The original cover art for Margaret Cheney's Tesla - Man out of Time
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1885« Previous year|Next year »

March, 1885: Tesla Electric Light Company

Investors approached Tesla and asked him to develop an improved arc lighting system. Although this was not the opportunity he had hoped for, the group was willing to finance the Tesla Electric Light Company in Rahway, New Jersey. The proud new owner set to work and invented a unique arc lamp of beautiful design and efficiency. After completing the work, Tesla was forced out of the company and left with nothing but worthless stock certificates. Tesla later referred to this as "the hardest blow" he'd ever received.

1885: Tesla Quits Edison

At some point during Tesla's employment, Edison promises to pay him $50,000 if he can improve the performance of Edison's D.C. dynamo. Tesla succeeds beyond Edison's expectations, but he reneges on his promise to pay Tesla. Edison is quoted as stating to Tesla, "You don't understand our American humor." Deeply hurt, Tesla resigns. Some accounts state that Edison offers Tesla a raise if he will reconsider but Tesla declined.

A stock certificate from the Tesla Electric Light Company.
A stock certificate from the Tesla Electric Light Company.
A stock certificate from the Tesla Electric Light Company. A New York City street lit by arc lamps.