It was called the “War of Currents.” Edison said Tesla’s
alternating current system was dangerous and would surely kill
people. In truth, Tesla’s system was safer.
Edison traveled the country holding public demonstrations where
he connected animals to AC electricity and killed them. Many
cats, dogs, pigs and even an elephant were all cruelly killed in
Edison’s war against Tesla and AC power.
pigs, and even an elephant.
Of course, Edison didn’t tell people that DC electricity could also
He didn’t stop with killing just animals. Edison persuaded the
state of New York to make the first electric chair, using alternating
electric chair used alternating current.
Just like with animals, this was a slow and painful method of
killing human prisoners. Despite Edison’s attacks, Tesla was
slowly winning the war of currents. In 1893, Tesla’s childhood
vision came true.
Tesla and Westinghouse won a contract to make an AC power
plant at Niagara Falls. In one day, he produced more power than
all the power plants in the world combined.
That same year, Westinghouse also won a contract to provide
electricity to the Chicago World’s Fair.
It was the greatest demonstration of electrical power in the world.
Everyone now knew that AC was much more efficient and safer
than Edison’s DC system. The war of currents was over and
Tesla had won.
Tesla had a contract with Westinghouse to receive part of all
future profits produced using his invention. This contract should
have made Tesla into the richest man in the world, but
Westinghouse made some poor business decisions. At one point,
Westinghouse was at risk of losing his company and asked Tesla
Westinghouse for help. Westinghouse asked Tesla for help.
Tesla could have watched Westinghouse lose his company and
still would have become the world’s first billionaire. Instead, Tesla
famously destroyed his contract with Westinghouse.
He gave up all his future profits to save Westinghouse’s
Tesla didn’t care about money. His mind was always moving
towards the next great invention. He went on to invent the
technology for radio.
technology for radio.
Today, we think nothing of radio technology, but in Tesla’s time, to
transmit information through the air without wires must have
seemed magical. Again, Tesla’s genius attracted businessmen.
They gave him money to fund his ideas, but Tesla could not think
like a practical businessman.