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Biography of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)


Chronology of Tesla's life:



  • 1856: On July 10 In the village of Smiljan in Lika, Yugoslavia, a son, Nikola Tesla, was born to Milutin Tesla, a priest of the Orthodox Church, and his wife Djuka in a village near Gospić (a small town in Austrian-Empire, now in the Republic of Croatia);


  • 1862-1866: Attends elementary school in Smiljan and Gospic.


  • 1866-1870: Attends junior high school in Gospic.


  • 1871-1874: Attends high school in Karlovac. In 1873 Passed the final examination in the secondary school (Realgymnasium) at Karlovac;


  • 1875 - 1878: Studies at the Polytechnics in Graz. During 1877, in his second year at the Polytechnic School at Graz, at a lecture on electrical engineering given by professor Poeschl, Tesla witnessed a demonstration of a dynamo operating as a motor. It was then that Tesla, for the first time, had an idea of an alternating current motor, without commutators and brushes.


    Professor Poesche (or Poeschl):


    "Nikola's ability at Mathematics is phenomenal. He knows the answers as quickly as the professor puts the problems on the board. He figures the answers out mentally and hardly ever writes the problem down."


  • 1879: Tesla's first job, as an assistant engineer in a technical firm in Maribor.


  • 1880: Studies natural philosophy to complete his education at the Charles' University in Prague;


  • 1881:Starts working for the Central Telegraph Office in Budapest and makes his first invention: voice amplifier for the telephone receiver;


  • 1882:Invents the rotating magnetic field and leaves Budapest; finds employment in the Edison Continental Company in Paris


  • 1883: Spends six months working on the reconstruction of the power station in Strasbourg. Makes the first model of the induction motor;


  • 1884:Returns to Paris. On the recommendation of the Board in Paris travels to New York to work in the "Edison Machine Works";


  • 1885: Leaves Edison's company and founds the "Tesla Arc Light Co." in New York. Makes first alternating current motors and generators. Applies his first patent "Commutator for Dynamo-electric Machines", followed by patents on arc-lamps regulators;


  • 1887: Applies the patents on the polyphase alternating current motors and generators. Gives his first lecture: "New systems of Alternate Currents Motors and Transformers" before the AIEE (American Institute of Electrical Engineers); signs the contract with Westinghouse Electric Co. on the exploitation of his patents;


  • 1889: Works in the Westinghouse Electric Co. in Pittsburgh on the improvement of his motors. The production of these motors began in this year.


  • 1890: Begins the experiments with high-frequency currents. Invents the high-frequency current generator


  • 1891: become an American citizen and Invents the coreless transformers.


  • 1892: Gives lectures in London and Paris on his latest researches (""Experiments With Alternate Currents of high potential and high frequency"); visits his homeland and Belgrade.


  • 1893: Invents the wireless telegraphy system; achieves great success with his lectures at the World Exhibition in Chicago. Together with Westinghouse demonstrates his system of production, transmission and use of alternate currents, influencing decisively the acceptance of this project proposal for the construction of hydroelectric power plant at the Niagara Falls;


  • 1894 - 95: Invents mechanical oscillators and generators of electrical oscillations;


  • 1895: Fire destroys his laboratory in New York;


  • 1895-96: Makes experiments with X-rays;


  • 1897-98: Applies his first patents on the wireless transmissions of energy; demonstrates the model of the remote-controlled boat. (It was the first experiment of the use of radio waves for remote control)


  • 1899: Builds the laboratory at the Colorado Springs and performs experiments with the high-frequency transformer (Tesla Coil) of 12 million volts;


  • 1900 - 05: Constructs his Transmitting Tower i.e. the aerial for "World Telegraph" at Long Island, Wardencliff, N.Y.C., intending to create the world-wide system for the transmission of information and energy;


  • 1907: Makes the first model of the turbine based on a new principle of the utilization of the energy of the fluid by the viscous friction.


  • 1908: The model of the new pump was tested in a factory of an American-British company;


  • 1909: Makes drafts and plans for aeromobile; makes first tests with the steam and gas turbines


  • 1911-13: Tests his steam turbines in the Edison's power plant in New York


  • 1913: Obtains patents for the pump and turbine based on a new principle. Co-operates with the Dressel Co. on the project of a generator for the front light of a locomotive engine;


  • 1914: Applies patents on several types of speed indicators; constructs new types of fountains etc.;


  • 1917: Works on the project of a turbo-generator


  • 1918.- 20: Co-operates with the Alis Chalmers Co. on the production and testing of his steam and gas turbines


  • 1920-23: Co-operates with the Bud Co. on the production of automobile motors;


  • 1928: Applies patents for the vertically ascending aeroplane;


  • 1930 - 35: Studies the possibilities of the improvements in the production and processing of sulphur, iron and copper;


  • 1936: Makes project proposals for telegeodynamics or the energy transmission through the earth and of defensive weapon known as "death rays"


  • 1937: Injured in the traffic accident in New York


  • 1943, 7 Jan: Died in the hotel "New Yorker" in New York.



Tesla's achievements


Summary of some of the major achievements of Nikola Tesla - by Kenneth M. Swezey, friend and confidant of Tesla - May 16th, 1948:


Electric power


In the early 1890s, Tesla discovered the “rotating magnetic field” produced by two or more alternating currents out of step with each other.


Based on this discovery, Tesla proceeded to invent the prototypes of almost all practical alternating current motors and the whole polyphase system for generating, transmitting, and distributing electric current as well.


The first Tesla polyphase system patents were granted on May 1, 1888. The Westinghouse Electric Company acquired rights to them several months later, and in 1893 was able to demonstrate a complete system at the Chicago World’s Fair. The demonstration was so convincing that — against the warnings of such men as Edison and Lord Kelvin — the Tesla system was adopted for the first great hydro-electric plant at Niagara Falls, which started operation in 1895. A year later, Niagara power was running street cars and lights in Buffalo. The age of Electric Power was thus born.


Today, practically all electricity in the world is generated, transmitted, and turned into mechanical power by means of the Tesla Polyphase System. Without this system, the giant steam-electric power plants in our big cities and the big hydro-electric protects such as TVA, Boulder Dam, Grand Coulee, would be impossible.


Although practically unknown to the layman, the Tesla polyphase inventions are, without question, the most important single group of inventions in the whole field of electrical engineering.




Dr. L. W. Austin, head of the radio section of the Bureau of Standards for many years; Prof, Slaby, German radio pioneer (the “Marconi of Germany”), M. E. Girardeau, French radio authority, and others, have called Tesla the “Father of the Wireless.” This was for his inventions and discoveries made at least several years before the very first experiments of Marconi and others. Here are several:


  • High frequency generators for producing continuous waves.
  • Coupled and tuned circuits. (His “Tesla Coil,” which he made in many varieties, is used in one form or another in every radio and television set of today.)
  • Rotary and series spark gaps.
  • Oil-insulated transformers and condensers.
  • Mica condensers impregnated with wax under vacuum.
  • Stranded conductors (“Litzendraht”).
  • Aerial and ground connection.
  • Selective tuning by beat waves or heterodyning.
  • Arcs for producing continuous waves.
  • “Ticker” for receiving continuous waves.
  • Choke coils. 


Radio-controled vessels (guided missiles)


Before 1897 (the year Marconi received his first wireless patent in the United States), Tesla devised boats, cars, and other movable objects that could be maneuvered completely by radio waves. He demonstrated these widely in New York in 1898, and before the Commercial Club in Chicago in 1899. This work with what Tesla called “Telautomatics,” advanced later by John Hays Hammond, Jr. and others, was the beginning of the concept which has led to today’s guided missiles.


High frequency Induction furnace and heating


In the early 1890′s, Tesla described heating bars of iron and melting lead and tin in the field of specially designed high-frequency coils, also of heating dielectrics in such fields. When, in 1916, Dr. Edwin Northrup devised his first commercial high-frequency furnace, he told me he had gone back for his inspiration to the old ideas and circuits of Tesla.




During this same period, Tesla developed apparatus for producing high voltage, high frequency “Tesla currents.” He first reasoned, then demonstrated on himself that very high voltages could be taken safely into the human body provided the frequencies were high enough — thus making a discovery in physiology. Soon after, adapted by D’Arsonval and others, the Tesla apparatus became the basic tool of diathermy and other forms of high-frequency electro-therapeutics.


Neon and fluorescent lighting


Before 1893, Tesla devised all kinds of wirelessly-lit vacuum and gas-filled tubes. He increased the brilliance of some by using uranium glass or coating them with phosphors — thus creating pioneer fluorescent tubes. He bent many to suit the requirements of the room they were to light, and others to form words or names just as we do in modern display lighting. Tesla displayed some of his neon-type tubes in his personal exhibit at the 1893 World’s Fair.


Mechanical power


Tesla devised a turbine having smooth parallel blades, without buckets. The principle, which involved the friction of air, steam, or gas, at high velocity, was used to couple the elements of a speedometer made for years by Waltham and used on many of our best cars.


Artificial lightning


At his Colorado Springs laboratory in 1899 and 1900, Tesla produced artificial lightning crashes of many millions of volts and up to 135 feet long — a feat never since equalled.


Synchronous electric clocks


In his talk before the International Electrical Congress, August 25, 1893, at the Chicago Fair, he demonstrated several synchronous electric clocks. In a statement regarding his “World System” of wireless power, made in 1900, he mentioned cheap synchronous clocks all over the-world which would be powered and kept in step by a single master generator in the United States. No one put such clocks into commercial use until about 1916.




Though more in the form of prophecy (as there was no equipment at the time capable of carrying it out), Tesla wrote in 1917 of ideas he claims he had many years before in which vessels and other distant objects could be detected by training on them an extremely powerful ray of short-wave electrical impulses and picking up a reflection on a fluorescent screen. Marconi was hailed as the progenitor of this idea when he made a similar, but less detailed, prophecy in 1922 — at a time when there was still no means to effectively carry it out.




As another promise for his “World Wireless,” of 1900, Tesla proposed: “The interconnection and operation of all the telephone exchanges on the globe; the world transmission of typed or hand-written characters, letters, checks, etc.; the inauguration of a system of world printing; the world reproduction of photographs and all kinds of drawings or records.” Prof. Arthur Korn, who actually sent the first pictures by wireless, credits Tesla with some of his system.




At the turn of the century, Tesla also said this of his system: “I have no doubt that it will prove very efficient in enlightening the masses, particularly in still uncivilized countries and less accessible regions, and that it will add materially to general safety, comfort and convenience, and maintenance of peaceful relations. It involves the employment of a number of plants, all of which are capable of transmitting individualized signals to the uttermost confines of the earth. Each of them will be preferably located near some important center of civilization and the news it receives through any channel will be flashed to all points of the globe. A cheap and simple device, which might be carried in one’s pocket, may then be set up somewhere on sea or land, where it will record the world’s news or such special messages as may be intended for it.”


In an article of appreciation of Tesla’s work, published in the Scientific Monthly, just after Tesla died in 1943, Major E. H. Armstrong quoted the statement above and commented: “of course the instrumentalities for practicing broadcasting were not then in existence. Tesla was classed as a visionary and his prophecy was forgotten. What harsher terms might, with justice, be applied to many of us who helped produce the instrumentalities with which broadcasting was eventually accomplished. We applied them to point-to-point communication, failing completely to realize the significance of Tesla’s words.”



Tesla's OCD


Tesla had a germ phobia and was obsessed with the number three. For this reason, before entering a building he would often feel the urge to walk around the block three times. He would disconcert guests by estimating the mass of his meal before taking a bite and counting jaw movements while he was eating. What’s more, he always used 18 napkins.


Tesla also developed a phobia of round objects, particularly women’s earrings and jewelry in general, and would refuse to shake hands upon meeting people. He also couldn’t bear to touch hair.


Most people don’t know that Tesla had a terrific sense of humor, Seifer said. For example, after dining with writer and poet Rudyard Kipling, he wrote this in a correspondence to a close friend:


April 1, 1901

My dear Mrs. Johnson,     


What is the matter with inkspiller Kipling? He actually dared to invite me to dine in an obscure hotel where I would be sure to get hair and cockroaches in the soup.


Yours truly,

N. Tesla




The American inventor Armstrong:


"The world will long have to wait for a mind equal to Tesla's, a mind of such creative possibilities and such wealth of magination."



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Write a comment

Comments: 4
  • #1

    Vikram H. Zaveri (Wednesday, 08 July 2015 07:06)

    10:01 AM 08/07/2015
    Sub: Biography of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)
    In chronology of Tesla's life, for the year 1896, following details can be added.

    1896: Attends a lecture by a Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda. Gets impressed by Vedantic cosmology. Tells Swami that he thinks he can demonstrate mathematically that force and matter are reducible to potential energy.

    In this connection I quote here from the writings of a Hindu monk whose lecture Nikola Tesla attended when he was in New York. A very early attempt (In 1896, before E=mc^2), at relating Advaita Vedanta philosophy with mathematics is recorded in one of the letters of Swami Vivekananda [Swami Vivekananda, The complete works of Swami Vivekananda, vol.V, 10th ed., 100--104, Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1973.] Referring to his discussion with Nikola Tesla, Swami wrote,
    ---- begin quote.
    Mr. Tesla was charmed to hear about the vedantic prana and akasha and kalpas, which according to him are the only theories modern science can entertain. Now, both akasha and prana again are produced from cosmic mahat, the universal mind, the Brahma or Ishvara. Mr. Tesla thinks he can demonstrate mathematically that force and matter are reducible to potential energy. I am to go and see him next week, to get this new mathematical demonstration. In that case, the vedantic cosmology will be placed on the surest of foundations.
    ----end quote.

    Here prana means vibration or force which can be causal (such as Om which many say is the Word mentioned in John 1.1), subtle (such as human thought) or gross (such as the motion of lungs and heart). Akasha is like primordial matter (fundamental substance of universe) or space. Kalpa refers to certain period of time in the yuga classification scheme. In this vedantic scenario of creation, the universe begins when prana (life force) acts on akasha (space) or when vibration acts on primordial matter.

  • #2

    Origin (Monday, 11 May 2020 12:19)

    A very important mention is omitted that Tesla was an ethnic Serbian

  • #3

    William (Friday, 29 May 2020 11:01)

    "A very important mention is omitted that Tesla was an ethnic Serbian."
    First, why this can be relevent and important?
    Second, what kind of serious, scientific approach is this?
    Third, do you know what criteria is highly recommended to describe scientist and his origin?
    Your sentence sound like "me to" type of mindset: I know who is Tesla because of so many places which say who he was.
    And I just can tell you that you are cheated by serbian worldwide hybrid intelligence operation in which they aggressively steal Nikola Tesla name, integrity and heritage to became "Tesla Nation"... If you are interested in real facts about Tesla, you need to start with Karlovac, Croatia. This part of his life Tesla describe in his autobiographical notes My Inventions.
    In Gymnasium Karlovac you can find original documents from that period of Nikola Tesla life...

  • #4

    Somebody (Friday, 18 February 2022 21:02)

    William, shame on you!! Facts are that Tesla's father was Orthodox priest and it is enough for every person who has avarage IQ.
    After the death of Nikola Tesla, an American court, in January 1943, awarded custody of his property to Sava Kosanović. the son of Tesla’s youngest sister Marica. Sava Kosanović was a Serbian politician, publicist and diplomat who, at that time, was living in New York as a member of the Royal Yugoslav Government-in-exile.
    On the initiative of Sava Kosanović, all Nikola Tesla’s personal property and writings were shipped to Belgrade, where Kosanović subsequently presented them to the state.