Nikola Tesla was born the son of a Serbian minister at precisely midnight
between July 9 and 10, 1856, in Croatia in the village of Smiljan. He was educated at the
Austrian Polytechnic School of Gruz and immigrated to the United States in 1884.
Before Tesla, alternating current (AC) was merely a curiosity for
scientific study and not thought to have any practical value. Before Tesla, there
was no way known to generate and distribute electricity efficiently more than a few
miles. Nikola Tesla changed all that by inventing practical and affordable systems
to generate and distribute AC electric power. He also invented the modern AC
induction motor, fluorescent lighting and the Tesla coil.
Nikola Tesla sacrificed a personal fortune in exchange for a promise by
his investors that they would provide his AC power technology freely to anyone in the
world who wanted to build on it.
He liked to perform dramatic electrical demonstrations in front of the
public and his friends, sending high frequency current and millions of volts through his
body. He also once built and tested a seismic experimental device which created an
artificial earthquake that wrecked havoc on his neighborhood in New York City. He
had to smash the device with an ax to stop the earthquake. The local police rushing
into his laboratory were not amused.
Nikola Tesla invented radio first. Although Guglielmo Marconi was
recognized for over 40 years as the inventor of radio, the U. S. Supreme Court overturned
Marconi's radio patent in 1943 and restored it to Tesla.
Tesla also experimented with the radio transmission of electrical power.
He wanted to build a wireless power plant complex that would provide energy for the
whole world. It was difficult for him to maintain financial support to develop this
technology fully. Power without power lines also meant power without meters to bill
Nikola Tesla was also the father of Robotics. He invented and
demonstrated the first radio controlled boat in 1894. Tesla thought it would be
better if robot boats and machines could fight each other in war instead of people.
Tesla designed plans for electrically powered particle beam weapons in the
1930's and tried to interest the Allies in building them during World War II. He
thought these weapons could be used as a peace shield that would make invasion nearly
impossible. It is believed that the U. S. Government confiscated many of Tesla's
papers on this subject after Tesla died. Tesla's basic ideas were integral to
President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative of the 1980's.
Nikola Tesla never married and dedicated himself solely to the pursuit of
scientific discovery and invention to better the lives of all mankind. He once said,
"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, lover, everything". He died in
1943 at age 83.
In the 1960's the 'tesla" was defined and accepted by the scientific
community as an international unit of measurement for flux density.