Grand-Nephew Promotes Film, Appreciation for Inventor

By Karlovits, Bob | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 30, 2007 | Go to article overview

Grand-Nephew Promotes Film, Appreciation for Inventor


Karlovits, Bob, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


William H. Terbo has added a personal form of high voltage to an upcoming film about George Westinghouse.

"About Nikola Tesla, I can talk indefinitely," Terbo says with a laugh as he begins a discussion about the inventor whom he calls a "soulmate" of industrialist Westinghouse.

Terbo, a grand-nephew and the closest living relative of the Serbian electrical genius who had 112 U.S. patents, talked about Tesla's work before ending a stay in O'Hara.

He was there to do an interview about Tesla for "Westinghouse," a film to be released in 2008. The documentary by O'Hara's Inecom Entertainment Co. is set to be released on DVD in April in conjunction with the celebration of Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary.

Terbo, 77, of Scotch Plains, N.J., is a founding director and chairman of the Tesla Memorial Society Inc., a nonprofit group that tries to advance knowledge of the inventor, who lived from 1856 to 1943.

He shows great enthusiasm about Tesla, who for many years he thought of simply as "my father's uncle" and not as a technological genius who teamed with Westinghouse in the development of alternating current as the power scheme of the nation.

His eyes gleam as he talks about how Tesla and Westinghouse (1846- 1914) approached the challenge of developing electrical power, generators and turbines with the intent of doing work "that would do some good."

He points to the statue in Niagara Falls, Ontario, honoring Tesla for his work in developing hydroelectric power at the site.

A look at the list of Tesla's patents reveals an item that helped harness electricity into a taken-for-granted power. For instance, he talks about the Tesla coil, "which is in every automobile" and helps make high voltage practical.

Tesla also had eight patents that led to the development of modern radio, seven more than Gugliemo Marconi (1874-1937), usually seen as the inventor of the medium. …

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