Iablochkov, Pavel Nikolaevich

Iablochkov, Pavel Nikolaevich


(also P. N. Jablochkov, P. N. Yablochkov). Born Sept. 2 (14), 1847, in the village of Zhadovka, Saratov Province; died Mar. 19 (31), 1894, in Saratov; buried in the village of Sapozhok, in what is now Saratov Oblast. Russian electrical engineer, inventor, and industrialist.

The son of a small landowner, Iablochkov was trained as a military engineer, graduating from the Nikolai Engineering School in 1866 and the Technical Galvanizing Institution in St. Petersburg in 1869. He spent his military service in Kiev. After leaving the military, Iablochkov moved to Moscow, where in 1873 he was appointed chief of the telegraph service of the Moscow-Kursk Railroad. He and N. G. Glukhov organized a workshop in which Iablochkov conducted the research in electrical engineering that eventually formed the basis for his inventions in the fields of electric lighting, electric machines, galvanic cells, and storage batteries.

The year 1875 is associated with one of Iablochkov’s most important inventions, the Jablochkov candle. The first model of an arc lamp without a regulator, it satisfied various practical needs. In 1875, Iablochkov moved to Paris, where he designed a commercial model of an electric lamp (French patent no. 112024, 1876), developed and introduced an electric lighting system that used single-phase alternating current, and invented a method of “subdividing light by means of induction coils” (French patent no. 115793, 1876). Iablochkov’s lighting system (“Russian light”) was demonstrated at the Paris Exposition in 1878 and proved extremely successful. Companies producing the system were founded in France, Great Britain, and the United States.

In 1879, Iablochkov founded the Electric Lighting Association of Inventor P. N. Iablochkov and Company and an electromechanical plant in St. Petersburg. The plant manfactured lighting units to be used on a number of naval vessels at the Okhta Shipyard. In the latter half of the 1880’s, Iablochkov concerned himself primarily with the generation of electric power. He built a “magnetodynamoelectric machine” that had the basic features of the modern inductor generator, and he conducted pioneering research toward a practical solution of the problem of directly converting the energy of fossil fuels into electric energy. Iablochkov proposed a galvanic cell with an alkaline electrolyte and developed a regenerative cell, or what could be called an automatic storage battery.

Iablochkov took part in electrical engineering exhibitions in Russia in 1880 and 1882, the Paris electrical engineering exhibitions in 1881 and 1889, and the First International Electricians’ Congress in 1881. One of the founders of the electrical engineering section of the Russian Technical Society and of the journal Elektrichestvo (Electricity), he was awarded a medal by the society. The Iablochkov Prize, established in 1947 for outstanding work in electrical engineering, is awarded once every three years.


Bel’kind, L. D. Pavel Nikolaevich Iablochkov. Moscow, 1962.
Shatelen, M. A. Russkie elektrotekhniki XIX veka. Moscow-Leningrad, 1955.