Nikola Tesla: 1856 – 1943
In 1884, a poor Serbian immigrant named Nikola Tesla arrived in the United States—at that time the land of the free….Though he was poor in this world’s goods, he was rich in ideas that would eventually light up the United States … and the entire world.
Wise men still come from the East because this Serb superman was Greek Orthodox and his father was a clergyman.
Nikola Tesla was the discoverer of the alternating current light and power system in use all over the world today. His discovery of the rotating magnetic field was almost as revolutionary as the Morse telegraph.
It allowed him to “electrify” the entire world.
While walking in Budapest Park, Hungary, Nikola Tesla had seen a vision of a functioning alternating current (AC) electric induction motor. This was one of the most revolutionary inventions in the entire history of the world.
Before coming to the U.S., Nikola worked for about a year for the French branch of the Edison Electric Light Co. The Edison Company was totally locked into DIRECT CURRENT (DC) and wanted nothing to do with Tesla’s AC current.
Tesla actually offered his invention to a German company in Strassburg, Alsace, then a part of Germany. Here is what happened:
The Mayor brought together a number of wealthy Strassburgers. To them the new motor was shown in operation, and the new system and its possibilities described, by both Tesla and the Mayor. The demonstration was a success from the technical viewpoint but otherwise a total loss. Not one member of the group showed the slightest interest. Tesla was dejected. It was beyond his comprehension that the greatest invention in electrical science, with unlimited commercial possibilities, should be rejected so completely. (O’ Neill, Prodigal Genius, pp. 56-57).
The U.S. manager of the French branch of the Edison Company advised him to seek his fortune in the New World. On the way to the ship he actually lost all his possessions and he arrived in New York with 4 cents in his pocket.
After September 20, 1870, millions of Latin Church immigrants from Europe were pouring into this country, and their only interest in the United States was its vast economic and military potential to restore the lost Papal States to their master in Rome.
Tesla was Greek Orthodox and only interested in the use of electricity to ease the heavy burdens of his fellow human beings.
Tesla worked for Thomas Alva Edison for 1 year!!
At that time, the most famous “inventor” in the world was named Thomas Alva Edison—the so-called wizard of Menlo Park….Edison was credited with the invention of the DC dynamo and the electric light bulb . . . but the only thing he really invented was the ELECTRIC CHAIR!!
Edison was locked into direct current and would not change for anything. DC had very severe limitations, and was not practicable for long distance electrical transmission.
Almost immediately after entering the U.S., Tesla went to work for Edison. Edison was clueless about the great benefits of AC until Tesla showed him plans for his induction motor. Edison’s DC system was huge and only good for very short distances. Edison and his boss Morgan completely rejected this revolutionary invention.
Edison set him to work fixing the many problems with DC dynamos. Tesla had remarkable mechanical and electrical ability, and Edison promised him $50,000 if he could fix a particularly perplexing problem with a dynamo.
Tesla worked for many months and finally the problem was solved. Did Edison keep his promise and pay him for all his hard work?. . . absolutely not….Tesla quit the Edison Company in disgust:
For a paltry few thousand dollars they lost not only a man who would have saved them many times that amount each year, but they also lost an opportunity to obtain world control of the greatest and most profitable electrical invention ever made (O’ Neill, Prodigal Genius, p. 58).
After quitting the Edison Company, Tesla had to work as a manual laborer for a year digging the streets of New York. This was the worst time in his life as a poor stranger in a strange land….He was befriended by the foreman of the work gang who persuaded him to form his own company.
Tesla demonstrated his AC motor to the U.S. Institute of Electrical Engineers
In 1888, Tesla gave a lecture to the U.S. Institute of Electrical Engineers in New York City. This lecture brought his alternating current system before the world at last.
Tesla finally gained recognition for his world changing invention in 1888 when he lectured before the U.S. Institute of Electrical Engineers. His invention soon came to the attention of inventor and industrialist George Westinghouse.
One of Tesla’s 2 phase induction motors. When linked to his polyphase method of generating and transmitting electricity, this motor became the foundation stone on which the modern electrical power industry is built.
George Westinghouse brought Tesla’s polyphase system to the world!!
In spite of all the advantages of the AC system, Edison refused to acknowledge its superiority over his system, and inventor George Westinghouse of Pittsburgh came to his rescue. As a matter of fact, Edison and his boss Morgan sulked like spoilt children, and started what became known in U.S. history as the War of the Currents, or the battles between AC and DC.
George Westinghouse was already world famous as the inventor of the locomotive air brake. His decision to adopt Tesla’s AC system changed the world forever.
By 1886, the Westinghouse Company was one of the biggest and most successful in the entire world.
Westinghouse was a Protestant Christian gentleman and totally unlike the robber barons of that era … His motto was the golden rule, and his employees shared in the success of his company. He believed in doing his good works in secret, and many charities throughout the country were helped by his largess.
He offered to buy all the AC patents from Tesla for the staggering sum of 1 million dollars cash and royalties of $1.00 per horsepower of electricity produced.
Unlike Edison, George Westinghouse was a man of his word, and offered Tesla a staggering sum for all his AC patents:
So favorably impressed was Westinghouse that he decided to act quickly. The story was related to the author by Tesla.
“I will give you one million dollars cash for your alternating current patents, plus royalty,” Westinghouse blurted at the startled Tesla. This tall, suave gentleman, however, gave no outward sign that he had almost been bowled over by surprise.
“If you will make the royalty one dollar per horsepower, I will accept the offer,” Tesla replied.
“A million cash, a dollar a horsepower royalty,” Westinghouse repeated.
“That is acceptable,” said Tesla.
“Sold,” said Westinghouse. “You will receive a check and a contract in a few days.”
Here was a case of two great men, each possessed with the power of seeing visions of the future on a gigantic panorama, and each with complete faith in the other, arranging a tremendous transaction with utter disregard of details. (O’Neill, Prodigal Genius, pp. 74-75).
The decision to give the world alternating current put George Westinghouse on a collision course with Morgan and Edison.
The War of the Currents almost bankrupted the Westinghouse Company!!
The War of the Current pitted Morgan, Rockefeller and Edison against Westinghouse and Tesla. No dirty trick was beneath them to ruin Westinghouse and Tesla.
The War of the Currents lasted from 1885 to 1912.
Edison electrocuted thousands of animals to prove that AC was killer current.
Edison’s only invention was the electric chair.
By 1897, the War of the Currents between AC and DC or between Westinghouse and Edison continued unabated. In 1895, Tesla’s laboratory in New York City was totally destroyed by fire. Half a lifetime of priceless inventions were destroyed. Tesla usually worked through the night, but that particular night he was not in his shop, and miraculously escaped death.
Huge mergers took place between J. P. Morgan and Rockefeller controlled companies like Thomson-Houston and Edison General Electric to form the present day General Electric Company. This new General Electric Company tried to take over Westinghouse and force them to abandon AC. They insisted that Westinghouse STOP paying royalties to Tesla:
One of the requirements was that Westinghouse get rid of the contract with Tesla calling for royalty payments of $1.00 per horsepower on all alternating current articles sold under his patents. Financial advisers pointed out that if the business which Westinghouse expected the company would do under the Tesla patents in the ensuing year was anywhere near as great as estimated, the amount to be paid out under this contract would be tremendous, totaling millions of dollars; and this, at the time of reorganization, appeared a dangerous burden, imperiling the ability which they were trying to attain for the new organization. Westinghouse strenuously objected to the procedure. This patent-royalty payment, he insisted, was in accordance with usual procedures and would not be a burden on the company, as it was included in costs of production, was paid for by the customers, and did not come out of the company’s earnings. Westinghouse, himself an inventor of first magnitude, had a strong sense of justice in his dealings with inventors. (O’Neill, Prodigal Genius, p. 79).
In one of the most magnanimous acts ever recorded in human history, Tesla tore up his royalty contract with George Westinghouse in order to save his company from bankruptcy and the AC system from destruction. Tesla stood to lose over 12 million dollars in royalty payments:
It would be a tough job for any executive, no matter how shrewd or clever, to talk a man out of a contract that would net many millions of dollars, or induce him to accept a reduction in rates amounting to millions. Westinghouse called on Tesla, meeting him in the same South 5th Avenue laboratory where he had purchased the patents four years before. Without preliminaries or apologies Westinghouse explained the situation.
“Your decision,” said the Pittsburgh magnate, “determines the fate of the Westinghouse Company.” “Suppose I should refuse to give up my contract; what would you do then?” asked Tesla.
“In that event you would have to deal with the bankers, for I would no longer have any power in the situation,” Westinghouse replied.
“And if I give up the contract you will save your company and retain control so you can proceed with your plans to give my polyphase system to the world?” Tesla continued.
“I believe your polyphase system is the greatest discovery in the field of electricity,” Westinghouse explained. “It was my efforts to give it to the world that brought on the present difficulty, but I intend to continue, no matter what happens, to proceed with my original plans to put the country on an alternating current basis.”
“Mr. Westinghouse,” said Tesla, drawing himself up to full height of six feet two inches and beaming down on the Pittsburgh magnate who was himself a big man, “you have been my friend, you believed in me when others had no faith; you were brave enough to go ahead and pay me a million dollars when others lacked courage; you supported me when even your own engineers lacked vision to see the big things ahead that you and I saw; you have stood by me as a friend. The benefits that will come to civilization from my polyphase system mean more to me than the money involved. Mr. Westinghouse, you will save your company so that you can develop my inventions. Here is your contract and here is my contract—I will tear both of them to pieces and you will no longer have any troubles from my royalties. Is that sufficient?”
Matching his actions to his words Tesla tore up the contract and threw it in the waste basket; and Westinghouse, thanks to Tesla’s magnificent gesture, was able to return to Pittsburgh and use the facilities of the reorganized company, which became the present Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, to make good his promise to Tesla to make his alternating current system available to the world. (O’Neill, Prodigal Genius, pp. 81-82).
By cheating him out of millions in royalty payments, Morgan and Rockefeller put a financial squeeze on the great inventor. Tesla had already lost a fortune because of the arson to his laboratory, and now he was severely strapped for cash to perfect his latest inventions. The arsonists could squeeze him financially, but they could NEVER stop the Niagara of new inventions that kept flowing from his fertile brain.
Tesla electrified Niagara Falls!!
In 1895, the Westinghouse Company and Nicola Tesla built the first hydroelectric alternating current system at Niagara Falls. Tesla was determined that the awesome power of the Falls should be harnessed to the awesome power of polyphase alternating current.
Without using a single drawing, Tesla was able to work out the whole plan of electrification in his head. Everything worked perfectly the first time. Everyone was delighted with the results but Tesla was determined on transmitting electricity without cumbersome and unsightly wires.
Tesla’s wireless transmission of electricity
In 1899, in Pike’s Peak, Colorado, Tesla demonstrated the feasibility of transmitting electricity through the earth without the use of wires… He chose Pike’s Peak because of its remote location, and the availability of electricity from a local power station.
Wireless transmission of electricity to all parts of the earth was the main objective of Tesla in the famous Pike’s Peak experiment. He also discovered that tremendously destructive forces could be unleashed in the earth by means of uncontrolled electrical resonance.
Tesla discovered that the earth was a very good conductor of electricity and that he could set the earth in electrical oscillation just like the mechanical oscillation that almost caused an earthquake in Manhattan.
Power was supplied to the primary coil by the local power station. The secondary coil was GROUNDED to the earth, producing waves which traveled to the opposite side of the world. The returning waves were discharged through the atmosphere.
When Tesla had demonstrated the feasibility of his wireless power system, he rushed back to New York to begin construction on a transmitter located at Wardenclyffe, Long Island, New York. Morgan stonewalled him and created a panic on Wall St. in 1907. Millionaire John Jacob Astor, Tesla’s close friend and financier, died on the Titanic in 1912.
Tesla’s financier John Jacob Astor was drowned with the Titanic!!
Tesla stayed at the Waldorf Astoria hotel and commuted to his laboratory in downtown Manhattan. The hotel was owned by millionaire John Jacob Astor IV who was a close friend and financier of Tesla:
Col. John Jacob Astor, owner of the Waldorf Astoria, held his famous dining-room guest in the highest esteem as a personal friend, and kept in close touch with the progress of his investigations. When he heard that his researches were being halted through lack of funds, he made available to Tesla the $30,000 he needed in order to take advantage of Curtis’ offer and build a temporary plant at Colorado Springs. Tesla arrived in Colorado in May, 1899, bringing with him some of his laboratory workers, and accompanied by an engineering associate, Fritz Lowenstein. (O’Neill, Prodigal Genius, p. 176).
Morgan’s modus operandi was very simple: lure : John Jacob Astor aboard the Titanic and sink her in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Col. John Jacob Astor IV was a close friend and financier of Tesla. He was lured aboard the Titanic and perished on her maiden voyage. Tesla was now at the mercy of Morgan and his wireless system was sunk too.
The White Star line was owned by J. P. Morgan. At the last moment, Morgan decided not to sail on his ship….Madeleine survived, and according to John Jacob Astor’s will, Madeleine would have received income from a $5,000,000 trust fund as long as she did not remarry.
All of Tesla’s papers were confiscated by the FBI after his death!!
As Tesla approached his final years, most of his close friends and benefactors were dead. The man who had electrified the planet was almost forgotten by the world….Most of his last days were spent feeding the pigeons in Bryant Park, in front of the public library on Fifth Ave.
The great discoverer went to meet the Creator of electricity on Jan. 7, 1943.
Tesla was a U.S. citizen, and of the Orthodox Faith, but his body was cremated, and his ashes sent back to Yugoslavia, where they are on display in an urn in the Tesla museum. Pagan cremation is forbidden by the Orthodox Church!!
Funeral services were held for the great Serb on Jan. 12, 1943, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Tesla was never married, and he had no direct heirs. He left no will, so all his papers were seized by the FBI, and shipped to Washington City, where they were classified as TOP SECRET.
His inventions were later to become the bases for the weapons of mass destruction developed by the Pentagon:
The Washington Bureau of the FBI went so far as to advise the New York Bureau “to discreetly take the matter up with the State’s Attorney in New York City with the view to possibly taking Kosanovich into custody on a burglary charge and obtaining the various papers which Kosanovich is reported to have taken from Tesla’s safe.” New York was also told to contact the Surrogate Court so stops could be placed against all of Tesla’s effects, so that no one could enter them without an FBI agent being present, and New York was to keep Washington advised of all developments. (Cheney, Tesla: Man out of Time, p. 273).
Most of his great inventions like radar were later developed by the British. His death ray is now used by the Pentagon to shoot down Russian rockets!!
- The Ten Inventions of Nikola Tesla Which Changed The World
- Tesla Memorial Society
- Thomas Edison Unmasked at Last!
- Albert Einstein Unmasked at Last!
- Henry Ford Unmasked at Last!
- Cheney, Margaret. Tesla, Man out of Time. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1981.
- Cheney, Margaret, & Uth, Robert. Tesla, Master of Lightning. Barnes & Noble Books, New York, 1999
- Garbedian, Gordon H. George Westinghouse: Fabulous Inventor. Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, 1943.
- Jones, Jill, Empires of Light. Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race to Electrify the World. Random House, New York, 2003.
- O’ Neill, John J. Prodigal Genius. The Life of Nikola Tesla. Ives Washburn, New York, 1944.
- Seifer, Marc J. Wizard. The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla. Biography of a Genius. Carol Publishing Group, Secacaus, NJ, 1996.