McDonald's vs. Burger King, Coke vs. Pepsi, Jobs vs. Gates –--all are epic rivalries that almost everyone knows. But here's another: “Edison vs. Westinghouse”. If we're judging by the impact it had on our modern-day lives, their rivalry beats all the others, hands down.
And most people today have never even heard of it.
Here's a quick test: when you hear the name “Tesla,” what comes to mind?
Most of you probably thought right away of the electric car company: Tesla Motors. But I bet that very few of you thought of the man himself: Nikola Tesla, the great Serbian-American inventor that the company is named after.
While Tesla may not have the name recognition of Edison, he was an amazing man and his fingerprints can still be found everywhere. Every time you've gotten an X-ray, whenever you use anything with a remote control –-- or, for that matter, every time you flip a light switch or plug something into an outlet, your life was made easier by one of Nikola Tesla’s hundreds of inventions.
Even during his time, Tesla was always far ahead of it. So why isn’t he as well known as Thomas Edison—a guy whose reputation as a gentlemanly old inventor is actually laughable once you know the truth? Well, for one, Tesla wasn’t a media darling like Edison. He also had more than a few quirks and phobias, and he was much more comfortable in the company of pigeons than people.
And as for what Nikola Tesla has to do with that bitter, world-changing rivalry between Edison and Westinghouse I mentioned earlier...Well, you’ll have to read the full story in Miracles and Massacres for yourself, but here's a hint: Edison loses the battle, but he wins the war. While he and George Westinghouse became respected household names, Nikola Tesla died alone in the New Yorker Hotel, deeply in debt and, at least until recently when an American car company adopted his name, in almost total obscurity.