Nikola Tesla

Jul 10, 1856 - Jan 7, 1943(86)

War of currents

How did Tesla and Westinghouse beat Edison in the electricity war?

Nikola Tesla arrived in New York in 1884 at the age of twenty-eight. He had a few dollars in his pocket and a letter of recommendation from Charles Batchelor, who told him to try to get a job at Edison. The letter read: - Mr. Edison, I know two great men. One is you, and the other is the young man standing before you. - After reading such a recommendation, Edison immediately hired him in his company.

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He promised Mladic a reward of $50,000 for improving primitive dynamos. The improvement would make them more efficient, although they would still produce direct current. Tesla worked tirelessly for several months, sleeping only a few hours a day. When he finally solved the problem after a few months, he asked for the promised reward. But Edison refused to give it. He arrogantly snapped at him: "Tesla, you don't understand the American sense of humor." – Injured and disappointed, Tesla immediately quit his job. That time was extremely difficult for the young scientist. He had no money, and in order to survive he had to do manual work. He would fix machines, and at one time even dug canals for the Edison company for two dollars an hour.

He was saved by Westinghouse, who really liked Tesla's idea of ​​alternating current. Together they founded the Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing Company for the production of electric arc lights (arc lamps). Two years later, in 1887, Tesla started another company, the Tesla Electric Company, with a laboratory, where he first constructed alternating current electric motors. In the autumn of the same year, he applied for the first patents on the production and transmission of multiphase alternating currents and their application for efficient operation of alternating electric motors. This showed that alternating current is much more favorable and convenient than direct current. Edison was not satisfied with the sudden rise of competition.

A media war began against Westinghouse and AC. He disparaged Westinghouse in the press and sent letters and pamphlets to the media, politicians, companies and cities that wanted to buy his systems. His associate paid children to collect stray dogs around New Jersey so they could kill them with alternating current during a demonstration at Edison's laboratory. They connected calves and horses to electricity, which they wanted to scare the public and prove the deadly nature of Tesla's invention. Worst of all, they used AC generators to construct an electric chair and use it to carry out the first electrocution. Over the years, this media war was columned when Edison challenged Westinghouse to an electrical duel.

The duel consisted of Edison being subjected to high-voltage direct current shocks if Westinghouse agreed to the same, but with alternating current. Westinghouse, of course, ignored the challenge. In order to prove that alternating current was safe, Tesla brought photographers to his laboratory in Colorado Springs to take pictures of him sitting quietly and reading while current beams crackled around him. The opportunity to win this long war came with the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893.

A tender was announced for the lighting of that exhibition, to which several companies applied, including those of Edison and Westinghouse. Westinghouse won the competition, and Edison, furious that he lost, did not want to sell the bulbs to Westinghouse and Tesla for lighting. They found themselves in a big problem. But a few months before the opening, Westinghouse built a light bulb factory that, in the remaining time, managed to create 100,000 light bulbs needed for lighting. On opening day, President Grover Cleveland pressed a button that turned on the nearly 100,000 incandescent light bulbs that illuminated the city. The exhibition showed the clear advantages of alternating current - the fact that it can be efficiently transmitted over long distances with very little loss. These were the first indications of the fact that, thanks to the invention of alternating current, the widespread availability of electricity would change the world forever.

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