War of Currents
War of Currents

Edison. Tesla. Westinghouse.

You may have heard these names before. You may even be familiar with the history surrounding them.

This is a project about that history.

An image of Thomas Edison.

In the late 1800s, businessman and inventor Thomas Edison was developing a practical application of direct (or DC) current to power homes, businesses, and entire cities. However, he was quickly presented with a serious issue--direct current could not be converted to higher or lower voltages, and it could not be transferred reliably over long distances.

An image of Nikola Tesla.

Meanwhile, Nikola Tesla, a Serbian immigrant with extensive backgrounds in physics and engineering, received a patent for his alternating current (or AC) induction motor. This motor, in short, posed a solution to many of the issues DC motors presented, and paved the way for alternating current to give direct current a run for its money.

George Westinghouse, inventor and industrialist, bought Tesla's patents and implemented them on a large scale basis to rival Edison's growing business of monopolizing the electrical industry. Edison noticed the efforts of the alternating current being used against direct current, and decided to campaign against it by spreading misinformation and playing up its dangers. He spent money on public electrocutions of animals and developed the electric chair to execute criminals.

Alternating current looked like it might fail thanks to the efforts of Edison--but this was soon to change.

An image of The World's Fair.

The Chicago World's Fair of 1893 was the greatest blow to Edison and his direct current monopoly. General Electric, owned by Edison, petitioned to electrify the fair for $544,000. Westinghouse Electric Company however, owned by Westinghouse, proposed a budget of $399,000 with use of Tesla's alternating current, and received the privilege of supplying the light. Alternating current was hailed as the superior to DC, and remains to this day the predominant current for large-scale power supply.

The War of Currents project aims to inform you, the viewer, about the historical application and implications of AC versus DC current. This includes the public view of AC and DC current, the advertising and publicity (overall negative or positive adjectives and verbage used to describe them), public demonstrations, contributing figures (and who was the most/least mentioned), areas where electricity was most implemented, and a timeline to represent the dates of major events in the history of AC and DC current. Please enjoy our hard work!

Special thanks to energy.gov for above summary information.

Created by: A. Hall, A. Newton, and J. Downey. GitHub. Creative Commons License Powered by firebellies.