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Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla



Serbian-American inventor and engineer who was a master of electricity at a time when it was changing American life. He is the unsung creator of the electric age, without whom our radio, auto ignition, telephone, alternating current power generation and transmission, radio and television would all have been impossible. He discovered the rotating magnetic field, the basis of most alternating-current machinery, and held more than 700 patents. His inventions make him one of the pioneers in the distribution of electric energy, and his Tesla coil is widely used in radio and television sets, among other things.

He discovered and patented the rotating magnetic field, the basis of most alternating-currentmachinery. He also developed the three-phase system of electric powertransmission. He immigrated to the United States in 1884 and sold the patent rights to his system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers, and motors to George Westinghouse. In 1891 he invented the Tesla coil, an induction coilwidely used in radio technology.


Tesla had an extremely acute sense of hearing and sight and power of visualization so vivid as to mimic reality. He used to say that his inspirations and inventions would come to him in a flash fully ready. Tesla: “When an idea presents itself it is, as a rule, crude and imperfect. Birth, growth and development are phases normal and natural. It was different with my invention. In the very moment I became conscious of it, I saw it fully developed and perfected”, “the idea came like a flash of lightning and in an instant the truth was revealed… The images I saw were wonderfully sharp and clear and had the solidity of metal and stone”

Many of his ideas could not get funding, and so remained in notebooks, which are still examined to this day by engineers searching for clues from his brilliant scientific mind. Tesla made his first million before he was 40, but gave up the royalties on his most profitable invention as a humanitarian gesture. Handsome, magnetic and elegant, he was the "catch" of New York society, yet remained unmarried and a misanthrope.

Born into a family of Serbian origin, Tesla’s father was an Orthodox priest. He had several sisters and one older brother, Dane, who died when Niko was five. In his autobiography, Tesla tells of the early workings of his mind in a description that we can only regard with wonder: he saw flashes of light that interfered with his physical vision; when a word was spoken, he would see the object so clearly that he had trouble distinguishing between the imagined and the real; in later years he would build a machine in his mind, run it to see where the wear was flawed and make whatever repairs and adjustments were needed – before he ever began his construction. At night in solitude, Tesla had an inner world of personal vision where he made journeys and studies, carried on conversations and met people that seemed as real to him as his outer world. By the time he was a teenager he spoke four languages. At about age 17, he found to his delight that he could create things in his mind, picturing them as the finished product without models, drawings or experiments. He invented such things as a low friction finless waterwheel and a motor driven by June bugs.

He trained to be an engineer, attending the Technical University at Graz, Austria and the University of Prague. Beginning his studies in physics and mathematics at Graz Polytechnic, he then took philosophy at the University of Prague. After finishing the studies at the Polytechnic Institute, doing two years of study in one, working 19 hours a day and sleeping only two, he suffered a complete nervous breakdown. During the malady he observed many phenomena, strange and unbelievable. His vision and hearing intensified beyond any normal human capacity. He could sense objects in the dark in the same way as a bat. It was a period in which his sensitivities were so heightened that the flashes of light that he had seen from the time he was a kid now filled the air around him with tongues of living flame. Their intensity, instead of diminishing, increased with time and seemingly attained a maximum when he was about twenty-five years old. His responses were so keenly tuned that a word would become an image that he could feel and taste. It was during this time that he had one of his most famous ideas, that of the rotating magnetic field and alternating current induction motor.

Bringing himself back to the world as it is, Tesla began work as an electrical engineer with the Central Telegraph Office in Budapest, Hungary in 1881 and the following year, he went to work in Paris for the Continental Edison Company. In 1883 he constructed, after work hours, his first induction motor.

He sailed to America in 1884, arriving with four cents in his pocket. He found immediate employment with Thomas Edison - who quickly became a rival - Edison being an advocate of the inferior DC power transmission system. For the remainder of his life, Tesla would have, at times, difficulty getting his ideas and inventions funded because most financiers were in Edison’s corner. They parted company within a year but during that time, Tesla was commissioned with the design of the AC generators installed at Niagara Falls. In May 1885, George Westinghouse purchased the patents to his induction motor, his polyphase system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers and motors and made this the basis of the Westinghouse power system which still underlies the modern electrical power industry today. When Westinghouse found that they could not stay in business if they paid him his due of $12,000,000, Tesla tore up the contract, in order that people could have the benefit of financially attainable electricity.

Perhaps the lowest point in his life was in 1886-87 after he left Edison, and without recognition or a mentor, had to take manual labor to survive. He was digging ditches at $2.00 a day when he met Mr. A. K. Brown of the Western Union Telegraph Company who put up some of his own money and interested a friend in joining him in Tesla's project.

In April 1887 he established his own laboratory, where he experimented with shadowgraphs similar to those involved in the discovery of x-rays. In 1888 his discovery that a magnetic field could be made to rotate if two coils at right angles are supplied with AC current 90 degrees out of phase made possible the invention of the AC induction motor. The major advantage of this motor being its brushless operation, which many at the time was believed impossible.

By 1890, Tesla was a young, striking and desirable bachelor. He was wealthy, gifted, accomplished and recognized. He wore his clothes well and was quiet and modest. Many a designing matron with a marriageable daughter was eager to capture him for her salon. Social leaders and businessmen considered him a good contact and the intellectuals of his day found him an inspiration. However, Tesla proved to be impervious, an unattainable prize. Except at formal dinners he always dined alone, and never under any circumstances would he dine with a woman at a twosome dinner. At the Waldorf-Astoria and at Delmonico's he had particular discrete tables which were always reserved for him. In spite of all of the adulation that was heaped upon him, Tesla had but one desire--to continue his work. He lived the life of a celibate and a hermit. He enjoyed poetry and the opera and though he was not a drinker, he mentioned appreciatively a glass of beer.

In 1891, he invented the Tesla coil, widely used in radio and television sets, and also became a United States citizen. Westinghouse used Tesla’s system to light the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The success there helped him win the contract to install the first power machinery at Niagara Falls. The project brought power to Buffalo in 1896.

Tesla regarded terrestrial stationary waves as his most important discovery, which came about between May 1899 and early 1900 while he was in Colorado Springs. At one time he was certain he had received signals from another planet in his Colorado laboratory, a claim that was met with derision in some scientific journals and delight by the media, which found good press in his more unconventional ideas. Caustic criticism greeted his speculations concerning communication with other planets, his assertions that he could split the Earth like an apple, and his claim of having invented a death ray capable of destroying 10,000 airplanes at a distance of 250 miles (400 kilometers).

His discoveries proved that the Earth could be used as a conductor and would respond to electrical vibrations of a certain frequency. He also was able to light lamps without wires from a distance of 25 miles. His greatest defeat was abandoning a wireless world broadcasting tower. After assigning patent rights of telephony and telegraphy to his sponsor, J. P. Morgan, the project was shut down when Tesla told Morgan that his real intent in building the

broadcasting tower was to be able to deliver free energy. Following the broadcasting tower debacle, Tesla worked more with turbines and other projects.

In 1915 he was severely disappointed when a report that he and Edison were to share the Nobel Prize proved erroneous. Tesla was the recipient of the Edison Medal in 1917, the highest honor that the American Institute of Electrical Engineers could bestow. When others claimed credit for the revolutionary ideas that came from his extraordinary mind, he did not contest them.

Impractical in financial matters, eccentric and compulsive, Tesla had few friends, but those included Mark Twain, John J. O’Neill and Francis Marion Crawford. He never married, and cited on at least one occasion that marriage wasn’t good for inventors. He was driven by compulsions and had a progressive germ phobia, washing his hands frequently and avoiding shaking hands and measuring the volume of his food before he ate it.

He liked a fresh tablecloth with every meal. Always a fastidious dresser, he wore new gloves weekly and a new tie daily. He maintained the same weight through his lifetime, 142 lbs and always slept two hours a night.

By 1943, he had begun suffering heart trouble and fainting spells along with some mental confusion. On 1 January 1943 he complained of chest pains during an experiment and returned to the hotel room where he lived. The last person to see him alive was a hotel maid on 5 January 1943. It is assumed that he died 7 January 1943 in New York City and his body was discovered on the following day.

Over 2,000 people attended his funeral in Manhattan, though in his later years he spent most of his time at the New York Public Library or feeding pigeons that he called "my sincere friends."

Link to Wikipedia biography

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Time of Birth: 12:00 Midnight

Place of Birth: Smiljan, Croatia

Long: 15 E 19

Lat: 44 N 35

Time Zone: GMT 1

Ascendant: 3 Taurus

Sun Sign: 17 Cancer

Moon Sign: 14 Libra

Date of Birth: 10th July 1856

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