Birth Name: Nikola Tesla
Born: July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, Croatia
Died: January 7, 1943 in New York City
Time Period: Modern
Expertise: Electrical Engineer, Futurist, Inventor, Mechanical Engineer, Scientist
Known For: AC current, Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant, Tesla coil, induction motor, neon lamp, radio, remote control
Interesting quotes by Nikola Tesla
“If your hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.”
“Of all the frictional resistances, the one that most retards human movement is ignorance, what Buddha called ’the greatest evil in the world.’ The friction which results from ignorance ... can be reduced only by the spread of knowledge and the unification of the heterogeneous elements of humanity. No effort could be better spent.”
“Alternate currents, especially of high frequencies, pass with astonishing freedom through even slightly rarefied gases. The upper strata of the air are rarefied. To reach a number of miles out into space requires the overcoming of difficulties of a merely mechanical nature.”
“There is something within me that might be illusion as it is often case with young delighted people, but if I would be fortunate to achieve some of my ideals, it would be on the behalf of the whole of humanity. If those hopes would become fulfilled, the most exciting thought would be that it is a deed of a Serb.”
“Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.”
“In a crystal we have the clear evidence of the existence of a formative life-principle, and though we cannot understand the life of a crystal, it is none the less a living being.”
“Money does not represent such a value as men have placed upon it. All my money has been invested into experiments with which I have made new discoveries enabling mankind to have a little easier life.”
“Let the future tell the truth and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”
“If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search. … I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor.”
“The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter — for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way. He lives and labors and hopes.”
A brief biography of Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was born July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, Austrian Empire—known as Croatia today. Tesla was a dedicated and diligent inventor, multifaceted engineer and futuristic foreseer. He spoke eight different languages and wrote countless articles for magazines and science journals, along with books such as My Inventions:The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla. He made many contributions towards electricity supply systems, specifically his design of the Tesla Coil and AC power. He is also responsible for the idea of wireless electricity and communication. He pursued his work using a power transmitter called Wardenclyffe Tower, but unfortunately it was demolished years after not being able to sustain funding for the project.
Tesla worn born to an Eastern Orthodox priest and gifted mother. His mother, Duka Mandić Tesla, didn’t have a proper education but was surely her son’s inspiration. She was very bright and had the ability to engineer tools and mechanical appliances, and memorizing epic poems. In 1861, the young Tesla went to school in his hometown of Smiljan, where he studied the basics of math and religion as well as the German language. He futhered his education in a town north of his home in Karlovac and attended the Higher Real Gymnasium. It was there his curiousities about electricity were forged, and he soon became obsessed. In 1873, when returned home from school, he became deathly ill with cholera and was sick for nine months. His father, who originally wanted him to follow in his footsteps, made a divine promise to his son that if Nikola recovered he would send him to the best school possible, fullfilling his son’s desires to learn more about engineering and electricty. In 1875, Tesla attended Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria. His first year there, he was an excellent student, achieving the highest marks and never missing a day. He was extremely hardworking—devoting many hours to his studies every single day, without exception. However, his father didn’t think much of his son’s diligence. After his father died, Tesla found letters from his professors to his father that expressed if his son wasn’t removed from the university, he would die from overworking himself. It is said Nikola Tesla worked on his studies from 3am to 11pm everyday. Through unknown and unfortunate events, Tesla lost the scholarship during his second year and by the third he became addicted to gambling. He was unprepared for his exams and was denied an extension to study. He never graduated from Austrian Polytechnic.
In 1881, Tesla began work for a telegraph company in Budapest, Hungary, the Budapest Telephone Exchange. After a few months, he was assigned the position of Chief Electrician, and while in this role, he made countless improvements. In 1882, Tesla found more employment in Paris and worked for the Continental Edison Company, installing indoor incandescent lighting. In 1884, Tesla moved to the United States to work and manage Edison Machine Works in New York City because of his vast knowledge of engineering and improvements while he was in Paris. Tesla remained dedicated to his work, burning the midnight oil. However, after six months of employment at Edison Machine Works, he resigned. According to Tesla, he was denied a fifty thousand dollar bonus to design a number of machines after he was propositioned, only to be told by Edison himself “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.”
After his departure from Edison’s company, Tesla began working with attorneys to develop a patent for an arc lighting system and started his first utility company, Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing. It was the first patent Tesla issued in the United States. He began building and installing the system in Rahway, New Jersey, receiving attention in the press. However, investors didn’t embark on Tesla’s idea. Instead a less competitive utility company was formed and Tesla was left broke. Tesla even lost his patents. He found work digging ditches and doing odd electrical repair to make ends meet. At the end of 1886, Tesla met two new investors and with their support he established the Tesla Electric Company in April 1887. During that year, he engineered an induction motor that was used alternating current, as opposed to the commonly-used DC. The money he generated from licensing his AC patents allowed him to become wealthy. This enabled him to continue working, patenting his Tesla Coil in 1891—the same year he became a US citizen.
In 1890, Tesla started to tinker with developing a wireless lighting system. Serving as the vice president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, in 1893 he told like-minded individuals that he could achieve wireless power and wireless communication. The same year, Edward Dean Adams—businessman and power broker, approached Tesla to get his thoughts on generating power from Niagara Falls. Naturally, Tesla examined all competing possibilities and concluded that he could build a complete alternating current distribution system. That and Tesla’s workshops fascinated Edward Dean Adams and together they established the Nikola Tesla Company, enabling Tesla to set up marketing for his inventions and patents. He, along with Westinghouse Elecric Manufacturing Company, won the bid to showcase his AC system at the Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893, which eventually led to the creation of the AC power hydroelectric pant at Niagara Falls in 1895, and the world adoption of AC power over DC for the distribution of electricity.
In 1898, Tesla, while at an electrical exhibit, showed the public a boat that used remote radio control which he called “telautomaton”. The public was in awe and made preposterous claims that it was being operated by magic and telepathy—some even believed there was a hidden monkey inside operating the boat. During the later 1890s and into 1906, Tesla consumed his time and money trying to master the development for a transmission of wireless electricity. In 1899, Nikola Tesla erected an experimental headquarters in Colorado Springs. The station was centered in high altitude and was capable of using larger coils. In 1900, Tesla had a deal with the editor of The Century Magazine to document and write an article about his data and discoveries, and a photographer was sent out to Colorado to capture Tesla’s work. In June of that year, the article The Problem of Increasing Human Energy was published. In the article, Nikola Tesla elucidated the advantages of the wireless system—accompanied with pictures of his projects and Tesla himself. The following year, he received money from investors and began the plans for Wardenclyffe Towers to be built in Shoreham, New York. In 1902, construction began and Tesla moved his laboratory to Wardenclyffe. However, Wardenclyffe Tower would never be fully completed. By 1905, investors were funding to Marconi instead, the media shunned Tesla and in 1906 he suffered a nervous breakdown. In 1915, he completely lost the Wardenclyffe property in foreclosure. Two years later, Tesla’s work was torn down by the new land owner.
In 1937, when he was eighty-one years old, Tesla took a walk after midnight, as he was crossing the street he was thrown to the ground when he couldn’t get out of the way of a taxi. He suffered a few broken ribs from the fall but declined going to a doctor and never properly recovered.
Nikola Tesla died on January 7, 1943 in room 3327 at the New Yorker Hotel in New York City. He was found two days later by a maid who worked there. Tesla’s cause of death was a blood clot in his coronary artery. He was eighty-six years old.
On January 10, 1943 Mayor Fiorello La Guardia read a eulogy over the WNYC Radio while violins played Ave Maria and Tamo daleko—a Serbian folk song. Nikola Tesla’s funeral was held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where two-thousand people attended. After the ceremony, Tesla’s body was taken to the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York where he was cremated. Nikola Tesla’s ashes are on display in a gold plated sphere at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia.
Tesla achieved approximately three-hundred patents for his inventions. Many of them were issued in the United States, but they span over twenty-six countries. He is honored internationally on his birthday, July 10—such as his birthday in Serbia is National Science Day, and in Niagara Falls it’s Nikola Tesla Day. Among the many places named after Tesla, there’s an international airport in Belgrade, Serbia that is named after him. His legacy continues through the Nikola Tesla Award, it was established in 1975 and annually recognizes individuals or teams that have made remarkable contributions to the general idea or use of electric power.
Works by Nikola Tesla
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