Nikola Tesla (10 July [O.S. 28 June] 1856 - 7 January 1943) was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.
Tesla was one of the most prolific and influential inventors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, known mostly for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.
Tesla's early years were marked by a great interest in science and technology, particularly in the fields of physics and mathematics. He attended the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria, where he studied electrical engineering. After graduating, he worked for several years in Europe before immigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Continental Edison and Thomas Edison’s Edison Machine Works, in New York City.
Tesla and Edison had a tumultuous working relationship, with the two innovators clashing on a regular basis over which means of propagating electrical current, alternating current in the case of Tesla and direct current in the case of Edison, was the best choice for specific electrical mechanism design or for the power grids which now transmit power over vast distances today. Those conflicts and Edison cheating Tesla financially caused Tesla to leave Edison’s firms.
With backing from partners with expertise in marketing and finance, Tesla was soon able to set up a network of his own laboratories and companies, all founded with a focus on the modern world of electrical and electro-mechanical technology he was fascinated by and helped pioneer.
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.
t was there where he created what was his most successful invention and manufacturable product, an alternating current (AC) induction motor. He ended up licensing that product in 1988 to what was then Westinghouse Electric. Not only did that invention provide the Serbian immigrant with considerable wealth, it also helped his customer develop the polyphase electrical technology platform which became the cornerstone for the polyphase motor system business which grew Westinghouse into a giant of that industry.
With the freedom such success provided him, in the next several decades Tesla developed some of the most creative electrical innovations of the 20th century. These included new varieties of electrical discharge tubes, oscillators, and generators, and one of the earliest X-ray imaging systems ever made. He was also the first to invent the radio but credit for that ended up being handed to Marconi. In his later years much of his research was with wireless communication systems such as his demonstration of one of the first wirelessly controlled boats ever built, and wireless power transmission systems, such as he demonstrated in an early model a wireless lighting system.
Attempting to develop inventions he could patent and market, Tesla conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wirelessly controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited. Tesla became well known as an inventor and demonstrated his achievements to celebrities and wealthy patrons at his lab and was noted for his showmanship at public lectures. 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. In 1893, he made pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices.
Those innovations reached their peak of creativity and potential impact in his Wardenclyffe Tower project. It was created with the idea of developing a source of wireless communications and power project which he hoped to offer free to the world. The project, which even to this day is considered groundbreaking and potentially feasible to implement, was never completed due to backer Westinghouse pulling funding when he discovered that if successful it could put him out of the electricity business.
After having spent most of his savings and energy on the unfinished Wardenclyffe project, Tesla spent the decades of the 1910s and 1920s working on a variety of electrical inventions which were of little overall success.
Tesla experimented with a series of inventions in the 1910s and 1920s with varying degrees of success. Having spent most of his money, Tesla lived in a series of New York hotels, leaving behind unpaid bills.
Tesla died in January 1943 in New York City, mostly unknown to the public despite the brilliance of his creations and the impact his early inventions had on the modern world. Shortly after his death, the FBI carted off most all of Tesla's files.
It was only decades after his death that Tesla became a bit better known to the public, via numerous historical studies which demonstrated how influential his inventions were. Yet even today Tesla is suppressed by western gatekeepers due to the revolutionary and potentially world-changing nature of Tesla's work.
In 1960, the General Conference on Weights and Measures finally honored him by naming the standard international SI unit of magnetic flux density, the tesla, after him. That eventually led to a resurgence of popular interest in Tesla since the 1990s.
To this day, Tesla continues to inspire new generations with the brilliance of his ideas which still outshine many of his contemporaries and have value even over eighty years after his death.