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Thursday, 12 April 2012

War Of Currents

During the initial years of electricity distribution, Edison's direct current was the standard for the United States, and Edison did not want to lose all his patent royalties. Direct current worked well with incandescent lamps, which were the principal load of the day, and with motors. Direct-current systems could be directly used with storage batteries, providing valuable load-leveling and backup power during interruptions of generator operation.                                         
Thomas Edison

Direct-current generators could be easily paralleled, allowing economical operation by using smaller machines during periods of light load and improving reliability. At the introduction of Edison's system, no practical AC motor was available. Edison had invented a meter to allow customers to be billed for energy proportional to consumption, but this meter worked only with direct current. As of 1882 these were all significant technical advantages of direct current.

Alternating current had first developed in Europe due to the work of Guillaume Duchenne (1850s), Ganz Company (1870s), Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti (1880s), Lucien Gaulard, and Galileo Ferraris. In North America one of the believers in the new technology was George Westinghouse. Westinghouse was willing to invest in the technology and hired William Stanley, Jr. to work on an AC distribution system using step up and step down transformers of a new design in 1886. After Stanley left Westinghouse, Oliver Shallenberger took control of the AC project.  
 Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla joined the team after 1888. Tesla partnered with Westinghouse Electric to commercialize his particular AC system. Westinghouse had previously bought the rights to Tesla's polyphase system patents and other patents for AC transformers from Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs. Several undercurrents lay beneath this rivalry. Edison's personal background and the logistical support of his Menlo Park laboratories made him a formidable brute-force experimenter, but he lacked formal training in mathematics and physics. Tesla, by contrast, had such an education, which was needed to understand AC power.

In addition to the business rivalry of companies like Oerlikon, Siemens, Westinghouse (all AC promotors) and the powerful Edison Electric, a personal rivalry developed between Nikola Tesla and Thomas A. Edison due to certain events: Tesla had worked for Edison but felt he was undervalued (for example, when Edison first learned of the idea of alternating-current power transmission, he dismissed it: "[Tesla's] ideas are splendid, but they are utterly impractical."  Bad feelings were exacerbated because Tesla had been cheated by Edison of promised compensation for his work.

Tesla was promised $50,000 for work to improve Edison's inefficient dynamo. Tesla did improve the dynamos after nearly a year's worth of work, but Edison did not pay him the promised money. Edison went as far as trying to say he was joking, saying “Tesla, you don't understand our American humor”. Edison later came to regret that he had not listened to Tesla and used alternating current.

The "War of Currents" is often personified by the Tesla vs. Edison (or occasionally Westinghouse vs. Edison) personal rivalry. However, the "War of Currents" was much larger than that: It involved both American and European companies whose heavy investments in one current type or the other led them to hope that use of the other type would decline, such that their share of the market for "their" current type would represent greater absolute revenue once the decline of the other current type enabled them to expand their existing distribution networks.

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_Currents

Thanks.. salam dari pantai timur.


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