GRANVILLE T. WOODS
Granville T. Woods was an ingenious inventor born in Columbus, Ohio, where he was educated until the age of 10. He was then forced to leave school in order to help support his family. By the age of 16, Woods had already moved to Missouri where he worked as a fireman and a rail¬ road engineer.
Later, Woods returned to his education. He moved to New York, began working as an engineer on the steamship Ironsides, and studied electrical engineering. Like many great men, it was a dedication to learning that inspired Woods’ greatest work.
In 1884 he returned to Ohio and convinced his brother Lyates to join him in opening a new machine shop. Focusing on tele¬ phone and telegraph tech¬ nology, Woods not only sold existing mechanisms, but began to invent new ones.
In 1884 Woods won his first patent for a telephone transmitter so advanced that it was immediately bought by the American Bell Telephone Company in Boston. Next, he built a device that integrated the function of the telephone with that of the telegraph, and by 1887, had won sev¬ en more patents for machines that improved communications.
Working steadily until his death, Woods patented over 60 inventions, includ¬ ing a telegraph that sends messages to moving trains, the light dimmer, the elec¬ tromagnetic brake, and the electrified component that
allows rail cars to operate underground as subways. His inventions were highly prized by the important companies in the country. Some were bought by General Electric, others by American Bell Telephone, and still others by Westinghouse.
Woods could not be matched in the field of invention, but he took a great risk one year and accused a manager from the American Engineering Company of stealing patents. In response, the company brought a libel suit that carried on until Woods had lost nearly his entire fortune to legal fees for his defense. He died with almost nothing, except the reputation of a great inventor.