A Great Inventor Screwed Over by Another Inventor
Thomas Edison promised Tesla $50,000 if he succeeded in his assigned, but he broke his promise. Tesla did what Edison had asked of him. After he perfected the light bulb and redesigned the generators, Tesla asked for what he had been promised. Edison laughed it off and said: “Tesla, you just don’t understand our American humor. When you become a full-fledged American, you will appreciate an American joke“. Understandably upset, Nikola Tesla took his talents to Edison’s greatest rival, George Westinghouse.
Nowadays, alternating current (AC) lights up our homes and workplaces, and powers up our appliances through wall sockets. By contrast, direct current (DC) is relegated mostly to batteries. In the Victorian era, however, the issue was undecided, and powerful interests fiercely competed to decide whether AC or DC would dominate the world. Alternating current was championed by George Westinghouse, who pushed AC as the best means to bring electricity to the masses. On direct current’s side was Thomas Edison. There was serious money at stake, and Edison had cause to regret screwing his former employee over.