John Kruesi

John Kruesi (May 15 1843February 22 1899) was a Swiss born master machinist and close associate of Thomas Edison.


Kruesi had been apprenticed as a clock maker in Switzerland, migrating to the United States where he settled in Newark, New Jersey. There he met Thomas Edison who employed him in his workshop in 1872.

Kruesi became Edison's head machinist through his Newark and Menlo Park periods, responsible for translating Edison's numerous rough sketches into working devices. Since constructing and testing models was central to Edison's method of inventing Kruesi's skill in doing this was critical to Edison's success as an inventor. Historians Robert Friedel and Paul Israel sum up Kruesi's remarkable ability of this:

If the devices that emerged [from Kruesi's workshop] didn't work, it was because they were bad ideas, not because they were badly made. And when the ideas were good, as in the case of the phonograph, the product of Kruesi's shop would prove it. (Friedel and Israel 1987, 35)

Kruesi was involved in many of Edison's key inventions, including the quadruplex telegraph, the carbon microphone, phonograph, incandescent light bulb and system of electric lighting.

With the development of Edison's system of electric lighting Kruesi moved to more management positions. In 1881 Edison put him in charge of the Edison Electric Tube Company, responsible for the installation of underground power distribution cables from the central generating station. Kruesi was also an inventor, while at the Electric Tube company devising a two wire conduit in which two semicircular conductors were separated by an insulator and covered in insulating material. When the company merged with several others to form General Electric Company in 1892, Kruesi was promoted to General Manager, and then to Chief Mechanical Engineer at the Schenectady site in 1896.


  • IEEE Virtual Museum, John Kruesi
  • Hammond, John Winthrop. Men and Volts, the Story of General Electric, published 1934 by J.B.Lippincott Company. Citations: Assistant General Manager Edison Machine Works - 149; came to Schenectady - 149; Consulting engineer - 245, 276; Edison's machine-shop expert - 22; Manager Schenectady Works - 197, 242.
  • Friedel, Robert, and Paul Israel. 1987. Edison's electric light: biography of an invention. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

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