Hi, I m from Serbia(country of big scientist) and recently I had a chance to see an amazing exibition dedicated, first of all to Michael Pupin, but also to Tesla and Milutin Milankovic. And its well know(at least they represent it like that in my country) that people say that Pupin and Tesla werent in a good relationship. And at that exibition they actually proved it otherwise.So, my question is what do you know about Tesla's relationship with Pupin, and also with Milutin Milankovic?
Thanks for the great question! I’ll try my best to answer.
So to my understanding, Tesla and Pupin had a bitter relationship. The grudge between the two started in the early 1890s revolving around Tesla’s AC Polyphase system. Pupin admired Tesla early, but made friends with Elihu Thomson, who was a rival of Tesla’s. Thomson had a profitable electric company, but after Tesla introduced his AC system, Thomson realized the advantages of Tesla’s system but was blocked from using it because Tesla held patent rights. So basically Thomson tried to prove that others invented the system before Tesla so his company could profit off it. Pupin was thrown into the mix because he befriended Thomson, so Pupin too tried to disprove Tesla being the true creator of the system. During lectures given in the states, Pupin mentions that two German inventors conceived the system first. This bothered Tesla because Pupin was a fellow countryman and Tesla knew that other’s systems were toys compared to his. It is a fact though that the German inventor, Dolivo Dobrowolsky, admitted that he and C. E. L. Brown (who Pupin refered to) got their idea from Tesla’s patent. Also, Charles Steinmetz, a German and a later friend of Pupin, refuted Pupin and said in a lecture that the Germans system is based off Tesla’s patent. Even so, Pupin still gave Tesla no credit or respect. And to add insult to injury, later Pupin developed his Pupin coils for telecommunications and pretty much copied Tesla’s oscillator patents. Pupin was continually denied by the U.S. patent office for years because he was using Tesla’s work until Pupin finally found a way to bipass Tesla’s invention. When Tesla heard this he just shrugged it off. And to add even more insult to injury, later in the 1900s, Pupin made friends with Guglielomo Marconi, and there was a huge lawsuit against Marconi and Tesla over wireless transmission patent rights. In a testimony Pupin denied Tesla being the true father of radio, claiming that he himself invented wireless before both Marconi and Tesla, even though Tesla’s lecture in 1891 proved he was ahead of the two by over 5 years. After Tesla’s death the U.S government ruled Marconi’s patents invalid and awarded Tesla the patents to radio because of his lectures in the early 1890s.
But… When Pupin became ill and was on his death bed, he called for Tesla to visit him. Tesla, still extremely upset with Pupin, finally decided to visit him. This I believe, is where they made amends.
I apologize, but I do not know of any relationship between Tesla and Milutin Milankovic, but I’m sure they had much respect for each other. Milankovic was a genius!