The Man Behind Alternate Current (AC)


Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor was an electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist– known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Tesla lived in New York City (NYC) for 60 years, and remnants of his time there still remain. The corner of 40th Street and 6th Avenue in downtown Manhattan has been designated “Nikola Tesla Corner” — with its own street sign — because of its proximity to Tesla’s laboratory at 8 West 40th Street, where he worked in 1900 while building his now-infamous Tesla Tower on Long Island.

Nicolas Tesla’s Education

Born on 10th July 1856 in the Austrian Empire, Tesla studied engineering and physics in the 1870s without receiving a degree, gaining practical experience in the early 1880s working in telephony and at Continental Edison in the new electric power industry.

In 1884 he emigrated to the United States (US), where he became a naturalized citizen. He worked for a short time at the Edison Machine Works in New York City before he struck out on his own. With the help of partners to finance and market his ideas, Tesla set up laboratories and companies in New York to develop a range of electrical and mechanical devices.

His alternating current (AC) induction motor and related polyphase AC patents, licensed by Westinghouse Electric in 1888, earned him a considerable amount of money and became the cornerstone of the polyphase system which that company eventually marketed.

Alternate Current (AC) vs Direct Current (DC)

When there was battle of currents between the two geniuses, Tesla and Edison, the former was favoring Alternating current (AC) for wide acceptance. Meanwhile the inventor of Electric bulb–Thomas Alva Edison was of the view that direct current (DC) was the basis for the entire nation’s electrical system.

Edison even launched a campaign against AC, claiming it was dangerous and could kill people; Tesla countered by publicly subjecting himself to 250,000-volt shocks to demonstrate AC’s safety. Ultimately, alternating current won the fight.

Budapest Telephone Exchange

Tesla moved to Budapest, Hungary, in 1881 to work under Tivadar Puskás at a telegraph company, the Budapest Telephone Exchange. Upon arrival, Tesla realized that the company, then under construction, was not functional, so he worked as a draftsman in the Central Telegraph Office instead. Within a few months, the Budapest Telephone Exchange became functional, and Tesla was allocated the chief electrician position. During his employment, Tesla made many improvements to the Central Station equipment and claimed to have perfected telephone repeater or amplifier, which was never patented nor publicly described.


Tesla- International System of Units (SI)

“Tesla”– a unit used to measure the strength of magnetic fields, is named after Nikola Tesla.

Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors, the electric car start-up by , in homage to Tesla’s role in the invention of the electric motor.

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