Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and awesome facts about Nikola Tesla.
1. Tesla was born and raised in the Austrian Empire.
2. He received an advanced education in engineering and physics in the 1870s and gained practical experience in the early 1880s by working in telephony and at Continental Edison in the new electric power industry.
3. He emigrated to the United States in 1884, where he would become a naturalized citizen.
4. Tesla worked for a short time at the Edison Machine Works in New York City before he stuck out on his own.
5. With the help of partners to finance and market his ideas, Tesla set up laboratories and companies in New York to develop a range of electrical and mechanical devices.
6. His alternating current induction motor and related polyphase AC patents, licensed by Westinghouse Electric in 1888, earned him a considerable amount of money and became the cornerstone of the polyphase system which the company would eventually market.
7. Attempting to develop inventions that he could patent and market, Tesla conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators and generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging.
8. Tesla built a wireless controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited.
9. He became well known as an inventor and would demonstrate his achievements to celebrities and wealthy patrons at his laboratory. He was noted for his showmanship at public lectures.
10. Throughout the 1890s, Tesla pursued his ideas for wireless lighting and worldwide wireless electric power distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs.
11. In 1893, he made pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices. Tesla tried to put his ideas to practical use in his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project, an intercontinental wireless communication and power transmitter, but ran out of funding before he could finish it.
12. Having spent most of his money, he lived in a series of New York hotels, leaving behind unpaid bills.
13. His work fell into relative obscurity following his death in January 1943, but in 1960, the General Conference on Weights and Measures named the SI unit of magnetic flux density the Tesla in his honor.
14. Tesla was born during a lightning storm. During his birth, according to the story told by his family, the midwife wrung her hands and declared the lightning a bad omen.
15. Tesla was a genius from his early childhood.
16. He was something of an environmentalist, which is why he studied ways to get natural energy from the ground and air.
17. Tesla was really good at playing pool and was known to hustle people who weren’t aware of his abilities.
18. Tesla initially worked for Thomas Edison on direct current generators. He later quit to pursue his own idea, an alternating current induction motor. This led to what some have dubbed the Current Wars.
19. He claimed to only sleep for 2 hours every night, although he admitted to taking afternoon naps.
20. Although the rivalry between Edison and Tesla has become something of a legend, historians point out that the two of them actually had a lot of mutual respect. Edison even provided Tesla with a laboratory when his burned down.
21. Tesla was known for his photographic memory. In fact, he would memorize entire books.
22. According to legend, Tesla had an earthquake machine in his Manhattan laboratory. While it did shake a lot, it wasn’t actually an earthquake machine, it was a high frequency oscillator.
23. Tesla had an obsession with the number 3.
24. As a child, Tesla had intense nightmares, something historians believed helped him visualize his inventions later in life.
25. At some point, Tesla envisioned both the X-ray and radar.
26. Tesla believed that in order to be successful, one had to look successful. He even wore white gloves to dinner every night and prided himself on being a good dresser.
27. Since Mark Twain was known for having digestive problems, Tesla allegedly told him to stand on his “earthquake machine” until it shook the feces out of him.
28. He was known for his extreme hygiene habits, which were allegedly due to a nearly fatal episode of cholera when he was younger.
29. In spite of his intellect, Tesla was known for his wit and sense of humor. He even famously referred to Rudyard Kipling as an “inkspiller.”
30. While seeking funding from J.P. Morgan in 1901, Tesla described the invention he was working on, which was a cell phone.