Free electricity for everyone in the world! In today’s life, doesn’t that sound wonderful? “But a dream,” I can hear you saying. Well, it was a dream of a man called Nikola Tesla. He was born in Croatia in 1856. He was the son of a pastor, and his father expected him to enter the church.
But his mother had much more imagination and she soon realized her son was a small genius. She put him into high school and later university. Tesla had the unique ability to design completely in his mind and whilst he was studying all his other subjects, he was storing all his inventions for the future.
He badly wanted to go to America, and by 1900 he was living in New York. He immersed himself in an electrical world, supplying many amazing inventions for industry.
But inventions need backing in a financial way and Tesla, like many others at that time, had to turn to the great financiers. J. Pierpont Morgan was very interested. He came from a family of self made men, and from an early age, his father taught him how to manage the family assets. J.P. Morgan finished his schooling and went to work as an accountant for the New York banking firm Duncan Sherman and Co. He left them to go and work with his father, whilst at the same time increasing his personal assets.
So, the two of them came together, and J.P. Morgan did invest a lot of money in Tesla. The scientist created many electrical wonders, but his dream of free electricity for everyone was always in his mind. In 1901 he began work on a global system of giant towers that could relay news, etc, but they could also relay electricity.
He built a 200ft tower structure to become his ‘test tower’ at Shoreham, Long Island. The problem was that to obtain further funding from J.P. Morgan, he had to disclose more information than he wanted. This alerted J.P. Morgan as to where Tesla was heading, and so in 1906, he withdrew his funding.
For a top financier, the idea of millions getting free electricity was a nightmare. It’s thought that he also spoke to other financiers, telling them of Tesla’s idea and to advise them not to invest in him.
Tesla then found himself in an impossible position, and had to concentrate on inventions that he could be paid for. Not much later, his laboratory was burnt to the ground and along with it, all his dreams of free electricity to the masses.
It was never learnt who destroyed his laboratory, but there were many theories at the time. Then, in 1917, his huge experimental tower structure was also destroyed.
So, you had the great inventor Nikola Tesla meeting the great investor J.P. Morgan. All is good whilst money is being made, but once someone wants to give something free to millions, then everything changes.
Tesla was known as the Father of Electricity, but I think he thought of himself as the Father Christmas of Electricity, wanting to give everyone in the world free electricity.
Nikola Tesla died in 1943 at the age of 87, having contributed much to our lives, but not having succeeded in his most ambitious dream.
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