Charles Proteus Steinmetz, ranked with Marconi, Edison, Tesla, as one of the world's supreme masters of electricity, is dead at 58 in Schenectady, the scene of his 30 years' labors as Chief Consulting Engineer of the General Electric Co. He had recently returned in a weakened condition from a six weeks' lecture tour to the Pacific Coast, and was confined to his bed, but believed to be in no danger. Death was due to chronic myocarditis, sudden failure striking the weakened wall of the heart.
Dr. Steinmetz, unmarried, had no relatives in the U. S. except a half-sister, Miss Clara Steinmetz of Manhattan. But years ago he adopted J. Le Roy Hayden, his chief assistant, who, with his wife and three children, lived in Dr. Steinmetz's home and cherished him as "grandpop."
Early Life. Born in Breslau, Germany, in 1865, the son of a Government railway official, he studied in the Universities of Breslau and Berlin and the Zurich Polytechnic, specializing in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry and electrical engineering. In 1889 a young American schoolmate persuaded him to come with him to America in the steerage. Steinmetz has been a life-long hunchback, and this, with a temporary illness, defective sight, no money, little English, almost kept him out of the U. S. But the Ellis Island officials finally admitted him on the pleas of his friend. He got a job as a draftsman from Rudolf Eickemeyer, an electrical inventor and manufacturer of electric motors, generators and streetcars, at Yonkers, N. Y. Steinmetz's genius was soon recognized and he was given a laboratory of his own for magnetic testing. In 1892 the General Electric Co. took over the Eickemeyer plant and Steinmetz was transferred to Lynn, Mass., and a year later to Schenectady.
Place in Science. Dr. Steinmetz was not essentially an inventor like Edison, and his name is associated with few specific devices. He was probably the greatest authority in America on electrical theory and engineering mathematics. His special fields of research included synthetic geometry, vector analysis, alternating current, phenomena magnetics and hysteresis, dielectrics, transients and electrochemistry. But he had the knack of interpreting highly technical subjects to laymen, and wrote many popular scientific articles and books, besides no less than nine standard works on electrical theory and mathematics. He was past President of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and a member of numerous American and foreign scientific societies. His laboratory was perhaps the most magnificently equipped of its kind and his experimental work astounded Edison him- self when the latter visited it.
Dr. Steinmetz' chief technical interests were: 1) "Cold" light; 2) Hydroelectric development; 3) electrified railways; 4) electric motor truck (TIME, March 10); 5) artificial lightning. His experiments pre- ceded and made possible the 2,000,000-volt flashes at the Pittsfield plant last June (TIME, June 18). Steinmetz had often predicted the course of future technical development. Last August he wrote that a four-hour day would accomplish all essential work in 2023 A.D. The steam locomotive will be obsolete, smoke eliminated. All heat, power, light furnished by hydroelectricity.