Giuseppe Colombo expresses fully the intellectual climate characterizing Italy between the 19th and 20th centuries.
A farsighted entrepreneur, he was one of the promoters for the establishment of the Italian electricity industry. In 1883, on his own initiative, the first electrical power station in continental Europe was started on Via Santa Radegonda in Milan.
In 1896, Colombo became president of the Edison power company.
He also held important political roles: between 1886 and 1900 he served as Deputy, Minister of Finance, Minister of the Treasury, President of the Chamber of Deputies, and Senator of the Kingdom of Italy.
Installed in Egidio and Pio Gavazzi’s silk factory, the power central was utilized for lighting the spaces and powering the operation of the looms. it was inaugurated in 1895 in the presence of Umberto i and Margherita of Savoy, and continued operating until 1950. it consisted of a steam engine with two horizontal cylinders constructed by the Legnano workshop officine Franco Tosi, combined with a pair of alternators produced by Brown Boveri, a leading company in the electromechanical sector.
This single-cylinder diesel engine had a power output of 60 hp at 30 rpm. Dating from the 1920s, it was donated by the Politecnico di Milano to the Museum in 1970. it was long employed for didactic purposes in the industrial Mechanics Department laboratory, and Giuseppe Colombo also used it for his practical exercises. The reduced number of students in courses at that time allowed the professor to follow each pupil individually.
Originally at Europe’s first thermoelectric power plant, inaugurated in 1883 on Via Santa Radegonda in Milan, in the near vicinity of the Cathedral, where a theater once stood. The power plant was used for producing direct current electric energy for lighting the city and remained active until 1922. The facilities were demolished in 1926, and the Cinema odeon now stands in their place.
Giuseppe Colombo shaped generations of engineers, many of whom went on to found industries in widely varied production sectors, giving an economic boost to italy. Among these were Alberto Riva, who founded Riva, a company best known for its design and construction of hydraulic turbines, and Guido Ucelli, its director. Based on a centrifugal speed sensor, this regulator was patented in 1901.