Cutler-Hammer was the name of an industrial electrical equipment manufacturer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that became part of an Eaton Corp. division that makes and markets a broad lineup of devices for regulating and distributing electricity in home, auto, commercial, industrial and national defense applications. Eaton offers many thousands of electrical control and power distribution products under the Cutler-Hammer brand name.

Company Founding

Cutler-Hammer was formed in Chicago in 1893 by electrical inventor Harry Cutler of Brookline, Massachusetts, and Edward Hammer of Cleveland, Ohio, to manufacture electric motor starters, speed regulators and field rheostats. The Cutler-Hammer corporation was a reorganization of an 1892 venture by these two men called the Chicago Electric & Manufacturing Co., according to the Wisconsin Historical Society website.

Bought Out

The company was bought out in 1898 by the American Rheostat Co. of Milwaukee, which adopted the Cutler-Hammer corporate name, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society website. Cutler stayed with the Milwaukee company as a corporate officer until 1915.

Merger with Eaton

Cutler-Hammer boomed in the 1920s, survived the Great Depression of the 1930s and prospered from war work in the 1940s and the boom years that followed World War II. It remained an independent supplier of electrical and electronic equipment until 1978, according to, when it was acquired by the Eaton Corp. for $400 million as part of an Eaton attempt to diversify into the defense and aerospace businesses.

Bombers and Spacecraft

According to, Cutler-Hammer supplied radar countermeasure units to Rockwell Manufacturing for the Air Force’s B-1 bomber and had been chosen by NASA to build the landing guidance system for space shuttles. Eaton planned to also use Cutler-Hammer’s electronics expertise to help develop new lines of factory automation products.

Another Merger

In 1994, Eaton Corp. acquired Westinghouse Electric’s industrial electrical products business and merged it with Cutler-Hammer to form the Eaton Electrical division, and moved the division headquarters to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said At that point, the Cutler-Hammer and Westinghouse names became Eaton brand names for lines of industrial and commercial electrical and electronic products.