Who Was Nikola Tesla?

A statue of Nikola Tesla. Editorial credit: Georgios Kollidas / Shutterstock.com. Editorial credit: PitK / Shutterstock.com.
A statue of Nikola Tesla. Editorial credit: Georgios Kollidas / Shutterstock.com. Editorial credit: PitK / Shutterstock.com.

Considered to be one of the greatest scientists of all time, Nikola Tesla born in Smiljan, Lika County in the former Austrian Empire which is now present-day Croatia on July 10, 1856, and died on January 7, 1943, at the age of 86. He died in New York City, US. He was the son of an Eastern Orthodox priest named Milutin Tesla and Duka Tesla who never had any formal education but was very talented when it came to crafting.

Early Childhood And Education

Tesla was the fourth child in a family of five and had three sisters named Milka, Angelina, and Marica and also one brother named Dane. Tesla had an eidetic memory thanks to his mother according to Tesla himself. In 1861 he enrolled in a primary school in Smiljan where he learned mathematics, German, and religion. His family moved to Gospic in 1862 where he attended Higher Real Gymnasium high school in Karlovac. This was where Tesla developed an interest in electricity which was also sparked by the demonstrations by his physics professor which according to him made him want to know more. He was such a bright student that teachers believed he was cheating in school and completed a four-year course in a span of three years in 1873.

He was nearly admitted to the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1874 but escaped by running to another city and in 1875 he joined the Austrian Polytechnic stationed in Graz, Austria using a Military Frontier scholarship. Tesla continued to be brilliant in school and attained the best grades in during his first year in school but was not able to graduate from the college due to his addiction to gambling. His life afterward was not so great as he worked as a draftsman and spent most of his time playing cards from 1878 until 1879 where his father died. He enrolled at Charles-Ferdinand University in 1880 and although he attended the classes, he never received any grades for any course.

Career And A Move To The US

His path to greatness started when he got a job in the Central Telegraph Office stationed in Budapest as a draftsman in 1881 and later appointed the chief electrician of Budapest Telephone Exchange Company where he made great improvements to its equipment and even improved the telephone repeater. He got a job with the Continental Edison Company in 1882 where he gained a lot of knowledge in electrical engineering and later started designing motors and dynamos. In 1884 he moved to the US where he worked for Thomas Edison to develop direct current generators and managed to produce efficient motors and generators using the alternating current model at the Edison Machine Works Company. He, however, quit after being promised $50,000 by Edison to develop the efficient motors and Edison did not deliver on his promise saying that it was American humor. The reason for leaving is unclear with stating that it was due to unpaid bonuses.

Tesla got sponsors in 1885 that started the Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing and from here he went to produce inventions after inventions. In 1888 he worked for George Westinghouse in AC electricity and in 1899 went to Colorado and started his own laboratory working on transmitting electricity wirelessly worldwide but due to lack of funds, he sold the lab.

Achievement, Awards, And Death

He is known for developing the AC electricity model which is more efficient and also invented the Tesla Coil for converting energy to high voltages. He was named the “father of radio” in 1943 for his immense contribution to the improvement of the radio. He contributed to the invention of the X-ray technology and also started one of the first hydroelectric power plants based in Niagara Falls.

He is known for having the vision to supply free electricity worldwide and won many awards including the Elliott Cresson Medal (1894), Order of Prince Danilo I (1895), the John Scott Medal (1934), and University of Paris Medal (1937) among many others and achieved to have the SI unit of magnetic flux density named after him. He died on January 7, 1943, at the age of 86 in New York City of a heart thrombus. He was never married with his reason being it helped him concentrate much better.


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