The early years of Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in Smiljan, Croatia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father was a priest in the Serbian Orthodox Church and his mother managed the family farm. In 1863, Tesla’s brother Daniel was killed in a horse riding accident. The shock of the loss destabilized 7-year-old Tesla, who reported seeing visions, the first signs of his lifelong mental illnesses.
Tesla studied mathematics and physics at the Technical University of Graz and philosophy at the University of Prague. In 1882, during a walk, he came up with the idea of a brushless alternating current motor, making the first sketches of its rotating electromagnets in the sand on the path. Later that year, he moved to Paris and obtained a job repairing direct current (DC) power plants at Continental Edison Company. Two years later, he immigrated to the United States.
Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison
Tesla has arrived new York in 1884 and was hired as an engineer at Thomas Edison’s Manhattan headquarters. He worked there for a year, impressing Edison with his diligence and ingenuity. At one point, Edison told Tesla he would pay $50,000 for an improved design of his DC dynamos. After months of experimentation, Tesla presented a solution and asked for money. Edison hesitated, saying, “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor. » Tesla resigned shortly after.
Nikola Tesla and Westinghouse
After a failed attempt to start his own Tesla Electric Light Company and an attempt to dig ditches for $2 a day, Tesla found backers to support his research into alternating current. In 1887 and 1888 he was awarded more than 30 patents for his inventions and was invited to address the American Institute of Electrical Engineers on his work. His lecture attracted the attention of George Westinghouse, the inventor who had pioneered the first alternating current power system near Boston and was Edison’s main competitor in the “Battle of the Currents.”
Westinghouse hired Tesla, licensed his AC motor patents, and gave him his own laboratory. In 1890, Edison arranged for a convicted New York murderer to be put to death in an AC-powered electric chair – a stunt designed to show how dangerous the Westinghouse standard could be.
Armed with royalties from Westinghouse, Tesla once again struck out on its own. But Westinghouse was soon forced by its backers to renegotiate their contract, with Tesla giving up its royalty rights.
In the 1890s, Tesla invented electric oscillators, meters, improved lighting, and the high-voltage transformer known as the Tesla coil. He also experimented with x-rays and demonstrated short-range radio communication two years before. Guglielmo Marconi and piloted a radio-controlled boat around a swimming pool at Madison Square Garden. Together, Tesla and Westinghouse lit the fire 1893 Universal Exhibition in Colombia In Chicago and partnered with General Electric to install AC generators in Niagara Fallscreating the first modern power plant.
The Failures, Death, and Legacy of Nikola Tesla
In 1895, Tesla’s New York laboratory burned, destroying years of notes and equipment. Tesla moved to Colorado Springs for two years, then returned to New York in 1900. He gained support from financier J.P. Morgan and began building a global communications network centered on a giant tower in Wardenclyffe, Long Island. But funds ran out and Morgan balked at Tesla’s grandiose plans.
Tesla lived his final decades in a New York hotel, working on new inventions even as his energy and mental health declined. His obsession with the number three and his tedious laundry have been considered eccentricities of genius. He spent his last years feeding the town’s pigeons and, he said, communicating with them.
Tesla died in his bedroom on January 7, 1943. Later that year, the United States Supreme Court revoked four of Marconi’s key patents, belatedly recognizing Tesla’s radio innovations. The AC system he championed and improved remains the world standard for power transmission.