Dr. Nikola Tesla returned to New York after his Europe tour. With fond memories and the grief of loss of his mother Dr. Tesla again began his experimental work in his laboratory. But soon he overcame and conquered this sorrow. It was the same year of 1892 when Dr. Nikola Tesla actually received two of the most prestigious honours.
Before his return to New York, Dr. Nikola Tesla was invited by Belgrade municipal authorities to the city of Belgrade (capital of Serbia) to address their citizen about his researches. On June 1, 1892, around 11 pm, Dr. Tesla arrived at the Belgrade Railway station. He was greeted by thousands of enthusiastic people at the station itself, all of them have come to see him, and all of them were proud of him and associate him with his inventions as he was the son of soil of Serbia. All the people presented him with flowers and gifts as he walked slowly through them. Everyone was appreciating him and telling them that he was Serbia’s greatest son. There was a specially decorated horse carriage arranged for Dr. Tesla. He was very emotionally touched with this warm welcome and hospitality.
He modestly told everyone that he was fortunate to have fulfilled some of his dreams till that time. But he further felt his goal to be yet far, if all of his ideas come to fruition, and if he could help the humanity through his inventions, he will consider himself to be proud son of Serbia.
On 2nd June 1893, he met the young Serbian King, Alexander Obrenovic. Dr. Nikola Tesla told him that electricity will have to be introduced in Belgrade city. The King was fascinated by Dr. Tesla’s ideas and demonstrations. In the coming year itself i.e. in year 1893, Belgrade city was electrified. It was a huge and widely celebrated event. The Serbian King awarded Dr. Nikola Tesla with the Medal of St. Sava (Order of St. Sava) for extraordinary contribution to science.
In the same year, i.e. in the year 1892, Dr. Nikola Tesla was honored by AIEE (American Institute of Electrical Engineers) when they offered him the post of its Vice President. AIEE or American Institute of Electrical Engineers was an institute that was founded in the year 1884. The major interests of the AIEE were in the fields of wired communications (telegraphy and telephony), and light and power systems. It was the most highly respected society of electrical engineers then. This Society still exists till date but with a different name. In the year 1962, AIEE and IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) merged together to form a new society of scientists. By this time Electronics had emerged as a separate engineering branch and hence the newly formed scientific society also absorbed electronics engineers in it. The Society was thus renamed as IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and it is equally and highly respected across the entire world even today. Dr. Nikola Tesla’s term of Vice Presidency was from the year 1892 to 1894.
The wireless electricity experiments that we saw in the previous articles were a part of Dr. Tesla’s researches, were yet to be made commercially viable and Dr. Tesla had a very long road in front of him in getting wireless electricity into main stream which was one of his important aims. In the year 1892 the contract bids to light up then world’s greatest expo known as World Columbian Exposition had opened. Considering the global cultural and scientific importance of this function, Thomas Edison’s General Electric Company had proposed to power the electric exhibits in here with his direct current system and had originally quoted $18,00,000 for the contract. But, the bid of the contract was open to all, and so George Westinghouse’s, Westinghouse Electric also placed its bid, which was somewhere close to $4,00,000. Considering this and the threat from Dr. Nikola Tesla’s AC system, General Electric reduced their bid from $18,00,000 to just around $5,50,000(They reduced their bid by nearly 70% only to compete with Dr. Tesla). But inspite of this poor attempt, it was Westinghouse Electric that won the bid to light up the World Columbian Exposition. It seemed that the ‘War of Currents’ was still not over for Edison and he was again trying to smear AC system by promoting his DC system. Though he lost the bid, Edison had created more problems by dragging Westinghouse in a patent war against the incandescent bulbs but here also Westinghouse Electric and Dr. Nikola Tesla came up with an alternative to incandescent lamps and Dr. Tesla lit the World Columbian Expo with over 2,00,000 of newly designed and specially made incandescent bulbs.
But what exactly was this World Columbian Exposition for which both Westinghouse and Edison were competing with each tooth and nail? Why it was considered to be of so much importance? Let us see it in our next article.
(to be continued……)
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