Tesla’s Bane

In 1885 Nikola Tesla, who had recently immigrated to the US from Serbia, told his employer Thomas Edison that he could redesign Edison’s direct current generators, greatly improving both their service and cost. Hearing this, Edison remarked: “There’s fifty thousand dollars in it for you if you can do it.”

Even though Edison’s company had a reputation for being tightfisted, Tesla took him at his word, and after he completed the task, Edison refused to pay him the money. Instead, Edison told Tesla that he was only joking, and offered him a $10 per week raise for his current $18 per week salary. Insulted, Tesla immediately resigned.

bane: death, destruction; woe; a source of harm or ruin, a curse. Middle English, from Old English, akin to Old High German death. First Known Use: before 12th century

tightfisted – parsimonious; stingy; tight; mean; miserly. Origin from 1835-45.