Dear my friends, as you know, the topic of who is a better inventor, Nikola Tesla or Thomas Edison has been a controversy for many years. Although in the recent years, smearing Edison and glorifying Tesla has became a kind of trend, many of us have no knowledge about the historical background of the subject at hand. And thus we wondered and searched for you.
Edison is the inventor of the technologies that we use every day such as the phonograph, light bulbs, cement making, camera, direct current driven electric motor, electrical power generation systems and batteries etc, all of which we don’t care to think on today. Tesla on the other hand, is a genius who invented the radio, fluorescent lights, alternate current and in the same manner various electric generation systems. Both of those magnificent individuals had long lived around 100 years ago.
The reason of their ultimate rivalry is that one used alternate current while the other one preferred the direct current.
Tesla’s passion of AC began in 1876 when he was studying physics, math and mechanics in Austria Polytechnic Institute. Tesla, who started its studies after one of his professors introduced him a machine that generates DC, searched ways to operate the machine with AC instead of DC and after long years of studies, completed the development of the AC operated induction motor.
Around the same period, Edison was working on the light bulb
A lightbulb works on the principle that a current, introduced to a wire, heats up the wire until a point that the wire radiates light. However, the problem of the light bulbs at that time was that the wires did not last that long against the heat. Edison attempted to solve this problem beginning from 1878 and in the meantime obtained patents for the discovery of the light bulbs. Shortly afterwards, he founded a company called Edison Electric Light. The inventor, who also founded Edison Illuminating Company in order to provide power sources to its clients after turning the light bulbs to something more usable, had power generation stations built in the cities, starting from New York City.
However, the AC operated electric arc lamps were on the rise as the above was happening;
Such alternate current systems were capable of transmitting electric to longer distances with thinner cables. However, for a reason, still unknown today, Edison was against the use of the AC and he was not shifting his business model to this area.
Tesla began working in Edison’s Company in 1882;
Tesla, who began working for Edison’s Continental Edison Company, operated in France, took assignments as a repairman for Edison’s electric stations in France and Germany. He established strong connections there and was sent to USA in 1885 and continued his work in order to solve the problems in Esion’s systems and to find cost cutting solution for his systems.
Edison told Tesla that he would give him 50.000 USD if he managed to solve the system problems
Edison, who told Tesla that he will give him 50.000 USD if he managed to set up the intended system, did not give Tesla, who realized this dream within a year, the sum but instead increased his weekly wage for 10 USD. Tesla in turn, quit his job and began working solo. After about two years from this fallout, Tesla and two of his friends formed a company called “Tesla Electric Company” and after developing an AC induction motor and patenting it, obtained 40 patents until 1891.
There were stark differences between the personalities of those two
Tesla, thanks to its eidetic memory, was a highly creative person, who was able to visualize detailed designs in his mind. Edison on the other hand, was a passionate inventor, who worked rather with drawings and trial and errors. At the end of their lives, Edison had 1.093 patents while Tesla had 112. However, keep in mind that Edison generally worked with teams while Tesla operated solo.
Edison was an inventor, who was dealing with more practical and marketable inventions,
Researcher Leonard DeGraaf points out that the light bulb, phonograph and movie camera, which are considered as the most important inventions of Edison, were being developed by others around the very same time and thus those inventions would have been come to realization by others if they had not been done so by Edison. It is also known that due to its fast growing companies, Edison left the job of dealing with invention to his assistants and the big creativity was a fruit of this collectivity.
Tesla’s ideas on the other hand, were more idealist and frivolous
Also his ideas were less suitable for marketing. The AC motor that Tesla designed and the hydro-electric power station to be installed on Niagara Falls were known as the first ideas of their kind. Tesla also worked on the systems that enable the wireless transmission of the sound and images for years. In some way, this makes him the father of the inventions such as the radio, cell phones and TV’s. The forced cessation of his works and studies was the result of the depletion of his financial resources in 20th century.
If we come to the question of “Which Inventor was more creative”
While 1.093 patents that Edison obtained throughout his life brought commercial success, Tesla’s success rate declined to %20’s especially after he began working by his own. When we consider the fact that Tesla worked for Edison for a short period of time and his salary was not that high, the claim, stating that Edison plagiarized Tesla’s ideas as backed up by many people, seems weaker.
However, Edison, completing his inventions with the aid of his employees and establishing strong ties with the prominent figures of the era such as Henry Ford can be considered a positive or negative aspect against Tesla, who predominantly worked alone. Tesla’s inventions, which were way ahead of their time, would help you to determine his place.