Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan in the Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia) on July 10, 1856. An American-Siberian inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist, he is most famous for his contribution to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system. Tesla’s mother, Djuka Mandic, inspired him to become an inventor and engineer as she often created home-crafted tools and mechanical appliances, and also had an incredible memory, with the ability to memorize Serbian epic poems.
Nikola Tesla’s brilliant inventions and contributions to modern technology have made him a household name. Tesla was born on 10 July, 1856, in Smiljan in modern-day Croatia. In 1870, Tesla attended high school in Karlovac, where demonstrations of electricity by his physics professor sparked his interest in electricity.
Tesla started working for the Continental Edison Company in 1882 as part of the division responsible for installing lighting systems in private homes. He gained practical experience in electrical engineering and even designed improved versions of generating dynamos and motors. In 1884, Tesla moved to the United States to work at Edison’s New York Division. Tesla left the company in the same year and started working on patenting an arc lighting system. In 1885, he established Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing with the help of financial investors. The venture was short-lived, however, and he later formed the Tesla Electric Company in 1887. Later that year, Tesla developed an induction motor that ran on alternating currents, a system that was becoming popular in Europe and the United States. The design was patented and sold for $60,000 to George Westinghouse in 1888. In 1889, after learning about Heinrich Hertz’s experiments proving the existence of electromagnetic radiation, in 1901, he started working on radio transmissions competing with Guglielmo Marconi to be the first to transmit radio signals across the globe. Tesla lost to Marconi and spent the rest of his fortune trying to improve the design. Tesla remained a bachelor his whole life and believed this helped him develop his scientific abilities. He was very asocial and tended to work most of the time. He even claimed that he never tried to sleep more than two hours a night, preferring to work on his inventions. In 1943, at the age of 86, Tesla died of coronary thrombosis.
Tesla moves to Budapest, Hungary, where he is given the position of chief electrical engineer at the Budapest Telephone Exchange company.
He works for a division that installs indoor lighting resources and improves his engineering prowess, which grants him the opportunity to relocate to the United States.
Tesla comes up with a design that utilizes an alternating current that greatly improves previous designs and provides more benefits.
Tesla begins to investigate what would later be known as X-rays using single terminal vacuum tubes.
Tesla researches ways to transmit power through inductive and capacitive coupling and designs the Tesla Coil to do just that.
Tesla introduces the public to electrical power by illuminating the exhibition.
Why We Love Nikola Tesla
Tesla changed the world
With his development of the alternating current power system and his pioneering work in the field of radio communication, Tesla changed the way we think about electricity and electromagnetic radiation. Without him, we wouldn’t have televisions, smartphones, or even Wi-Fi.
He was a mad scientist
Everyone loves a mad scientist, and Tesla fits the bill. He was very quirky, constructing complete inventions in his mind. He sometimes suffered from visual flashes and hallucinations, which he said helped him come up with solutions to problems with his inventions. He even had two secret laboratories in Colorado Springs and Wardenclyffe, Manhattan.
Tesla taught us to never give up
There were many times in his life when Tesla couldn't get funding for an invention, but that didn’t stop him from trying. He developed many ideas for innovations that he never saw to fruition, and he even spent the last of his own money trying to bring them about. Tesla’s biggest life lesson is to persevere and never give up.
5 Surprising Facts
Tesla was extremely intelligent
In high school, it was said that he could perform integral calculus in his head, which made teachers think that he was cheating.
He had a lot of patents
Tesla was able to obtain about 300 patents worldwide for his inventions.
Tesla had a photographic memory
He was able to memorize complete books — an ability that was genetically passed down from his mother.
Tesla was a polyglot
Tesla was a polyglot, which means that he spoke multiple languages, including Serbo-Croatian, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin.
He was a picture thinker
Before he started constructing an invention, Tesla would visualize it in his mind down to the tiniest detail and measurement.
Nikola Tesla FAQs
What was Nikola Tesla’s I.Q.?
It’s estimated to have ranged from 160 to 310.
Is Elon Musk related to Nikola Tesla?
No, Elon Musk is not genetically related to Nikola Tesla, but he was inspired by Tesla as an inventor and engineer.
Did Nikola Tesla become rich?
The money he made from patents made him independently wealthy but he lost his fortune after investing it into failed projects.
Nikola Tesla’s birthday dates