Thursday, November 03, 2011


From Edison vs. Westinghouse: A Shocking Rivalry at Smithsonian [with a guest appearance by Nikola Tesla]:

The concern at Edison [that their DC technology could be wiped out by AC technology from Westinghouse] was palpable, as sales agents around the country were demoralized by Westinghouse’s reach into rural and suburban areas. But Thomas Edison had an idea. Surely Westinghouse’s system must be more dangerous, what with all that voltage passing through the wires. “Just as certain as death,” Edison predicted, “Westinghouse will kill a customer within 6 months after he puts in a system of any size.” [...]

When New York State sentenced convicted murderer William Kemmler to death, he was slated to become the first man to be executed in an electric chair. Killing criminals with electricity “is a good idea,” Edison said at the time. “It will be so quick that the criminal can’t suffer much.” He even introduced a new word to the American public, which was becoming more and more concerned by the dangers of electricity. The convicted criminals would be “Westinghoused.”


  1. Nappinnai NC said...

    Edison was a MEAN fellow. He had cruel thoughts and he tried his best to damage Tesla. If we look around us(in terms of electricity AC current), everything will scream TESLA! What a trajedy that kids in schools don't know about Tesla and they think Edison is a genius. Edison was a business fellow with selfish motives. Edison would blame Tesla's AC for anything & everything. Tesla did 'independent' work and Edison made his name through others works! One has to be insane to compare a true scientist(Tesla) to a businessman(Edison). Tesla came from a poor family and all his life he didn't have much money nor did he care for it.

  2. Vijay said...

    Nappinai NC may well be right about Edison, but Tesla was perhaps no pushover either. Here’s an (apocryphal?) story: Tesla was apparently asked by the Buffalo City Council to solve the problem of freezing water pipes in winter and was hired as a consultant for a hefty fee. He solved the problem by suggesting that power lines and water lines run next to each other so that the heat from the former prevents the latter from freezing, The City thought that this was too simple a solution, though effective, for the fee and cut down the amount to be paid. Tesla then threatened the Council that he had the power to reverse the direction of the current and cause the water lines to freeze in summer. The Council backed off and paid him in full.

  3. Digbijoy Nath said...

    I would any day rate Tesla as a greater genius than Edison... (my opinion, not a fact or surveyed result !)