Edison electrocuted an elephant 105 years ago today

Today's the anniversary of Thomas Edison's vicious electrocution of a live elephant in order to prove the dangers of Nikola Tesla's alternating current and the safety of his competing direct current.

When the day came, Topsy was restrained using a ship's hawser fastened on one end to a donkey engine and on the other to a post. Wooden sandals with copper electrodes were attached to her feet and a copper wire run to Edison's electric light plant, where his technicians awaited the go-ahead.

In order to make sure that Topsy emerged from this spectacle more than just singed and angry, she was fed cyanide-laced carrots moments before a 6,600-volt AC charge slammed through her body. Officials needn't have worried. Topsy was killed instantly and Edison, in his mind anyway, had proved his point.

A crowd put at 1,500 witnessed Topsy's execution, which was filmed by Edison and released later that year as Electrocuting an Elephant.

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