The Time Tesla Won A War

This was Nikola Tesla's letterhead. It reminded us that along with the overlooked little things changing our lives, but let's face it: We need the loud, filthy, slaughter-filled battles just as much. Like the dirty War of the Currents.

Just in case you're not familiar with the War of Currents - one of my favourite messes in the history of electricity - allow me to catch you up. On one end of it all we had Nikola "Wizard of the West" Tesla, George Westinghouse and alternating current. On the other hand was Thomas "Dirty Fighter" Edison and direct current.

The whole trouble began when the United States were ready to move away from Edison's idea of direct current and try that newfangled AC. Dear ol' Tommy couldn't just sit back and let that happen. So, he did what any man in his right mind would do and started a smear campaign against the new system:

[He spread]disinformation on fatal AC accidents, publicly killing animals, and lobbying against the use of AC in state legislatures. Edison directed his technicians, primarily Arthur Kennelly and Harold P. Brown, to preside over several AC-driven killings of animals, primarily stray cats and dogs but also unwanted cattle and horses. Acting on these directives, they were to demonstrate to the press that alternating current was more dangerous than Edison's system of direct current.

When that wasn't enough, Edison got a bit more personal:

He also tried to popularize the term for being electrocuted as being "Westinghoused". Years after DC had lost the "war of the currents," in 1902, his film crew made a movie of the electrocution with high voltage AC, supervised by Edison employees, of Topsy, a Coney Island circus elephant who had recently killed three men.

Considering that we don't refer to someone being shoved into the electric chair as a "Westinghousing", I'd say Tommy didn't do so well. Anyway, we're not here to make fun of killing animals, Tommy's lost war, or to brag about Tesla. The point is that a good idea - alternating current - wasn't taken down by a dirty fight. And that, ladies and gents, is a lifechanger.

Letterhead image from Letterheady. Some information from Wikipedia and the Nikola Tesla Museum

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