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Tesla pointed out the inefficiency of Edison's direct current electrical powerhouses that have been build up and down the Atlantic seaboard. The secret, he felt, lay in the use of alternating current, because to him all energies were cyclic. Why not build generators that would send electrical energy along distribution linesfirst one way, than another, in multiple waves using the polyphase principle?

Edison's lamps were weak and inefficient when supplied by direct current. This system had a severe disadvantage in that it could not be transported more than two miles due to its inability to step up to high voltage levels necessary for long distance transmission. Consequently, a direct current power station was required at two mile intervals.

Direct current flows continuously in one direction; alternating current changes direction 50 or 60 times per second and can be stepped up to vary high voltage levels, minimizing power loss across great distances. The future belongs to alternating current.

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. 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. It was a war won for the progress of both America and the world.

Tesla introduced his motors and electrical systems in a classic paper, "A New System of Alternating Current Motors and Transformers" which he delivered before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1888. One of the most impressed was the industrialist and inventor George Westinghouse. One day he visited Tesla's laboratory and was amazed at what he saw. Tesla had constructed a model polyphase system consisting of an alternating current dynamo, step-up and step-down transformers and A.C. motor at the other end. The perfect partnership between Tesla and Westinghouse for the nationwide use of electricity in America had begun.

Quoted with the kind permission of the Tesla Society of New York.
© Copyright 2001 by Dr. Ljubo Vujovic, General Secretary of the Tesla Society of New York.Thank you for your kind permission allowing me to quote material from your site.

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Nikola Tesla: The Alternating Current (AC)


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