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Tesla was the most important contributors to the birth of commercial electricity, and is best known for his many revolutionary developments in the field of electromagnetism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. From his work with rotary magnetic fields, Tesla devised a system for generation, transmission, and use of AC power. This gave real impetus to the Second Industrial Revolution.  It was a monumental achievement, which is basically unchanged today.
Tesla AC polyphase system of electrical power distribution
Nikola Tesla's Alternating current polyphase generators on display at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Tesla's polyphase innovations revolutionized transmission.
Tesla alternating current induction motor is considered one of the ten greatest discoveries of all time.
Nikola Tesla AC polyphase system of electrical power distribution
When Tesla introduced a system for alternating current generators, transformers, motors, wires and lights in November and December 1887, it became clear that AC was the future of electric power distribution. The advantage of AC for distributing power over a distance is due to the ease of changing voltages with a transformer. Alternating current could be transmitted over long distances at high voltages, at lower current for lower voltage drops (thus with much greater transmission efficiency than DC), and then conveniently stepped down to low voltages for use in homes and factories.

But Edison had too much money invested into his DC system, and he tried his best to discredit Tesla by showing that AC was more dangerous than DC.

Edison's direct current was the standard for the United States and Edison was not inclined to lose all his patent royalties. When Tesla arrived in the United States and sought Edison's backing for his new AC devices, Edison refused to listen.   "Hold up! Spare me that nonsense. It's dangerous. We're set up for direct current in America. People like it, and it's all I'll ever fool with."  

Tesla partnered with business magnate George Westinghouse to commercialize his AC system. It was at this time that Edison launched a propaganda war against alternating current. This war is known as „War of currents“. To read more about huge battle between Tesla and Edison
click here.
In his speech (1917) presenting Tesla with the Edison medal, Vice President Behrend of the Institute of Electrical Engineers eloquently expressed the following:  "Were we to seize and eliminate from our industrial world the result of Mr. Tesla's work, the wheels of industry would cease to turn, our electric cars and trains would stop, our towns would be dark and our mills would be idle and dead.  His name marks an epoch in the advance of electrical science."
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