- Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti
name = Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti
caption = Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti
April 9, 1864
January 13, 1930
electrical engineerand inventor
Sebastian Pietro Innocenzo Adhemar Ziani de Ferranti (
April 9, 1864- January 13, 1930) was an electrical engineerand inventor.
Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti was born in
Liverpool, England. His Italian father, Cesar, was a photographer and his mother Juliana (née Scott) was a concert pianist. He was educated at Hampstead School, London; St. Augustine's College, Westgate on Sea; and University College London.
He married Gertrude Ruth Ince on
April 24, 1888and they had seven children together. Ferranti died on January 13, 1930in Zurich, Switzerland. He was buried in the same grave as his parents and his daughter Yolanda at Hampstead Cemetery, London.
Ferranti showed a remarkable talent for electrical engineering from his childhood. His first invention, at the age of 13, was an
arc lightfor street lighting. Reportedly, around the age of 16, he built an electrical generator(that had a "Zig-zag armature") with the help of William Thomson (the future Lord Kelvin) and later patented the device (called the " Ferranti Dynamo"). He worked for Siemens Brothersat Charlton, Londonand in 1882 he set up shop in London designing various electrical devices as the firm Ferranti, Thompson and Ince.
In the late 1880s there was a debate within the industry about the transmission of electrical power, known as the War of the Currents.
Thomas Edisonsupported a direct current(DC) based system, largely due to his holding many key patents and having set up some power plants supplying DC power. His rival, Nikola Tesla, supported an alternating current(AC) system that was being backed by Westinghouse.
Ferranti bet on AC early on, and was one of the few experts in this system in the UK. In 1887 the London Electric Supply Corporation (
LESCo) hired Ferranti for the design of their power station at Deptford. He designed the building, the generating plant and the distribution system. On its completion in 1891 it was the first truly modern power station, supplying high-voltage AC power that was then "stepped down" for consumer use on each street. This basic system remains in use today around the world. One of the remaining supports of the generating hall of Deptford Power Stationforms the frame of the sign at the Manchester Museum of science and Industry in Manchester UK, home of the Ferranti Archives.
Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti was President of the
Institution of Electrical Engineersin 1910 and 1911, and elected a Fellow of the Royal Societyin 1927.
* "US patent|341097 "Unipolar dynamo electric machine".
* The Life and Letters of Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti by Gertrude Ziani de Ferranti and Richard Ince (OCLC|395772); published 1934 by Williams & Norgate, Ltd.
* Centenary of Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti, D.Sc.,F.R.S., born 9th April,1864: Founder of Ferranti, Ltd.,1882; published 1964 by
Basil de Ferranti(grandson)
* [http://www.theiet.org Institution of Engineering and Technology]
* [http://www.samanthamarshall.co.uk/buisson-ancestry.htm#gert List of the children of Sebastian and his wife Gertrude]
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