Although less well known that Edison or Marconi, Nikola Tesla is credited with inventing the electric motor, long-distance power transmission, radio, robots, and remote control—all of which serve as the foundation for our modern economy. According to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, “Were we to seize and eliminate from our industrial world the results of Mr. Tesla’s work, the wheels of industry would cease to turn, our towns would be dark.” Even long after his death, Tesla’s visions and designs continued to inspire great minds as he foresaw radar, cell phones, laser weapons, artificial intelligence, and vertical-life airplanes. Tesla also led a fascinating life—befriending Mark Twain and John Muir, working with and then battling Thomas Edison, and selling his patents to George Westinghouse and then sacrificing those millions of dollars in order to bring electric power to the world.
Richard (Dick) Munson is an American author and clean energy advocate. His latest book, Tesla: Inventor of the Modern, was published by W.W. Norton in May 2018. Author of five other books with topics that range from U.S. government energy policy to profiles of tycoon George Fabyan and oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, Munson is also Director of Midwest Clean Energy for the Environmental Defense Fund, working primarily as a lobbyist for clean energy initiatives in Illinois and Ohio. During his career, he received public service awards from the Great Lakes Commission, American Small Manufacturers Coalition and the U.S. Clean Heat and Power Association.