The Amazing Life Of Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla - Black and White HeadShotNikola Tesla was an extraordinary man.

Nikola Tesla accomplished more in his lifetime than many of us could ever hope to achieve in a 100 lifetimes. Tesla held over 300 different patents, spanning several countries. From wireless technology to alternating current, electric motors, Radio, X-Rays, radar and laser technology…the list goes on.

Nikola Tesla’s work would go on to inspire thousands of inventors, dreamers and engineers. To this very day, his inventions continue to shape life as we know it. You can’t help but wonder what the world would have looked like today if Nikola Tesla would have been able to finish his experiments with free energy and long range wireless energy transfer.

Here’s a brief look at Nikola Tesla’s fascinating life.

Nikola Tesla Timeline

A timeline of important events, achievements, setbacks and triumphs.

  • Nikola Tesla is born
    Nikola Tesla is believed to have been born at midnight. During his birth, lightning struck during a summer storm. Born to a Serbian Family in Smiljan, Tesla was nicknamed `Child of the Storm`, by his aunt. That said, his mother replied to that comment by calling him `Child of the light`. He was born based on the conventional Slavonic rites, and his birth records show he was born on July 28th. Tesla was the fourth child in a family of five children. The family comprised of three sisters including Marica, Angelina, Milka and his old brother who was known as Dane. Dane died when Tesla was still at a tender age. Tesla attended his early education in 1861 in Smiljan, where he acquired various skills including arithmetic and he also mastered the German Language. The following year, Nikola Tesla moved to a place known as Gospic. Here, his father played the role of a Parish Pastor.
  • Tesla's Brush With Death
    Nikola Tesla moved to a place known as Karlovac to complete his high school. Three years later, he went back to Smiljan and shortly after his arrival; he contracted cholera. He was in hospital for close to one year, and he faced near-death circumstances.
  • Tesla Enrolls In College
    In 1875, Tesla enrolled to a Polytechnic based on a military scholarship. He was a disciplined student and achieved the highest grades possible while passing various exams. More so, he also started a cultural club and received a letter of commendation from the dean of the Technical Department. During his second year, he got into an argument with one his professors over the functionality of the Gramme dynamo.
  • Tesla Moves To Prague To Study Philosophy
    Tesla’s uncle collected money to help him relocate to Prague to finish his studies. He arrived late to enroll for classes, and his lack of competence in Greek and Czech meant that he did not qualify for the classes he wanted to take. Instead, he took up classes in Philosophy at the university, though he did not receive grades for the courses.
  • Tesla Begins His Career As Chief Electrical Engineer
    In 1881, he moved to Budapest in Hungary, to work for a telegraph company. Upon arriving, he noticed that the Budapest Telephone Exchange company was not in operation, so he worked at draftsman in another company. A few months later, the BTS Company was in operation, and he was given the position of chief electrical engineer. During his tenure, he introduced various operation upswings which improved the performance of the company.
  • Tesla Goes To Work For Edison
    In 1882, he found another job in Paris with a company referred to as the Continental Edison Company. He began working in a new industry by installing indoor lighting resources. His company had several divisions, and he worked in the section of the company that was responsible for lighting systems. At this company, he improved his electrical engineering prowess. The management team noticed his abilities and soon introduced him as part of the team that would produce dynamos and motors. Following this, Tesla moved to New York in the USA. In 1884, one of his managers from Paris was relocated to the US to manage a company where he worked. During, this time, Tesla started a manufacturing division that was found in New York and sought for Tesla to be relocated to the country as well. In the same year, Tesla was relocated to the USA and started working immediately.
  • Tesla Submits Some Of His First Patents
    In March 1885, he met with an attorney known as Lemuel Serrel, to help in the submission of various patents. Serrel introduced Tesla to various businessmen, including Benjamin Vail and Robert Lane. They agreed to help finance a new light production company under Tesla Name. Tesla worked to acquire the patents for the company including developing an enhanced DC motor. His solutions gained attention from the mass media who sought his solutions.
  • Tesla Re-imagines The Electric Motor
    In 1887, Tesla came up with an induction motor that was operated by alternating current, a form of power that was becoming common in Europe and the USA. This type of power provided various benefits, especially in long-distance power transmission. In particular, the motor was operated by a polyphase current, which produced a rotating magnetic field to operate the motor. This innovative electric motor was patented in May 1988, and it comprised of a basic self-starting design that did not require the use of commutators. As a result, this reduced the occurrence of sparking the high maintenance that was associated with replacing mechanical brushes
  • Tesla Begins His Work On Wireless Power Transmission
    After 1890, Tesla researched various approaches to transmitting power by inductive and capacitive coupling. This was through the use of AC voltages that were produced by his famous `Tesla coil.` He tried in many ways to come up with a wireless lighting system that was based on near field and capacitative coupling. He even performed various public demonstrations, where he would light up Geissler tubes to impress his audience. Tesla also spent close to well over a decade trying to come up with new solutions for lighting
  • Tesla Patents The Tesla Coil
    In mid 1891, at the age of 35, he became a naturalized citizen of the US. In the same year, he also patented his famous Tesla Coil.
  • Tesla's Death
    In early 1943, at age 86, Tesla died in a Hotel Room in New York. He died alone, and his body was found by a maid who ignored a do not disturb sign on Tesla’s room. The assistant medical professional evaluated the body and determined the cause of death was related to coronary complications. A few days after the FBI ordered for the acquisition of his belongings, John G Trump was called in to evaluate his works. Trump was a well known electrical engineer who worked for the state, which was held in custody. Following a three day investigation, a Trumps report concluded that was nothing that would demonstrate a hazard in unfriendly circumstances.

Tesla’s Inventions

How Tesla’s inventions changed the world forever…

Alternating Current

This is one of his first ever inventions that caused a stir at the 1893 Worlds Fair in Chicago. The resulting conclusion from Edison and Tesla`s argument on the distribution and production of electricity was provided. The argument could be summarized in relation to cost and safety factors. It was determined that the DC current produced by Edison was costly over long distances and it also produced sparks from the commutator. Edison and his proponents used various approaches to oppose Tesla`s Alternative Current as a solution. Edison tried to prove by going as far as electrocuting animals to prove his point. That said, Tesla responded by showing that AC was safe by shooting current through his body to produce light. This argument is regarded by most as the culmination of well over a decade of wrangles in terms of patents, corrupt deals and stolen ideas. Despite it all, this proves that the system developed by Tesla is effective at providing power in the modern era.

Modern Lighting

While Tesla did not invent light itself, he is responsible for the innovations that have been crucial in how it’s distributed and produced. He came up with fluorescent bulbs in his lab 40 years before they became a standard in the consumer market. More so, at the world`s fair, he used glass tubes by customizing them into the names of famous scientists, to create neon signs.

X-rays

Ionizing radio and electromagnetic technologies were common on research during early in the 1800s. However, Nikola Tesla went in depth by studying everything up until the Kirlian photography. This resource has the ability to observe life force, which is now common in medical diagnostics. It was a transformative piece of technology which Tesla was key in it`s development. Similar to many of his inventions, the inspiration for X-rays came from his belief that everything we need, is around us at all times.

Radio

It’s important to note that the Guglielmo Marconi is initially credited to be the inventor of the original radio technology. However, the Supreme Court denied his patent in 1943, when it was determined that Tesla originally built the radio years before. In particular, Radio signals occur naturally and require a transmitter and receiver to be used. This is a technique that Tesla demonstrated at a presentation in 1892 before the National Electric Light Association. Five years later, Tesla made a patent application. However, in 1904, the patents were overturned with the U.S patent office determining that Marconi was the original owner. This was mainly due to the backing that Marconi had and the state, which was afraid of paying royalties to Tesla

Remote Control

This particular invention was a natural development from the radio. The demonstration of this technology occurred in 1898 and it comprised of several huge batteries. Also, the demonstration included large radio controlled switches, a rudder, running light and a boat propeller. Although this technology remained dormant for a long time, it has played an important role in modern day society.

Electric Motor

One of his greatest inventions has finally become popular by the car that brandishes his name. Although the technical aspects are beyond the scope of this summary, it is important to note that the invention of the motor was one Tesla`s exceptional inventions. In fact, the development of this motor could have helped in reducing the world`s dependency on oil. That said, this invention was compromised by the economic crisis in 1930 and the following world wars. All things considered, this technology has revolutionized the world in many ways.

Robotics

With his exceptional prowess in scientific concepts, Nikola Tesla came up with the idea that all people are inspired by external impulses. In fact, according to him, every thought and act, was inspired by external stimuli. As a result, he came up with the concept of robotics. That said, an aspect of humanity was still present, with Tesla claiming the human replicas have limitations including growth and procreation. Nevertheless, Tesla worked with all his information to come up with practical solutions. Some of his visions for the future including robotic companions, use of sensors, autonomous systems and intelligent vehicles.

Lasers

Tesla is also believed to have played a major role in the invention of the laser. Lasers have played an important role in various medical procedures such as surgery. Besides that, the laser has also been key in the development of digital media. That said, his invention of the laser is a classical example of crossing into the worlds of science fiction. The main paradox here being that laser energy can be beneficial for the society and potentially dangerous at the same time. Lasers are still evolving and most techniques are based on the research by Tesla.

Wireless Communications and Limitless Free Energy

These two technologies are directly linked and they can have a significant impact in our daily lives. J.P Morgan gave Tesla the funding to develop a technology that would leverage the occurrence of natural frequencies in the universe to transmit data. This includes a broad range of information that could be communicated including voice messages, text and images. This represented the world’s first communication resources, but it also showed that there was a worldwide technology that could be used to connect the entire world.

Myths, Rumors & Legends

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Tesla’s life – His ambitious and unfinished projects

WardenClyffe Tower

Long-Range Wireless Energy Transfer

Tesla was researching how energy could be transferred wireless by using his accumulated knowledge on microwaves and radio. This also involved the creation of the Tesla Coil and magnifying transmitter. Tesla wanted to come up with a system where energy could be transmitted through long distances. To achieve this goal, he developed the Wardenclyffe Tower in Shoreham, Long Island. The role of this island was to function as wireless telecommunications resources and transmit electrical power. That said, JP Morgan who funded the development of the tower finally cut down the funding for the same. Since he was unable to find any additional financiers, he was inclined to stop the development of the tower. As a result, he was never able to achieve his goal of transmitting energy worldwide.

Death ray

Early in the 1930s, Tesla claimed to have come with a particle beam weapon. Theoretically speaking, this device would have been able of producing an intense and focused beam of energy. This energy could be sent across great distances to destroy armies, warplanes and more. Tesla advertised his technologies to various militaries all over the world, but never found the best financiers. According to Tesla, efforts had been made to steal the invention. His room was invaded, and his papers were scrutinized, but the perpetrators never found anything worth value.

Tesla’s Oscillator

In 1898, Tesla claimed to have developed and launched a small oscillating device that, when attached to a building, would shake it almost destroying everything around it. This device could essentially produce the same power as an earthquake. Upon realizing the potential side effects of owning such a technology, he informed his staff to destroy the technology. Some theorists still believe that the government continues to use his research in places such as the HAARP facility.

Free Electricity System

With financing from J.P Morgan, Tesla developed the Wardenclyffe Tower. This was a gigantic wireless transmission station that was found in New York in the early nineties. Morgan believed the Tower could transmit wireless resources all over the world. That said, Tesla had other plans. He intended to send messages, images and telephony all across the Atlantic to the UK. This would even be related to ships at sea based on his concepts of leveraging the Earth to conduct signals. If the project was successful, anyone could gain access to electricity, by simply inserting a rode into the ground. That said, free electricity is not profitable. This system could have serious ramifications for the energy supply in the world and Morgan refused to finance it.

Improved Airships

Tesla proposed that ships which were electrically powered could help in transporting passengers from New York to London in less than 4 hours. The airships would travel eight miles above the ground, and he also believed that the airships might source their power from the atmosphere. This would reduce the need to refuel, and the ships might be used to transport passengers to pre-chosen locations. He was never validated for his invention, and we nowadays have drones flying based on his work as inspiration.

Learn More About Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla Facts

Well known for his eccentricities, his long list of inventions and of course his technical prowess, Here’s a few facts about Nikola Tesla you may not know…

The shock of his brother’s death affected his personality

The defining moment in Tesla`s life was when he came across the death of his sibling. His death occurred during a riding accident and the years following this were traumatic for Tesla. In fact, he at one point mentioned he could see visions of the air around him `packed with flames of fire.` As an adolescent, he learnt to control his visions but would spend most of his time feeding and communicating with pigeons.

Tesla was once digging trenches for a living

Following his graduation from the state university, Tesla got a job with the local electrical company in Paris. However, he relocated later on in 1884, with the goal of working for Edison. Edison at the time was a prominent name when it came to technological innovations. Tesla quickly rose up the heights at the Edison Company, and he subsequently got a job as an engineer. Edison claimed to give a $50,000 reward for an improvement to his DC generator design. Tesla worked hard to come up with an alternative, but Edinson refused to pay up and Tesla lost his job. While Tesla searched for financiers for his project, he was forced to dig trenches to earn a living.

He discovered x rays with assistance from Mark Twain

Twain and Tesla become close compatriots in the early 18901. He received support from Mark Twain who had a lifelong obsession with new inventions and technologies as well. One day, while visiting Tesla`s lab, Twain decided to take photos that were lit by incandescent light. In 1895, Tesla and a well knew photograph her invited Twain in the lab to take a picture. This one was operated by an electrical device that was known as a Crookes tube. When Tesla reviews the resulting photograph negative, he determined that it was rather splotchy and therefore ruined. A few weeks later, he and another famous German Scientist known as Rontigen unveiled what is nowadays referred to as X-rays.

He developed a remote-controlled boat for military purposes.

During the Spanish American war that occurred in 1898, one of Tesla`s main projects was a small boat that could control through wireless signals. When he applied for the patent for the technology, the state did not believe it was functional and therefore sent their staff. Tesla did well to demonstrate his technology to the staff, and various other big names. This included J.P Morgan who was the financier of various estates. Tesla also informed a local news media that his invention would make it simple for battles to be fought without losing lives. This would render warfare useless, and this was one of his main goals. Today you can find similar technology in a wide range of technologies, such as the remotes for your TV, electric skateboards, adult electric scooters, self balancing scooters and electric unicycles.

His claims of signals received from space were legitimate

During the summer of 1899, Tesla set up a lab in Colorado Springs. The station was a high altitude station that was to be used to transmit information and electrical resources over long distances. One day, while tracking the lightning storms, his equipment came across certain beeps. After determining that Solar and terrestrial factors were not the cause, he came to the conclusion that the signals came from another planet. On the following Christmas, Tesla informed the world that there was a message from an unknown world. However, a 1996 study copying Teslas experiment showed that the signal was caused by the moon passing through Jupiter.

The famous Stanford White designed his lab

J.P Morgan was one of the main financiers of Teslas projects. In fact, in 1901, he convinced Morgan to release an average of $150,000 for a new business venture. This was a powerful station that was based at Wardenclyffe, on the northern section of Long Island. The role of the of the station would be the new location where Tesla would work on his long-distance communication resources. It is here where Stanford white was hired to design his laboratory. He was a long time friend of Tesla, and they design a lab features a giant 180-foot tower. The tower was designed to act as a transmitter, and it was also linked to underground horizontal pipes.

His relationship with J.P Morgan was not stable

When financing for the Wardenclyffe project ran out, Tesla tried to ask for additional funding for the project, but he failed. While some theorists believe the Morgan cut out funding because Tesla planned to provide wireless power, his other key concern was getting caught up with radio projects. In 1903, after being denied funds by Morgan, Tesla closed up the project. The following year, he wrote accusing Morgan of being a Muslim follower.

He spent his last years in isolation

While for a long time Tesla was one of the big names in New York, poverty and age ultimately led to his death. He lived in isolation in various hotels, and he often preferred the company of pigeons. However, he remembered one aspect of his days as a showman, in the form of press conferences that were to be organised each year. After turning 79 in the same year, he announced that he was inventing a small-sized oscillator that had the power to destroy any military forces.

He once paid his hotel bills with a supposed `death beam` plan

The closed project at Wardenclyffee was finally settled by turning over the resources to various debtors that Tesla owed. In the years after this, the owners of a certain hotel known as Governor Clinton were also given the same piece of collateral payment. This was a wooden case that Tesla said contained a functional model of a unique war ending particle weapon. According to him, the `death beam`, could be able to stop any army and this made war useless. When he gave up the box containing the information, he also warned the employees that they must refrain from opening it. Following his death, the box was opened, and it was found to contain nothing but redundant electrical components.

Nikola Tesla Quotes

“I don’t care that they stole my idea . . I care that they don’t have any of their own” -Nikola Tesla

“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” -Nikola Tesla

“All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.” ― Nikola Tesla

“If I would be fortunate to achieve some of my ideals, it would be on the behalf of the whole of humanity.” ― Nikola Tesla

“The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.” ― Nikola Tesla

Recommended books about Nikola Tesla

There are a ton of great books on Nikola Tesla if you want to learn more about Nikola Tesla.

Here is a selection of some of our favorites to get you started:

Transportation Evolved