Zenobe Gramme, inventor of the dynamo
Zénobe Gramme was born in Jehays-Bodegnée, near Huy. A mediocre student, he preferred manual work and became an apprentice carpenter in a workshop in Hannut, at the same time attending evening classes in carpentry. After his studies, he travelled to Brussels, Marseille before settling in Paris where he worked in a carpentry workshop.
His inventive spirit developed during his time at Alliance, an electrical construction company. He devised a voltage regulator for electric arc lights and lodged his first patent which focused on the wear of carbon electrodes in electric arc lights. He left Alliance and then worked for the electric appliances manufacturer and inventor of the induction coil, Heinrich Ruhmkorff, where he met hydraulic engineer Henry Bazin and photographer André Disdéri.
Zénobe Gramme was made a National Officer of the Légion d’honneur in 1877. Ten years later, his inventive mind would be recognised by all when he received the Volta prize awarded by the Academy of Sciences.