Nikola Tesla: Life Story and Photos of the Forgotten Father of Electricity

Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in Smiljan, Croatia, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father was a priest, and his mother was an inventor in her own right. Tesla’s interest in science and technology began at a young age and was particularly interested in electricity.

Tesla received formal education in Karlstadt, Austria (Gymnasium) and later studied at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz. After graduation, he worked as an assistant to a professor of electrical engineering. Early in his career, Tesla worked for the telegraph company in Budapest, where he developed the first telephone repeater, or amplifier, which improved the quality of long-distance telephone calls.

In 1884, Tesla immigrated to the United States, where he initially worked as an assistant to inventor and businessman Thomas Edison. However, the two men had a falling out due to their differing views on direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) electricity.

In 1887, Tesla discovered the rotating magnetic field, which is the principle behind the AC motor and is still used in electrical systems today. He was granted patents for this invention in 1888.

In 1891, Tesla began working for the Westinghouse Electric Company. He was able to use the financial resources of the company to further develop and promote his AC system, which ultimately became the dominant system for the generation and distribution of electricity.

In the 1890s, Tesla conducted several experiments in wireless communication, including the transmission of radio signals. He also worked on the development of X-ray technology.

In 1899, Tesla established a laboratory in Colorado Springs where he conducted experiments on high-voltage and high-frequency electrical power. He made several important discoveries during this time, including the existence of atmospheric electricity.

In the early 1900s, Tesla continued to work on wireless power transmission and developed a number of ideas and inventions related to this field, but he was never able to secure funding to fully develop his ideas.

Despite these achievements, Tesla struggled to gain recognition for his work during his lifetime. He was often overshadowed by his rival, Thomas Edison, who promoted direct current (DC) technology and actively worked to undermine Tesla’s AC system. Additionally, Tesla’s eccentric personality and tendency to make grandiose claims about his inventions may have also contributed to his lack of recognition. Tesla also filed more than 300 patents worldwide for his inventions. Most patents were related to electrical and mechanical engineering, but some were for other fields such as robotics, guided missiles and aircraft, and remote control. In later years, Tesla’s financial situation became increasingly difficult and he was forced to sell many of his patents. He spent much of his time working on theoretical and speculative projects, such as the development of a “death ray” weapon.

Tesla’s later years were marked by financial difficulties, and he could never fully capitalize on his inventions. He also had several personal eccentricities and quirks, such as a fear of germs and an obsession with the number three. Additionally, Some of Tesla’s ideas and inventions, such as wireless power transmission, were ahead of their time and were not fully realized during his lifetime. After Westinghouse, he started working on wireless power transmission but could not find any investors. Tesla’s financial situation became increasingly difficult, forcing him to sell many of his patents. He spent much of his time working on theoretical and speculative projects, such as the development of a “death ray” weapon. Tesla died in New York City in 1943 at the age of 86. He had been living in relative obscurity for many years and had very little money at the time of his death. However, in recent years, there has been renewed interest in his life and work and he is now widely recognized as one of the most important inventors of the 20th century.

Tesla’s life was marked by both great accomplishments and significant challenges. Despite his lack of recognition during his lifetime, his contributions to the field of electrical engineering and technology continue to be highly regarded today.

#1 Pictured here is Nikola Tesla and one of his inventions. This image was taken in 1916.

#2 Mark Twain (penname of Samuel Langhorne Clemens) in the lab of Nikola Tesla, spring of 1894.

Mark Twain (penname of Samuel Langhorne Clemens) in the lab of Nikola Tesla, spring of 1894.

Clemens is holding Tesla’s experimental vacuum lamp, which is powered by a loop of wire which is receiving electromagnetic energy from a Tesla coil (not visible). Tesla’s face is visible in the background.

#3 Nikola Tesla, with Roger Boskovich’s book, “Theoria Philosophiae Naturalis,” in front of the spiral coil of his high-frequency transformer at East Houston St. 46, New York.

#4 Tesla demonstrates “wireless” power transmission in his Houston Street laboratory in March 1899.

#6 Photograph of the experimenter standing in the middle of the laboratory and lighting a vacuum bulb by waves from a distant oscillator — His body is, in this case, subjected to great electrical pressure.

#7 Lighting a disconnected vacuum bulb of 1,500 candle power by high-frequency currents — Photograph taken by the light of the bulb itself, exposure about two seconds.

#8 First photograph ever taken by phosphorescent light. The face is that of NikolaTesla, and the source of light is one of his phosphorescent bulbs. The time of exposure, eight minutes. Date of photograph January, 1894.

#10 The hand of Nikola Tesla taken by using artificial daylight.

#11 A glow of nitrogen fills the atmosphere. Tesla is photographed sitting in front of his generator. This photograph was taken in 1899.

#12 Photograph showing an incandescent lamp lighted by means of waves transmitted through space to a coil without a condenser.

#13 Publicity photo taken of Tesla by a reporter during his annual birthday press event.

#14 Tesla working in his office at 8 West 40th Street.

#15 Experiment illustrating the action of a synchronized circuit energized by waves transmitted from a distant oscillator.

Experiment illustrating the action of a synchronized circuit energized by waves transmitted from a distant oscillator.

The energy received is transferred upon another unresponsive circuit, lighting the incandescent lamp attached to the same.

#16 John T. Morris, Victor Beam and Tesla pose with the alternator that had been discovered.

#17 Tesla holding a gas-filled phosphor coated wireless light bulb which he developed in the 1890’s, half a century before fluorescent lamps come into use. Published on the cover of the Electrical Experimenter in 1919.

#18 Tesla is seen in his New York City office in 1916. The inventor often crossed the street to Bryant Park to feed the pigeons there. The drawings behind Tesla depict his steam engine design.

#21 Tesla receives the Order of the White Lion from the Czechoslovak governments, July, 11, 1937.

#22 Tesla in 1916 pointing to a discharge in a photograph taken at Colorado Springs in 1899.

#23 Nikola Tesla photographed working in his office at 8 West 40th Street. The image was taken in 1916.

#24 Tesla experiments with currents of High Voltage and High Frequency in 1899.

#26 Tesla looks out the door of his laboratory in Colorado Springs. The image was taken in 1899.

#27 Nikola Tesla (blurred at center) performs an electrical experiment for writer Samuel Clemens (left), aka Mark Twain, and actor Joseph Jefferson in 1894.

#28 Nikola Tesla standing next to his suite at the Hotel New Yorker, circa 1934.

#29 Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Tower in Long Island, 1904.

#30 The last known photo of Tesla. He died alone in a hotel room at the New Yorker on January 7, 1943.

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Written by Benjamin Grayson

Former Bouquet seller now making a go with blogging and graphic designing. I love creating & composing history articles and lists.

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