So Germans can be arch too

In 2014 Artur Fischer received the European Inventor Award for lifetime achievement. The scale and range of his output prompted some admirers to describe him as the Thomas Edison of his day – though Fischer himself rejected the comparison, pointing out that Edison had lifted many of his ideas from other people.

6 thoughts on “So Germans can be arch too”

  1. True, dat. Nikola Tesla was by far the better electrical engineer, but Edison had the business nouse (and IIRC helped himself to Tesla’s ideas). Tesla had to team up with Westinghouse to get any of his ideas to market.

  2. I was going to comment on the amount of wall plugs I’ve hammered into undersized holes over the years but thought better of it.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “Tesla had to team up with Westinghouse to get any of his ideas to market.”

    Being a, who does one put this politely?, borderline Asperger’s shut-in doesn’t help either. But surely partly that is because of the different models they were pursuing. Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t Tesla see the future as large centralised power stations distributing AC all over the city? While Edison built small-scale DC plants that would power, at most, a few blocks?

    If so, Tesla could never have funded that on his own. Even if he wasn’t, you know, so autistic it is amazing that he was able to function even remotely acceptably – and towards the end of his life he couldn’t even do that.

  4. Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t Tesla see the future as large centralised power stations distributing AC all over the city? While Edison built small-scale DC plants that would power, at most, a few blocks?

    Yes, that’s correct. Part of this rivalry involved Edison trying to outdo Tesla/Westinghouse by pointing towards the dangers of high-voltage AC, which culminated in his electrocuting poor Topsy the elephant to death. This, of course, led to the invention of the electric chair.

    Being a, who does one put this politely?, borderline Asperger’s shut-in doesn’t help either.

    Indeed, Tesla was a scientist/engineer and had not a shred of business acumen. Nor did he care. He came up with a system of wireless power, and rigged his own workshop up with lights which were powered remotely and could be hung anywhere without wires, and envisaged whole cities being powered this way. Only his backers asked, quite reasonably “How do we bill people for that?”

  5. Edison’s ‘vision’ of small distributed generation was less because he thought that was the best system – with a DC generator he had no way to boost voltage, and the voltage at the generator terminals would only allow power flow over a limited range.
    Interesting story about Tesla and Westinghouse. Tesla sold his generator patents to Westinghouse for a song – I think he might have assigned them in exchange for continued funding of his laboratory. A couple of years later after commercializing them Westinghouse, although under no obligation, gave him a cheque for $1 Million, an enormous amount in the day. Westinghouse said that that was the fair value of the patents, and he felt morally obliged to share the benefit with Tesla. At least, that’s the story Westinghouse employees tell…

  6. It’s often stated that Edison’s one true invention was the Modern Laboratory:
    Facilitate bright-eyed but gullible young minds to work out the details of your general ideas/suggestions, then IP the hell out of any concrete results, “incidentally”, but helpfully locking said young minds out of pursueing any further line of research in their specialty. Unless they License, of course..

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