Nikola Tesla Biography

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, best known for his development of alternating current electrical systems. This biography of Nikola Tesla provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Famous as: Father of Radio

Nationality: American

Birth Date: July 10, 1856

Died At Age: 86

Sun Sign: Cancer

Born in: Smiljan, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia)

father: Milutin Tesla

mother: Duka Tesla

siblings: Dane, Milka, Angelina, Marica

Married: No

Died on: January 7, 1943

place of death: New York City, New York, USA

Diseases & Disabilities: Dyslexia

Personality: INTJ

More Facts

education: Graz University of Technology (1875 – 1878), Gymnasium Karlovac (1870 – 1873)

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Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, best known for his development of alternating current electrical systems. He also made extraordinary contributions to the fields of electromagnetism and wireless radio communications. He was a child prodigy and possessed an eidetic memory with a futuristic vision for the mankind which is evident from most of his discoveries and researches. He was a trained electrical and mechanical engineer whose discoveries and inventions included the modern electric motor, wireless transmission of energy, basic laser and radar technology, the first neon and fluorescent illumination and the Tesla coil (widely used in radio, television sets, and other electronic equipment).Despite being a great inventor, his life was mostly shadowed by poverty because he was a terrible businessman. He was impractical with his money and had nobody to pass on his legacy to since he never got involved in a relationship with anyone. Although he was regarded as a generous and polite person by his friends, he had very limited social interaction with them because of his firm daily routine. He was a loner all his life and died penniless without the accolades that he would ultimately earn after his death. He was undoubtedly one of the most influential inventors of the 20th century whose discoveries in the field of electricity were way ahead of his time and continue to influence technology even today.

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Nikola Tesla
Childhood & Early Life
  • He was born on July 10, 1856 in the village of Smiljan, Austrian Empire, to Milutin Tesla, an orthodox priest and his wife, Djuka Mandic, an inventive homemaker who, in her spare time, created household appliances.
  • He was the fourth of five children in his family. He had an eidetic memory with a knack for electrical inventions. He always credited his mother’s genetic influence for his creative abilities.
  • He received his early education of German, arithmetic, and religion from the primary school in Smiljan.
  • In 1870, he was enrolled at the Higher Real Gymnasium in Karlovac and graduated the four year course within three years in 1873 with the help of his extraordinary intelligence
  • In 1875, he attended the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria, on a Military Frontier scholarship. He was a brilliant student in his first year but got addicted to gambling in his second year at the college which ruined his graduation and he was not able to obtain a degree.
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Career
  • In 1881, he worked as a draftsman in the Central Telegraph Office in Budapest. Later he became the chief electrician in the Budapest Telephone Exchange and made significant improvements to the Central Station equipment.
  • In 1882, he was employed by the Continental Edison Company in France as a designer of electrical equipment. After two years, he was shifted to New York to work for Thomas Edison, helping him to redesign the direct current generators.
  • His idea of improving Edison’s inefficient motors and generators through the polyphase alternating current system prompted Edison to promise him a prize money of fifty thousand dollars if he did it successfully. He completed his task and demanded the prize money to which Edison replied that his challenge was just a form of American humor. Tesla immediately resigned from his job.
  • In 1888, he was hired by the industrialist George Westinghouse, who was impressed by his idea for the polyphase system, to develop the alternating current electric supply system. Ultimately, he won the war of currents with Edison’s DC system by demonstrating the marvels of electric appliances via alternating current.
  • Soon he established his own laboratory and invested his time and energy on numerous experiments including the ‘Tesla Coil’, carbon button lamp, on the power of electrical resonance, and on various types of lighting.
  • In 1899, he moved to Colorado Springs where he established his laboratory for creating a wireless global energy transmission system. He experimented on man-made lightning for sharing information and providing free electricity throughout the world wirelessly.
  • In 1900, he began his work on establishing the trans-Atlantic wireless telecommunications facility in Wardenclyffe, near Shoreham, Long Island. He performed many experiments in the facility but due to shortage of funds, he was forced to sell it around the time of World War I.
  • Later in life, he announced a method of transmitting mechanical energy with minimal loss over any terrestrial distance and a method of accurately determining the location of underground mineral deposits.
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Major Works
  • His most notable contribution is in designing the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. It proved to be a more efficient and effective method as compared to the direct current (DC) system of Edison in transmitting electricity in a grid.
  • One of his most celebrated inventions was the ‘Tesla Coil’, a circuit that transforms energy into extremely high voltage charges, creating powerful electrical fields capable of producing spectacular electrical arcs.
  • In 1943, he was dubbed as the “the father of the radio” for his significant contributions to the development of radio.
  • He played a pioneering role in the development of radar technology, X-ray technology and the rotating magnetic field—the basis of most of AC machinery.
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Awards & Achievements
  • Tesla (unit), SI derived unit of magnetic flux density (or magnetic inductivity), is named in his honor.
  • In 1894, he was awarded the ‘Elliott Cresson Medal’.
  • In 1895, he was honored with the ‘Order of Prince Danilo I’.
  • In 1934, he was awarded the ‘John Scott Medal’.
  • In 1936, he became the recipient of Order of the White Eagle, I Class, Government of Yugoslavia.
  • He was awarded the ‘University of Paris Medal’ in 1937.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • He had a strict schedule for his everyday life. He worked for almost 15 hours a day with not more than two hours of sleep. He walked for eight to ten miles each day and did not have much of a social life.
  • He had a photographic memory with the talent to speak in eight languages. He never married and did not have any known relationships despite the fact that many women were madly in love with him.
  • He became a vegetarian in his later years, living on only milk, bread, honey, and vegetable juices. He used to feed pigeons on an everyday basis near the end of his life.
  • He died of unknown causes on January 7, 1943 in a hotel room in the New York City. It was later confirmed from examining that he died of coronary thrombosis.
  • The Nikola Tesla Award, named after him, is awarded annually for an outstanding contribution to the generation or utilization of electric power.
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How To Cite

Article Title
- Nikola Tesla Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/nikola-tesla-2452.php
Last Updated
- December 27, 2016

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