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Nikola tesla, Thomas Edison and the History of Electricity

The world wasn't always the way it is today. The power harnessed inside of power lines was not always available at the touch of a button or the flip of a switch. For years before scientists succeeded in harnessing electrical power, people probably wondered about how or if it was possible to use electricity. Even in the 18th century, inventors were dabbling in electricity to learn about it. Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison were two scientists and inventors who were key players in the road to electricity use.

Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia in 1856. Tesla's interest in electricity may have begun with his mother, who dabbled in the invention of small appliances while Tesla was a boy. Tesla attended several colleges and then began working for a telephone company in Budapest. At this time, he started devising a concept for an induction motor, but he couldn't get anyone to support his idea. Tesla came to the United States in 1884, and he began working with Thomas Edison on some of Edison's inventions. After a short time, however, the two scientists found that they had conflicting personalities and could not work together. Tesla floundered for a few years but then was able to find investor support for his company, the Tesla Electric Company, and its work on his alternating-current electrical system. Soon, Tesla had patents for a few of his inventions, and people were beginning to take notice. George Westinghouse was looking for a way to transmit power over long distances, and he thought that Tesla's inventions might prove useful. Westinghouse purchased Tesla's patents, and this new partnership began competing with Thomas Edison. Edison, meanwhile, had been busy working on his direct-current electrical system.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was born in Ohio in 1847. Edison's mother was a teacher, and she had a significant influence on her son. After Edison experienced problems in public school, his parents withdrew him to teach him at home. Edison had profound hearing loss, which had an impact on his education and employment opportunities throughout his life. Edison was curious and interested in many different subjects. He also had strong entrepreneurial interests, and he began publishing a newspaper at the age of 12. Edison worked for a railroad and as a telegraph operator. While earning money at these jobs, Edison continued to study and dabble in science. Eventually, Edison decided to pursue inventing, and he moved to New York City. His first invention was a stock ticker, which could synchronize more than one stock ticker transaction. Edison worked tirelessly on his inventions, eventually inventing the phonograph and making modifications to the light bulb.

Rivaling Currents

The feud between Tesla and Edison was bitter and longstanding. Tesla and Edison had fundamentally different styles and personalities. Tesla was well-educated, while Edison did not have the same type of formal training. Therefore, Edison relied more on experimentation to perfect an invention, while Tesla conceptualized everything in his mind before creating an invention. One of the main sources of rivalry between Tesla and Edison was the technology for electricity. Tesla's work involved alternating current, and Edison's work involved direct current. Both scientists believed that their inventions were superior. AC technology allows energy to flow and change direction, which makes it useful for moving large amounts of energy. DC technology uses a lower voltage and is more limited, but this did provide some safety advantages. Tesla's AC technology prevailed in the end. George Westinghouse even built a power plant to provide power for New York City using this technology.

Modern Electricity

As the inventor of alternating-current technology, Nikola Tesla played a paramount role in the electricity used to power the entire world. Tesla also worked diligently on a dream of supplying electrical power without wires. The Tesla coil, developed in 1891, succeeded in using electromagnetic force and resonance for power. Thomas Edison was also instrumental in shaping society today with his inventions. His phonograph succeeded in recording voices and replaying them. Edison's design of the inside of the light bulb was the crucial key to making a light that would stay lit for hours instead of going out almost immediately. This made the light bulb both useful and affordable.

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