The myths and legends run rampant in the stories of both Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison. They have become legendary, and along with that the mythology gets bigger.
Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison have become the geeks that the world loves to hate. But why all the hate?
A common theme among so called successful people is an obsessive compulsion to succeed. Both were known for being hard driving over bearing bosses, which means they made some enemies and acquired some haters along the road to success. Some people say the success of people like Jobs and Edison came at the expense of their former associates.
The evil Jobs versus mild mannered geek Woz
As much as you want to blame Steve Jobs for the departure of Stephen Gary "Steve" Wozniak, aka Woz, from Apple, Woz has said in many interviews that he enjoyed the technology side of creating Apple but not the business side. He left because he felt the need to move on.
Even though Woz quit working for Apple in 1985, he stayed on the Apple payroll and remained a stock holder for many years. I would say he has done pretty well for himself as Woz has been involved in numerous technology companies over the years since leaving Apple.
The evil Edison versus well meaning inventor Tesla
I've spent many years researching the Edison versus Tesla mythology. The story of Edison offering Tesla $50,000 if he could improve something is told so many different ways, you really have to wonder what is the truth. The story that Edison once electrocuted an elephant stirs up a reason to hate Edison, but if you research it, the facts dispute the story.
I really get frustrated when people say the War of Currents was a battle between Edison and Tesla. George Westinghouse was working on AC power distribution before he met Tesla. When he heard of Tesla's experiments, George Westinghouse not only paid Tesla for his patents, but offered him a job working with him.
Tesla and Westinghouse had a life long respect for each other. When Edison died, Tesla had sharp criticism of Edison. When Westinghouse died, Tesla's comments showed a deep respect for Westinghouse.
Tesla died broke because of Edison?
The mythology tells the story that Tesla died a broken down old man because of Edison, but the truth is that Tesla lived more than 40 years after the War of Currents and his battle against Edison.
Tesla fought a lot with Westinghouse engineers, he had a hard time working on a team. Tesla decided to go back out on his own rather than stay with Westinghouse. Tesla walked away from his association with Westinghouse in the 1890s with a few hundred thousand dollars, the equivalent of millions in today's money.
Tesla received large investments for his experiments in Colorado Springs and Wardencliffe, New York. In both cases Tesla misrepresented his true intent. The wealthy John Jacob Astor IV gave Tesla the money he used to build the Colorado Springs lab in 1899, under the assumption that Telsa was going to develop and produce a new lighting system. Tesla instead, used the money to fund his lab to experiment with high voltage, high frequency electricity, and the wireless transmission of power.
J.P. Morgan thought he was investing in wireless communications when he gave Tesla money to build his dream lab in Wardenclyffe New York in 1901. Tesla failed to mention the lab included his ideas of wireless power transmission. Morgan did not "cut off" Tesla as told by many stories, he simply refused to give Tesla more money when Tesla went way over budget on the project.
In the PBS documentary "Tesla Master of Lightning" Tesla's grand-nephew William Terbo explains the downfall of Nikola Tesla. "He was totally disinterested in business. He did not make the relationship between the importance of business and the importance of his invention and discovery."
Set aside the myths and legends
The tales of the evil Steve Jobs versus the mild mannered geek Woz and the powerful Thomas Edison versus the well meaning inventor Tesla make for good mythology, but every story of success is not an epic battle of good versus evil. Geek History helps you understand and appreciate great inventors and technology innovators and get to the truth behind the myths and legends..
There are lessons to be learned from the stories of Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison, set aside the myths and legends, and learn the reasons for success and failure.
Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison and the search for the truth
George Westinghouse used Tesla power to defeat Edison in Currents War