The air brake was invented by George Westinghouse of New York State in 1868. He moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., where he established the Westinghouse Air Brake Company (WABCO). WABCO's direct successor companies include WABCO automotive (NYSE: WBC), a commercial vehicle air brake manufacturer, and Wabtec (NYSE: WAB), a railway equipment manufacturer, which have been owned and operated independently of each other since the mid-twentieth century.
After having manufactured equipment in Pittsburgh for a number of years, he began to construct facilities and plants eastwards of the city where homes for his employees were built, particularly at East Pittsburgh, Turtle Creek, and Wilmerding.
The Air Brake plant was obviously very prosperous and was nothing far from a gift for this small town. By 1905 over 2,000,000 freight, passenger, mail, baggage, and express cars and 89,000 locomotives were equipped with the Westinghouse Air Brakes.
The company has two 21st century successors, which are independent of each other. One, which continues to design and manufacture railway air brakes in Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, merged with locomotive manufacturer MotivePower Industries, to form Wabtec. The other, now known as WABCO Holdings Inc, designs and manufactures control systems for commercial road vehicles, including air brakes, and is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. WABCO Holdings (NYSE: WBC) was floated in a 2007 initial public offering by American Standard, WABCO's owners for 30 years.