How Barbarian-Scientist Thomas Edison Electrocuted an Elephant for his Greed!!

Thomas Edison – as a person – was never really “Above board”! He was at times unscrupulous and was more interested in personal gains than science and its advancement! He could go to any lengths to discredit others and take credit for himself for even things done by others. Nikolas Tesla was working in his office as an employee and he is credited to have done most of the inventions, but Edison was the one who took the credit! Here is an example of how he used Tesla – a Slovenian immigrant!

During his employment, Edison offered Tesla $50,000 (equivalent to about $1 million in 2006, adjusted for inflation) if he redesigned Edison’s inefficient motor and generators, an improvement in both service and economy. Tesla said he worked night and day to redesign them and gave the Edison company several profitable new patents in the process. During the year of 1885, when Tesla inquired about the payment on the work, Edison replied to him, “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor,” and reneged on his promise. Tesla resigned when he was refused a raise to $25 per week. At Tesla’s salary of $18 per week, the bonus would have amounted to over 53 years pay, and the amount was equal to the initial capital of the company.

Now it would have been fine if Edison’s greed ended here. But later Tesla went on to discover Alternating Current (AC). Edison, on the other hand, had patent on the Direct Current (DC). So, thereafter started a concerted campaign by Thomas Edison in discrediting Tesla. It is the BARBARIC manner in which he went about doing it that is so repulsive!! In 1903, exactly on today’s date – January 4th, this barbarian of a scientist, electrocuted an elephant with AC in an attempt to discredit that type of electricity! Why? Because, he would have lost his money from Royalties!

Thomas Edison stages his highly publicized electrocution of an elephant in order to demonstrate the dangers of alternating current, which, if it posed any immediate danger at all, was to Edison’s own direct current.

Edison had established direct current at the standard for electricity distribution and was living large off the patent royalties, royalties he was in no mood to lose when George Westinghouse and Nicola Tesla showed up with alternating current.

Edison’s aggressive campaign to discredit the new current took the macabre form of a series of animal electrocutions using AC (a killing process he referred to snidely as getting “Westinghoused”). Stray dogs and cats were the most easily obtained, but he also zapped a few cattle and horses.

Here is a video of the electrocution of Topsy, the elephant:

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Desh Kapoor

The panache of a writer is proven by the creative pen he uses to transform the most mundane topic into a thrilling story. Desh - the author, critic and analyst uses the power of his pen to create thought-provoking pieces from ordinary topics of discussion. He writes on myriad interesting themes. Read the articles to know more about his views and "drishtikone".

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