Battle of Currents – Nikola Tesla v. Thomas Edison

Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and a futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.



We all knew about him, he has done some very important and useful discoveries. Let’s take a look at those discoveries

  1. Alternating current
  2. X-rays
  3. Radio
  4. Remote control
  5. Electric motor
  6. Robotics
  7. Laser
  8. Wireless communication

FACT: In real life Tesla and Edison were rivals.

One of the most terrific minds of worlds Thomas Alva Edison and Nikola Tesla were rivals. This sounds disturbing right!

In 1884, Tesla moved to work in New York City to work for Edison. Tesla was a great admirer of Edison at the time. In 1885, Tesla told Edison he could improve Edison’s inefficient motor and generators. Edison thought Tesla’s ideas were splendid, but utterly impractical. And apparently offered him fifty thousand dollars (equivalent to roughly $1 million today) if he could do it. Tesla succeeded, but Edison claimed the bet was a joke and only offered him a $10 a week raise on Tesla’s $18 a week salary. Tesla resigned.

War of the Currents

After Tesla resigned, he raised enough money to found the Tesla Electric Light Company, where he developed patents for AC generators, wires, transformers, lights and motors.

Edison and Tesla were both involved in the War of the Currents in the late 1880’s. One promoting the use of direct current (DC) for power distribution, for which he held the patents.And other one, Tesla supporting AC current. As it allowed large quantities of energy to be transmitted to power large cities. Edison spread misinformation about the dangers of alternating current through publicity stunts in which he killed a prisoner named William.

William Kemmler

George Westinghouse built a power plant at Niagara Falls to power New York City, and AC, clearly the superior technology, won out as the method of delivering power from power stations to homes. Although Westinghouse had an early lead in developing generators, motors and transmission equipment for AC, General Electric soon hired smart engineers, including Prussian mathematician Charles Proteus Steinmetz and closed the gap.

Different approaches

Edison’s method of invention was relentless experimentation. Tesla, on the other had, preferred to work out the theoretical approach before implementing it with physical designs. When Edison died, coverage by the New York Times included this quote from Tesla that outlines this difference in approach for the two inventors.

Honors and Awards

Tesla received the Order of St. Sava, I Class, from the Government of Yugoslavia in 1926, and the Order of Yugoslav Crown in 1931. He also received the John Scott Medal in 1934, the University of Paris Medal in 1937, and the Medal of the University St. Clement of Ochrida, Sofia, Bulgaria in 1939.

No doubt both of them were legends. But one chooses the dark side.

nikola tesla vs edison

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