The Wizard Wins

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A photograph we ran in the April issue, that of Charles P. Steinmetz and Albert Einstein (“Dos Passos: The Wizards Meet”), occasioned a letter from C. P. Yoder, of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, who began his career in electrical engineering as a laboratory assistant at General Electric in 1910. Mr. Yoder, now curator of the Pennsylvania Canal Society, recalls: The unique personality of Steinmetz, together with his genius as a mathematician, provided much meat for the publicity department … [from which] many exaggerations and myths developed. One much-publicized story that is no myth was his strong attachment to black stogie cigars. It is indeed rare to find a picture of Steinmetz that does not include his favorite cigar. Sometime prior to 1910 General Electric issued an order prohibiting smoking in the company’s offices. When Steinmetz did not appear for several days, he was discovered working in his private laboratory at his home. When his absence was questioned, he merely remarked, “No smoking, no Steinmetz.” Obviously, the order was quickly rescinded.

We reproduce above, in the next column, one of those rare photographs.