Tesla: Master of Lightning

Synopsis: Nikola Tesla invented or developed many of the electrical technologies which form the basis of modern life, including: alternating-current (AC) power transmission and electric motors; high-frequency (HF) communications, the basis for radio and television; neon lighting; remote radio-control; and X-rays. But his visionary genius and technical skill was countered by his lack of business acumen and eccentric personality. After dying penniless in 1943, his "missing papers" regarding the construction of a 'death ray' became the focus of international intrigue. His research on particle beam weapons led to several American and Soviet military research programs, including the Strategic Defense Initiative, known as SDI or "Star Wars".
Director(s): Robert Uth
Production: PBS Home Video
87 min

When you think of electricity

you think of Edison.

When you think of radio

you think of Marconi.

But there is one electrical

genius who is nearly forgotten,

a man who dreamed of giving the

world an unlimited supply of energy.

His name was Nikola Tesla

and he was the master of lightning.

This program was made possible

by contributions

to your PBS station from

viewers like you.

Thank You.

The progressive development of man

is vitally dependent on invention.

Its ultimate purpose is

the complete mastery of mind

over the material world,

the harnessing of the forces

of nature to human needs.

Nikola Tesla, 1919

This is the story of a modern Prometheus

who changed the world with electricity.

It was Nikola Tesla who captured

the power of Niagara Falls

with his alternating current system

and made it possible

to transmit electricity

to all of America and the world.

It was Tesla who patented the

technology for wireless communications

that is used in all radio

and television broadcasting.

His incredible legacy can be seen

in everything from remote control

to neon and fluorescent lighting


guided missiles

and even the Strategic

Defense Initiative.

Yet somehow history has

overlooked this remarkable man.

Tesla was indeed a genius

of the first magnitude.

He was a technological visionary.

He could envision great

things and make them work.

He was a foreigner,

an immigrant who arrived in

America with only his dreams.

A proud and sometimes arrogant man,

he worked and locked horns with some

of the most powerful people of his day.

Thomas Edison, who resented his ideas

Guglielmo Marconi, who

capitalized on his inventions

George Westinghouse, who created

the Westinghouse Electric Company

with Tesla's patents

and the great financier,

J. Pierpont Morgan,

who supported and then abandoned him.

At the height of his career, Tesla was one

of the most famous men in the world.

His inventions helped America grow

into a powerful industrial nation.

His ideas created

billion-dollar corporations.

But Tesla was not a practical man.

Always driven toward the

next great breakthrough

he failed to protect his

commercial interests.

In the end, others made fortunes

with his inventions

and he wound up

penniless and rejected.

Money does not mean to me

what it does to other men.

All my money has been

invested in inventions

to make man's life a little easier.

He was a visionary genius.

There aren't many of them,

and he was willing to give

his life to his visions.

We have to evolve means

for obtaining energy from stores

that are forever inexhaustible.

What I intend to show you now,


is how I finally reached my dream.

This is the house in which,

by coincidence bizarre,

I was born on the stroke of midnight

between July 9 and 10, 1856.

A fierce electrical storm

raged that night.

Nikola Tesla was born of Serbian

parents on the eastern edge

of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

in what is today Croatia.

His father, Milutin, was an

Orthodox priest

who expected his son to follow

him in the clergy.

There were only two choices

for children in those days

one being to go in the army and

the other being to become a priest.

Tesla was not attracted by

either of them,

which was very distressing

to his father.

My father was a very erudite man.

The training he gave me comprised

of guessing one another's thoughts

and repeating long passages of verse.

My mother descended from one of the

oldest Serbian families in the country.

She invented and constructed

all kinds of tools and devices

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Tesla: Master of Lightning" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 18 Jan. 2021. <https://www.scripts.com/script/tesla:_master_of_lightning_19553>.

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