Tesla's biggest innovation was introducing alternating current as the standard for modern electric power, breaking Thomas Edison's monopoly on DC power. Author and monologist Mike Daisey performs a one-man show about Tesla. In this segment he describes the inventor's obsession with electricity.
"He literally had visions," Daisey says. "He could create simulations of things that had never been. And they would come to his mind in a flash, whole, complete, and entire."
A Serb, born in 1856 in what is now Croatia, Tesla came to the US to work with Edison on his electricity projects. But the two inventors disagreed about alternating and direct current, and Tesla left to develop his own alternating current generator. It was the beginning of the war of the currents. "AC vs DC, it's not just a band. It's a battle over standards. It's like VHS vs Beta, but this time it's for your entire house," Daisey explains, "so you really want to be on the right side of this one."
(Originally aired: January 25, 2008)