Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla
Photograph of Nikola Tesla, a slender, moustachioed man with a thin face and pointed chin.
Nikola Tesla, c. 1896
Born(1856-07-10)10 July 1856
Smiljan, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia)
Died7 January 1943(1943-01-07) (aged 86)
New York City, New York, United States
Cause of deathCoronary thrombosis
Resting placeNikola Tesla Museum, Belgrade, Serbia
CitizenshipAustrian (1856–1891)
American (1891–1943)
EducationGraz University of Technology (abandoned)
Engineering career
DisciplineElectrical engineering,
Mechanical engineering
ProjectsAlternating current,
high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments
Significant designInduction motor
Rotating magnetic field
Tesla coil
Radio remote control vehicle (torpedo)[1]
Nikola Tesla signature 1900.svg

Nikola Tesla (ə/;[2] Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Тесла Serbo-Croatian pronunciation: [nikoːla tesla]; 10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian-American[3][4][5] inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.[6]

Born and raised in the Austrian Empire, Tesla received an advanced education in engineering and physics in the 1870s and gained practical experience in the early 1880s working in telephony and at Continental Edison in the new electric power industry. He emigrated to the United States in 1884, where he would become a naturalized citizen. He worked for a short time at the Edison Machine Works in New York City before he struck out on his own. With the help of partners to finance and market his ideas, Tesla set up laboratories and companies in New York to develop a range of electrical and mechanical devices. His alternating current (AC) induction motor and related polyphase AC patents, licensed by Westinghouse Electric in 1888, earned him a considerable amount of money and became the cornerstone of the polyphase system which that company would eventually market.

Attempting to develop inventions he could patent and market, Tesla conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wireless-controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited. Tesla became well known as an inventor and would demonstrate his achievements to celebrities and wealthy patrons at his lab, and was noted for his showmanship at public lectures.

Throughout the 1890s, Tesla pursued his ideas for wireless lighting and worldwide wireless electric power distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs. In 1893, he made pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices. Tesla tried to put these ideas to practical use in his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project, an intercontinental wireless communication and power transmitter, but ran out of funding before he could complete it.[7]

After Wardenclyffe, Tesla went on to try to develop a series of inventions in the 1910s and 1920s with varying degrees of success. Having spent most of his money, he lived in a series of New York hotels, leaving behind unpaid bills. Tesla died in New York City in January 1943.[8] His work fell into relative obscurity following his death, but in 1960, the General Conference on Weights and Measures named the SI unit of magnetic flux density the tesla in his honor.[9] There has been a resurgence in popular interest in Tesla since the 1990s.[10]

Early years

Rebuilt, Tesla's house (parish hall) in Smiljan, now in Croatia, where he was born, and the rebuilt church, where his father served. During the Yugoslav Wars, several of the buildings were severely damaged by fire. They were restored and reopened in 2006.[11]
Tesla's baptismal record, 28 June 1856

Nikola Tesla was born an ethnic Serb in the village Smiljan, Lika county, in the Austrian Empire (present day Croatia), on 10 July [O.S. 28 June] 1856.[12][13] His father, Milutin Tesla (1819–1879),[14] was an Eastern Orthodox priest.[15][16][17][18] Tesla's mother, Đuka Tesla (née Mandić; 1822–1892), whose father was also an Orthodox priest,[19] had a talent for making home craft tools and mechanical appliances and the ability to memorize Serbian epic poems. Đuka had never received a formal education. Tesla credited his eidetic memory and creative abilities to his mother's genetics and influence.[20][21] Tesla's progenitors were from western Serbia, near Montenegro.[22]

Tesla was the fourth of five children. He had three sisters, Milka, Angelina and Marica, and an older brother named Dane, who was killed in a horse riding accident when Tesla was aged five.[23] In 1861, Tesla attended primary school in Smiljan where he studied German, arithmetic, and religion.[24] In 1862, the Tesla family moved to the nearby Gospić, Lika where Tesla's father worked as parish priest. Nikola completed primary school, followed by middle school.[24]

In 1870, Tesla moved far north to Karlovac[25] to attend high school at the Higher Real Gymnasium. The classes were held in German, as it was a school within the Austro-Hungarian Military Frontier.[26]

Tesla's father, Milutin, was an Orthodox priest in the village of Smiljan

Tesla would later write that he became interested in demonstrations of electricity by his physics professor.[27] Tesla noted that these demonstrations of this "mysterious phenomena" made him want "to know more of this wonderful force".[28] Tesla was able to perform integral calculus in his head, which prompted his teachers to believe that he was cheating.[29] He finished a four-year term in three years, graduating in 1873.[30]

In 1873, Tesla returned to Smiljan. Shortly after he arrived, he contracted cholera, was bedridden for nine months and was near death multiple times. Tesla's father, in a moment of despair, (who had originally wanted him to enter the priesthood)[31] promised to send him to the best engineering school if he recovered from the illness.[25][24]

In 1874, Tesla evaded conscription into the Austro-Hungarian Army in Smiljan[32] by running away southeast of Lika to Tomingaj, near Gračac. There he explored the mountains wearing hunter's garb. Tesla said that this contact with nature made him stronger, both physically and mentally.[24] He read many books while in Tomingaj and later said that Mark Twain's works had helped him to miraculously recover from his earlier illness.[25]

In 1875, Tesla enrolled at Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria, on a Military Frontier scholarship. During his first year, Tesla never missed a lecture, earned the highest grades possible, passed nine exams[25][24] (nearly twice as many as required[33]), started a Serb cultural club,[24] and even received a letter of commendation from the dean of the technical faculty to his father, which stated, "Your son is a star of first rank."[33] During his second year, Tesla came into conflict with Professor Poeschl over the Gramme dynamo, when Tesla suggested that commutators were not necessary.

Tesla claimed that he worked from 3 a.m. to 11 p.m., no Sundays or holidays excepted.[25] He was "mortified when [his] father made light of [those] hard won honors." After his father's death in 1879,[32] Tesla found a package of letters from his professors to his father, warning that unless he were removed from the school, Tesla would die through overwork. At the end of his second year, Tesla lost his scholarship and became addicted to gambling.[25][24] During his third year, Tesla gambled away his allowance and his tuition money, later gambling back his initial losses and returning the balance to his family. Tesla said that he "conquered [his] passion then and there," but later in the U.S. he was again known to play billiards. When examination time came, Tesla was unprepared and asked for an extension to study, but was denied. He did not receive grades for the last semester of the third year and he never graduated from the university.[32]

Tesla aged 23, c. 1879

In December 1878, Tesla left Graz and severed all relations with his family to hide the fact that he dropped out of school.[32] His friends thought that he had drowned in the nearby Mur River.[34] Tesla moved to Maribor, where he worked as a draftsman for 60 florins per month. He spent his spare time playing cards with local men on the streets.[32]

In March 1879, Tesla's father went to Maribor to beg his son to return home, but he refused.[24] Nikola suffered a nervous breakdown around the same time.[34] On 24 March 1879, Tesla was returned to Gospić under police guard for not having a residence permit.

On 17 April 1879, Milutin Tesla died at the age of 60 after contracting an unspecified illness.[24] Some sources say that he died of a stroke.[35] During that year, Tesla taught a large class of students in his old school in Gospić.[24]

In January 1880, two of Tesla's uncles put together enough money to help him leave Gospić for Prague, where he was to study. He arrived too late to enroll at Charles-Ferdinand University; he had never studied Greek, a required subject; and he was illiterate in Czech, another required subject. Tesla did, however, attend lectures in philosophy at the university as an auditor and he did not receive grades for the courses.[24][36][37]

Working at Budapest Telephone Exchange

In 1881, Tesla moved to Budapest, Hungary, to work under Tivadar Puskás at a telegraph company, the Budapest Telephone Exchange. Upon arrival, Tesla realized that the company, then under construction, was not functional, so he worked as a draftsman in the Central Telegraph Office instead. Within a few months, the Budapest Telephone Exchange became functional, and Tesla was allocated the chief electrician position.[24] During his employment, Tesla made many improvements to the Central Station equipment and claimed to have perfected a telephone repeater or amplifier, which was never patented nor publicly described.[25]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Nikola Tesla
Alemannisch: Nikola Tesla
አማርኛ: ኒኮላ ተስላ
العربية: نيكولا تسلا
aragonés: Nikola Tesla
armãneashti: Nikola Tesla
asturianu: Nikola Tesla
Aymar aru: Nikola Tesla
azərbaycanca: Nikola Tesla
تۆرکجه: نیکولا تسلا
Bân-lâm-gú: Nikola Tesla
башҡортса: Никола Тесла
беларуская: Нікола Тэсла
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Нікола Тэсла
български: Никола Тесла
bosanski: Nikola Tesla
brezhoneg: Nikola Tesla
català: Nikola Tesla
Чӑвашла: Никола Тесла
čeština: Nikola Tesla
Cymraeg: Nikola Tesla
Deutsch: Nikola Tesla
Ελληνικά: Νίκολα Τέσλα
español: Nikola Tesla
Esperanto: Nikola Tesla
euskara: Nikola Tesla
Fiji Hindi: Nikola Tesla
føroyskt: Nikola Tesla
français: Nikola Tesla
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Հայերեն: Նիկոլա Տեսլա
hrvatski: Nikola Tesla
Ilokano: Nikola Tesla
Bahasa Indonesia: Nikola Tesla
interlingua: Nikola Tesla
íslenska: Nikola Tesla
italiano: Nikola Tesla
Kapampangan: Nikola Tesla
ქართული: ნიკოლა ტესლა
қазақша: Никола Тесла
Kiswahili: Nikola Tesla
Kreyòl ayisyen: Nikola Tesla
Кыргызча: Тесла, Никола
latviešu: Nikola Tesla
lietuvių: Nikola Tesla
Ligure: Nikola Tesla
Limburgs: Nikola Tesla
Livvinkarjala: Nikola Tesla
lumbaart: Nikola Tesla
македонски: Никола Тесла
Malagasy: Nikola Tesla
მარგალური: ნიკოლა ტესლა
Bahasa Melayu: Nikola Tesla
မြန်မာဘာသာ: နီကိုလာ တက်စလာ
Nederlands: Nikola Tesla
नेपाल भाषा: निकोला टेस्ला
нохчийн: Тесла, Никола
norsk nynorsk: Nikola Tesla
occitan: Nikola Tesla
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Nikola Tesla
Pälzisch: Nikola Tesla
پنجابی: نکولا ٹیسلا
Patois: Nikola Tesla
Piemontèis: Nikola Tesla
polski: Nikola Tesla
português: Nikola Tesla
Qaraqalpaqsha: Nikola Tesla
română: Nikola Tesla
Runa Simi: Nikola Tesla
русиньскый: Нікола Тесла
русский: Тесла, Никола
саха тыла: Никола Тесла
संस्कृतम्: निकोला टेस्ला
sicilianu: Nikola Tesla
Simple English: Nikola Tesla
slovenčina: Nikola Tesla
slovenščina: Nikola Tesla
српски / srpski: Никола Тесла
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Nikola Tesla
svenska: Nikola Tesla
Tagalog: Nikola Tesla
татарча/tatarça: Nikola Tesla
Türkçe: Nikola Tesla
Türkmençe: Nikola Tesla
українська: Нікола Тесла
vepsän kel’: Tesla Nikola
Tiếng Việt: Nikola Tesla
Volapük: Nikola Tesla
Winaray: Nikola Tesla
Yorùbá: Nikola Tesla
粵語: 特斯拉
žemaitėška: Nikola Tesla