Zénobe Théophile Gramme (4 April 1826 – 20 January 1901) was a Belgian electrical engineer. He was born at on 4 April 1826, the sixth child of Mathieu-Joseph Gramme, and died at Bois-Colombes on 20 January 1901. He invented the Gramme machine, a type of direct current dynamo capable of generating smoother (less AC) and much higher voltages than the dynamos known to that point.
Gramme was poorly educated and semi-literate throughout his life. His talent was in handicraft and when he left school he became a joiner. After moving to Paris he took a job as a model maker at a company that manufactured electrical equipment and there became interested in technology.
Having built an improved dynamo, Gramme, in association with Hippolyte Fontaine, opened a factory to develop the device. The business, called Société des Machines Magnéto-Électriques Gramme, manufactured the Gramme dynamo, Gramme ring, Gramme armature and other devices. In 1873 a Gramme dynamo was exhibited at the Vienna exhibition.
Gramme machine as motor
In 1873 he and Hippolyte Fontaine accidentally discovered that the device was reversible and would spin when connected to any DC power supply. The Gramme machine was the first usefully powerful electrical motor that was successful industrially. Before Gramme's inventions, electric motors attained only low power and were mainly used as toys or laboratory curiosities.
In 1857 he married Hortense Nysten who was a widow and mother of a daughter, Héloïse. Hortense died in 1890.
Death and tributes
In 2005 he ended up at the 23rd place in the election of Le plus grand Belge (The Greatest Belgian), the television show broadcast by the French-speaking RTBF and based on the BBC show 100 Greatest Britons.
A958 Zenobe Gramme, (1961–), a sailing ship of the Belgian Navy used for training, is named after him.
Zénobe Gramme, by Mathurin Moreau
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- "Hippolyte Fontaine (French engineer) – Encyclopædia Britannica". Britannica.com. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
- "Nikola Tesla: Planting Seends". Fi.edu. Retrieved 12 March 2014.