[Legacy Report] Pioneering Electrotechnology in Western Switzerland-The DC/AC Quarrel


The workshop focused attention to two key engineers, who were instrumental in introducing and developing early applications of electricity in the french speaking region of Switzerland during the 1880-1914 period: Adrien Palaz of Lausanne and René Thury of Geneva,
who both attended the Columbian World Exhibition of Chicago in 1893, where the DC/AC war was fought and won by Westinghouse/Tesla.
Adrien Palaz was the first professor in electrotechnology at the Engineering School of
Lausanne's University (later EPUL) and the advocate of upgrading this school into a federally sponsored Institute of Technology for the french speaking region (EPFL), the pendant to ETHZ in Zurich,which was founded 1855 and where he earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1883.
René Thury picked up electrotechnology while spending one year at Edison's Menlo Park
laboratories and become a prominent engineer improving and building DC machinery at Compagnie de Electromécanique de Genève (later Ateliers de Secheron), who earned him the nickname in Europe of "The King of DC". While being self-taught, he was awarded in 1918 the title of Dr. honoris causa from ETHZ. The workshop was held in french and key contributions will later be translated into english for publication on GHN.
At coffe break a visit of the Museum of Physical Instruments of EPFL, led by Prof. Jean-Francois Loude,was organized.
The workshop was followed by an aperitif for all attendants at the Museum and a dinner for the 5 speakers at restaurant of EPFL's new Rolex-Center.

  Date and Time




  • Date: 09 Sep 2013
  • Time: 02:00 PM to 07:00 PM
  • All times are (UTC+01:00) Bern
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  • EPFL Campus, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Switzerland

  • Co-sponsored by University Lausanne