Thomas Edison was an ass. These days, companies will lay claim to patents on ideas developed by their employees (and other things, but that’s another story). Edison took it a step further and patented them under his own name.
That problem we have with companies lobbying to have their standards adopted by fiat? Yeah, Edison was in on that action too.
Between the two behaviors, this is why we know Edison’s name so well. He was an inventor, yes, but much of his brilliance was as a business owner.
Nikola Tesla not so much. He’s mostly an icon to geeks. You don’t see Edison in episodes of Sanctuary or conscripted to be a mad genius in movies like The Prestige. Tesla? Oh, yes, and frequently as odd as they come.
The truth is a bit more boring. Tesla was a genius, but not terribly mad. Some synesthesia, a touch of OCD, a bit of a loner, with little time for marketing himself or his ideas. Thus, while his ideas have lived on and played important roles in our lives, Tesla himself has mostly lived on in speculative fiction.
We have an opportunity to fix that. Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal has the details:
Tesla’s laboratory, Wardenclyffe, was built to provide wireless energy for the entire earth. Unfortunately, funding for the project was cut off and in 1917 the Wardenclyffe tower was demolished and the land was sold to a photographic film manufacturer. However, the land, laboratory, and foundation underneath the tower are still there and very recently went up for sale. And right now, a non-profit organization is trying to buy the property and turn it into a Nicola Tesla Museum. [Note: Inman’s post has way more fun pictures than this.]
I want to go to a Tesla Museum in his old laboratory. I want to see where the eccentric genius worked. More importantly, I want history to treat Tesla better than Edison or his other contemporaries did.
If you want the same thing and can chip in a bit, go donate.