Charles Proteus Steinmetz (born Karl August Rudolph Steinmetz, April 9, 1865 – October 26, 1923) was a German-born American mathematician and electrical engineer and professor at Union College. He fostered the development of alternating current that made possible the expansion of the electric power industry in the United States, formulating mathematical theories for engineers. He made ground-breaking discoveries in the understanding of hysteresis that enabled engineers to design better electromagnetic apparatus equipment, especially electric motors for use in industry.[a]
At the time of his death, Steinmetz held over 200 patents. A genius in both mathematics and electronics, he did work that earned him the nicknames "Forger of Thunderbolts" and "The Wizard of Schenectady". Steinmetz's equation,[b] Steinmetz solids, Steinmetz curves, and Steinmetz equivalent circuit are all named after him, as are numerous honors and scholarships, including the IEEE Charles Proteus Steinmetz Award, one of the highest technical recognitions given by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers professional society.
Steinmetz was born Karl August Rudolph Steinmetz on April 9, 1865, in Breslau, Province of Silesia, Prussia (now Wrocław, Poland) the son of Caroline (Neubert) and Karl Heinrich Steinmetz. He was baptized as a Lutheran into the Evangelical Church of Prussia. Steinmetz, who stood only 4 ft 0 in (1.22 m) tall as an adult, had dwarfism, hunchback, and hip dysplasia, as did his father and grandfather. Steinmetz attended Johannes Gymnasium and astonished his teachers with his proficiency in mathematics and physics.[citation needed ]