False facts about Tesla giving him more credit than he deserves.
In today’s world of Infotainment, web pages and documentaries have popped up proclaiming Nikola (Nicola) Tesla of being the inventor of practically everything. The more sites that pop up, the more reinforced false facts become. This is wrong because it denies respect for the true inventors of the technology, as well as oversimplifies history. Just as people incorrectly understood what Edison actually did and believed in a simplified idolization, Tesla seems to have taken his populist place in the 21st century. Tesla suffered from narcissism through much of his life, and this throws many of his claims of being “the first” into question. We can only believe patent information, and proven written records.
Didn’t your mother tell you not to believe everything you read on the internet? So before you go back to the Tesla mania pages we suggest you go to a library and dig up some facts from books and patent applications, just as real historians have.
Sorry to debunk your inner conspiracy theorist yearnings, but here are the facts:
Myth 1: Tesla invented polyphase AC power: FALSE. First there was a hand-cranked AC generator developed by Hippolyte Pixii in 1832. Single phase AC power was being used more in Europe by many inventors in the early 1880s. As early as the late 1870’s Germany had developed a 2 phase AC generator. In New York City Tesla had approached investors in 1886 with his AC system and did not have success. So in the United States in New York there was little confidence in AC power systems. From a world wide perspective there was many working on AC systems. August Haselwander and C.S. Bradley(a former Edison employee) created the first 3 phase AC generators(1887). Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovsky built the first full 3 phase AC generation and distribution system in the 1888-1891 period. Tesla continued to be stuck in his two-phase system which proved to be less effective than three.
Myth 2: Tesla invented the transformer: FALSE. The Ganz company in Budapest was the first to create and use transformers in AC systems in the late 1870s. Tesla was still in school then and hadn’t even began his first job in the field of telephony. His first job was in Budapest in 1880, this is where he possibly observed/stole ideas, and was convinced by the Hungarians that AC was viable and worth pursuing while the west was still 5 years behind. William Stanley invented the first modern transformer in 1885. His design was based Gaulard and Gibbs design. Gaulard had used his transformer in the 1884 Lanzo to Turin AC power demonstration. Also credit goes to the Z.B.D Transformer in Hungary The Z.B.D. Transformer was not practical in the system that Stanley set up in Great Barrington, MA so he designed his own. This is backed up by information at the Smithsonian and IEEE. It was in 1885 that Tesla actually joined the minority of inventors working with AC in trying to pitch his system. There is no proof that Tesla had any mature AC systems designed and ready before then. (Tesla claims to have envisioned his own full AC system in 1882 but there are no written documents of any kind to prove this)
Myth 3: Tesla invented the induction coil: FALSE. Absolutely false… Induction was discovered by Michael Faraday, and the induction coil was invented by Nicholas Callan in 1836, long before Tesla was born.
Myth 4: Tesla invented the loudspeaker: FALSE. The loudspeaker as we know it was invented by C.W. Rice and Edward Kellogg with a working prototype in 1921, and patent in 1925. Decades before this final success, Werner Von Siemens had toyed with the idea of a magnetically controlled speaker while Tesla was in grade school.
Myth 5: Tesla invented radar in 1917: FALSE. This one is a real can of worms, radar was made possible due to the work of Christian Hulsmeyer (German)1903, Lee De Forest 1918, Edwin Armstrong 1918, Ernst Alexanderson, Marconi, Albert Hull, Edward Victor Appleton, and Russians who developed a radar system to detect German planes in 1934. Sir Robert Watson-Watt demonstrated the first HF radar system in 1935 which operated at 6 MHz and had a range of 8 miles. There are many books on this subject.
Myth 6: Tesla invented the fluorescent lamp: FALSE. Alexandre E. Becquerel first examined the phenomena of fluorescence in 1857. Some say Edison invented the lamps. Others say George Inman developed the modern fluorescent lamp in 1934. It is tough to say who was first since there was a legal dispute. There is a possibility that the German Edmund Germer preceded both of them. Many people worked on the concept, Inman deserve the credit for building the first successful and practical design. Even if Telsa had played with the theories, he was not alone at any time, and didn’t do squat compared to others who had actually worked out the difficulties into a real working product. Daniel McFarlan Moore developed the Moore Tube which was the first commercial ancestor of the fluorescent lamp.
Myth 7: Tesla invented microwave transmitters: FALSE. Albert W. Hull invented the magnetron which lead to many inventions, including today’s microwave oven, the microwave communications link, and radar. You can dig deeper on this and find many early pioneers.
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