(1888) Nikola Tesla was one of the great pioneers of the use of alternating current electricity. Alternating current electricity changes in strength cyclically over time and is the type of electricity that power companies supply to homes today. Tesla invented the alternating current induction generator, a device that changes mechanical energy into alternating current electricity, and the Tesla coil, a transformer that changes the frequency of alternating current.
He went to the United States in 1884 and worked for American inventor Thomas Edison for a year before setting up his own workshop. For much of his time in the United States, Tesla worked with American industrialist George Westinghouse, who bought and successfully developed Tesla's patents, leading to the introduction of alternating current for power transmission.
Tesla built his first working induction motor in 1883. He found that he could raise little interest in his inventions in Europe. He set off for New York City, where he set up his own laboratory and workshop in 1887 to develop his motor in a practical way. Only months later he applied for and was granted a complicated set of patents covering the generation, transmission, and use of alternating current electricity. Because alternating current can be transmitted over much greater distances than direct current, it provides the power for most of our present-day machines. At about the same time he lectured to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers on his alternating current system. After learning about the talk, George Westinghouse quickly bought Tesla's patents.
Westinghouse backed Tesla's ideas and, as a demonstration, employed his system for lighting at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Months later Westinghouse won the contract to generate electricity at Niagara Falls, New York. He used Tesla's system to supply electricity to local industries and deliver alternating current to the town of Buffalo, New York, (22 mi) distant. Soon after, Tesler’s
alternating current was supplied throughout the country. His alternating current
motors were used to power machinery in all industries.