Nikola Tesla
(1856 - 1943)
Died at age 86 Birthday: Jul 10 Sign: Cancer
Had cholera and convinced his father he would live only if allowed to study engineering and not priesthood.
Nikola Tesla has been referred to as "the man who invented the 20th century." His use of alternating electrical currents and invention of the AC engine wrought revolutionary changes in power generation and transmission that remain the global standard today. Tesla recited entire books from memory, and designed his machines in his head, rather than on paper. He was frequently ridiculed for proposing "impossible" inventions … which he then invented anyway.
Nikola Tesla Quotes

  • “The idea came like a flash of lightning and in an instant the truth was revealed.”
  • “The motors I build there were exactly as I imagined them. I made no attempt to improve the design, but merely reproduced the pictures as they appeared to my vision and the operation was always as I expected.”
  • “Ideas came in an uninterrupted stream and the only difficulty I had was to hold them fast ... In less than two months I evolved virtually all the types of motors and modifications of the systems which now identified with my name.”
  • “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success... Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”
  • “Instinct is something which transcends knowledge. We have, undoubtedly, certain finer fibers that enable us to perceive truths when logical deduction, or any other willful effort of the brain, is futile.”
  • “When wireless is fully applied the earth will be converted into a huge brain, capable of response in every one of its parts.”
  • “Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine.”
  • “If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search. I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor.”
  • “I have always been ahead of my time.”

The son of an Orthodox Priest, Tesla claimed to sleep just 2 to 3 hours a day. Whereas Sir Isaac Newton needed 3-4 hours of sleep.

When Tesla arrived in New York from Serbia, he had 4 cents to his name.

Tesla brought a letter of recommendation to Thomas Edison that read: "My Dear Edison: I know two great men and you are one of them. The other is this young man!"

He was offered $50,000 to improve some of Edison's ideas, but when he delivered, Edison claimed that he had only been "joking," and refused to pay.

Tesla achieved the "impossible" by demonstrating a working brushless polyphase AC induction motor to a group of wealthy investors – none of whom would invest a penny.

In 1886, Tesla persuaded investors to fund the Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing Company. Tesla invented a revolutionary arc lamp and the company made money. The investors then promptly reaped the profits and fired Tesla, who was forced into manual labor to survive.

Tesla discovered X-ray radiation 3 years before Willhelm Roentgen was credited for the same discovery.

As a boy, Tesla saw a likeness of Niagra Falls, and dreamed of harnessing the power of the water to create electricity. In 1893, he succeeded in doing just that. Investors included W. K. Vanderbilt, son of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Although Tesla demonstrated his invention of the radio in 1893 and received a patent, the patent office stripped the award in 1904 and gave it instead to Guglielmo Marconi. Both Thomas Edison and Andrew Carnegie invested in Marconi. Tesla fought for 29 years to reacquire his patent, finally getting a hearing in the US Supreme Court. Finding that 15 of Marconi's 16 patents were actually invented by Tesla, the court rules in Tesla's favor in 1944 – a year after his death.

When inventor George Washington Carver’s paintings were displayed at the 1893 World's Fair Exposition, they were lit using Tesla's AC power – although Edison refused to allow use of his light bulbs.

In 1898, the United States military showed no interest when Tesla demonstrated a remote-controlled boat. Tesla's wireless device was the beginnings of the technology that enabled robotics initially conceived by Leonardo da Vinci.

Tesla worked for years attempting wireless transmission of electricity and believed that electricity could be projected into the upper atmosphere for storage and access at will.

J Pierpont Morgan invested $150,000 in Tesla's idea to build a gigantic radio transmitter – but refused to invest any further after it was revealed that Tesla was instead trying to transmit electrical power wirelessly.

In order to keep electricity inexpensive to the public, Tesla sold George Westinghouse his own royalties, worth $12 million, for $216,000. If Tesla had kept his royalties, he may have been the first billionaire, sharing financial history with the likes of John D. Rockefeller the worlds first in 1916, Howard Hughes, and Bill Gates who became the first man to reach $100 billion in 1999.

In 1917, he received the Edison Medal from the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. A previous president of the AIEE was Alexander Graham Bell.

Tesla and the great storyteller, Mark Twain, were very close friends.

Orson Wells played Tesla in the 1980 Yugoslavian film Tajna Nikole Tesle (English: "The Secret of Nikola Tesla").

In his latter years, Tesla asserted that he had discovered a limitless power supply form a source that no one had suspected, but he never revealed the source.

He claimed to have designed a death ray – or "peace ray," as he preferred – that could electrocute an approaching army completely at a distance of 200 miles.

Tesla adorned the cover of Time Magazine in 1931, and was praised by Albert Einstein as "an eminent pioneer in the realm of high frequency currents..."

In 1928 he received his last patent, a forerunner to the helicopter, initially conceived by Leonardo da Vinci. In his lifetime some have said that he applied for 840 patents and received 700. What can be found is that he has 112 US Patents and 34 International Patents. Regardless, he was known as the father of radio, television, power transmission, and the induction motor.

January 7, 1943: Tesla died penniless and alone in room #3327 of the Hotel New Yorker. After his death, the United States Government seized all of his research and writing, most of which never again reappeared.

Thousands paid respects to Tesla at his Manhattan funeral.