(CNN)He's probably the most famous inventor you've never heard of.
You might recognize his name because of the car brand named after him or because he's one of the main characters in the new film "The Current War: Director's Cut," starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison. But it's the inventor Nikola Tesla who should have been more famous for his inventions than history has awarded.
Tesla was a scientist and visionary who developed the basis for AC electric power that most of the planet uses today and pioneered numerous technologies that improve our everyday lives. A Serbian-American who emigrated to New York City in 1884, Tesla held approximately 300 patents.
"There's not a lot of modern conveniences that we currently enjoy that weren't touched by Nikola Tesla in some way," said Marc Alessi, executive director of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in New York, where teams are refurbishing Tesla's lab into a museum and innovation hub.
"If Tesla didn't accelerate the AC current system, we would be 50 years behind technologically than where we are today."
But it's not just AC power that Tesla worked on. Motors, radios, X-rays, neon signs and other technology was advanced by his extraordinary mind. We take a look at the most famous and important inventions that Nikola Tesla contributed to.
This is the Tesla technology that sparked a war with Edison, the developer of direct current, and it's the subject of the new film.
Back in 1884, Tesla left Europe to work for Edison, who supposedly promised him $50,000 to fix the problems with DC power. Meanwhile, Tesla's alternating current had fewer issues. With AC power, the current is reversed numerous times per second, making it easy to convert to higher and lower voltages.
"He was working 20 hour days, and the whole time he was saying 'let's switch to AC current, it will work better,' " Alessi told CNN. But Edison never paid him the money, and claimed the promise was a joke. "Tesla quit and he ended up in a battle with Edison," Alessi said.