Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge
Growing up in Smiljan, Croatia, Nikola Tesla dreamed about harnessing the power of Niagara Falls. In 1884, he walked down the gangplank into the New York Harbor with four cents in his pocket, a book of poems, a drawing of a flying machine, and a letter of introduction to Thomas Edison, the "electrical wizard" of America. Upon meeting, Edison sent Tesla to fix the SS Oregon as a test and was so astounded that he offered Tesla a job at his factory.
Tesla and Edison had different views about electricity; Tesla wanted to develop an alternate current while Edison wanted to stick to the direct current system. Edison offered Tesla a large sum to make his direct current system more efficient, but when the work was done, Edison refused to pay. Tesla quit and when things were looking bleak, he met George Westinghouse, who also thought that alternating current was the way to light up America. He gave Tesla a job and in 1896, Tesla and Westinghouse built a generator at Niagara Falls that was able to send power as far as Buffalo, New York.