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The Electricity War

There was a point of time when Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse found themselves as rivals. This was due to the fact that George Westinghouse encouraged the concept of alternating current (AC) against Edison’s advocating of direct current (DC) as primary method of electricity circulation, even if the infamous Nikola Tesla also advocated the former. Taking place in the late 1880s, this era came to be known as the War of Currents.

Early on the era known as the War of the Currents, the principle of direct current as advocated by Thomas Edison, served as the customary method of electricity delivery in the United States. Edison fought tooth and nail to make sure his sentiment remained dominant, as he feared to lose the booming royalties of his patents. He argued that direct current worked quite efficiently with incandescent lamps and motors, which were quite widespread at that time. In addition, with direct current, power could be easily stored in batteries which served as backup power supply for times when generators ceased to function for whatever reason. They also proved easy to parallel, and by the utilization of lighter machines, it was easy to maximize efficiency for instances that required lesser load. Knowing all these characteristics of direct current motors, and especially because there was no concrete alternating current at that time, Edison further banked on the wide usage of direct current motors by inventing a meter that measured electricity usage. Needless to say, this invention only worked on direct current systems.

It wasn’t long until Nikola Tesla devised a practical application for alternating current. Utilizing principles from his work with rotary magnetic fields, and with a partnership with George Westinghouse, he was able to create and commercialize a practical AC motor.

Much to the disdain of Edison, who actually mentored Tesla but paid little attention to his ideas, the AC motor proved to be a success and would later revolutionize the world of electricity distribution.

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