Built in 1903, the 5,000-kilowatt Curtis steam turbine-generator was the most powerful in the world. It stood just 25 feet high, much shorter than the 60 feet reciprocating engine-generator of a similar capacity, and took up considerably less floor area. The combined innovation and effectiveness of the 5,000-kilowatt Curtis steam turbine-generator helped to stimulate the growth of modern electrical generation in large central stations nationwide.
The Curtis steam turbine was the creation of two men: patent lawyer and inventor Charles G. Curtis and engineer William Le Roy Emmet. Curtis initially proposed the design and constructing of a new turbine that was powered by steam. After two years of research and experimentation, Emmet was called in to fix design problems. Using Curtis's design, Emmet was able to create a 5000-kilowatt steam turbine-generator. The new generator was a hit. Manufacturers nationwide wanted the new turbine that produced more power and took up less space.
After years of use, the original 5000-kilowatt steam turbine-generator was returned to the General Electric plant in Schenectady, New York.
Adapted from "5000-kilowatt Steam Turbine-Generator" article in Landmarks in Mechanical Engineering authored by ASME International History and Heritage.