by Tom Castaldi
|The Magnet Wire Wall in the new permanent exhibition gallery Allen County Innovation at the History Center.|
Magnet wire had its modern beginnings in a small building south of Swinney Park where Superior Essex currently occupies its present-day administration operations and the Fort Wayne plant.
Enamel successfully applied to wire to produce magnet wire – the insulated copper or aluminum wire that is wound in coils to create electromagnetic fields – was developed in Fort Wayne, and Fort Wayne gained the title of “The Magnet Wire Capital of the World.”
|Copper in its various forms|
George Jacobs, the founder of the U.S. magnet wire industry, was a bright young chemist at General Electric’s Fort Wayne Works in 1901, working on the problems of wire insulation. By 1911, Jacobs had left G E and with his wife Ethel perfected a process of enameling, or insulating wire, for use in coils.
When Ethel’s mother, Emma, died in 1911, George and Ethel Jacobs were persuaded by her father William to return to Fort Wayne from Cleveland. William Mossman yearned to be near his daughter and offered to establish a laboratory in Fort Wayne for Ethel and her husband to pursue their interests.
With this new product development, George Jacobs and his associate Victor Rea further developed, enabled wire of any thickness to be coated evenly with a chemical insulation that could be baked on in special ovens and yet remain flexible enough to be wound into coils. It’s those coils in motors and transformers that make them work and it is a motor or a transformer that is at the heart of labor saving devices that do our work and make our lives more comfortable. From this modest beginning at the end of Wall Street on Fort Wayne’s near south side emerged one of the modern world’s most important products: magnet wire. Without magnet wire, most electrical devices that are common features of everyday life – electric motors, computers, televisions, radios, automotive devices, hearing aides, telecommunications equipment and much more – would be impossible.
|Forms of wire|
|An electric motor|