Updated 04-I-2019

Francis R. Upton

This article is based on a document of fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, which appeared on his website of biographical sketches of persons involved in the lamp industry. Following his passing in February 2017 and with kind permission of his family, Ed's words have been preserved and subsequently expanded with new material by this author, to maintain continued access to the research he initiated.

Francis R. Upton16

One of Edison's key associates was a mathematician / physicist by the name of Francis Robbins Upton. Upton was born in Peabody, Massachusetts on 26 July 1852. He attended Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1877 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. He attended Princeton University and then studied at the Berlin University for one year under Helmholtz. He went to work for Edison in November, 1878. Upton passed away in Orange, New Jersey on 10 Mar 1921.

Some of Upton's activities and achievements were described in The Story of Electricity4:

"But his usefulness was not circumscribed by any narrow definition of grade; on the contrary, he ably conducted much of the important early work of the Edison laboratories. There developed, for instance, his mathematical analysis of the multiple arc feeder and three wire system of electric lighting. He performed many important experiments bearing upon the incandescent carbon filament; lighting a No. 2 high resistance lamp beside a No. 1 and observing that No. 1 did not flicker; being the first to raise carbon filaments to a higher point of incandescence when they were being exhausted than they would be subjected to at normal candle power. He designed the present Edison base on incandescent lamps, sending the gauges out to the world; he took charge of Edison's search for fibres; he was commissioned to buy the first parcel of land for the Edison Illuminating Co. of Boston."

A note to the Editor of 'Scribner's Monthly' from Thomas Edison that appeared at the beginning of Upton's article titled "Edison's Electric Light," Feb 1880, pp.531-544

References & Bibliography
  1. "Methods for Testing Faradic Machines," Francis R. Upton, Amer. Assoc. Proc., 1879, pp. 178-184.
  2. "Edison's Electric Light", Francis R. Upton, Scribner's Monthly, Feb 1880, pp.531-544.
  3. "Clarke's Telemeter System", F. R. Upton, Brit. Ass. Rep., 1887, pp.878-879. Also, Electrician, Vol.19, 1887, pp.403-404.
  4. "The Story of Electricity, Vol.1", T. Commerford Martin & Stephen Leidy Coles, The Story of Electricity, M. M. Marcy, 711-731 Tribune Building, New York, p.432.
  5. "Francis R. Upton", New York Times, 11 Mar 1921, p.15 col.6.
  6. "Menlo Park Meniniscences, Vol.2", Francis Jehl, The Edison Institute, Dearborn, Michigan, 1938.
  7. "Menlo Park Meniniscences, Vol.3", Francis Jehl, The Edison Institute, Dearborn, Michigan, 1941.
  8. "A Streak of Luck", Robert Conot, Seaview Books, New York, 1979.
  9. "The Papers of Thomas A. Edison - The Wizard of Menlo Park, Vol.4", The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1989.
  10. "Edison - A Life of Invention", Paul Israel, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1998.
  11. "Francis Robbins Upton", The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol.12, 15th Edition, London, 2002, p.192