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Elmer Ambrose Sperry

Sperry, Elmer Ambrose (1860–1930), U.S. inventor and manufacturer. Although he began his career with inventions in the field of lighting (in particular, arc lamps and searchlights), he is known mainly for his invention of and work with the gyroscope (1911)—a device that always points to the true north. His gyrocompass enabled steel ships to navigate without interference from magnetic fields. He further developed devices based on the gyroscope that stabilized ships and allowed planes to fly on automatic pilot. The gyroscope also made possible advanced weaponry used in World War II, such as naval gunsights and the aerial torpedo. The Sperry Gyroscope Company (1910) was founded and is still located outside New York City.

See also: Gyroscope.

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