Continually he seemed so keen to show his worth without being able to make a satisfactory employment contracts to protect himself from being used. This characteristic haunted him throughout his life. He was a bit of loner and did not get on well with colleagues, regularly falling out with them and not finding a suitable compromise or even taking charge of the situation particularly from a commercial point of view. This was a distinct disadvantage in American business-life as he would find out.

Picture 1 : Tesla aged around 30
Picture 1 : Tesla aged around 30
Nikola Tesla Museum
Belgrade Web Site
He next joined a group of businessmen in building arc lamps, when he designed a new arc lamp for them. He quickly found out that these new colleagues were totally disinterested in his AC system, so he moved on again without any adequate repayment. He was literally at rock bottom, when he took a job digging sewer trenches in New York. However during this time he was introduced to a businessman, Mr. A.K. Brown of the Western Union Telegraph Company, who was interested in his ideas and agreed to back him. Tesla developed a laboratory at South Fifth Avenue, New York, where he worked for six months to build a total AC system, including transformers and then applied for the necessary patents. He was granted 30 patents including his precious AC motor on 1st May 1888. Then Brown introduced him to George Westinghouse, who was a keen AC advocate, having built a single phase AC system of supply at Great Barrington two years earlier. Westinghouse was so keen on Tesla's polyphase system that he offered him million dollars for all his patents. The opportunity was too good to miss and Tesla accepted with the proviso of a royalty of one dollar per horsepower to be included in the contract. He only received half the money, since his business associates took the other half. Part of the deal was that Tesla should work as a consultant for one year for Westinghouse at his Pittsburgh factory, a task which he did fulfil, falling out with Westinghouse's assistant over the use of high or low frequency. At that time Tesla was keen on 60 cycles AC. Westinghouse tried to get him to stay, offering him a fantastic salary and even a laboratory thrown in, but Tesla threw these offers to the wind. He was determined to go it alone.

It is interesting to note that in all the books referenced at the end, Tesla is credited with inventing the AC alternator/motor and the polyphase system in 1883, but at the same time in England, Sebastian de Ferranti was inventing an alternator with a zig-zag armature. By 1889 Ferranti was building his major Deptford power station with 3 phase alternators and cables designed by him (see Supplement dated December 2003).

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