Albert L. Marsh

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Albert Leroy Marsh, (August 16, 1877 – September 17, 1944) was an American metallurgist. In 1905 he co-invented the first metallic alloy from which a high-resistance wire could be made that could be used as a durable and safe heating element. While working at Hoskins Manufacturing, the company of chemist, electrical engineer, inventor and entrepreneur William Hoskins (1862–1934) the two experimented for several years until the alloy was perfected. The material was patented that year as chromel, later and still today marketed as nichrome.[1][2][3][4] For this invention, Marsh was acclaimed as "father of the electrical heating industry".[5]

Early life[edit]

Marsh was born August 16, 1877, in Pontiac, Illinois, the oldest of three children. The family moved to Pana, Illinois, in 1884. Marsh went to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1901, Albert received his bachelor of science degree in Chemical Engineering. The same year, he married Minnie E Hayward in Massachusetts.

Career beginnings[edit]

While working with an electric storage battery and doing technical writing, he began experimenting with nickel and chromium alloys during his spare time. In 1904, in need of a better place to work on his wiring project and more funding, he made a business arrangement with William Hoskins of Chicago; Hoskins was with Mariner & Hoskins, a leading firm of consulting chemists. He hired Marsh at a small salary – while giving him permission to work on the alloy project during his spare time. When later formed as Hoskins Manufacturing Company, the business relocated to Detroit, Michigan.


When perfected, the new alloy was 300 times stronger than other types at that time. Chromel is made of 80% nickel and 20% chromium (though other ratios are used for special purpose nichrome applications). The US patent was granted February 1906, in Marsh's name, and later sold to Hoskins Manufacturing.

By Hoskins's own account, he was deeply involved in the experimentation process, and not simply a funder.[4]

Toasters, dental furnaces[clarification needed] and chromel wire for home appliance manufacturers were the first focus of the Hoskins company. The first two were unprofitable and were later dropped. The company concentrated on manufacturing the chromel wire.

Marsh served as chief engineer and general manager of Hoskins Manufacturing Co. in Detroit. He was named president of the firm in 1915.


In 1936, Marsh was awarded the John Price Wetherill Medal of The Franklin Institute for "significant and timely contribution to the science of automotive engineering" and "for outstanding discoveries in the physical sciences".

In 1941, the American Metals Congress bestowed upon Marsh with The Sauveur Award for outstanding metallurgical achievement.


  1. ^ U.S. Patent 811,859
  2. ^ Norcross, Eric (2006). "The Cyber Toaster Museum". The Toaster Museum Foundation. pp. section "1900–1920". Archived from the original on 2008-08-15. Retrieved 2008-08-16.
  3. ^ George, William F. (2003). Antique Electric Waffle Irons 1900-1960: A History of the Appliance Industry in 20th Century America. Trafford Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-55395-632-7. Retrieved 2008-08-16.
  4. ^ a b Clark, Neil M. (May 1927). "The World's Most Tragic Man Is the One Who Never Starts". The American. Archived from the original (– Scholar search) on 2006-08-25. Retrieved 2007-02-24. ; republished in hotwire: The Newsletter of the Toaster Museum Foundation, vol. 3, no. 3, online edition. The piece is largely an interview of Hoskins. (And there actually is a Toaster Museum, backed by a related foundation. They take the history of toast, and electrical heating in general, quite seriously.)
  5. ^ [1] Archived 2006-08-22 at the Wayback Machine from Pana News-Palladium, retrieved 1997-06-05

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