Nikola Tesla

"Were we to seize and eliminate from our
industrial world the results of Mr. Tesla\'s work,
the wheels of industry would cease to turn, our
electric cars and trains would stop, our towns
would be dark, our mills would be dead and idle.
Yes, so far reaching is his work that it has become
the warp and woof of industry... His name marks
an epoch in the advance of electrical science.
From that work has sprung a revolution..." -B.A.
Behrend If you were to go to an encyclopedia and
tried to find out who invented the radio, X- rays,
and the tube amplifier, this is what you would find:
radio was invented by Marconi, X- rays by
Roentgen, and the tube amplifier by de Forest.
While you\'re there, look to see who invented the
fluorescent bulb, neon lights, the speedometer, the
basics of radar, and the microwave oven. I don\'t
know who the encyclopedias say invented those
things, but I bet it won\'t give any mention of a man
by the name of Nikola Tesla. In fact, I bet they
won\'t give much mention of Tesla for any of the
many things he invented. We can thank Thomas
Edison for this. Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljian,
Croatia at precisely midnight on July 9/10, 1856.
Not a lot is known about his early childhood. His
father was an orthodox priest, and his mother,
though unschooled, was highly intelligent. Tesla
had an extraordinary memory, and he spoke six
languages. He Spent four years studying math,
physics, and mechanics at the Polytechnic Institute
at Graz. Tesla first came to America in 1884,
when he was 28. He worked for Thomas Edison.
Edison, at the time, had just patented the lightbulb,
and needed a system to distribute the electricity.
One of Tesla\'s gifts was an understanding of
electricity. Edison promised Tesla large amounts
of money if he could work out the kinks in
Edison\'s DC system of electricity. In the end,
Tesla saved Edison over $100,000 (which would
be millions today), but Edison refused to live up to
his end of the bargain. Tesla quit, and Edison
spent the rest of his life trying to stifle Tesla\'s
reputation. Tesla devised a system for electricity,
AC, which was better than Edison\'s DC system of
electricity. AC (Tesla\'s system) is what is used in
our homes today. AC offered many advantages
over DC. AC could be transmitted over large
distances through thin wires. DC electricity
required a large power plant every square mile,
and the transmission through very thick cables. A
system of transmission would be incomplete
without devices to run on them. Seeing that there
were none, Tesla invented the predecessors to the
motors used in every appliance in our houses.
Inventing these motors was not simple, since
scientists of the late 1800\'s were convinced that
because no motor could be devised for an AC
system, trying to develop a motor for it was waste
of time. After all, AC current reverses direction 60
times a second, which would make the motor rock
back and forth and never get anywhere. Tesla
easily solved this problem and proved everyone
wrong by developing a working motor for the AC
system. In May 1885, word of the AC system
was heard by George Westinghouse. Tesla signed
contract with Westinghouse under which Tesla
would receive $2.50 for each Kilowatt of AC
electricity sold. Tesla finally had the money to
conduct all the experiments he wanted. The
problem was Edison. He had too much invested in
his DC system of electricity. So Edison tried his
best to discredit Tesla. He constantly tried to
show that AC electricity was far more dangerous
than DC electricity. Tesla easily countered this. At
the 1893 World Exposition in Chicago, Tesla
demonstrated how safe AC electricity was by
passing high frequency AC electricity through his
body to power light bulbs. He then shot lightning
bolts from his Tesla Coils into the crowd, without
harm. Tesla had dramatically proven once an for
all that AC electricity was safe to use. In addition,
Tesla also used Fluorescent bulbs in his lab about
forty years before they were "invented" by
industry. At worlds fairs and other exhibitions, he
took glass tubes and molded them into the shapes
of famous scientists names. These were the first
Neon signs ever. Tesla also designed the first
hydroelectric plant, located in Niagra Falls. He
also patented the worlds first speedometer.
Everything seemed to be going great for Tesla
then. But then, the royalties owed to Tesla started
to exceed $1 million, and Westinghouse ran into
financial trouble. Tesla realized that if his contract
remained in effect, Westinghouse would be out of
business and he had no desire to deal with
creditors. Tesla took his contract and ripped it up!
Instead of becoming the worlds first billionaire, he
was paid $216,000