First Diesel locomotives
The world’s first Diesel locomotives were operated in the summer of 1912 on the Winterhur-Romanshorn Railroad in Switzerland, but was not a commercial success.
Adolphus Busch purchased the American manufacturing rights for the Diesel engine in 1898 but never applied this new form of power to transportation. Only limited success was achieved in the early twentieth century with direct-driven gasoline and Diesel powered railcars.
General Electric (GE) entered the railcar market in the early twentieth century, as Thomas Edison possessed an outstanding patent on the electric locomotive, his design actually being a type of electrically propelled railcar.
GE built its first electric locomotive prototype in 1895. However, high electrification costs caused GE to turn its attention to Diesel power to provide electricity for electric railcars.
Problems related to co-coordinating the Diesel engine and electric motor were immediately encountered, primarily due to limitations of the Ward Leonard electric elevator drive system that had been chosen.
The first significant breakthrough occurred in 1914, when Hermann Lemp, a GE electrical engineer, developed and patented a reliable direct current electrical control system.
Lemp's design used a single lever to control both engine and generator in a coordinated fashion, and was the prototype for all Diesel-electric locomotive control systems.
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