Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) was an American-born inventor and businessman who invented the light bulb. He left a total of 1033 inventions until just before his death, and left an unrivaled feat in human history, with only 1,093 patents registered under Edison’s name, often referred to as the ‘King of Invention’.
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was an inventor and electrical engineer who immigrated to the United States from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He is widely regarded as the person who enabled the revolutionary development of electromagnetism in the late 19th – early 20th centuries. Tesla’s patents and theoretical research are highly regarded for leading the second industrial revolution.
Edison and Tesla, two scientists representing the 20th century. Tesla got a job as an employee of the ‘Edison Electric Lighting Company (predecessor of GE (General Electric)’) and was recognized for his abilities by Edison, but left the company in protest against Edison for not giving the bonus he had promised to give when the project was successful. ‘The Current War’, which these two fought at the end of the 19th century, is so famous that it was made into a movie.
‘The Current War’, which was released in the United States in 2017, drew attention as a confrontation between two genius scientists, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Edison and Nicholas Hoult as Tesla. It was released in 2018 in Korea.
The current war refers to the confrontation between Edison, who insisted on ‘Direct Current’, and Tesla, who emphasized the efficiency of ‘Alternating Current’ over the transmission method of electricity. As a result, the war ends with Tesla’s victory. The fact that the current electricity transmission method used in Korea is 220V (volt) alternating current can be said to prove this.
Direct current (DC) refers to electricity that always flows in the same direction, while alternating current (AC) refers to electricity whose direction changes periodically. Humanity’s first electric power business started in 1882 when Edison established an electric lighting company and supplied electricity to 3000 incandescent light bulbs with three direct current generators in 1882. The power supply method used at the time was 110V DC.
However, this method has a high energy loss, so it was difficult to send electricity to places more than several kilometers away. It was possible to increase the voltage from 110V to 6000V, but there was no technology at the time. In response, Edison sends electricity to distant places by installing power plants everywhere. Edison insisted on direct current, stating that direct current is safe to touch and safe to touch with bare hands.
On the other hand, the AC method developed by Tesla can supply electricity cheaply and conveniently. We didn’t have to worry about the power lost during transmission, so we could build the power plant far from our homes and factories that use electricity. In response, Westinghouse, which was supplying electricity throughout the United States with Edison’s DC system at the time, began the work of replacing all of its facilities with Tesla’s AC system.
Edison, feeling a sense of crisis, mobilizes various scheming techniques to stop exchanges, just like in the movie. They use AC electricity to deliberately and brutally kill pets, and even kill elephants in front of 15,000 people, trying to spread the awareness that ‘AC = electric shock = danger’, spreading fake news about exchange.
He also constantly criticized Westinghouse’s exchange system, including litigating the patents it owned.
Against this, Westinghouse and Tesla promote the excellence of exchange in various ways, including speeches and articles, and conduct educational campaigns. Edison tried to pass a bill limiting the voltage to 800V in some areas to prevent alternating current, and he also proposed using alternating current electric chairs as a death penalty for prisoners.
The current war intensified day by day, with Westinghouse suing all of Edison’s conspiracies. Eventually, the war ended when Tesla took the place of Westinghouse, who had hired Tesla. [