By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Elon Musk, the founder of revolutionary companies like the rocket-making SpaceX and electric vehicle producer Tesla Motors, has often been compared to the famous inventor Nikola Tesla. After all, his car company is named after the legendary engineer who was a major rival of light bulb producer Thomas Edison, and many consider Tesla to be the true father of electricity. Now, Musk has promised to donate $1 million to the construction of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, located on the site where Tesla once made a 187-foot transmitter tower to experiment with wireless electricity.
It all started in 2012 when cartoonist Matthew Inman of the popular Web comic The Oatmeal, created an online comic strip praising Tesla as “the greatest geek who ever lived”. This soon sparked a 45-day fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo, which managed to gather $1 million to prevent the Wardenclyffe site from being sold to property developers. After successfully saving the historic location, community volunteers helped clean up the place, which had begun falling apart over the years and was quite a mess.
Then, on July 10 this year, which would have been Tesla’s 158th birthday, Inman wrote a flattering comic strip praising the Tesla Motors Model S car. At the end of it, he asked Musk to donate money for the museum, and also took to Twitter to ask the billionaire inventor for some help. To everyone’s delighted surprise, Musk agreed, and will be donating $1 million!
Now, the public can learn about Tesla’s fascinating inventions and life story. The electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futuristic thinker lived from July 10, 1856 to January 7, 1943, and was known for his science-fiction style gadgetry and wild ideas about electricity. After working for Edison, he branched out on his own, and became a major rival of his former boss. His designs significantly contributed to the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system, forever changing human energy production and consumption. He also worked on electric motors, X-rays, radio, and the shocking electricity-spewing Tesla coil.
Image of Elon Musk courtesy of Maurizio Pesce on Flickr.