Pupin, Michael

Pupin, Michael (Idvorsky)

(1858–1935) physicist, inventor; born in Idvor, Austria-Hungary. Of Serbian parentage, he landed penniless in New York in 1874; supporting himself by doing odd jobs, he managed to graduate from Columbia University nine years later. After study in Europe, he returned to become a professor of electromechanics at Columbia (1901–31). Among his inventions were the fluoroscope, by which X-rays can be observed and photographed, and the Pupin inductance coil, which made long-distance telephone service possible by amplifying the signal at intervals along the line. He remained interested in Serbian affairs, and in 1919 he served as an adviser to the Yugoslav delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. In addition to his scientific writings, he published such books as The Serbian Orthodox Church (1918), and his autobiography, From Immigrant to Inventor, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1924.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.