The Biography Summary of Elmer Sperry

October 29, 2018 587 views

Elmer Sperry – Short Biography

Who is Elmer Sperry? He’s just the prolific inventor that played a pivotal role in the creation of technological advancements in navigation.

He invented gyroscopic compasses (or gyrocompass) along with stabilizers that made piloting airplanes, spacecraft, and ships more reliable.

The inventions Sperry made in his firm, the Sperry Gyroscope Company, were adopted by the US Navy. They became part of the required safety instruments in the growing airline industry.

Elmer Sperry – A Life Spent Being Inventive

Elmer Sperry is recognized as the “father of modern navigational technology.” He obtained his education at the State Normal and Training School. By the time he was 20, Sperry had managed to form the first of his eight firms, the Sperry Electric Company, which was involved in the making of arc lamps and dynamos.

His other companies included the Chicago Fuse Wire Company and the Electric Mining Machine Company. The former fabricated electric fuse wires using machines Sperry had invented while the latter manufactured machines that were used in mining. While Sperry had a lot on his plate, his major success was yet to come, the gyroscope.

Soon Sperry had built a reputation as a gifted inventor. At this time, a gentleman named G. M. Hopkins had managed to invent the first electrical gyroscope. This was a disk that was mounted so that it was fixed in one position despite movements made on its base. Sperry took this technology a step further, engineering a gyroscope that could replace the unreliable and faulty magnetic compass that was used for navigating ships.

Sperry patented his invention in 1908 and founded the Sperry Gyroscope Company in New York a couple of years later. The gyroscope was first installed on the United States battleship Delaware, in 1911. During the First World War, the US Navy took on and adopted the gyrocompass for its many activities. The new device proved so handy and effective that it stayed in use till the Second World War broke out.

The gyroscope technology that Sperry developed was later applied toward the steering of ships, guiding of torpedoes, and the stabilization of planes, spacecrafts, and ships. Sperry’s firm struck it big during the two world wars as the military demand for its products skyrocketed. Sperry eventually diversified, moving onto producing aircraft components like fire control systems, automated takeoff as well as landing systems, bombsights, and radar systems.

In 1933, the Sperry Gyroscope Company became Sperry Corporation. The new company was into the manufacturing of computers, farm machinery, precision controls and instruments, and hydraulic and electric equipment. Following a series of takeovers and mergers, Sperry’s firm is now part of the technology giant Unisys.

The Elmer Ambrose Sperry Quick Bio

Full Name: Elmer Ambrose Sperry

Birth Date: 1860

Birth Place: Cortland, New York

Company: Sperry Gyroscope Company

Industry: Fabricated goods

Key Success Traits: perseverance, an imaginative mind and a strong desire to succeed


At the time of Sperry’s death sometime in 1930, he held over 400 patents. Some of the inventions made by Sperry continue to be in use today.

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