After a recent comic on The Oatmeal, everyone seems to be talking about one of my heroes Nikola Tesla. Visionaries like him are hard to come by but I am disturbed by the ire thrown at Thomas Edison.
Of course “The war of the Currents” is well documented and Nikola Tesla did win it; but dismissing Edison because he was an “enormous douchebag” is a mistake. Tesla’s genius aside, Edison himself was a prolific inventor. He is fourth on the list of individuals who hold the largest number of patents. He invented the first device that could play recorded sound! He can’t just be good at “douchebaggery”!
What is surprising is that the same people who are now shouting out about what an evil cunt-nugget Edison was and how he was just good at selling things waste no time in fawning over Steve Jobs. Like Edison, Jobs saw opportunity where others couldn’t and created a market space for products that people didn’t know they wanted. Essentially, Edison was a geekier version of Steve Jobs.
While we can go on arguing about who was greater, Nikola Tesla or Thomas Edison, the fact remains that both men changed the world in their own way much like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak did decades later. While selling “Edison is a douchebag” t-shirts is taken in good humour, it is important to remind ourselves that at the end of the day, these men are visionaries without whom we would still be lighting candles at night and generally have a very poor quality of life.