You can be sure if it’s Slashdot…it’s wrong

Westinghouse logo

I read this article today about Toshiba buying out Westinghouse Electric.

I shouldn’t be surprised that Slashdot gets it wrong again. Really wrong.

First of all, Westinghouse hasn’t made blenders since around the time I was born. They sold off the appliances division to a separate company, White, which renamed itself White-Westinghouse. The confusion arises because White-Westinghouse used the same W logo, but any Pittsburgher can tell you they aren’t the same. The same holds true for other “Westinghouse” brands like Westinghouse Digital Electronics, the makers of the LCD panels referred to in the article. They have nothing to do with Westinghouse or Westinghouse Electric. The brand name was licensed to them recently when the CBS/Viacom media empire realized they had a merchandisable brand name they weren’t using.

[ore theorizing after the jump]

My guess is that the guy who wrote the Slashdot article simply visited Westinghouse Electric’s homepage without doing their research or remembering their history.

The Westinghouse that was sold to Toshiba is almost a WINO (Westinghouse In Name Only). That Westinghouse, Westinghouse Electic—the direct inheritors of the most innovative part of Westinghouse history, was sold to BNFL in 1999!

My father once told me that there were three American nuclear power plant designs. The best of the three was by General Atomics never got built because GE and Westinghouse beat them to market and nuclear power is very conservative for obvious reasons. To know the difference between those two designs just remember that Three Mile Island was a GE design—of course, in their defense, had the gauges been installed properly this wouldn’t have happened.

Isn’t it ironic how a single accident by a major player would basically wipe out their competitor, because it effectively ended nuclear power expansion in the United States? That was the reason BNFL bought Westinghouse Electric—Europe uses more nuclear power than we do.

The company we remember as Westinghouse is now known as CBS Corporation. I know it sounds strange how the inventors of alternating current power distribution could become part of the largest media conglomerate in the world, but here is how it happened: Westinghouse’s financial division made a series of bad decisions which put the whole company in a vulnerable position in the early 90’s—an obscure fallout from the S&L debacle of the late 80’s. Westinghouse, having a large radio broadcasting arm (they were the inventors of commercial broadcast radio), purchased CBS Corporation renegotiated their contract with labor (causing my father to take early retirement) in order to survive. CBS later got bought out by Viacom and Westinghouse Electric and other divisions were sold off, as the new company moved entirely into the media business.

But then again is it really so strange for a power and electricity company to be a media one today? GE after all owns NBC.

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