He died alone and penniless in a hotel room. He suffered from several breakdowns. He was cheated on and betrayed. Without him, there would be no electricity. Thomas Edison did everything to destroy his career. This is the tragic story of one of the greatest inventors in history, Nikola Tesla.
Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia in 1856. He was a child prodigy with an exceptional photographic memory. He studied engineering in Austria and moved to the USA in 1884 with 4 cents in his pocket and a bundle of clothes. He met Thomas Edison, who was already famous for inventing The Light bulb. Edison gave him a job at his lab, where he worked diligently. Edison’s system of DC power was very fragile and broke down easily.
One day, Edison promised Tesla that he would give him $ 50,000 if Tesla came up with a workable solution. Tesla took up the challenge and put in all his efforts for months. He came up with an efficient solution to Edison’s problem and asked for the promised money. Edison denied him the money and said he had only meant it as a joke. He neither got the money nor any credit for his work. Feeling betrayed, Tesla quit the job.
He did petty jobs like digging ditches for $2 a day to survive and work on his ideas. Tesla started working on AC Power-The Alternating Current. Edison’s DC Power could travel in a single direction. Tesla’s AC power could periodically change its direction and distribute electricity over large distances. Many investors laughed off his idea and refused to invest in it. One day, the wealthy investor George Westinghouse accepted to invest in Tesla’s project. Thus, began The War of The Currents!
The AC Power made its debut in 1891. It illuminated the Chicago World Fair and paved the way for a modern era. Edison aimed to destroy his career. He began distributing pamphlets to Americans, scaring them about the dangers of AC Power. By then, Tesla and Westinghouse had already taken by storm. Edison’s tactics failed. Tesla saw the power of Niagara falls and planned to harness it to generate electricity. IN 1895, he realized the plan and built the first modern power plant.
This is how Tesla had the last word and emerged a winner in the war of the currents. Yet, more people know about Edison today than Tesla, to whom we actually owe our privilege of electricity.
In the same year, Tesla’s lab caught fire and burned away most of his research notes. He worked on several projects backed by a financer called J.P. Morgan, But their funds ran out and Morgan withdrew his investment. He bagged more than 30 patents to his credit but was snatched of several more. With very little money left and no home, Tesla was forced to live in a small hotel room. He spent his final days in severe depression, alone and poor. He died in his hotel room in 1943.
He said, “money does not represent such a value as men have placed upon it. All my money has been invested into experiments with which I have made new discoveries enabling mankind to have a little easier life”. Tesla’s AC power remains his greatest gift to mankind to date. We all bear witness to it!
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