Most of our historical accounts like to promote the “man with a dream” – lone-wolf engineers and scientists.
We complain about people like Edison and other industrialists.
We gloss over significant contributions by Industry and Military.
We’re looking for the Joseph Campbell-esque Monomyth HERO.
We love nothing more than a man-with-a-dream-who-failed-but-then-his-dream-was-rescued-by-us.
I’m not putting down his contributions at all. But I’m trying to get a more direct cause-effect linage – real-world stuff rather than misunderstood visionaries.
Tesla is an example – I argued about him the other day. I love the man of course. I love a misunderstood hero like anybody else, because I relate.
But realistically speaking, he wasn’t a team player. Edison was all about the DC and made it clear. Tesla insisted on working on AC – ON EDISON’S DIME – and tried to pursuade Edison to “be like the other AC companies”.
Well, Edison was like, “No, dude. I told you I don’t like AC yet you did it anyway? Go away.”
So Tesla, who lacked business sense tried and then failed to start up his own AC company, Westinghouse jumped in and snapped up Tesla’s patents and hired him….just long enough to train other people on his ideas.
Then Westinghouse canned him.
Yet, Edison gets all the blame.
Oddly enough though, imagine a world where Edison won the contract for the worlds fair instead of Westinghouse.
Battery technology wouldn’t have stagnated for DECADES as greedy consumers wanted DANGEROUS FAST POWER… utilizing coal and oil to heat the water to move the generators to make more AC for us.
We might have avoided the whole gas crisis entirely.
Consider your computer: It’s not AC. It’s DC. Most household items, except the few big motor items, are DC.
If Edison had won, it’s possible the world wouldn’t be in as much of an energy crisis pickle.
Oh well. All ungrounded speculation on my part.
I suppose I’ve heard Tesla fans for decades on the Internet and I finally had to put a pitch in for Edison, who wrongly gets the blame anyway. I like Tesla but he failed because he had no business sense. He worked on the wrong projects for Edison and he didn’t fight when he got shoved out the door by Westinghouse. Sad really.