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Even though Thomas Edison is one name that comes to mind when the word ‘electricity’ is heard, few realize there is yet another name that should come to mind instead: Nikola Tesla. Nikola Tesla made numerous key innovations in the creation, distribution, and usages of electricity. He is best known for his work with AC (alternating current) electricity. In his lifetime he was granted over 100 patents for his inventions. Some of his creations are being used in the electronics around you, from the cell phone in your pocket to the guided missiles protecting your country.  Tesla was born into the world on July 9, 1856, in Smiljan, Croatia. When Nikola Tesla was seven years old, in the year 1863, his brother Daniel died in an accident. The shock disturbed young Tesla. He reportedly saw visions. This was the first sign of mental illnesses that would last his entire life (Staff, 4). Tesla attended Graz Technical University where he studied mathematics and physics. While there, he witnessed a demonstration of a working DC (direct current) generator. The brushes and the commutator of the generator were aggressively sparking during the demonstration. Tesla believed that he could invent an AC motor without a commutator (Prigo,2). After his schooling, Nikola Tesla went to work for the Austria-Hungary Telephone Company for two years. In 1882, Nikola moved to Paris, France. Here, he acquired a job with the Continental Edison Company, repairing DC power plants in France. While on a walk in his free time, an idea to build the AC motor without a commutator popped into his mind. The initial drawings of his plans for this motor were drawn in the sand on the path he was walking. In 1883, while on assignment for the Continental Edison Company, he constructed his first polyphase (out-of-step) AC motor (Prigo, 2). Two years after Tesla started his job for the Continental Edison Company, in 1884 when he was 28, he immigrated to the United States to meet Thomas Edison. Edison hired Tesla almost immediately. Tesla became an engineer in his lab. Edison respected Tesla highly, but he did not share his views about AC power, as Edison was a strong supporter of DC power. Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison did not get along very well. It may have been due to the fact that they were the complete opposite from one another. Edison enjoyed the process of inventing things by hand in a trial and error way, as opposed to Tesla, who favored thinking through new ideas in his mind before acting upon them. Tesla described the type of person Edison was by stating, “If Thomas Edison had to find a needle in a haystack, he would examine each straw instead of finding a smarter way.” While Nikola was working for Edison, Edison told Tesla that he would pay a sum of $50,000 if Tesla presented him an enhanced model for his DC power dynamos. Tesla worked and experimented for months and presented a new design to Edison for his dynamos and requested the $50,000 amount promised. Edison responded with the quote, “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.” Tesla quit his job under Edison soon after that. It had only been one year since Tesla was hired by Edison (Staff,5). Afterwards, he designed AC polyphase generator systems, transformers (equipment that controls voltage amounts), AC motors, and apparatuses to automatically operate these machines. Between the years of 1887 and 1888, Tesla had received about 30 patents for his inventions (Prigo, 3). In 1888, The American Institute of Electrical Engineers invited Nikola Tesla to present a lecture about his work. His lecture captured the attention of George Westinghouse. Tesla accepted a job offer from Westinghouse. Westinghouse gave Tesla his own lab and licensed Tesla’s patents for his AC motor. In 1889, Nikola Tesla became a United States citizen (Staff,5).In 1891, Nikola Tesla built the Tesla Coil. It is used for radio and television transmission equipment. This device is still in use today in the radio transmission towers and other signal transmission systems (Prigo,4).Tesla and Westinghouse showed off Tesla’s electric system by providing lights for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois using Tesla’s AC lights and systems. In 1895, Westinghouse and Tesla partnered with General Electric. They installed AC turbine generators at Niagara Falls to harness the energy of the falling water. It created and distributed electricity to the entire city of Buffalo, New York, 22 miles away from Niagara Falls (Prigo,4). In 1895, Tesla’s New York lab burned down along with many years’ worth of notes, drawings, inventions, prototypes, and equipment. During 1889, he demonstrated a remote control boat he invented in a pool inside Madison Square Garden. In 1899, Tesla produced artificial lightning in a lab. (Staff, 6). Later in 1900, Tesla found a man named J.P Morgan to fund construction for a global communications network of Tesla’s design. The communications network would be centered with an extremely large tower, located in Wardenclyffe, on Long Island. Tesla’s funds ran out and the project was never finished. J. P. Morgan turned down all of Tesla’s requests for more money. (Staff, 6). Nikola Tesla died at the age of 87 on January 7, 1943. Later in the same year, the Supreme Court overturned the patents of Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian inventor, for radio related equipment which gave Nikola Tesla credit for inventing radio communication and the radio (Prigo, 4).OPINION I think that Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest pioneers in electricity. Without many of the things he invented, we would not have cell phones, the radio, or television, to name a few. Everyone uses AC electricity to power all types of devices every day, at all hours of the day. In short, everyone’s lives, across the world, wouldn’t be even close to the same as it is now if Nikola Tesla never existed. 

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