Shock and Oz: Nikolai Tesla, The Forgotten Wizard

“He was a master of the art of electricity He lectured on tours and circuitry.  . . He had a room full of switches and dials and lights and a head full of clouds and eyes full of sight.”  Randolph Street by Bruce Springsteen

Thomas Edison is revered as the father of electricity.  Inventor of the light bulb.   But as this fascinating article in UVA Today reveals, a less heralded, more flamboyant,tragic figure, Nikolai Tesla, may have been the true genius, the man ahead of his time. www.innovationnewsdaily.com/1069-tesla-wizardry-inventor-hollywood.html

Tesla pioneered Alternating Current, today’s standard in the U.S.  Working at the turn of the century at the dawn of the electric age, Tesla was a true dreamer of pictures.  He envisioned a world where people communicated over long distances wirelessly.  While perhaps he did not imagine the dominance of iPhones and texting mania, his vision of the future uncannily matches our world today.

Tesla was also a showman–famous in his day for staging elaborate demonstrations of the power–and safety–of his Alternating Current.  In his New York quarters, he would leave guests awestruck as electric current coursed harmlessly through his body, or as he seemingly hurled or cradled lightning bolts in his bare hands.

Tesla was also ahead of his time in making Intellectual Property, patents in his case, the currency of his business ventures.  Tesla battled Edison repeatedly in the courtroom and repeatedly won, taking cases all the way to the Supreme Court.

Sadly, Tesla’s business acumen did not match his mastery of science and law.  He dreamed big, and his biggest ventures failed.  Investors such as JP Morgan abandoned Tesla, and he fell into the shadow of history.

But his story lives on, and as the UVA article suggests, it is high time that Hollywood took note.  Another industry already has–when a maverick auto maker decided to extravagantly launch the world’s first totally electric performance sports car, and then tag it with a sticker price guaranteed to shock, they must have figured that only a brand name that paid homage to a similarly outlandish visionary would do.  So of course, they named their $100,000 plus electric car the TESLA.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Electricity is really just organized lightning.”  George Carlin

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