Biography of John Cuthbertson

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John Cuthbertson was English instrument maker. He built the most powerful 18th century electrostatic machine.

John Cuthbertson was English instrument maker. He lived in Amsterdam from 1768 to circa 1796. His largest and most famous generator was made for the Teyler’s Foundation in Haarlem, with glass discs 5 foot 5 inches in diameter, and a hundred Leyden jars. It produced a powerful two-foot spark as thick as a quill pen. The energy of electrical machines was rated, in the eighteenth century, by the amount of standard iron wire the spark discharge could melt. This enormous machine could melt 655 inches of wire, 1/150 inch in diameter.

These are smaller electrostatic generators made by Cuthbertson in 1803 with ten-inch plates. They date from after his return to London.

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