Why Nikola Tesla is So Famous (and Westinghouse is not)

In January of 1912, almost 20 years after the “war of the currents” was over George Westinghouse Jr. was awarded the American Institute of Electrical Engineer’s highest honor, the Edison Award, for “the development of the alternating-current system for light and power.”[1] In his introduction, the influential and delightful scientist Michael Pupin, said how great it was that “the alternating-current system …is now an almost universally adopted system, and the medal named after the man Edison who twenty-two years ago was the chief opponent of the alternating-current system, goes to the man Westinghouse who twenty-two years ago was the chief defender of the alternating-current system.”[2]

Then, the great Elihu Thomson said that it “is well known to all” that Westinghouse “became one of the foremost exponents of the alternating-current system of distribution by transformers in spite of considerable opposition…[which was] two or three years later…strengthened by the acquisition of patents of Tesla in the polyphase field [although] it took years of skill and able engineers to render available in industry the induction motor”[3]

Let me say that again, in 1912, George Westinghouse Jr. was called the “chief defender of the alternating-current system” and the main rival of Thomas Edison in the war of the currents, years before Tesla came into the picture..

Then, almost five years later, on December 13, 1916, Nikola Tesla was awarded the same Edison Medal for “his early original work in polyphase and high-frequency electric currents.”[4] This time, although everyone was very flattering no one, and I mean no one, mentions or implies that Tesla had a rivalry with Edison or Tesla being the chief defender of alternating current. Even more startling, Tesla only had positive things to say about Edison and describes meeting Edison as being “extraordinary” recalling that, “When I saw this wonderful man.. and saw the great results by virtue of his industry and application, I felt mortified that I had squandered my life [with useless education].”[5]

And if you are thinking that maybe Tesla was just such a nice guy that he even compliments his tormentor I would like to point out that just after receiving the Edison award, Tesla’s tower was torn down for scraps. Despite this, Tesla repeated basically these same words about Edison in a series of autobiographical articles he wrote in 1919,[6] the same set of articles where he wrote that the men who thwarted him, “are to me nothing more than microbes of a nasty disease.”[7]

Now you might be confused by this, I sure was when I read it. I thought that Tesla not Westinghouse was the chief defender of the alternating current (AC) and that it was Tesla not Westinghouse that was Edison’s main rival in the “War of the Currents.” However, by researching the original documents, I have found that the whole narrative about who Tesla was and what he accomplished is just not true.

But then that begs the question, why do we all have the wrong impression? Why do so many people passionately, and I mean passionately, believe a false history? Ready for the real story? Let’s go! 

Table of Contents

Part 1: How This All Started (1867-1887)

Part 2: Edison vs. Westinghouse (1888)

Part 3: The Failed AC Motor (1888-90)

Part 4: Electric Death (1889-90)

Part 5: The Resurgence of Tesla’s Polyphase (1891-1896)

Part 6: Tesla Destroys His Own Reputation  (1896-1904)

Part 7: Westinghouse vs. J.P. Morgan (1904-1914)

Part 8: Tesla’s Reputation Starts to Rebound (1914-1919)

Part 9: Edison’s Reputation Rebounds (1903-31)

Part 10: Tesla Changes the Story (1929-43)

Part 11: The Myth is Born (1960-Today)

Part 1: How This All Started (1867-1887)

George Westinghouse Jr. had this habit of creating a new business every time he had a good idea. When he was just 20 years old in 1867, Westinghouse convinced a company to manufacture his device “the railroad frog” that helped derailed trains get on track which was a huge success after Commodore Vanderbilt purchased a ton of them. Then, after Vanderbilt rejected Westinghouse’s idea of air brakes, Westinghouse found another rich investor to make a second company, which did even better than the frog one.

By 1881, after Westinghouse watched electricity being displayed at a Fair, he put up his own money and house to make a company to electrify train signals and make train travel safer. And, in 1884, after Westinghouse heard that a Natural Gas well was found near his house in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, he started his 4th company to distribute Natural Gas to Pittsburg. Amusingly, Westinghouse actually used gas from a well he dug in his backyard after his wife teased him that “the brakes had one advantage over gas—you could always work out your problems at home, instead of running off to Murrysville every day.”[8]

So, when, in the summer of 1885, Westinghouse learned that there was a way to transmit alternating or AC electricity long distances with low loss if they were at a high voltage and low current, and then use a “secondary generator” or transformer to transform the electricity to a safe voltage near customers, he was hooked.[9] It took until December to get his hands on the device, at which point he made it into a commercially viable system in less than 3 weeks. By January, 1886, Westinghouse created the “Westinghouse Electric Company” for a cool million dollars.

Note that Edison learned about AC transformers at about the same time as Westinghouse but wasn’t interested as at the time copper was cheap, Edison was worried about safety and he didn’t want to redo all of his systems. Therefore, Edison stuck with direct current or DC which couldn’t use transformers.

Anyway, although Westinghouse’s AC company was wildly successful from the get go, he didn’t advertise and Edison only heard about it in November of 1886 whereupon Edison freaked out and became convinced that Westinghouse would “kill a customer within 6 months.”[10] Edison then fought Westinghouse in the time-honored way: he sued. Westinghouse wasn’t particularly surprised nor concerned, that was how businesses work and told the press that he “treated the matter lightly, as one of indifference.”[11] But then, a year later, in late 1887, the price of copper skyrocketed at the same time as Edison was being pestered to help design an electric chair to kill more humanely.[12]

By December 1887, the price of copper caused Edison to write that, although he “would join heartily in an effort to totally abolish capital punishment” if one had to use the death penalty then “the most effective [killing machines] are known as ‘Alternating Machines,’ manufactured principally in this country by Mr. George Westinghouse, Pittsburg.”[13] Westinghouse didn’t know it yet, but Edison had just declared war.

Part 2: Edison vs. Westinghouse (1888)

In February, 1888, Thomas Edison’s GE published a 75-page diatribe against Westinghouse including calling the alternating system the “Westinghouse system,”[14] and soon the New York papers were full of warnings about electric death. Then, on June 5, an engineer named Harold Brown made waves when he published an inflammatory article that said that “the only excuse for the use of the fatal alternating current is that it saves the company [money]” and that it was wrong that, “the public must submit to constant danger from sudden death.”[15] Westinghouse tried to smooth things over with Edison telling him that, “I believe that there has been a systematic attempt on the part of some people to do a great deal of mischief … between the Edison Company and The Westinghouse Electric Company.”[16]

But Edison was not convinced. Instead, unknown to Westinghouse, Edison started to collaborate with Brown, inviting Brown to his laboratory to experiment with animals and prove the deadliness of AC.  Edison even ironically sent a letter to the local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) asking for some “good-sized animals” so that he could experiment upon them to “safeguard the lives of men engaged in electric lighting business.”[17] By July, 1888 Brown started doing public demonstrations killing dogs with electricity, and he then moved to calves and horses.  Soon, with the help of Edison, Brown was hired by the electric chair committee in New York as a consultant. By December 6, 1888 the New York Times declared, “After January 1st the alternating current will undoubtedly drive the hangman out of business in this State.”[18]

            Seven days later, on December 13, Westinghouse published a letter to the editor stating that it was clear that “the object of these experiments is not in the interest of science or safety” but instead “in the interest and pay of the Edison Electric Light Company”.[19] Brown replied with a letter denying that he was working for Edison and challenging Westinghouse to “an electric duel” to electrify themselves with AC and DC until “either one or the other has cried enough and publicly admits his error.”[20] Frustrated, Westinghouse did not bother to respond to Brown. Meanwhile he had another problem that occupied his mind, the AC Motor.

Part 3: The Failed AC Motor (1888-90)

See, between 1886, when Westinghouse started the AC electricity business and 1888, Westinghouse didn’t know how to change current that goes back and forth (AC) into a meter or a motor that moved continually in a circle. At first Westinghouse was primarily interested in a meter as he had no way to measure how much electricity he was selling and just had to charge a flat rate. Then, in April of 1888 an employee named Shallenberger dropped a spring near two pieces of equipment and found that the dropped spring started to spin. Within a month, Shallenberger had a working meter, and by August they had a system on the market.[21] The meter which operated at 133 Hz was very popular and sold 120,000 units in just 10 years.[22] Now Westinghouse had a meter but was still looking for a motor, or something that could do work that was powered by alternating current, especially as he wanted to expand into using electricity to power public transportation.

In May, 1888, Westinghouse heard that a 32-year-old inventor named Nikola Tesla was demonstrating a special AC motor and generator that was powerful and could be used in industry. Tesla’s design used two sets of AC current that were identical except for when they increased or decreased (their phase) which is why this used 4 wires instead of two. This is called a 2-phase or multiphase or polyphase induction motor. Anyway, this was an AC motor but it would involve redesigning all meters, generators and transformers. In addition, Tesla was demanding $200,000 in cash and $2.50 per horsepower for the patent which Westinghouse’s lawyer found to be “monstrous.”[23] Despite this, by December of 1888, Westinghouse negotiated Tesla’s initial “monstrous” price down to a total of $5,000 in cash, 200 stocks with a further unspecified amount per horsepower of motors produced.[24]

            However, there was a problem. Tesla’s motor did not work effectively enough to be sold, and after less than a year Tesla gave up and moved back to New York. According to William Stanley, by 1890 almost 2 years after buying the patent Westinghouse still had no viable Tesla motors after spending “$300,000 in experimental work in the endeavor.” Stanley said that he had been offered a further $100,000 in cash if he could provide one, as “they had taken a great many orders for the delivery of motors which they were unable to fill.”[25]

Now Stanley was always trying to claim inventions as his own that weren’t but this statement is corroborated by many including in a letter that was sent to Edison in April of 1890, that noted that: “Mr. Westinghouse has ..[only] one alternating current experiment, which is a failure, and Mr. Westinghouse has quarreled with Mr. Tesla [misspelled Mr. Tessler] who invented the alternate current motor.”[26] Despite not having a working industrial motor and being in a PR “battle” with Edison, Westinghouse’s company was doing very well: between 1886 and 1890, Westinghouse’s company sales went from $150,000 a year to more than $4 million a year![27]

Then, on November 15, 1890, the Barings bank in England collapsed, and the economy in England and America (and several countries in South America) went with it. Westinghouse had borrowed heavily to fulfill all his new orders, and his business was now on the verge of collapse. The bankers agreed to fund him but wanted another person as manager as, according to a biographer, “Mr. Westinghouse wastes so much on experimentation, and pays so liberally for whatever he wishes in the way of service and patent rights.”[28] Westinghouse found funding elsewhere, but was trying to be more economical, so he stopped all research on Tesla’s motor.[29]

Part 4: Electric Death (1889-90)

Meanwhile, on May 13, 1889, a man named William Kemmler was convicted of chopping up his girlfriend with an ax and sentenced to be the first person to be purposefully killed with electricity.

Soon one of the best lawyers in the country, W. Bourke Cockran, agreed to argue against the electric chair as being cruel and unusual and appealed the ruling. Edison and Brown testified as experts for using AC in the electric chair, and despite Cockran’s quality lawyering, Edison’s reputation as a wizard was just too much to ignore and Cockran lost time and again. Despite all this, Westinghouse still held out hope that Edison, a man he admired, was not propelling these attacks or the animal experiments. However, in early October of 1889, Westinghouse read an article where Edison *himself* called him a “shyster” (a charlatan). Edison’s lawyer told Edison that Westinghouse was “very hurt” by Edison’s insults. According to the lawyer, “he was really cut up about it.”[30]

By May, 1890, Cochran gained the assistance of another lawyer named Roger Sherman. Although Cockran and Sherman tried to pretend that he took the job out of a “love for humanity,” the New-York Tribune reported that “It seemed to be the general belief that the stay in Kemmler’s case had been brought about by the Westinghouse Company.”[31] Eventually, it was leaked that Westinghouse worked extensively with Sherman to try to stop the execution, to no avail.[32]

Finally, on August 6, 1890, William Kemmler became the first man sentenced to death by electrocution. However, Brown turned out to have little expertise and it was a horrible debacle. The New York Times exclaimed, “Probably no convicted murderer of modern times has been made to suffer as Kemmler suffered…it cannot be merely be characterized as unsuccessful. It was so terrible that the word fails to convey the idea.”[33] After this, Edison, humiliated, was pressured to stop attacking AC electricity as it was bad for all electric businesses. Also, without Edison’s secret support, Harold Brown “disappeared from public sight, never to be heard from again.”[34]

Part 5: The Resurgence of Tesla’s Polyphase (1891-1896)

Then, in the summer/fall of 1891, four things happened that changed everything. First, one of Westinghouse’s employees named Stillwell convinced him that AC at 60 Hz would travel longer distance with less loss than 133 Hz, which would be useful as Tesla’s motor was optimized at 60 Hz.[35] Second, another engineer named Benjamin Lamme who noted  that the Tesla motor was “abandoned for a time” in 1890, convinced Westinghouse that he could use mathematics to make Tesla’s motor work for industry.[36]

Third, in May of 1891, Nikola Tesla demonstrated his modified induction coil that is currently called the Tesla coil.[37] Now at the time, remember, people were still astonished at the sight of a single light bulb. Tesla’s coil which could electrify light bulbs with a single wire and even wirelessly not to mention make lightning? People could not get over how amazing it was, and honestly, it is still inspiring people to this very day. Tesla was a superstar. The Electrical Engineer crowed, “No man in our age has achieved such a universal scientific reputation in a single stride as this gifted young electrical engineer.”[38]

Fourth, at the same time as Tesla was demonstrating his coil, in May, 1891 a Russian/Polish engineer named Michael Dolivo-Dobrowolsky demonstrated the world’s first three-phase hydroelectric plant at an electrical fair between Lauffen and Frankfurt in Germany. Not only are three phase motors more efficient than 2 phase motors but also, due to a quirk of having three phases, you can combine three wires to get a neutral which means that instead of needing 3 sets of 2 wires (or 6 wires) you can transmit electricity with only three live wires, thereby halving the wires needed for electric transmission! Dolivo-Dobrowolsky then used the 3-phase electricity he generated at a hydroelectric plant in Lauffort to electrify light bulbs and a giant three phase motor that he designed that powered a large artificial waterfall 110 miles away in Frankfurt. (yes, he used a waterfall to make electricity to power an artificial waterfall). This was the first large scale industrial implementation of 3-phase transmission. The engineering world was agog, and it was heralded as “nothing short of magnificent.”[39]

Considering all this, Westinghouse had a choice: try to make a deal with Dolivo-Dobrowolsky and figure out how three-phase works or give his employee a chance to improve the Tesla motor with the knowledge that if he succeeded, they could use the name of one of the most famous electricians in the world. That is why in late 1891, Westinghouse let Benjamin Lamme work on fixing Tesla’s motor. Lamme was true to his word and by the beginning of 1892 he had succeeded in making the first induction motor at the Westinghouse Company, “which bears any close resemblance to the modern type.”[40]

This brings us to the financier J. P. Morgan. Morgan, like everyone involved in electricity, had been watching the success of the AC systems, which Edison stubbornly refused to use or accept. On February 10, 1892, Morgan orchestrated a coup by merging Edison’s company with another.[41] He fired Edison and even removed Edison’s name from his own company (although it wasn’t formalized until April 15). From that time on, it was plain General Electric or GE, instead of Edison’s General Electric. The war of the currents was over.

Of course, the end of Edison’s involvement in the distribution of electricity was not the end of the story. J. P. Morgan began gobbling up companies and soon acquired the services for GE of a brilliant mathematical engineer named Charles Proteus Steinmetz, who helped GE transform from DC straight to 3-phase AC transmission. In 1892, Steinmetz wrote a friend, “That is the way it is here now – only the two giant companies, General Electric and Westinghouse can make use of inventions.” Steinmetz added that he had preferred to work for Westinghouse but he didn’t fight it as he assumed that, “it is only a matter of time as to when G.E. and Westinghouse will combine.”[42]

However, Westinghouse wanted nothing to do with folding his company into a mega company run by bankers. In a bit of business trickery, Westinghouse pretended to have no interest in lighting the upcoming 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and the people at General Electric thought they had a monopoly and decided to price gouge and then Westinghouse swept in with a low bid from a cover company.[43] Westinghouse eventually electrified the fair at a loss.

As the fair’s opening approached, Westinghouse held a meeting on the promotion of their new Tesla motor, which needed a new 2-phase generator which held no advantage to people using the electricity for lighting. Benjamin Lamme suggested that they should make what he called a “fad” out of 2-phase generators, “so that everybody would buy them, the motor question would soon settle itself.”[44] However, Westinghouse realized that it would be difficult to promote 2-phase generators at the fair, as Westinghouse didn’t have enough industrial two-phase generators and transformers in stock or have enough time to build them (and no 3-phase). According to Lamme, Westinghouse suggested using two separate single-phase generators that were staggered 90 degrees apart as “a step towards a coming polyphase supply system.”[45] (Note that Lamme and Westinghouse always used the term ‘polyphase’ so that it seemed like they were using the latest technology (3-phase) instead of the slightly older technology (2-phase)). At the fair, Westinghouse created a giant sign at the entrance to the electrical pavilion with the words “Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co. [with] Tesla Polyphase System” and invited Tesla to demonstrate his 2-phase, 3-phase, and 4-phase motors as well as his wireless devices in the Westinghouse Companies section of the Electricity Building.[46]

Combining Westinghouse’s AC with the name Tesla was great marketing, especially as the term AC was still off putting for much of the public due to the war of the currents and soon Westinghouse won the contract to install 2-phase AC at Niagara falls.[47] At Niagara falls, Westinghouse once again routinely used Tesla’s name as a method of promotion.

However, Westinghouse’s success was hampered by the fact that Steinmetz was helping GE install 3-phase which used half the wire for transmission (and was therefore cheaper) than Westinghouse’s/Tesla’s 2-phase. Then, in February of 1894, a Westinghouse employee named Charles Scott who was worried that they couldn’t sell 2-phase since 3-phase was $10,000 cheaper than 2-phase to distribute 10 miles, and decided that the “ideal arrangement would be a three-phase transmission line for supplying two-phase distributing circuits.”[48] Inspired, Scott sat down and in under a minute created a transformer to convert 3-phase power into 2-phase or visa-versa. The Scott-T transformer was a big hit and soon Westinghouse’s company started producing mixed 3-phase and 2-phase systems.[49]

As Westinghouse could now use 3-phase transmission for his 2-phase motors, he decided to clamp down on GE (and William’s Stanley’s) use of 3-phase, in April 1895, Westinghouse sued GE and wrote public advertisements against GE for using the “Tesla Polyphase system” in their three-phase. In these notices, Westinghouse stated that Tesla’s system was “especially adapted to transmission of power over great distances” and “adopted” for the “great plant at Niagara” which helped convince the general public that Westinghouse’s entire company, AC, and Niagara Falls were due to Tesla’s patents (remember Tesla was still amazingly famous and AC still had a bad reputation).[50] However, by April 1896, Westinghouse was convinced it would be far more profitable and helpful to drop the lawsuit and instead go into a patent sharing deal with GE. Because of that, in April of 1896, Westinghouse gave a lump sum of $216,600 to Tesla “in order that both companies might manufacture apparatus covered by those patents without the payment of royalties.”[51] (Tesla might have wanted the lump sum as his laboratory had just burned down and he needed the cash). Tesla then turned around and basically burned through all of that money and his reputation along with it.

Part 6: Tesla Destroys His Own Reputation  (1896-1904)

After Tesla received that bulk payment, Tesla pronounced the invention of many, many astonishing devices, most of which seemed to be in response to other’s inventions and none of which made it to market. For example, in May of 1896, after Edison patented an X-ray light bulb, Tesla announced his own X-ray light bulb, “as steady as the sun and more brilliant than any artificial light now in use.”[52] Note that the title of the article was “Edison and Tesla Rivals,” because before this one little event, they had never been considered enemies in any way.

Then, in September of 1897, three months after Gulielmo Marconi got good press for a major talk about his wireless transmission system,[53] Tesla filed for his own wireless transmission patent that would transmit not just signals but energy too. In his patent, Tesla said that his system would not only transmit electrical energy at high rates, but also “transmit intelligible messages to great distances” “illuminate upper strata of the air,” make “useful changes” to the “conduction of the atmosphere,” manufacture “nitric acid [and] fertilizing components” and more![54] However, after this patent was filed, not much happened and instead, in November, 1898, Tesla pivoted to describing his creation a remote control navy that “will never make a miss” “be able to submerge it at command” and “respond only to a certain note or tune.”[55] Once again, this was not produced.

Meanwhile, in December of 1899, the “Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company for America” was incorporated with a capital of 10 million dollars and soon the papers were full of their accomplishments and setbacks.[56] After Tesla learned that Marconi grounded his wire, Tesla decided that the reason for his struggles with electrifying the atmosphere with his coil is that he decided that radio waves don’t travel in the air and instead electrify the ground. Tesla therefore declared that his system needed to be put in the Earth and then it could electrify the entire globe wirelessly. In January 1900, Tesla came to Pittsburgh to ask Westinghouse to support this project. Westinghouse, who was as usual overextended in his financial planning (especially with fights over the priority of Tesla’s polyphase patents), gave Tesla $6,000 as a personal check and wished him luck.

In January of 1901, Marconi made waves when he told The Daily Chronicle of London that he had transmitted a signal wirelessly an astonishing distance of over 100 miles although he wasn’t yet ready to say he could transmit across the Atlantic, saying it was “merely a possibility of the future.”[57] By February, 1901 Tesla published an article that he was doing better, a lot better, than Marconi. Tesla claimed that not only could he send electric power wirelessly for 50 million or 100 million miles at “rates of one hundred and ten thousand horsepower.” He also said that he had made a radio machine that “could easily kill, in an instant, three hundred thousand persons.” Even stranger Tesla swore that he received an unusual communication that he decided must have been from Martians. (Although he also added the thought that there could also be aliens on Venus or the moon as, “a frozen planet, such as our moon is supposed to be, intelligent beings may still dwell, in its interior, if not on its surface.”[58]) [Honestly, do I have to tell you that the moon is not a frozen planet and not hollow there is no reason that intelligent beings would evolve INSIDE a hollow frozen planet even if it was?]

As you can imagine, this last article was ridiculed publicly. Despite this, Tesla convinced the financier J. P. Morgan (the man who fired Edison and who was still trying to take over Westinghouse’s company) that his system was superior and that he had patent priority over Marconi’s system. In March of 1901, J. P. Morgan gave Nikola Tesla $150,000 to build a wireless station on Long Island, New York,[59] and Tesla promised he would be able to communicate to London in six to eight months.[60]

Tesla still had his die-hard fans, but most people felt, as an article from 1902 put it, that “Aside from his polyphase work…Tesla has gradually sunk into oblivion and even his claims to the fatherhood of wireless telegraphy, both mundane and Martian, are not sufficient to bring him forth into the light of popular esteem in which he was formerly held.”[61]

As the years passed, Tesla didn’t manage to demonstrate any significant communication nor transmission of power from his tower. Instead, on January 19, 1903, Marconi was the one who sent the first two-way transatlantic wireless signal from Roosevelt in America to King Edward of England and back, and Marconi appeared to everyone to be the winner of the wireless race.[62] Tesla was undeterred, but Morgan was done with Tesla and his promises and cut off funding. By the next year, Tesla wrote J. P. Morgan in desperation: “Since a year, Mr. Morgan, there has hardly been a night when my pillow was not bathed in tears.”[63] By 1906, he had to fire all his employees at his wireless tower, Wardenclyffe, where it remained empty for many years.[64]

Although Morgan is often displayed as a villain in this story, in this case he paid Tesla $150,000 for a system to communicate with England wirelessly within 8 months, and cut off funding when nothing was produced after 3 years.  That isn’t villainy, that is basic business. In truth, although both Edison and Tesla felt frustrated with J.P. Morgan, Morgan was doing the right thing by firing Edison and was more than patient with Tesla. The person in the war of the currents that J.P. Morgan was actually villainous towards was not Tesla or Edison, it was Westinghouse.

Part 7: Westinghouse vs. J.P. Morgan (1904-1914)

JP Morgan always hated Westinghouse for refusing to let him make it a subsidiary of GE and for being so good to his employees that he made other industrial leaders look bad. However, it became personal in 1905. See what happened is that In 1904 and early 1905 the ever-busy J. P. Morgan created a smear campaign against a man named James Hyde, who was the young new leader of the largest insurance company in the world, Equitable Life Insurance, so that Morgan could wrest control for himself. Morgan’s machinations backfired, however, when people started dropping their stock and their price plummeted. The scandal soon went out of control. People got spooked and started to take their money out of insurance companies and the entire financial system seemed on the brink of collapse.

Because of the jeopardy to America’s economy in June 1905, the equitable stock was put into a trust run by men of unimpeachable character: the former president Grover Cleveland, a New York Supreme Court Justice named Morgan O’Brian, and our friend, George Westinghouse Jr.[65]

Not surprisingly, Westinghouse’s already fraught relationship with bankers went even further downhill after being a part of this financial reformation. Meanwhile, their actions weren’t enough to protect Wall Street from the corrupt practices of businesses. In 1907, after a stock manipulation attempt went awry, the entire stock market fell off a cliff, in what was called the “Panic of 1907.” The stock market was saved only when bankers, led by J. P. Morgan, used their collective private wealth to personally shore up the market. (There were rumors then and now that Morgan orchestrated the panic as he profited mightily from it and used it to destroy his rivals.).

Anyway, Westinghouse, like almost every other manufacturer, found himself in financial trouble after the crash despite the fact that his business was doing great. This time, Morgan was finally able to “close the trap on the only major industrialist who had successfully rebuffed him,” and soon Westinghouse’s company was run by a manager, although it took until July of 1911 for Westinghouse to lose all control.[66] Westinghouse was devastated by this loss, and soon found himself  deteriorating physically due to heart problems possibly exacerbated by the stress. The following year, 1912, a congressional hearing on big banks found that JP Morgan was in control of a cabal of 5 New York Banks who had directorships in 112 major corporations. According to a biographer, “Westinghouse Electric had been the notable exception to the New York Bankers’ control of American Industry.”[67] But this was revealed too late for Westinghouse and Westinghouse Electric. In the middle of this scandal, JP Morgan died in his sleep in March 1913, and his son JP Morgan Jr. took over the business and continued the fight.[68]

Almost exactly a year after Morgan’s death, George Westinghouse died from heart problems at the age of 67 on March 12, 1914. It seemed like the entire city of Pittsburg mourned.[69] He is still admired in Pittsburg, but outside that now fair city, his reputation faded from view. Especially as people like JP Morgan Jr. and industrial leaders didn’t want people to know that Westinghouse was such a good employer as that might lead to more people demanding the same of them.

Part 8: Tesla’s Reputation Starts to Rebound (1914-1919)

When Westinghouse died, Tesla got a little bit of a reputation boost as most biographies mentioned that Westinghouse had backed Tesla financially and that Westinghouse had built the system in Niagara falls which was connected to Tesla in most people’s minds. Of course they all attributed the promotion of AC to Westinghouse, like when the Electrical World wrote that, “The alternating current which Mr. Westinghouse fought into universal recognition has alone made possible long-distance transmission of energy.”[70] Electrical World also interviewed several former associates, including Tesla who gave a vague but flowery tribute where he called Westinghouse a “captain among captains, leader among leaders.”[71]

Meanwhile, despite the end of his wireless dreams, Tesla still continued to live a luxurious lifestyle at the exclusive New York hotel the Waldorf Astoria. However, in late 1915, the owner of the hotel became frustrated with the “peculiar odors” and the “inordinate amount of pigeon excrement” coming from Tesla’s room and sent Tesla a bill for $19,000 in total rent due.[72] Tesla had to sign over the deed to his tower, Wardenclyffe, as collateral. In March of the following year, Tesla was humiliated and taken to bankruptcy court, as he couldn’t pay $935 in back taxes. He claimed to have “scores” of debts, no money in the bank, no physical assets, and lived “mostly on credit.”[73]

Strangely enough, it was this embarrassing article so soon after the Westinghouse statements that started to help Tesla’s reputation. People were shocked that the man who invented polyphase current and inspired so many with his high frequency Tesla coil could have fallen on such low times. People started sending him money and, as I said in the introduction, by December, 1916, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers awarded Tesla the 7th Edison Medal for inventing polyphase and for inspiring people with his coil. Although Tesla’s influence on those subjects were astonishing, most scientists and engineers were hesitant to promote someone who might say something truly unsettling and completely unscientific. Instead, they found sycophants who described Tesla as the creator of all electrical industry. One man said that without Tesla, “the wheels of industry would cease to turn, our electric cars and trains would stop, our towns would be dark, our mills would be dead and idle. Yea, so far-reaching is this work that it has become the warp and woof of industry.”[74] `

Tesla loved the adulation and told the crowd, “in twenty years there has not been a single, solitary experiment which did not come out exactly as I thought it would,”[75] Despite this attention, Wardenclyffe was knocked down for scraps in July of 1917.[76]The articles about Tesla’s award and his tower were gobbled up by conspiracy theorists, including a quirky prolific editor of radio magazines (and influential science fiction writer) named Hugo Gernsback. Gernsback then invited Tesla to correct “scientific illusions” like radio waves are electromagnetic waves that travel in air for his magazine.[77] In addition, Tesla also penned a series of autobiographical sketches that Tesla then published as a book.[78] Both the book and Gernsback’s support kept Tesla tangentially in the limelight and he was regularly invited to fancy parties to entertain people with his philosophies and odd statements about science.

Part 9: Edison’s Reputation Rebounds (1903-31)

In the early 1900s, Thomas Edison had given up on X-rays after he was injured by it[79] and moved to movies, where his employees pushed to make more dramatic mini films, including the revolting filming of the electrocution of an elephant at a circus (which had nothing to do with the War of the Currents). Edison was then such a pest about movies that people ran all the way to Hollywood California to get away from his control.[80] Then in 1912, Edison asked Henry Ford if he wanted to work on a battery for electric cars.[81] Ford was more than agreeable and in retrospect, it seems clear that Ford wasn’t making business arrangements with Edison as much as propping up a hero, telling a reporter in 1914, “I think Mr. Edison is the greatest man in the world.”[82] Even though they dropped the electric car, Ford remained Edison’s closest friend and biggest fan for the rest of Edison’s life and dedicated a ridiculous amount of money to promote his image.

That is why on October 21, 1929, Ford unveiled the long awaited “Edison Wing” of his museum, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Edison’s manufacture of his first incandescent lamp. Ford called the celebration the “Light’s Golden Jubilee.” This was an electric party to rival all electric parties, with John Rockefeller, Marie Curie, Orville Wright, Will Rogers, and over 500 other attendants. The party also featured live radio broadcasts, let’s listen to a bit of one:[83]

Edison died two years later in 1931 from complications from diabetes. After his death, with the support of Henry Ford and GE, Edison was lauded as an American hero, the inventor of the light bulb and the epitome of ingenuity and creativity with no mention of his less than attractive actions during the war of the currents.

Part 10: Tesla Changes the Story (1929-43)

Ford’s “Golden Light Jubilee,” on October 21, 1929 was big news and flattering stories about Edison were in every paper, including The New York World. Tesla couldn’t stand it anymore. He wrote a letter to the editor of The World with a version of history that erased Westinghouse entirely from the narrative and pretended that that the war of the currents was between Edison and himself, writing that “Edison and his associates bitterly opposed the introduction of my system, raising a clamor against the ‘deadliness’ of the alternating current.” Tesla even went as far as to claim that “Had the Edison companies not finally adopted my invention they would have been wiped out of existence… In truth, my system has not only provided energy for all purposes throughout the world but also revolutionized electric lighting and made it a great commercial success.”[84] That was the origin of the myth of the Edison Tesla rivalry.

In July of 1831, a few months before Edison’s death, Tesla decided to hold a press conference for his 75th birthday, where he talked again about talking to aliens which brought his story into the public eye.[85] He liked it so much that it became a yearly tradition.

Meanwhile, Tesla started to be influenced by and entranced by a very famous German/American poet named George Viereck. This was a problem as by the early and mid 1930s, Viereck became more and more enamored of Nazi Germany (according to a Tesla biographer Viereck called Hitler “a dynamic genius and a poet of passion”[86]), and Tesla became more and more enamored of Viereck, dedicating his one and only published poem to Viereck, on December 31, 1934.[87]

 In February of 1935, Viereck interviewed Tesla about his predictions for the future, and convinced the 78-year-old Tesla to pontificate about eugenics with views that were fully aligned with the Nazi ethos, saying, that it was dangerous that “we continue to keep alive and breed the unfit” and that “Several European countries and a number of states of the American Union sterilize the criminal and the insane. This is not sufficient. The trend of opinion among eugenists is that we must make marriage more difficult. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal.”[88] 

This was also the time when Tesla started to rail against Einstein and relativity, by the way.[89] Anyway, seven months after his eugenics paper, Tesla’s wishes of making marriage more difficult for “undesirables” were fulfilled when the Nazis enacted the anti-Semitic and racist Nuremberg Laws, which were followed by international outrage and silence from Nikola Tesla. In 1941, at the beginning of the US entering the war, Viereck was arrested for failing to register as a Nazi agent.[90]

Towards the end of his life, Tesla started to be followed around all day by a Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist named John O’Neill. O’Neill had met Tesla when he was just a child working at the New York City library and had been a super-fan ever since. And like the super-fans before him, whatever Tesla said was spun as brilliant, no matter how surreal or physically impossible. Spending months designing a ring made of dirt to be built around the equator of the Earth like the rings of Saturn that would have its scaffolding removed and then be slowed to a stop to allow one to “travel around the Earth in a single day”? That was just an “excellent opportunity to use all of the mathematical techniques available to him.” Feeding pigeons because he was hoping that a pigeon that he had loved 20 years previously, “as a man loves a woman,” would be reincarnated as another beautiful white pigeon? That was “a fantastic situation, probably without parallel in human annals … the love story of Tesla’s life.” O’Neil went as far as to declare that “Even the gods of old, in the wildest imaginings of their worshipers, never undertook such gigantic tasks of world-wide dimension as those which Tesla attempted and accomplished.”[91]

Tesla passed away on January 7, 1943 to a lot of press and two days later representatives of the US government came in and confiscated much of his work. Considering that Tesla often mentioned a “death ray”, and had connections to Nazi spy this is not surprising. However, we learned in 2018 that the government determined that Tesla’s work does “not include new sound, workable principles or methods for realizing such results.”[92] Still, by 2018, most people were already convinced that this confiscation was proof of a government coverup of Tesla’s brilliance, and that is a common part of the myth.

Part 11: The Myth is Born (1960-Today)

Tesla’s death and O’Neill’s book led to a small resurgence of interest in Tesla, but it wasn’t very big until October of 1960, when a Slovenian electrical engineer and anti-Nazi (who clearly did not know about Viereck connection) named France Avčin suggested the name Tesla for a unit of magnetic flux density.[93] After that many engineers became interested in Tesla and went looking up how to make their own Tesla coil and by June, 1964 Popular Mechanics published a five-page, step-by-step article on how to “Make Your Own Fantastic Tesla Coil.”[94]

Soon there was a cottage industry of DIY Tesla coils and renewed interest in Nikola Tesla and his story. Then, in March of 1967, an amateur radio aficionado named J. L. Elkhorne read enough about Edison from Tesla’s late work and from O’Neill to decide that “Nikola Tesla [gave] the world AC” and that Edison abused Tesla. Elkhorne, as far as I can tell, was the first to fold the story of the animal electrocutions into this tale, although he dropped Harold Brown entirely from the story.[95] (Note that although after 1929 Tesla often mentioned the electric chair debacle in painful detail, he never mentioned the animal killing demonstrations.)

By the 1980s and 90s, Tesla had reached a bit of a cult status in several circles, and there were multiple biographies written about him, all promoting the idea that Tesla invented AC, fought Edison, and was responsible for all of modern technology with little or no mention of Westinghouse’s innovation or generosity. Despite this, Tesla was basically not mentioned in popular culture in the 1900s. That all started to change on December 12, 2000, when one of these books, “Tesla: Man out of Time” by Margaret Cheney was made into a documentary on PBS called Tesla: Master of Lightning. It began with the following: “This is the story of a modern Prometheus, who changed the world with electricity. It was Nikola Tesla who captured the power of Niagara Falls with his alternating current system and made it possible to transmit electricity to all of America and the world … He worked and locked horns with some of the most powerful people of his day: Thomas Edison, who resented his ideas, Guillermo Marconi, who capitalized on his inventions, [and] George Westinghouse, who created the Westinghouse Electric Company with Tesla’s patents.”[96] Let me repeat, according to this documentary, George Westinghouse who formed his company in January of 1886, purchased Tesla’s patent in 1888, and only got it to be functioning in 1892, “created” his company with Tesla’s patents. This movie was to have a fundamental impact on our cultural and historical understanding, and it created a myth of Tesla that seems to grow as the years pass, including the false story that Edison killed an elephant for the war of the currents.[97]

Two years after the Tesla documentary, in July 2003, two American entrepreneurs named Martin Eberhard and Marc Terpenning named their electric car company Tesla Motors after Nikola Tesla (Elon Musk joined the company the next year as an investor).[98]  It then became good PR to promote the story of Nikola Tesla as it also promoted their car, and Elon Musk was particularly invested in connecting his name to Tesla’s, including donating $1 million dollars to a Tesla museum which helped promote this version of the tale.[99]

Musk and Tesla motors were helped in this Nikola Tesla myth making when the same year that Tesla Motors was formed, 2003 a historian named Jill Jonnes wrote the bestselling book Empires of Light. This was not a book by a Tesla fanatic but a well written and well researched historical study by a noteworthy historian. Unfortunately, although Jonnes corrected many misconceptions, she fell for the overriding story that Tesla invented AC and that he had a rivalry with Edison that was the basis of the war of the currents. Even more damaging, and the linchpin of the whole Tesla myth, was her parroting O’Neill’s book regarding a story that Tesla made up about Westinghouse and a contract for polyphase systems.

Recall that in 1888, Tesla asked for $200,000 in cash and $2.50 per horsepower and got $5,000 cash and an unspecified amount per horsepower for royalties. And also recall that in 1896 Westinghouse paid Tesla a lump sum of $216,600 for those same royalties. 

In 1943 O’Neill wrote that Westinghouse gave a million dollars in cash for the patent on the spot in 1888 plus $1 per horsepower.[100] Then, according to O’Neill Westinghouse went to Tesla in 1891 in desperate straits and begged Tesla to drop the contract for money per horsepower for his two-phase motor, stating that his decision “determines the fate of the Westinghouse Company,” and adding, “I believe your polyphase system is the greatest discovery in the field of electricity.” O’Neill then stated that Tesla ripped up the contract on the spot, an act of generosity that was worth a whopping $12 million, which caused Tesla to be “without funds with which to develop his discoveries.”[101]

In 2003, Jonnes realized that Tesla didn’t get a million dollars as she read the “monstrous” letter from Westinghouse’s lawyer,[102] but she for some reason thought that Tesla got $2.50 per horsepower.[103] Which is possible, I cannot find any original documents that say how much Tesla was paid per horsepower for his patent, but it was clearly something as Westinghouse paid $216,600 in 1896 for them.

What is much more damaging is that Jonnes then rewrote word for word O’Neill’s and Tesla’s story about Westinghouse begging for a new contract and Tesla ripping up the contract and how that kept Tesla from fulfilling his other ideas about electricity.[104] She even upped the amount that this contract was worth, now instead of $12 million it was $17 million.

 In the Q&A she stated that, “Tesla should have been rich just from the royalties on AC, but, ever the idealist, he gave them up to save the Westinghouse Electric Company in a time of dire financial peril. Without his AC royalties, which would have been $17 million, Tesla never had enough capital to launch his expensive and ambitious projects.”[105] One cannot read Jonnes’ book without concluding that Tesla invented all of AC, that Westinghouse’s entire company was founded on Tesla’s inventions, and that Tesla’s other odd ideas were all possible if he hadn’t been hampered by his personal generosity towards Westinghouse. Soon, Tesla was popping up all over the place in popular media as a genius, and Westinghouse’s accomplishments and personality were stolen from him.

Then, in 2012, a man named Matthew Inman who makes webcomic called “The Oatmeal” posted a blog titled “Why Nikola Tesla Was the Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived”[106] which not only completely ignored Westinghouse but it also portrayed Tesla as inventing EVERYTHING: not just AC, but also radio, Radar, X-rays, the first hydroelectric plant, cryogenic engineering, the transistor, “the first person to record radio waves from outer space” (I guess that was a reference to Tesla talking to Martians), an earthquake machine, ball lightning, remote control, neon lighting, and even unlimited wireless power from the ionosphere.

 I know, I know, this is a fun comic, it isn’t real. As Inman himself said in response to the controversy, “I’m a comedian and I speak in hyperbole.”[107] However, it’s hard not to think that if even half of what is in the comic is true, then Tesla must be the greatest man who ever lived and Westinghouse was only important as a Tesla backer. Soon Inman collected enough money for a Tesla museum! The thing is, half of the comic isn’t true.This isn’t Mr. Inman’s fault. His comics are funny and clever and he is deservedly influential. It is not his fault that science historians have presented this false story in such a convincing manner that people fell for it, heck I fell for it too for a long time. But it’s not true, sorry.

I think that the biggest problem with studying Tesla stems from the fact that people try to make Tesla into a scientist or an engineer when really Tesla was an electrical artist, and one of the best that ever lived. Tesla could build devices that were just made of wires and switches and yet they were things of beauty that still, well over 100 years later delight and inspire and I have nothing but respect for the modern wizards who dazzle us with these devices. The number of engineering and scientific developments that were inspired by Tesla is immeasurable. And he did this magic, despite, or perhaps because, he spent much of his life basically untethered to reality. That is worthy of admiration and appreciation.

However, if we forget that Tesla was an unreliable narrator, then we end up ignoring the real and important actions and inventions of many different engineers and physicists in the past, and that isn’t right. I particularly feel bad for Westinghouse who went from being known as he was: a generous, inventive, and influential engineer into being known for what he hated: a greedy banker. In addition, the adulation of Tesla requires one to see science discovery as isolated incidents of brilliance instead of the cumulation of a community of people sharing a river of ideas that are argued and debated over time.

 I think there is room for insane artistry and practical engineering development, in fact they complement and promote each other. But please remember, if you read something on the internet or even see it in a professionally made documentary, it can still be a false narrative, and try to seek out original sources. Speaking of which, I am sure that many of you would say the same about me, as you should. So, to be as transparent as possible, I have put the script for this video with citations that link to the original sources on my website www.KathyLovesPhysics.com. I also have way more detail in my new book, “The Lightning Tamers” which covers not just the war of the currents but also puts it in context of how electrical discoveries developed over time beginning in 1580 and going past the war to the modern day. I also have a TON of other videos, on Tesla’s coil, on 3-phase, on Westinghouse, on Steinmetz, on the history of radio, on the early history of quantum mechanics.. I have a lot of videos! Speaking of which, I am now going to do one on a biography of William Rowan Hamilton and the quaternions, like I promised 2 months ago, so click subscribe and the bell thing cause that really is next time on the lightning tamers! Thank you Patrons.

[1] “Acknowledgment of the Award,” Electrical Engineering 31 (1912): p. 333 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Electrical_Engineering/88I_AQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[2] “Acknowledgment of the Award,” Electrical Engineering 31 (1912): p. 327 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Electrical_Engineering/88I_AQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[3] “Acknowledgment of the Award,” Electrical Engineering 31 (1912): p. 332 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Electrical_Engineering/88I_AQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[4] (May 5, 1917) Electrical Review and Western Electrician vol. 70 no. 21 p. 771 https://www.google.com/books/edition/New_York_Review_of_the_Telegraph_and_Tel/gEQ_AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[5] Tesla “Mr. Tesla’s Address of Acceptance” Electrical Review and Western Electrician vol. 70 no. 21 p. 882 https://www.google.com/books/edition/New_York_Review_of_the_Telegraph_and_Tel/gEQ_AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[6] Tesla “My Inventions” (May, 1919) Electric Experimenter p. 64 The Electrical experimenter (worldradiohistory.com)

[7] Tesla “My Inventions” (June 1919) Electric Experimenter p. 178 The Electrical experimenter (worldradiohistory.com)

[8] (1918) p.   https://www.google.com/books/edition/George_Westinghouse_His_Life_and_Achieve/-0yLyyo1m78C?hl=en&gbpv=0

[9] Henry Prout A Life of George Westinghouse (1922) p. 108 https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_Life_of_George_Westinghouse/6T85AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[10] Edison’s November, 1888 Notebook

[11] “Edison vs. Westinghouse” Electrical World vol. 8 (1887) p. 8 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Electrical_World/CcshAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[12] [D8704AFJ] Alfred Southwick to Thomas Edison (Dec 5, 1887) https://edisondigital.rutgers.edu/document/D8704AFJ

[13] [LB026116] Edison to Soouthwick (Dec 19, 1887) https://edisondigital.rutgers.edu/document/LB026116

[14] Edison Electric Light Co., “A Warning,” (1888) https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_Warning_from_the_Edison_Electric_Light/RylRAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[15] Brown “Death in the Wires” The Evening Post (June 5, 1888) p. 7  The evening post. (New York [N.Y.) 1832-1920, June 05, 1888, Page 7, Image 7 – NYS Historic Newspapers

[16] Westinghouse to Edison (June 7, 1888) https://edisondigital.rutgers.edu/document/D8828ABV

[17] [LB026273] “Thomas Edison to Henry Bergh,” The Thomas A. Edison Papers, (July 13, 1888) https://edisondigital.rutgers.edu/document/LB026273

[18] “Surer Than the Rope,” the New York Times, December 6, 1888. p.5 The New York Times 1888-12-06: Vol 38 Iss 11629 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

[19] “Mr. Westinghouse on the Danger of alternating currents” (Dec 13 reprinted at a later date) Light, Heat and Power vol 4-5 (1888)p. 703 Light, Heat and Power – Google Books

[20] Brown “An Electric Duel” (Dec 18, 1888) New York Times found in Edison’s digital papers [QE003A1016E] https://edisondigital.rutgers.edu/document/QE003A1016E

[21] Leupp, George Westinghouse: His Life and Achievements, 140. https://www.google.com/books/edition/George_Westinghouse_His_Life_and_Achieve/-0yLyyo1m78C?hl=en&gbpv=0 

[22] Randy Alfred, “Aug. 14, 1888: I Sing the Meter Electric,” WIRED, August 14, 2008, https://www.wired.com/2008/08/dayintech-0814/.

[23] Billingsly (Westinghouse VP) to George Westinghouse Jr. (May 21, 1888) found in Jeff Behary Tesla-Westinghouse Correspondence (2022) p. 24 https://archive.org/details/tesla-westinghouse-final

[24] Billingsly (Westinghouse VP) to Nikola Tesla (Dec 13, 1888) found in Jeff Behary Agreement Between Tesla and Westinghouse (2022)

Agreement between Tesla and Westinghouse : Jeff Behary : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

[25] William Stanley “The Induction Motor Introduced in America” Engineering News (Oct. 2, 1902) p. 279 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Engineering_News_and_American_Railway_Jo/-RAtHMJMbokC?hl=en&gbpv=0

[26] Frank Sprague to Sprague Executive Board (leaked to Edison) (April 29, 1890) Edison Papers Digital Edition [X120CBN] https://edisondigital.rutgers.edu/document/X120CBN

[27] Westinghouse’s company sales is from Jonnes, J Empires of Light (2003) p. 218 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Empires_of_Light/BKX5UYWzVyQC?hl=en&gbpv=0

I am not sure where she found the sales in 1886, but I found a listing of Westinghouse’s interests in Jan 1891 that stated that Westinghouse Electric had $4.7 million in sales for 1890! “Westinghouse Interests” (Jan 29, 1891) The Iron Age vol. 47 (1891) p. 194 The Iron Age – Google Books

[28] Leupp, F George Westinghouse: His Life and Achievements (1919) p. 159 https://www.google.com/books/edition/George_Westinghouse_His_Life_and_Achieve/-0yLyyo1m78C?hl=en&gbpv=0 

[29] Skrabec, Q George Westinghouse: Gentle Genius (2007) p. 130 https://www.google.com/books/edition/George_Westinghouse/C3GYdiFM41oC?hl=en&gbpv=0

[30] “[D8954ADC] Sherburne Eaton to Thomas Edison,” The Thomas A. Edison Papers, October 7, 1889. https://edisondigital.rutgers.edu/document/D8954ADC

[31] “Who is Kemmler’s Friend?” New York Daily Tribune (May 1, 1890) p. 4 0010.pdf (loc.gov)

[32] The New York Tribune quoted in Richard Moran Executioner’s Current (2007) p. 160 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Executioner_s_Current/E7S3C4_IYmYC?hl=en&gbpv=0  

[33] “Far Worse Than Hanging: Kemmler’s Death Proves an Awful Spectacle” New York Times (Aug 7, 1890) p. 1 https://teslauniverse.com/nikola-tesla/articles/far-worse-hanging 103256332.pdf (nytimes.com)

[34] Jonnes, Empires of Light, (2004) p. 213 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Empires_of_Light/BKX5UYWzVyQC?hl=en&gbpv=0

[35] Lamme “Story of the Induction Motor” (March, 1921) Journal of AIEE vol. 40 p. 205 Journal of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers – Google Books

[36] Lamme, Benjamin Garver Lamme, Electrical Engineer, An Autobiography, (1926) p. 61 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Benjamin_Garver_Lamme_Electrical_Enginee/oy9VAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[37] Tesla “Experiments with Alternating Currents of Very High Frequency” Western Electrician (July 11, 1891) p. 18  Western Electrician – Google Books

[38] “Mr. Tesla’s Experiments,” Electrical Engineer 13–14 (April 1892) p. 350 https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Electrical_Engineer/IZA5AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[39] Lightning (April 28, 1892) vol 1. p. 599 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Lightning/_Ug5AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[40] Lamme, Benjamin Garver Lamme, Electrical Engineer, An Autobiography, (1926) p. 61 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Benjamin_Garver_Lamme_Electrical_Enginee/oy9VAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[41] “Mr. Edison’s Mistake” The Electrical Engineer vol. 13 (Feb 17, 1892) p. 162 Electrical Engineer – Google Books

[42] Kline Steinmetz: Engineer and Socialist (2019) p. 1664 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Steinmetz_Engineer_and_Socialist/BqjDDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[43] Skrabec, Q George Westinghouse: Gentle Genius (2007) p. 136 https://www.google.com/books/edition/George_Westinghouse/C3GYdiFM41oC?hl=en&gbpv=0

[44] Lamme “Story of the Induction Motor” (March, 1921) Journal of AIEE vol. 40 p. 207 Journal of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers – Google Books

[45] Benjamin Lamme  Benjamin Garver Lamme, Electrical Engineer (1926) p. 61 https://archive.org/details/benjamingarverla00lamm

[46] “Westinghouse Work at the Fair” The Electrical Engineer (Aug 16, 1893) p. 153 https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Electrical_Engineer/zN9MAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1

[47] Thomas Blalock and Craig Woodworth “25-Hz at Niagara Falls” IEEE Power & Energy Magazine (Jan/Feb 2008), p. 88 https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=4412948

[48] Charles Scott “The Development of the Two-Phase, Three-Phase Transformation” The Electric Journal vol 16 (1919) p. 28 https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Electric_Journal/D8rmAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[49] You can read how this was used at Niagara in Thomas Blalock and Craig Woodworth “25-Hz at Niagara Falls” IEEE Power & Energy Magazine (Jan/Feb 2008), p. 88 https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=4412948

[50] “Notice: Westinghouse Electric” (April 17, 1895) Electricity vol 8, No. 14 p. 199 (marked iv) Electricity – Google Books

[51] “Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the Westinghouse Electric” Electricity vol 12(June 1897): 387. https://www.google.com/books/edition/_/9To8AQAAMAAJ?gbpv=1

[52] “Edison and Tesla Rivals” New York Journal, May 22, 1896. https://edisondigital.rutgers.edu/document/SC96038A

[53] “Telegraphy by Electric Waves” (June 11, 1897) Electrical Review vol. 15 p. 801 The Electrical Review – Google Books

[54] US645,576 “System of Transmission of Electrical Energy” (Filed Sept 2, 1897) https://patents.google.com/patent/US645576A/en

[55] “Tesla Describes His Investigations” Western Electrician (Nov 26, 1898) p. 301 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Western_Electrician/1As0AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[56] “A Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company” (Dec 2, 1899) Electrical World and Engineer vol. 34 p. 870 https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Electrical_World_and_Engineer/_9ZRAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0 

[57] “Marconi’s Marvels” represented from the London Chronicle in The Philadelphia Record (Jan 11, 1901) p. 7 The Philadelphia Record – Google Books

[58] Tesla “Talking With the Planets” Colliers Magazine (1901) p. 4-5 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Collier_s/3F8wAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1

[59] Mr. Smith to Nikola Tesla (March 4, 1900) found in Jeff Behary, Westinghouse Morgan Astor Letter (2022)p. 170 14 Westinghouse Morgan Astor Letter : Jeff Behary : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

[60] Carlson, Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, (2013) p. 317 and 347. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Tesla/5I5c9j8BEn4C?hl=en&gbpv=0 

[61] F. Collins, “Signaling Through Space Without Wires,” Electrical World and Engineer xl, no. 13(September 1902): p. 486 https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Electrical_World_and_Engineer/e15NAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[62] “Word is Flashed from Roosevelt to King Edward,” The World, January 19, 1903. https://www.edn.com/marconi-sends-transatlantic-wireless-message-january-19-1903/

[63] Carlson, Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, (2013) p. 359 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Tesla/5I5c9j8BEn4C?hl=en&gbpv=0 

[64] 1906 – Tesla’s Friend and Wardenclyffe Architect Stanford White Murdered (teslauniverse.com)

[65] “Nomination of Directors,” The Insurance Press 21(Sept 13, 1905), p. 3 https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Insurance_Press/lF9JAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[66] Skrabec, George Westinghouse: Gentle Genius, p. 16, 22. https://www.google.com/books/edition/George_Westinghouse/C3GYdiFM41oC?hl=en&gbpv=0

[67] “George Westinghouse Dead,” Electrical Review and Western Electrician 64 (March 1914): p. 565 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Electrical_Review_and_Western_Electricia/VTpOAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[68]  “J Pierpont Morgan Dead” The New York Times (April 1, 1913) p. 1 The New York Times 1913-04-01: Vol 62 Iss 20156 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

[69] “George Westinghouse Dead,” Electrical Review and Western Electrician 64 (March 1914): p. 565 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Electrical_Review_and_Western_Electricia/VTpOAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[70]“Career of Westinghouse”(March 21, 1914) Electrical World (Vol 63 No 12). p.636  Electrical World – Google Books

[71] “From Nikola Tesla”(March 21, 1914) Electrical World (Vol 63 No 12). p.637  Electrical World – Google Books

[72] Marc Seifer Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla (2011) chapter 39 search for “Wizard Swamped by Debts” https://www.google.com/books/edition/Wizard/DzMR8x_rbPgC?hl=en&gbpv=1

[73] H. Secor, “Tesla No Money Wizard,” The New York World, March 18, 1916. https://teslauniverse.com/nikola-tesla/articles/tesla-no-money-wizard-swamped-debts-he-vows

[74] “Address by B. A, Behrend” (May 26, 1917) Electrical Review and Western Electrician vol. 70 no. 21 p. 880 https://www.google.com/books/edition/New_York_Review_of_the_Telegraph_and_Tel/gEQ_AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[75] “Mr. Tesla’s Address of Acceptance” (May 26, 1917) Electrical Review and Western Electrician vol. 70 no. 21 p. 881 https://www.google.com/books/edition/New_York_Review_of_the_Telegraph_and_Tel/gEQ_AQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[76] Cooper, The Truth About Tesla, (2018) p. 59 https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Truth_About_Tesla/m_R0DwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Cooper,+The+Truth+About+Tesla&printsec=frontcover

[77] H Gernsback “The New Wireless” Electrical Experimenter (Feb 1919) p. 682 https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-Electrical-Experimenter/EE-1919-02.pdf

[78] Tesla “My Inventions part III” ” Electrical Experimenter (April 1919) p. 907  https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-Electrical-Experimenter/EE-1919-04.pdf

[79]“Edison almost Blinded by X-ray”  https://edisondigital.rutgers.edu/document/D0331AAE1

[80] “Thomas Edison: The Unintentional Founder of Hollywood” The Saturday Evening Post (March 29, 2021)  Thomas Edison: The Unintentional Founder of Hollywood | The Saturday Evening Post

[81] Stross, The Wizard of Menlo Park, (2008) p. 237 and 242 [GREAT BOOK BY THE WAY!] https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Wizard_of_Menlo_Park/80DOJad-0RYC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Stross+the+wizard+of+menlo+park&printsec=frontcover

[82] “Edison Batteries for New Ford Cars” (Jan 11, 1914) The New York Times p. 10 The New York Times 1914-01-11: Vol 63 Iss 20441 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive


[84] “Mr. Tesla Speaks Out,” New York World, November 29, 1929. https://teslauniverse.com/nikola-tesla/articles/mr-tesla-speaks-out

[85] Tesla Seeks To Send Power To Planets. | Tesla Universe

[86] I cannot validate that quote as I won’t buy the book I retrieved the quote from and searches for Hitler quotes tend to be banned from searches but he clearly had other statements about Hitler as he published two sympathetic interviews with Hitler (1932 and 1939) and then was literally jailed for being an unregistered foreign agent for the Nazis. The quote is from Marc Seifer Wizard: Life and Times of Nikola Tesla (2011)  Wizard: – Google Books

[87] According to Margaret Cheney Tesla: Man Out of Time (2011) p. 299 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Tesla/HIuK7iLO9zgC?hl=en&gbpv=0

[88] Tesla “A Machine to End War” Liberty Magazine (1953) p. 6 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Liberty/UgMdAQAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[89] Tesla, 79, Promises To Transmit Force | Tesla Universe

[90] It was noted that “The Foreign Agent Registration Act (the act under which George Sylvester Viereck was just recently indicted)” in a statement by a US senator in October of 1910 “Second Supplemental National Defense Appropriation Bill for 1942” p. 69 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Second_Supplemental_National_Defense_App/vn40AAAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

[91] John Joseph O’Neill, Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla (1944), p. 37, 316, 3 https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015013060820&view=1up&seq=17

[92] Quoted in Sarah Pruitt “The Mystery of Nikola Tesla’s Missing Files” (May 3, 2018) History.com https://www.history.com/news/nikola-tesla-files-declassified-fbi you can also see the files quoted in the third box on page 38 at FBI Records: The Vault — Nikola Tesla

[93] Comptes Rendus des Séances de la Onzièmee Conférence Générale des Poinds et Mesures, p. 67 (French) https://www.bipm.org/documents/20126/33145685/CGPM11.pdf/c626e1d6-4320-56d3-db37-c6f2a343483b

[94] Harold P. Strand “Make your own Fantastic Tesla Coil” Popular Mechanics (June, 1964) vol 121 No. 6 p. 169 https://books.google.com/books?id=reQDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA171&dq=Popular+Mechanics+1964+Tesla&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjS_e2GxPL6AhXzKkQIHVcKDQsQ6AF6BAgLEAI#v=onepage&q&f=false

[95] Elkhorne “Edison – the Fabulous Drone” Amateur Radio Magazine (March 1967) p. 52-4 https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-DX/73-magazine/73-magazine-1967/73-magazine-03-march-1967.pdf

[96] Uth, dir., Tesla: Master of Lightning (PBS 2000) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeXkBT0QAnQ

[97] [19:30] Uth, dir., Tesla: Master of Lightning (PBS 2000) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeXkBT0QAnQ

[98] “Tesla had 5 Founders Why did only two get really rich” Forbes Magazine (Nov 10, 2021) https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2021/11/10/tesla-had-5-founders-only-two-got-really-rich/?sh=49b4eee0f462

[99] “Why Elon Musk named his electric car Tesla” (Dec 31, 2017) The Seattle Times https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/why-elon-musk-named-his-electric-car-tesla/

[100]John Joseph O’Neill, Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla (1944), p. 74-5 https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015013060820&view=1up&seq=17

[101]John Joseph O’Neill, Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla (1944), p. 82 https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015013060820&view=1up&seq=17

[102] Jonnes, Empires of Light, (2004) p. 160 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Empires_of_Light/BKX5UYWzVyQC?hl=en&gbpv=0 (This page is not available in the preview but if you search ”monstrous” you can see it)

[103] Jonnes, Empires of Light, (2004) p. 162 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Empires_of_Light/BKX5UYWzVyQC?hl=en&gbpv=0 (This page is not available in the preview but if you search ”$20,000 in cash” you can see it)

[104] Jonnes, Empires of Light, (2004) p. 228-9 https://www.google.com/books/edition/Empires_of_Light/BKX5UYWzVyQC?hl=en&gbpv=0 (This page is not available in the preview but if you search “I believe your polyphase system is the greatest” you can see it)

[105] Jonnes, Empires of Light, (2004) “A Conversation with the Author” p. 421. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Empires_of_Light/BKX5UYWzVyQC?hl=en&gbpv=0 (I will include the photo I took of my copy of the book as the Q&A is not available in the preview, however if you search for the words you can see it for yourself)

[106] Inman “Why Nikola Tesla Was the Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived” https://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla

[107] Matthew Inman “Response to Forbes” https://theoatmeal.com/blog/tesla_response

Love Kathy Loves Physics? Share This To Your Friends:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *