While at Graz Technical University, Tesla had seen a demonstration of a generator run as a direct-current (DC) motor. Direct current is electric current that flows in only one direction. During the demonstration, the brushes and the commutator of the motor sparked violently. The brushes are devices that conduct the current in a DC motor. The commutator continually reverses the current so that the motor continues to rotate in one direction. Tesla believed a motor without a commutator could be devised. In 1881, while walking in a park, Tesla suddenly got an idea for a simple way to produce such a device. In 1883, while on assignment for Continental Edison in Strasbourg, France, Tesla used his spare time to build his first polyphase (out-of-step) AC motor. In such a motor, coils are arranged so that when out-of-step alternating currents energize them, the resulting magnetic field rotates at a predetermined speed.
In 1884, Tesla left Europe for the United States and went to work for the inventor Thomas Edison. Edison respected the young engineer but the American inventor was a strong supporter of direct current (DC), and so he had little interest in Tesla's alternating current (AC) generation, transmission, and motor ...
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... creation of fluorescent lighting.
During his later years he led a secluded, eccentric, and penniless life, nearly forgotten by the world he believed would someday honor him. Tesla died on Jan. 7, 1943, in New York City. It is rather sad that a man who gave the world so much, received so little for his efforts. History books have been unkind as well. Even today, many texts still credit Marconi with the invention of radio, despite the Supreme Court decision which overruled Marconi and awarded it to Tesla. In many parts of this country, people still refer to the electric utility as the 'Edison Company', even though they use the Tesla-Westinghouse alternating current system. The Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, was dedicated to the inventor after his death and in 1956 the tesla, a unit of magnetic flux density in the metric system, was named in his honor.
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