Sebastian Pietro Innocenzo Adhemar Ziani de
Ferranti (9 April 1864 –
13 January 1930) was a British electrical engineer and inventor.
1 Personal life
2 Professional career
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Sebastian Ziani de
Ferranti was born in Liverpool, England. His
Italian father, Cesare, was a photographer (son of composer Marco
Aurelio Zani de Ferranti) and his mother Juliana de
Scott) was a concert pianist. He was educated at Hampstead School,
London; St. Augustine's College, Westgate-on-Sea; and University
He married Gertrude Ruth Ince on 24 April 1888 and they had seven
Ferranti died on 13 January 1930 in Zurich,
Switzerland. He was buried in the same grave as his parents and his
daughter Yolanda at Hampstead Cemetery, London.
His grandson, Basil de Ferranti, was a Conservative politician who
represented Morecambe and Lunesdale in the late fifties and early
Blue Plaque (Liverpool)
Ferranti showed a remarkable talent for electrical engineering from
his childhood. His first invention, at the age of 13, was an arc light
for street lighting. Reportedly, around the age of 16, he built an
electrical generator (that had a "Zig-zag armature") with the help of
William Thomson (the future Lord Kelvin) and later patented the device
(called the "
Ferranti Dynamo"). He worked for
Siemens Brothers at
Charlton, London, and in 1882 he set up shop in London designing
various electrical devices as the firm Ferranti, Thompson and Ince.
In the late 1880s, there was a debate within the industry about the
transmission of electrical power, known as the War of the Currents.
Thomas Edison supported a direct current (DC) based system, largely
due to his holding many key patents and having set up some power
plants supplying DC power. The rival Westinghouse Electric Corporation
supported an alternating current (AC) system.
Ferranti bet on AC early on, and was one of the few experts in this
system in the UK. In 1887, the London Electric Supply Corporation
Ferranti for the design of their power station at
Deptford. He designed the building, the generating plant and the
distribution system. On its completion in 1891, it was the first truly
modern power station, supplying high-voltage AC power that was then
"stepped down" for consumer use on each street. This basic system
remains in use today around the world. One of the remaining supports
of the generating hall of
Deptford Power Station forms the frame of
the sign at the Museum of Science and Industry in
Manchester UK, home
S. Z. de Ferranti, the company set up by
Ferranti in 1885 with Francis
Ince and Charles Sparks as partners, became S. Z de
Ferranti Ltd in
Ferranti Ltd in 1900, after resignation of Ince and Sparks.
Ferranti Ltd would outlive its founder and develop the
1, the world's first commercially available general-purpose computer,
Ferranti was President of the Institution of Electrical
Engineers in 1910 and 1911, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal
Society in 1927. He received an honorary doctorate from the University
Manchester in 1912.
Ferranti was actively involved in the formation
of the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers Association (BEAMA)
in 1911 and its first chairman, to 1913.
In 1932, the
London Power Company
London Power Company commemorated Sebastian de Ferranti
by naming a new 1,315 GRT coastal collier SS Ferranti.
"U.S. Patent 341,097 Unipolar dynamo electric machine".
Vincent Ziani de
Basil de Ferranti
Basil de Ferranti (grandson)
Valerie Hunter Gordon
Valerie Hunter Gordon (granddaughter)
^ J. F. Wilson,
Ferranti and the British Electrical Industry,
Manchester University Press, 1988.
^ Anderson, James B (2008). Sommerville, Iain, ed. "Ships built by the
Burntisland Shipbuilding Company Ltd: arranged by date of launch".
Welcome to Burntisland. Iain Sommerville. Retrieved 16 June
The Life and Letters of Sebastian Ziani de
Ferranti by Gertrude Ziani
Ferranti and Richard Ince (OCLC 395772); published 1934 by
Williams & Norgate, Ltd.
Centenary of Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti, D.Sc.,F.R.S., born 9 April
1864: Founder of Ferranti, Ltd.,1882; published 1964 by Ferranti
Institution of Engineering and Technology
Sebastian Ziani de
Ferranti at Find a Grave
ISNI: 0000 0001 2210 903X