With all of the mention of the relationship between Tesla and Marconi, I feel I should mention that Marconi was originally Tesla's assistant, and
later started on his own research, while remaining very close friends with Tesla. The book Tesla & Marconi
by David Hatcher Childress goes
into this relationship. Historically, however, this relationship was greatly clouded by the Tesla vs. Marconi supreme court case, in which Tesla sued
Marconi for patent infringement over the invention of the radio.
Another point that I want to address is the prior comment about Tesla trying to steal the invention of the light bulb from Edison. Turn of the
century (1800s-1900s) America was a very different place than it is now. Information didn't travel instantly. Not everyone had access to a
telegraph. Telephones weren't in wide usage (having only been invented in 1876, and still in the realm of wishful thinking for most people), and fax
machines and the internet weren't even a twinkle in anyone's eye. Edison was based, at the time, in Menlo Park, NJ, whereas Tesla was back and
forth between New York City and Colorado Spring, CO. The patent office was (and still is) based in Washington, DC. Tesla was an inventor, and true
electrical engineer. Edison was a businessman first, and electrical inventor second. While Tesla actually did inevnt the light bulb first, Edison
made it to the patent office first, and thus was given the first patent on the light bulb, thusly making him the credited inventor. What Edison can
be credited with, as far as the light bulb however, is that he invented the first commercially available design for the light bulb. Even the
Wikipedia page on Edison
states this fact (though it leaves out the fact that Tesla invented the light
bulb before him), stating that 8 other inventors had actually created less efficient designs before Edison (as mentioned before, Tesla is not
mentioned among those inventors). In fairness, the article does also state that Tesla had invented several more radical ideas for electric
incadescent light, including a means to light a wireless bulb, and a single connection bulb (requiring only one wire, and not two [positive and
negative], as all current incadescent light bulbs require. The article does also credit Tesla with the invention of flourescent lighting (which is
quickly becoming the standard, as more people are worried about energy efficiency).
At the moment, I am unable to find sufficient data to make a comparison as to who invented it first. I will keep looking.
One of the things certainly in Tesla's credit as far as lighting goes (or many of his other inventions goes) is Tesla's incredible ability to
maximize efficiency of electrical devices. This can be seen in Tesla's invention of flourescent lighting (which uses roughly 1/10th the power to
produce the same amount of light (the reason my entire house is lit with flourescents, as well as why almost every commercial building is lit with
flourescents), the Tesla Bladeless Turbine (which is 10 times more efficient than current turbines, but, for some unknown reason, is still not in wide
usage), and AC power, which revolutionized industry, especially after the invention of the AC electric motor, as it can provide a greater electric
charge over much longer distances.
There is no disputing that Tesla was an incredible inventor, and is responsible for much of the foundation for our current, electrically advanced
Even with all speculation surrounding his later career and death aside, Tesla was most certainly one of the most influential figures in the creation
of the modern world.