Columbians Ahead of Their Time
Michael Idvorsky Pupin
Michael Idvorsky Pupin "The greatest scientists in the world have never discovered how to make grass into milk."

Michael Idvorsky Pupin (1858–1935)
Electrical Engineer
Columbia College 1883
Faculty 1889-1931
ScD 1904 (hon.)

A holder of 34 patents, Michael Pupin was a prolific electrical inventor whose many discoveries included devices widely used in telegraphy and telephony. His oscillating circuit made possible the simultaneous transmissions of several messages while his inductance coil increased the range of long-distance telephone communication. He also contributed to substantial advances in the use of X-rays. A long-time member of the Columbia faculty, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1904. Pupin was born in the Serbian Village of Idvor, then in Austria-Hungary, and as a boy worked in the fields tending sheep; his autobiography, From Immigrant to Inventor, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1924, tells of his transformation into one of America's great electrical inventors.

Pupin attended Columbia College on a scholarship and graduated with honors in 1883, becoming a U.S. citizen the day before his graduation. He earned his doctorate in mathematical physics at the University of Berlin in 1889 before returning to Columbia to assume the position of teacher of mathematical physics; he and Francis Bacon Crocker comprised the faculty of the newly-created department of electrical engineering. Here he remained for the rest of his academic career, training many of the greats in electrical engineering and physics at Columbia, including Gano Dunn, Robert Millikan, Edwin Armstrong, and Irving Langmuir. He left a significant portion of his estate to the University, and Columbia honored Pupin posthumously in 1935 by naming its 1927 physics building Pupin Hall. Today, the most prestigious prize of the Engineering School is the Pupin Medal for Service to the Nation, established in 1958.

Read more about Pupin in the Columbia Encyclopedia.
Edwin Armstrong

Pupin's associate in research

Yugoslavia honors Pupin

Yugoslav president presents bust of Pupin to Columbia

Pupin at 150

Tesla Society celebrates Pupinís birthday at Columbia

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