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Nikola Tesla developed polyphase alternating current system of generators, motors and transformers and held 40 basic U.S. patents on the system, which George Westinghouse bought, determined to supply America with the Tesla system. Tesla and Westinghouse demonstrated (1893) the system for the first time at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Edison did not want to lose his DC empire, and a bitter war ensued. This was the war of the currents between AC and DC. Tesla -Westinghouse ultimately emerged the victor because AC was a superior technology.  But not without a fight. Advocates of direct-current power - desperate to discredit their alternating-current competitor - claimed that AC current was hazardous to humans. In support of their argument, DC defenders took the novel approach of using a standard Tesla (AC) generator to discharge death sentences in New York State. An interesting approach (to say the least), although futile in the long run.

Edison opposed capital punishment, but his desire to disparage the system of alternating current led to the invention of the electric chair. Harold P. Brown, who was at this time being secretly paid by Edison, constructed the first electric chair for the state of New York in order to promote the idea that alternating current was deadlier than DC. When the chair was first used, on August 6, 1890, the technicians on hand misjudged the voltage needed to kill the condemned prisoner, William Kemmler. The first jolt of electricity was not enough to kill Kemmler, and only left him badly injured. The procedure had to be repeated and a reporter on hand described it as "an awful spectacle, far worse than hanging." In all, the entire execution took approximately eight minutes. George Westinghouse commented: "They would have done better using an axe."

Since his childhood, Tesla had dreamed of harnessing the power of the great natural wonder. And in late 1895, his dream became a reality. That year Adams Power Plant at Niagara Falls, the first large-scale, alternating current electric generating plant in the world, with Tesla generators,  was set in operation, which was the final victory of alternating current. Tesla was the first to successfully harness the mechanical energy of flowing water, change it to electrical energy, and distribute it to distant homes and industries. AC systems overcame the limitations of the direct current system used by Thomas Edison to distribute electricity efficiently over long distances. It was a war won for the progress  of both America and the world.

From one plant at Niagara Falls, electric power could be sent hundreds of miles to light the homes of hundreds of thousands of customers and also run tens of thousand of factories. This meant that for the first time in history, major factories would not have to sit right beside waterfalls. Tesla revolutionary model set the standard for hydroelectric power as we know it to day.
Nikola Tesla vs Thomas Edison; War of currents
Shortly before he died, Edison said that his biggest mistake had been in trying to develop direct current, rather than the superior alternating current system that Tesla had put within his grasp. (Tesla began working with Thomas Edison, but the two men were worlds apart in both their science and cultures and they soon went their separate ways. Certainly, letting Tesla go wasn't the brightest thing Edison had ever done.)
Edison electrocuted cats and dogs
As a result of the "War of Currents", Edison and Westinghouse went nearly bankrupt, so in 1897, Tesla released Westinghouse from contract, providing Westinghouse a break from Tesla's patent royalties. When Westinghouse got into financial trouble Tesla's royalties were running into the millions. Since Westinghouse signed a contract to pay Tesla royalties of $2.50 per horsepower of AC equipment sold, Tesla could have died as a multibillionaire. But, Tesla ripped up a Westinghouse contract that would have made him the world's first billionaire. In one of the most generous acts ever recorded in human history, Tesla tore up his lucrative royalty contract with George Westinghouse in order to save his company from bankruptcy and the AC system from destruction. Tesla's generosity,  his idealism and humanism eventually left him without adequate funds to pursue and realize his inventions. Nikola Tesla - one of the greatest geniuses of any age – died of heart failure, alone and destitute in a shabby hotel room, penniless and with significant debts, in 1943.
Unable to challenge AC electricity on technical merits, Edison turned to using scare tactics instead. Leaflets about the dangers of AC current were printed and distributed. Edison paid local children 25 cents for each stray dog or cat they could bring him. Dogs and cats began disappearing from the neighborhood around Edison's laboratory. Then he would hold press conferences and electrocute the frightened pets stolen from the streets to scare people and to demonstrate to the press that alternating current was more dangerous than Edison's system of direct current.
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