat" advisory for fish around the Westinghouse site. This plant was no longer operational after 1984. Westinghouse submitted their final cleanup plan in 1998, and further action beyond their dissolution has been liable to CBS. The transformer business unit was sold to ABB in 1989. This site now houses a product design company.
- Adams County plant: Westinghouse was fined $5.5 million in 1996 for polluting groundwater in over 100 wells, as well as other water sources, while operating its Westinghouse Elevator Company plant in Adams County, Pennsylvania. Degreasers and other toxic chemicals were released over a 5-year period in the 1980s. This business unit was sold to Schindler in 1988. Future liability for cleanup has been directed to CBS following the dissolution of Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1999.
- Horseheads site: Westinghouse operates a cathode-ray tube plant in Horseheads, New York. They were deemed responsible for pollution at the Kentucky Avenue Wellfield Superfund site in Horseheads, New York. Westinghouse polluted nearby soil, affecting the safety of a nearby aquifer and wells used by residents. One phase of the cleanup effort describes Westinghouse Electric Corporation's facility, designated "Disposal Area F" and the "Former Runoff Basin Area," which are contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and arsenic, will be cleaned up using a combination of soil excavation and soil vapor extraction. At Disposal Area F, the area of contamination is about 0.3 acres. At the Former Runoff Basin Area, the contaminated soils cover approximately 0.7 acres. Disposal of the excavated soils occurred at appropriate off-site facilities. The removal of the PAHs and arsenic contamination will protect site workers and employees at the Westinghouse facility and the cleanup of the VOCs will help restore the quality of the Newtown Creek Aquifer. In 1986, Westinghouse entered a joint venture at this plant with Toshiba to produce CRTs. In 1989, Toshiba become part owner of this plant and the Westinghouse CRT business unit. Future liability has been shifted to CBS.
- Sunnyvale plant: Westinghouse operated a plant which manufactured electronics for military systems in Sunnyvale, California. Groundwater and soil near this plant are contaminated with PCBs, fuels, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Potential health threats to area residents include accidentally ingesting or coming into direct contact with site contaminants in soil or groundwater. There are municipal drinking water wells within 1⁄4-mile from this site, and 300,000 people get their drinking water from within three miles of the site. This business unit was sold to Northrop Grumman in 1996. Future liability for this action has been passed on to CBS.
Timeline of company evolution
1888 Westinghouse brochure advertising their Alternating system
Share of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, issued March 31, 1910
- 1884 – George Westinghouse begins developing a DC electric lighting system
- 1885 – Westinghouse becomes aware of the new European transformer based alternating current systems when he reads about them in the UK technical journal Engineering
- 1885 – William Stanley, Jr., working for Westinghouse, develops the first practical AC transformer
- 1886 – Westinghouse Electric Company founded in East Pittsburgh
- 1886 – William Stanley, Jr. installs the world's first operational transformer based multiple voltage transmission system, a demonstration lighting system in Great Barrington, Massachusetts
- 1888 – development of an induction ampere-hour meter for alternating current developed by Oliver B. Shallenberger
- 1888 – licensing of Nikola Tesla's AC and Induction motor patents (Tesla hired as a consultant for one year but quits after a few months).
- 1889 – renames itself the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company
1900s to 1920s
1924 book on protective relays for AC and DC electrical systems by the Company
- 1901 – acquires Bryant Electric Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut, which continues operation as a subsidiary
- 1901 – operation of first Westinghouse steam turbine generator installed at Hartford Electric Light Company
- 1904 – with Baldwin, markets Baldwin-Westinghouse electric locomotives and A.C. electrification of railroads, particularly to the New Haven Railroad
- 1909 – introduces continuous-filament tungsten light bulb; ousts George Westinghouse as chairman during bankruptcy reorganization
- 1914 – acquires Copeman Electric Stove Company in Flint, Michigan from Lloyd Groff Copeman, moves it to Mansfield, Ohio and enters the home appliance market (sold in 1974 to White Consolidated Industries)
- 1914 – George Westinghouse dies, with a legacy including 361 patents and the founding of 60 companies.
- 1915 – New England Westinghouse Company opens for business. First product is Mosin–Nagant rifles for the Russian Czar's army. Within two years, the Bolsheviks overthrow the Russian Provisional Government and cancel a previous order of over 1 million rifles. Facing bankruptcy, Westinghouse is rescued by the American Government when it purchases the rifles for use by the military.
- 1916 – share of British Westinghouse purchased by a British holding company, which becomes Metropolitan-Vickers
- 1917 – builds steam turbine manufacturing plant in Lester, PA (Tinicum Township) near the Philadelphia airport
- 1919 – 8XE Pittsburgh experimental station goes on the air.
- 1919 – Creates RCA with GE, AT&T and United Fruit, buys the American division of Marconi.
- 1920 – Acquires International Radio Telegraph Company (formerly known as the National Electric Signaling Company)
- 1921 – acquires the Pittsburg High Voltage Insulator Company
- 1920s – enters the broadcasting industry, with stations like KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and WBZ in Massachusetts
- 1926 – In partnership with GE and RCA founds NBC Broadcasting.
1930s and 1940s
- 1932 – announces Ignitron mercury-arc rectifier
- 1934 – opens its Home of Tomorrow in Mansfield, Ohio, to demonstrate Westinghouse home appliances
- 1935 – completes longest continuous electric steel annealing furnace in the world at Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Michigan
- 1930s – funds invention of the magnetohydrodynamic generator
- 1937 – builds first "industrial atom smasher", a 5 MeV Van de Graaff electrostatic nuclear accelerator
- 1940s – enters aviation with airborne radar (defense electronics sold 1996), jet engine propulsion, and ground-based airport lighting, gets defense contract from U.S. military to produce plastic helmet liners for the M1 Helmet
- 1941 – after years of resistance to the unionization efforts of its employees and to the National Labor Relations Act, signs a national labor agreement with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America after a United States Supreme Court decision that upheld the Act.
- 1943 – purchased the lamp division of Kentucky-Radio Corporation (Ken-Rad) in Owensboro, Kentucky from Roy Burlew in exchange for 35,000 shares of Westinghouse stock valued at $1.6 million ($25.1 million todaywhen?)
- 1945 – renames itself the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and makes first automatic elevator.
- 1945 – Westinghouse Aviation Gas Turbine Division (AGT) started
- 1948 – "You Can Be Sure... If It's Westinghouse" in Time magazine ad
1950s to 1970s
- 1951 – conducts first live network TV in U.S.
- 1952 – opens Cathode Ray Tube facility in Horseheads, New York; facility housed three divisions: Cathode Ray Tube, Electronic Tube, and Industrial and Government Tube.
- 1954 – enters finance as Westinghouse Credit Corporation
- 1955 – buys KDKA-TV (then WDTV) and KYW (originally, and currently WTAM) radio Cleveland.
- 1955 – Westinghouse J40 engine failure causes all F3H fighters using the engine to be grounded, and all other jets using it to switch to other engines. Westinghouse forced out of aircraft engine business.
- 1957 - introduces first successful "cobra head" roadway luminaire, the OV-25, integrating both ballast and optics in a more streamlined modern design.
- 1961 – acquires Thermo King (sold in 1997 to Ingersoll Rand)
- 1964 – begins Skybus project; beginning of automated mass transit
- 1965 – invention of the first MEMS device, buys Marketeer Electronic Vehicles
- 1966 – founds Cinema Center Films
- 1966 – starts housing and real estate development divisions
- 1966 – buys a toy manufacturer
- 1967 – lights America's first computer-controlled outdoor electric sign
- 1967 – makes the lowest bid for the BART project
- 1969 – buys 7-Up bottling
- 1973 – develops world's first AMLCD displays
- 1974 – sells well-known home appliance division to White Consolidated Industries which becomes White-Westinghouse
- 1979 – withdraws from all oil related projects in the Middle East after Iranian Revolution
- 1981 – acquires both cable television operator TelePrompter (sold 1985), Muzak (sold September 1986) and 50% of Showtime for $576 million.
- 1982 – acquires robot maker Unimation
- 1982 – sells street light division to Cooper Lighting
- 1983 – sells electric lamp division to Philips
- 1984 – buys Unimation robotics for $105 million.
- 1986 – buys Los Angeles TV station.
- 1986 – Enters into joint venture with Airship Industries, Ltd. (London) to develop advanced lighter-then-air radar platforms and early warning surveillance airship for U.S. Navy in cooperation with its subsidiary TCOM Corp. located on the former Naval Air Station Weeksville in Elizabeth City, North Carolina
- 1987 – buys radio stations in Sacramento and Chicago.
- 1987 – buys electrical equipment, engineering and waste disposal divisions.
- 1988 – sells elevator/escalator division to Schindler Group, now known as Schindler Elevator Corporation.
- 1988 – Enters into joint venture with Taiwan Electric to build Electric motors; Taiwan Electric eventually becomes sole owner of business as TECO Motor Company
- 1988 – spins Industrial and Government Tube Division off as Imaging and Sensing Technologies Corporation.
- 1988 – closes the East Pittsburgh generator and Lester, PA turbine plants, which had once been the primary Westinghouse manufacturing facilities.
- 1988 – Bryant Electric subsidiary closed, assets sold to Hubbell in 1991
- 1988 – Transportation Division, including railroad (locomotive and mass transit) equipment business sold to AEG, later merged into Adtranz in 1996, Bombardier Transportation in 2001 and Alstom in 2021.
- 1989 – sells transmission and distribution business to Asea Brown Boveri Group (ABB)
- 1989 – buys Shaw-Walker Furniture and Reff Furniture.
- 1989 – buys Legacy Broadcasting.
1990s to 2020s
- 1990 – buys Knoll International Furniture.
- 1994 – buys United Technologies' Norden electronic systems.
- 1994 – Cleveland operations and facilities purchased by Eaton Corporation for $1.6 billion. Cleveland Westinghouse facilities, as well as manufacturing plants converted into other commercial enterprises
- 1994-95 – separates IT and phone service sales into Westinghouse Communications division
- 1995 – under the leadership of Michael H. Jordan buys CBS for $5.4 billion ($9.6 billion today)
- 1996 – buys Infinity Broadcasting for $4.7 billion.
- 1996 – sells Westinghouse Electronic Systems defense business to Northrop Grumman for $3 billion ($5.2 billion today), becoming Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems
- 1997 – sells Thermo King division to Ingersoll Rand
- 1997 – buys American Radio Systems for $2.6 billion, increasing station network to 175.
- 1997 – sells most non-broadcast operations; renames itself CBS Corporation as of December 1
- 1998 – sells its non-nuclear power generation and energy units to Siemens AG, which operated under the name Siemens Westinghouse until 2003.
- 1998 – CBS Corporation creates Westinghouse Electric Corporation subsidiary to manage the Westinghouse brand
- 1999 – sells remaining manufacturing asset, its nuclear energy business, to BNFL.
- 1999 – buys Outdoor Systems for $8.7 billion and King World Productions for $2.5 billion.
- 1999 – CBS acquired by Viacom
- 2006 – Viacom is split into two companies in January, with a new Viacom being spun off of the old Viacom company, and the old Viacom being renamed as CBS Corporation thus reviving Westinghouse's last name prior to sale and reversing the 1999 Viacom-CBS merger.
- 2019 – Viacom and CBS Corporation remerge to form ViacomCBS.
- 2021 – Westinghouse Electric Corporation acquires the Westinghouse Trademark from ViacomCBS.
Westinghouse established subsidiary companies in several countries including British Westinghouse and Società Italiana Westinghouse in Vado Ligure, Italy. British Westinghouse became a subsidiary of Metropolitan-Vickers in 1919 and the Italian Westinghouse factory was taken over by Tecnomasio in 1921.