Tesla Versus Edison Analysis

Table of Content

Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Edison is often wrongly credited with the invention of electricity. However, it should be noted that while Edison did patent and advocate for direct current (DC) electricity, he was not the actual inventor. In reality, a considerable portion of his achievements were borrowed from other scientific figures, notably the exceptional Nikola Tesla.

In school, we learn about Edison but never about the equally deserving scientist Nikola Tesla. Despite his contributions to inventions, concepts, and ideas, Tesla is often overlooked as others receive credit. Born in Austria and of Serbian descent, Tesla moved to the U.S. at 28 after studying at the Austrian Polytechnic School in Graz. He later worked at the Central Telephone Exchange in Budapest.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

During this time, Nikola Tesla invented the induction motor, a revolutionary invention. He then began working for electric companies in Paris and Strasburg, with the aim of enhancing their DC power facilities. He attempted to pitch his induction motor that utilized AC current to these European companies and investors, but unfortunately, there was no interest. As a result, Tesla made the decision to relocate to the United States in order to collaborate with his inspirational figure and the greatest electrical engineer according to him, Thomas Edison.

Upon arriving in the U. S. with only 4 cents, mathematical calculations, a drawing for a conceptual “flying machine,” and a letter of reference from Charles Batchelor, Tesla presented Edison with this letter that praised both Edison and himself. In addition, Tesla discussed his achievements in Europe and his plans for an AC current motor, which differed from Edison’s work with DC current. While DC current flows in a constant direction with a constant polarity, AC current is characterized by alternating direction and voltage.

DC, or direct current, is a type of electricity generated by a battery or by rubbing certain materials together. It has definite positive and negative terminals and is commonly used in electronics. On the other hand, AC, or alternating current, changes polarity or direction over time. In the United States, the standard for AC is 60 Hertz, which means the current changes direction 60 times per second (or every 1/120th of a second). In most other countries, the standard for AC is 50 Hertz.

The two types of current, AC and DC, differ significantly in their abilities. AC is well-suited for long distance transmission of electricity, whereas DC can only transmit short distances. In fact, when transmitting over short distances, DC tends to overheat. As a result, using DC current to wire homes requires a power station with generators on each block. However, even this setup fails to achieve effective electrical flow to homes and businesses. Alternatively, AC proves to be a safer and more cost-efficient option for supplying power to entire cities.

At the time Tesla joined Edison’s team, Edison was highly promoting his DC power system which he had invested a significant amount of money in. Tesla’s AC power posed a significant threat to Edison’s DC power system, and Edison was well aware of this. The financial and reputational stakes were high, prompting Edison to make every effort to discredit Tesla. Furthermore, Edison’s dismissive attitude towards Tesla, combined with their fundamental differences in determining the more advantageous invention, led Tesla to leave Edison’s company after only a few months. From that point on, Tesla pursued his own path to advance his work on the induction motor, AC power, and numerous other inventions.

It has been rumored that Tesla departed due to an incident where Edison offered him $50,000 to enhance his DC generators. However, when Tesla completed the task and requested payment, Edison claimed it was a joke and suggested that Tesla would only understand it once he became a true American. Consequently, Tesla retired and faced severe financial difficulties, to the extent that he resorted to working as a ditch digger, coincidentally paving the way for Edison’s electrical wires.

However, Tesla’s contributions to electricity were groundbreaking, leading to its accessibility and affordability for everyone. Eventually, with the support of George Westinghouse’s funding, Tesla began actively promoting AC electricity. This resulted in a fierce rivalry between Edison and Tesla, instigated primarily by Edison’s determination to undermine Tesla’s work. In his attempt to frighten the public and discredit AC current, Edison resorted to using small animals, including cats and dogs, and even a large elephant, as victims of electrocution using Tesla’s AC power.

The purpose of this generator was to demonstrate the perceived dangers of alternating current in a shockingly horrific way. Edison’s assistant, Professor Harold Brown, unlawfully acquired an old Westinghouse generator for this experiment. They selected death-row inmate William Kemmler as the inaugural victim of electrocution. Edison fashioned the world’s first electric chair and used this repulsive contraption to publicly showcase one of the most heinous forms of death.

The electrocution that took place was described by everyone present as an extremely disturbing event. They mentioned how Kemmler endured immense suffering and how many people fainted or had to leave the room due to the gruesome nature of the electrocution. Despite Edison’s determined efforts, the era of DC current was soon coming to a close. In 1893, the situation would reverse, with Tesla’s alternating current gaining favor instead.

The Chicago World’s Fair, also called the Columbian Exposition, commemorated Columbus’ discovery of America and provided a noteworthy occasion for showcasing the first-ever all-electric fair. General Electric, which had recently acquired Edison company, made a bid of $1,000,000 to use Edison’s DC power for illuminating the fair. Roughly half of this cost was allotted for purchasing copper wiring needed for the DC power. Conversely, Westinghouse Corporation proposed a bid of $500,000 to employ Tesla’s AC power instead and ultimately won the bidding process.

President Grover Cleveland commenced the fair by using hundreds of thousands of incandescent lights to illuminate it. The Chicago World’s Fair in that year drew an astonishing 27 million visitors, affirming the conviction that AC power was the forthcoming technology. Consequently, AC power prevailed in the United States, with more than 80% of all electrical devices being requested for this form of power after the fair. To this day, AC power remains the main electricity source for households and businesses globally. Nikola Tesla effortlessly triumphed in the ongoing battle over current!

Having extensively researched the work of Nikola Tesla and the unethical behavior of Thomas Edison, I have not changed my perception of either scientist. Before discovering Edison’s relentless efforts to undermine Tesla’s induction motor and AC current, like many others, I regarded him as a remarkable and intelligent scientist.

Honestly, from my perspective, the opposite of the truth is not the case. Edison, in my view, was not a scientist but rather a businessman who relied on brilliant “assistants” like Cook to discover, build and invent things. Once these assistants made their inventions, Edison quickly rushed to the patent office to ensure that he patented their work under his own name. I find it deeply disturbing that Edison discovered electrocutions in order to discredit Tesla, and that he even invented the first electric chair. His stubborn refusal to consider the benefits of AC power for society, and his deceitful and scheming nature, have all changed my opinion of this highly respected figure in innovation and technology.

Edison is often credited for things accomplished by those around him, but he primarily focused on patenting, marketing, and capitalizing on these achievements. It is disappointing that so much emphasis is placed on teaching students about Edison’s greatness in elementary, middle, and high school, while Tesla is rarely mentioned in any of my science, history, or other classes prior to this one.

Among the remarkable and pioneering inventions associated with Tesla are: the induction motor and alternating current, radio (including the first remote-controlled boat), robots, wireless communication, the Tesla coil, the first hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls, his successful recreation of ball lightning in the laboratory, neon lighting, and the modern electric motor, among others.

Tesla issued a warning about x-rays, while Edison performed experiments with them on his assistant, Clarence Dally. Dally suffered from radiation exposure, which ultimately resulted in the amputation of his arms and his eventual death. Nikola Tesla, an exceptional scientist, deserves recognition for his remarkable contributions in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering. I am excited that there is currently a museum being constructed or renovated at Wardenclyffe, where Tesla’s laboratory was located. This site was also formerly home to a massive tower that Tesla was constructing for wireless communication and power transmission purposes. Unfortunately, the tower was demolished when investors withdrew their support for the project. I eagerly look forward to visiting this museum to pay tribute to one of history’s greatest scientists!

Cite this page

Tesla Versus Edison Analysis. (2016, Nov 07). Retrieved from


Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront