|Physicist & Engineer|
|Specialty||Alternating current, electricity supply system|
|Born||July 10, 1856
Smiljan, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia)
|Died||Jan. 7, 1943 (at age 86)
New York City, New York, USA
Nikola Tesla has been referred to as the genius who lit the world. This moniker is in reference to his innovative work with electric currents. Each and every time someone turns on a light switch or, for that matter, any type of electrical device, the generation of energy can be traced back to the great work done by Tesla. His work made the conducting of electricity possible.
Tesla’s Early Life
Nikola Tesla was born in Serbia. He credits his mother for being the person who helped formulate his early education. Ironically, his mother never had a formal education herself. At the age of 14, Tesla and his family moved to Croatia. It was there Tesla attended Higher Real Gymnasium where he invested a great deal of time learning the intricacies of mathematics.
Tesla truly was a prodigy and completed his term a full year ahead of schedule. At one point in his young life, he contracted cholera and nearly died. However, he was able to regain his health and overcome the dreaded illness.
Tesla would start out as a very accomplished student at Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria. During his second year at the school, Tesla developed a huge gambling addiction that took over his life. He lost all his savings and was nearly destroyed. As was the case with cholera, Tesla overcame his issues and was able to get his educational and professional career back on the right path.
Tesla’s Association with Edison
Tesla had quite a number of ups and downs throughout his life. When he moved to France in 1882, he took a job with Continental Edison Company and he worked on aiding in the improvement of electrical equipment. His success on the job eventually led to gaining a new position with the company in its New York office.
Tesla quickly became one of the most valued employees in the company. He was able to take quite a number of inefficient devices the Edison Company was producing and dramatically improve on them. Eventually, Tesla came to the realization the person who should most benefit from his skills should be himself. To achieve such ends, he went on to found his own company.
Tesla Goes into Business
In 1886, Tesla established his own business, Tesla Electrical Light & Manufacturing. As the CEO of the company, he came up with the idea for alternating current transmission systems. His investors thought it was a horrible idea and fired him. Tesla ended up destitute and had to take a job as a ditch digger.
In the spring of 1887, new investors helped him launch the Tesla Electric Company and the new company went to work on creating alternating current transmission systems and its corresponding motors. Attempts at creating AC motors were being made by scores of inventors because AC power had tremendous potential over current forms of electricity.
Hired by Westinghouse
Eventually, Tesla was able to create the only motor that could generate the power. Once the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company’s chief, George Westinghouse, learned of this, Tesla was offered a lucrative licensing agreement along with a monthly salary as a consultant. His days of struggling were seemingly over.
Tesla did not exactly have a smooth relationship with the other engineers at Westinghouse. There were enormous disagreements over many projects. Overall, Tesla seemed to do well with the company and was able to reap many rewards from his association with it.
Tesla’s Further Inventions
Tesla was not someone who ever stopped working and innovating. He developed an early version of wireless energy transmission and soon followed it with the Tesla Coil. The Tesla Coil was a transformer circuit like no other that had been seen at the time. Soon after, be began working on the very early discoveries of X-rays.
Probably his greatest work at this point in his life was in areas related to radio wave transmissions. This would set the stage for the creation of the radio. Radio wave transmissions could also power boats and the military was greatly interested in these innovations.
Nikola Tesla lived a long and productive life until heart disease took him at the age of 86.