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PBS's "Tesla" Examines The Eccentric Genius Who Envisioned Our Future

The "patron saint of geeks" gets the American Experience treatment in a new documentary.

PBS's "Tesla" Examines The Eccentric Genius Who Envisioned Our Future

WHAT: Tesla, an hourlong American Experience documentary premiering October 18 on PBS, on the life and legacy of the misunderstood inventor.

WHO: Written and produced by multi-Emmy Award-winning David Grubin, and narrated by Michael Murphy, with appearances by Tesla biographers Marc Seifer and Jill Jonnes, and novelist Samantha Hunt, MIT physicist Peter Fisher, University of Detroit Mercy historian John Staudenmaier, Liberty Science Center educator Harold Clark, and Tesla Science Center president Jane Alcorn.

WHY WE CARE: In the late 19th century, Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla gained international fame for inventing a system that ran on alternating current, facilitating long-distance distribution of electricity that would pave the way for the modern electrical power grid. He also envisioned robots, radio, radar, remote control, the wireless data transmission, and wind and solar power. His unbridled imagination slowly overpowered by mental illness and his inventions usurped by the more powerful George Westinghouse, Thomas Edison, and Guglielmo Marconi, Tesla died penniless and forgotten, until many of his ideas became reality and renewed posthumous interest.

"Many people may have heard of Tesla, but have no idea who this fascinating genius was or how influential he continues to be," says executive producer Mark Samels in a statement. "While researching a previous American Experience film about Thomas Edison, it was Nikola Tesla who kept drawing our interest. He had an uncanny ability to imagine the world we live in today and his work continues to spur innovation."

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