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Origins of the
Electric Motor

In 1824, the French physicist François Arago formulated the existence of rotating magnetic fields, termed Arago's rotations, which, by manually turning switches on and off, Walter Baily demonstrated in 1879 as in effect the first primitive induction motor.

 In the 1880s, many inventors were trying to develop workable AC motors because AC's advantages in long distance high voltage transmission were counterbalanced by the inability to operate motors on AC.

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Practical rotating AC  induction motors were independently invented by Galileo Ferraris and Nikola Tesla a working motor model having been demonstrated by the former in 1885 and by the latter in 1887.  In 1888, the Royal Academy of Science of Turin published Ferraris's research detailing the foundations of motor operation while however concluding that "the apparatus based on that principle could not be of any commercial importance as motor."

In 1888, Tesla presented his paper A New System for Alternating Current Motors and Transformers to the AIEE that described three patented two-phase four-stator-pole motor types: one with a four-pole rotor forming a non-self-starting reluctance motor, another with a wound rotor forming a self-starting induction motor, and the third a true synchronous motor with separately excited DC supply to rotor winding.

One of the patents Tesla filed in 1887, however, also described a shorted-winding-rotor induction motor.

George Westinghouse promptly bought Tesla's patents, employed Tesla to develop them, and assigned C. F. Scott to help Tesla, Tesla left for other pursuits in 1889.

The constant speed AC induction motor was found not to be suitable for street cars  but Westinghouse engineers successfully adapted it to power a mining operation in Telluride, Colorado in 1891. Steadfast in his promotion of three-phase development, Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky invented the three-phase cage-rotor induction motor in 1889 and the three-limb transformer in 1890.

This type of motor is now used for the vast majority of commercial applications. However, he claimed that Tesla's motor was not practical because of two-phase pulsations, which prompted him to persist in his three-phase work. Although Westinghouse achieved its first practical induction motor in 1892 and developed a line of polyphase 60 hertz induction motors in 1893, these early Westinghouse motors were two-phase motors with wound rotors until B. G. Lamme developed a rotating bar winding rotor.

The General Electric Company began developing three-phase induction motors in 1891. By 1896, General Electric and Westinghouse signed a cross-licensing agreement for the bar-winding-rotor design, later called the squirrel-cage rotor. Induction motor improvements flowing from these inventions and innovations were such that a 100 horsepower (HP) induction motor currently has the same mounting dimensions as a 7.5 HP motor in 1897.



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