Nikola Tesla: The Father of Wireless

Nikola Tesla was a scientist, a poet, a philosopher, and so much more. Learn about one of the best minds of all time whose life was a mix of mystification and reality.
Industry: Engineering
Success: Alternating Current
Recognition: The Nikola Tesla Award
Honors: National Inventors Hall of Fame

Let’s dive right in!

Brian Hadi Attarbashi
Updated on:
Jun 27, 2022
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The remarkable existence of a modern-day Prometheus

The remarkable existence of a modern-day Prometheus

Let me guess; never a day will pass by without you browsing the net, right?

Watching videos on YouTube, surfing the net, engaging through social media, and buying online.

IoT has become an integral part of our everyday lives for work or personal reasons.

Today, enjoying what IoT offers is such commonplace for our generation that we don't think back on how it came to be.

Thanks to a mathematician, physicist, and genius and his devotion to invention and innovation, we are at the age of such technological advancement that he started over a century ago.

Genes of a Genius and Childhood Influence

Genes of a Genius and Childhood Influence

Milutin Tesla was a priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Like his ancestors, he was known for his prodigious memory, mathematics prowess, daydreaming, and ability to speak twelve languages.

Father and Mother of Nikola Tesla

Duka Mandic (whose father was also an Eastern Orthodox Church priest) never received a formal education. Still, she was known to have talents for making home crafts, building mechanical appliances, and the ability to memorize Serbian poems. 

Serbian Poems

Serbian poems are epic poems that capture the spirit of Serbia. They originate from today’s Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia. 

They depict historical events and personages. The gusle is an instrument accompanying Serbian epic poetry.

One older brother, Dane, was killed in a horse-riding accident when Nikola was five.

Nikola had three sisters, namely Angelina, Milka, and Marica. The sisters never received a formal education, so their potential talents remained undiscovered.

Angelina, Milka and Marica Tesla

The Eastern Orthodox Church

Eastern Orthodoxy refers to a vast group of Christians who adhere to the faith and practices laid out by the first seven ecumenical councils. 

In the Greek-speaking Christian world, the term "orthodox" (right believing) has traditionally been used to denote communities or individuals who uphold the genuine faith (as defined by those councils), as opposed to those who were labeled heretics.

The independence of Serbia in 1832 led to the recognition of Serbian ecclesiastical autonomy. In 1879, the Serbian church was recognized by Constantinople as autocephalous under the primacy of the metropolitan of Belgrade. 

Education

In 1870, Tesla moved to Karlovac, where he attended the Higher Real Gymnasium. 

Higher Real Gymnasium

The lessons were conducted entirely in German.

As he grew older, he developed exceptional imagination, originality, and a poetic touch. Nikola Tesla acknowledged his mother's genetics and influence on his eidetic memory and creative disposition.

It was said Tesla could calculate integrals in his head. He earned the highest grades. Nikola was so advanced in his studies that he finished in three years, a four-year term. He graduated in 1873.

The dean of the technical faculty wrote a letter of recommendation to Nikola’s father stating, “Your son is a star of the first rank.”

He returned to Smiljan three years later and suffered cholera shortly after his arrival. 

He spent nearly a year in the hospital and came to near-death experiences.

Tesla and Twain

During his illness, Nikola was saved by the works of Mark Twain. According to Tesla, the books were important in his recuperation since the stories by Twain were "so engrossing as to make me entirely forget my hopeless position."

Later on, when Tesla moved to the US, he developed a lasting friendship with Twain. Apart from the written word, they shared interest and a passion for the field of electricity. They apparently held each other in deep regard.

Imperial-Royal Technical College

Imperial-Royal Technical College

In 1875, Tesla enrolled at Imperial-Royal Technical College in Graz, Austria, based on a military scholarship. In addition to passing various exams, he was a disciplined student who earned top grades.  

The Graz lectures on electricity delivered by Professor Jakob Pöschl captivated Tesla, and he described how he made suggestions on improving an electric motor the professor was demonstrating.

He also started a cultural club and received a letter of commendation from the dean of the Technical Department. 

He loved to gamble and spent a lot of time in a café close to the Joanneum botanical garden, a common gathering spot for Graz students on weeknights, in the late autumn of 1877.

Tesla’s roommate, Kulisic, later reported that gambling, smoking, and drinking excessive amounts of coffee dominated his life. Soon, Nikola Tesla spent more time in cafes than in the library. He did not sit any exams in his third year of studies and, despite his brilliance, his absences forced the school administration to exclude him from studying further.

At the end of the second year, the military border authorities withdrew Nikola Tesla’s scholarship because of the unjustified interruption of his studies.

Tesla’s father, Milutin, tried to understand things. He later persuaded his son to attend the Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague.

Charles-Ferdinand University

Charles-Ferdinand University

Nikola’s uncles, Petar and Pavle, came to his rescue. They put together enough money so he could study in Prague. But when he arrived there, it was too late for him to enroll as the term had started already.

But even if Nikola arrived earlier, he was not legible to enroll because he had taken no Greek class, nor could he speak or write in Czech, which were requirements.

The majority of Tesla's time was spent at the Klementinum Library. He also attended lectures at the university as an auditor. But he did not receive marks for these courses because he was not officially enrolled.

In spite of this, after the death of his father, he left school after only one term.

In 1881, at the age of 25, Nikola traveled to Budapest.

Budapest

In Budapest, he met his lifelong companion and assistant, Antal Szigeti, who has supported his studies constantly.

According to legend, while walking around the city park with Szigeti in February 1882, Tesla was reading a passage from Goethe’s Faust when he suddenly experienced “genius joy.” 

He visualized the rotating magnetic field principle and developed plans for an induction magnetic motor that would become his first step toward successfully utilizing alternating current. 

A combination of powerful nature and vivid multicultural imprints of Budapest motivated Tesla to uncover the mysteries of nature, finding and interpreting the principle of the earth’s electromagnetic field into technology that catapulted human civilization.

Early Career

Working at Budapest Telephone Exchange

Budapest Telephone Exchange

In 1881, Tesla found work under Tivadar Puskás in the Budapest Telephone Exchange, a telephone transmission business. However, Tesla realized that the company was still under construction and was not functional. In the Central Telegraph Office, he became a draftsman instead. 

It wasn't long before the Budapest Telephone Exchange went into operation, and they allocated Tesla the chief electrician position

During his employment, Tesla made many improvements to the Central Station equipment and claimed to have perfected a telephone repeater or amplifier, which was never patented nor publicly described.

Working at Edison

In 1882, Tivadar Puskás found Tesla another job in Paris with the Continental Edison Company. Tesla worked hard in a brand new industry, installing citywide indoor incandescent lighting in large-scale electric power utilities. 

The Continental Edison Company had several subdivisions. Tesla worked at the Société Electrique Edison, the section in the Ivry-sur-Seine suburb of Paris, in charge of installing the lighting system. There, he gained a great deal of practical experience in electrical engineering. 

Management took notice of his advanced knowledge and soon had him designing and building improved versions of generating dynamos and motors. Tesla was always on the move, troubleshooting engineering problems at other Edison utilities built around France and Germany.

While on assignment to Strassburg in 1883, Tesla constructed his first induction motor after work hours.

In 1884, Edison manager Charles Batchelor, who was in charge of the Paris installation, was recalled back to the United States to manage the Edison Machine Works, a manufacturing division in New York City, and asked that Tesla be brought to the United States as well.

In June 1884, Tesla emigrated to America and began working almost immediately at the Machine Works on Manhattan’s Lower East Side as an engineer. 

The workshop was crowded with a workforce of several hundred machinists, laborers, managing staff, and 20 “field engineers” struggling to build the large electric utility in that city.

As in Paris, Tesla was assigned to troubleshoot installations and improve generators. According to Tesla’s autobiography, after staying up all night repairing the damaged dynamos on the ocean liner SS Oregon, he ran into Batchelor and Edison. They made a quip about their “Parisian” being out all night. Tesla told them he had been up all night fixing Oregon. Edison commented to Batchelor that “this is a damned good man.” 

Tesla worked there for a year, impressing Edison with diligence and ingenuity. At one point, Edison told Tesla he would pay $50,000 for an improved design for his DC dynamos. 

After months of experimentation, Tesla devised a solution and asked for the promised money. Edison balked, saying, “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.” Tesla resigned soon after.

Big Break

Soon after leaving the Edison company, Nikola worked on patenting an arc lighting system.

Tesla met Alfred S. Brown and New York attorney Charles Fletcher Peck in late 1886. The two men have previous experience in forming businesses, promoting inventions, and obtaining patents.

They agreed to assist Tesla financially and manage his patents based on his great ideas for electrical equipment, including a Thermo-magnetic motor concept.

Together, they established the Tesla Electric Company in April 1887. The agreement was that the profits from the patents would go 1⁄3 to Tesla, 1⁄3 to Brown and Peck, and 1⁄3 to fund development.

Soon after, a laboratory was set up for Tesla at 89 Liberty Street in Manhattan. There, Nikola worked tirelessly to improve and develop new types of electric motors, generators, and other devices.

For the rest of the year, Tesla focused on collecting patents, including the first patents given to Tesla in the United States, and building and installing the system in Rahway, New Jersey.

Tesla’s new system made waves in the technical press, which commented on its advanced features.

Early setback

However, investors showed little interest in Tesla’s ideas for new types of electrical transmission equipment and alternating current motors. After the facility was up and running in 1886, Tesla’s partners decided that the manufacturing side of the business was very competitive and ran an electric utility instead.

They formed a new utility company, abandoning Tesla and leaving him penniless. Tesla even lost control of the patents since he had assigned them to the company ‌for stock. He had to work at many electrical repair jobs and dig ditches in Pittsburgh for $2 per day.

Later in life, Tesla recounted how he felt during this time, “My high education in various branches of science, mechanics, and literature seemed to me like a mockery.”

After an unsuccessful attempt to launch the Tesla Electric Light Company and a period of digging ditches for $2 a day, Tesla found supporters to back his study of alternating current. He received almost 30 patents for his innovations between 1887 and 1888.

Physicist William Arnold Anthony invited and arranged for Nikola to demonstrate his AC motor on May 16, 1888, at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

George Westinghouse, the inventor who had built the first AC power system in Boston and was Edison's main adversary in the "War of the Currents," was impressed with Nikola's presentation.

AC and the induction motor

Market Turmoil

Both Tesla's presentation of his induction motor and Westinghouse's successful licensing of the patent, both in 1888, happened during intense competition between electric companies. 

The three big companies, Westinghouse, Edison, and Thomson-Houston, were all trying to expand in a capital-intensive business while financially undermining each other.

The War of Currents

The War of the Currents was a conflict between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla that began in the late 1880s.

In 1886, the Edison system went up against the fresh competition: George Westinghouse's alternating current system, which employed transformers to scale down from a high voltage so AC could be used for inside lighting. 

Using high voltage enables an AC system to transport power over longer distances from larger, more efficient central generating units. 

As the usage of alternating current spread, the Edison Electric Light Company argued in early 1888 that the high voltages employed in an alternating current system were dangerous and that the design was inferior to, and infringed on, their direct current system's patents.

The War of the Currents arose from developing two lighting systems: alternating current arc lighting and direct current incandescent lighting.

Edison invented direct current, which is a current that flows in only one direction, as in a battery or a fuel cell. DC (direct current) was the dominant type of electricity used in the United States throughout the early days of electricity.

However, there was one issue. Direct current is difficult to convert to different voltages.

Tesla believed that the solution to the problem was AC or alternating current. 

A transformer can readily convert alternating electricity to different voltages because it reverses direction a specific number of times per second.

Edison started a campaign to denigrate alternating current to protect the royalties he was getting from his direct current patents. He circulated false information about alternating currents being more deadly, even electrocuting publicly stray animals to establish his point.

The World's Fair in Chicago, commonly known as the World's Columbian Exposition, was held in 1893, during the height of the Civil War.

1893 Columbian Exposition Map
Columbia County Exposition Center
1893 Columbian Exposition Map
World's Columbian Exposition Chicago 1893 Medallion
World's Columbian Exposition Chicago 1893 Medallion

General Electric bid $554,000 to electrify the fair using Edison's direct current but was defeated by George Westinghouse, who claimed he could power the fair using Tesla's alternating current for only $399,000.

Consulting on Niagara

In 1893, Edward Dean Adams, a New York City Banker and the Niagara Falls Cataract Construction Company president, approached Tesla for advice on the optimum mechanism for transmitting power generated at the falls. 

For many years, there had been several ideas and open competitions for effectively utilizing the power provided by the falls.

Two-phase and three-phase AC, high-voltage DC, and compressed air were among the systems offered by many US and European companies.

Adams inquired of Tesla about the current state of the opposing systems. Tesla told Adams that a two-phased system would be the most reliable and that a Westinghouse system for lighting incandescent lights with two-phase alternating current existed.

As a result of the consultation, The Niagara Falls Power Company awarded the contract to Westinghouse, which had licensed Tesla's polyphase AC induction motor patent. 

Although others questioned whether the falls could power the entire city of Buffalo, New York, Tesla was sure they could power Buffalo and the whole of the Eastern United States.

Niagara Falls provided the alternating current that lit up Buffalo on Nov. 16, 1896.

The Niagara Falls Power Company

General Electric, by this time, had also joined the alternating current bandwagon.

Laboratory Fire

In 1895, Edward Dean Adams, impressed with what he saw when he visited Tesla’s laboratory, agreed to help found the Nikola Tesla Company, set up to fund, develop and market a variety of previous Tesla patents and inventions and new ones.

The South Fifth Avenue building housing Tesla’s lab caught fire early on March 13, 1895. 

The fire began in the basement and became so severe that Tesla’s fourth-floor lab burned and crashed into the second. 

It destroyed Tesla’s ongoing work and a collection of early notes and study materials, models, and demonstration pieces, many of which had been displayed at the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition. 

Tesla told The New York Times, “I am in too much grief to talk. What can I say?” After the fire, Tesla moved to 46 & 48 East Houston Street and rebuilt his lab on the 6th and 7th floors.

Nikola was at first very much affected by what happened, but he sustained the blow stoically. Within six hours, he was busy making and giving out designs to reconstruct his latest type of oscillator, lighting the laboratory, and supplying the current for several new and novel experiments. 

Needless to add, Mr. Tesla has received innumerable expressions of sympathy and regret, not only from friends and acquaintances but from total strangers.

X-ray experimentation

Although Tesla was not primarily dedicated to biomedical research, his work significantly contributed to the development of radiology and high-frequency electrotherapy. 

Tesla was the first to employ X-rays for medicinal purposes, establishing the groundwork for radiology. 

Tesla has been experimenting with X-rays that are still unknown and nameless, which he calls "shadowgraphs," since 1887.

He undertook considerable research focusing on X-rays at the end of 1894, but the fire that destroyed his laboratory in 1895 hampered it.

Tesla published ten papers on the biological consequences of X-ray radiation in 1896 and 1897. His X-ray studies were experimental, and he continued improving X-ray machines in 1896 and 1897. 

Aside from that, Tesla was the first to recognize the damaging effects of X-ray radiation on the human body.

Radio remote control

Radio remote control

Nikola Tesla surprised attendees at a Madison Square Garden electrical exhibition in 1898. 

With a flare, Tesla used radio wave technology to operate a boat from afar, in what is considered the first demonstration of remote control.

Radio technology has evolved over time, and it is now widely used for products such as household appliances and security systems, as well as drones and advanced space technologies, and, of course, the Internet of Things.

Wireless Power

Wireless Power

Nikola Tesla's inventions were so far ahead of his time that even today, many could not fully appreciate the tremendous work the master inventor accomplished. One of these is Tesla's dream and obsession with wireless electricity. 

At the height of Tesla's career, he theorized that electricity could be transmitted wirelessly through the air at long distances—hopping across a system of suspended balloons or via a series of strategically positioned towers.

We know Tesla's dreams of a wireless global electricity supply were never realized. But nobody could disprove the theory.

Now with 5G, it might be realized after all.

Nikola Tesla Inventions Ahead of His Time

Colorado Springs 

Tesla established an experimental station at a high altitude in Colorado Springs in 1899 to further examine the conductive characteristics of low-pressure air. 

He could safely run considerably larger coils there than he could in his New York lab, and an acquaintance had arranged for the El Paso Power Company to deliver an alternating current at no cost.

He persuaded John Jacob Astor IV to become a majority shareholder in the Nikola Tesla Company for $100,000 ($3,257,200 in today's currency) to support his experiments.

He told reporters upon his visit that he wanted to undertake wireless telegraphy experiments, sending signals from Pikes Peak to Paris.

wireless telegraphy experiments

Photographers took pictures of Tesla sitting next to his "magnifying transmitter," generating millions of volts. The 7-meter-long arcs were not part of the normal operation but only produced for effect by rapidly cycling the power switch.

He experimented with a big coil operating in the megavolt range, producing artificial lightning (and thunder) with millions of volts and discharges up to 135 feet long, and accidentally burned out the generator in El Paso, resulting in a power outage.

Tesla set up an experimental station at a high altitude in Colorado Springs in 1899 to further research on the conductive nature of low-pressure air. His examination of the electronic noise of lightning strikes led him to believe (incorrectly) that he could use the entire Earth to conduct electrical energy. 

He could safely work considerably larger coils than he could at his New York lab, and an acquaintance had arranged for the El to visit.

Wardenclyffe Tower Plant

Wardenclyffe Tower Plant

In March 1901, he received $150,000 from J. P. Morgan in exchange for a 51 percent share of any wireless inventions earned. He began designing the Wardenclyffe Tower complex in Shoreham, New York, 100 miles away.

Tesla announced his intention to develop a more powerful transmitter by July 1901 to beat Marconi's radio-based device. Morgan refused to provide any additional funding when he approached him to seek extra money to create the larger system.

Marconi successfully communicated the letter S from England to Newfoundland in December 1901, surpassing Tesla in the competition to be the first to achieve such a transmission.

A month after Marconi's accomplishment, Tesla tried to persuade Morgan to finance an even bigger proposal to broadcast communications and electricity by regulating "vibrations over the globe." 

Nikola wrote over 50 letters to Morgan over the next five years, appealing for and demanding additional cash to finish Wardenclyffe. He continued the project for nine more months into 1902. They erected the tower to its full height of 187 feet.

Tesla relocated his lab from Houston Street to Wardenclyffe in June 1902. Wall Street investors were pouring money into Marconi's system, and the press attacked Tesla's invention, claiming it was a scam.

The project was halted in 1905, and financial difficulties and other factors may have contributed to Tesla's emotional breakdown in 1906.

Tesla used the Wardenclyffe property as collateral to pay off his Waldorf-Astoria obligations. In 1915, he lost the property to foreclosure, and the new owner dismantled the Tower in 1917 to make the site a more marketable real estate asset.

Later Years

Tesla continued to write to Morgan after Wardenclyffe closed; after "the great man" died, Tesla wrote to Jack Morgan's son to secure additional financing for the project. 

Tesla set up shop at 165 Broadway in Manhattan in 1906, hoping to raise money by developing and promoting his patents.

From 1910 to 1914, he held offices at the Metropolitan Life Tower. From 1915 to 1925, he had offices at 8 West 40th Street, which he rented for a few months before moving out because he couldn't afford the rent.

He was basically bankrupt after moving to 8 West 40th Street. Most of his patents had expired, and he had difficulty developing fresh discoveries.

Bladeless turbine

On Tesla's 50th birthday in 1906, he showcased a 200-horsepower (150 kilowatts) 16,000 rpm bladeless turbine.

From 1910 to 1911, several of Tesla's bladeless turbine engines were tested at the Waterside Power Station in New York. 

From 1919 until 1922, Tesla worked in Milwaukee for several enterprises, including Allis-Chalmers.

Tesla spent most of his time with his head engineer, Hans Dahlstrand, improving the Tesla turbine. Despite this, engineering challenges prevented it from becoming a functional gadget.

Wireless lawsuits

In the early days of World War I, the British cut the transatlantic telegraph connection between the US and Germany to limit the flow of information between the two countries. They also tried to stifle German wireless communication to and from the US by suing Telefunken for patent violation.

Telefunken retained Tesla as a witness for two years at $1,000 per month and hired scientists Jonathan Zenneck and Karl Ferdinand Braun to represent them in court.

The lawsuit languished after the United States entered the war against Germany in 1917, and it eventually became moot. 

In 1915, Tesla tried to sue Marconi for infringing on his wireless tuning patents. In 1897, Marconi was granted his first radio patent in the United States.

Nonetheless, his 1900 patent application for radio transmission enhancements was repeatedly rejected before being authorized in 1904 because it infringed on other rights, notably two 1897 Tesla wireless power tuning patents.

Patent infringements committed during World War I led Marconi to sue the US government. A Supreme Court of the United States judgment in 1943 restored the prior patents of Oliver Lodge, John Stone, and Tesla in a related case.

In a related case, the Marconi Company attempted to sue the US government for patent infringements during World War I, and a Supreme Court of the United States ruling in 1943 restored the prior patents of Oliver Lodge, John Stone, and Tesla.

The court stated that their verdict had no bearing on Marconi's claim to being the first person to establish radio transmission. Marconi couldn't allege infringement on certain patents since its claim to particular patented innovations was dubious.

Nobel prize

"The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla on November 6, 1915," according to a Reuters news agency report from London. However, on November 15, a Reuters story from Stockholm stated that the prize that year was awarded to Lawrence Bragg and William Henry Bragg "for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by X-rays."

There were unverified claims that either Tesla or Edison had turned down the award. 

There were claims by Tesla biographers that Edison and Tesla were the original recipients. But neither was given the award because of their animosity toward each other.

There were rumors that each sought to minimize the other's achievements and the right to win the prize. Both refused to accept the award if the other received it first; and rejected any possibility of sharing it. 

Following these rumors, Tesla and Edison did not win the prize, even though Edison received one of 38 possible bids in 1915, and Tesla received one of 38 possible bids in 1937.

Awards and Patents

The seeming lack of recognition during Tesla's lifetime cast him as both a tragic and inspirational character.

However, Tesla's posthumous citations, awards, honors, and accolades could probably atone for a book. Tesla won several medals and awards during this time. They include:

Citations:

  • 1892: Grand Officer of the Order of St. Sava (Serbia) 
  • 1895: Grand Cross of the Order of Prince Danilo I (Montenegro)
  • 1926 Grand Cross of the Order of St. Sava (Yugoslavia)
  • 1931 Cross Cross of the Order of the Yugoslav Crown (Yugoslavia)
  • 1936: Order of the White Eagle (Yugoslavia)
  • 1937: Grand Cross of the Order of the White Lion (Czechoslovakia)

Medals:

  • 1916: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, (USA)
  • 1894: Elliott Cresson Medal, Franklin Institute (USA)
  • 1934: John Scott Medal (Franklin Institute & Philadelphia City Council (USA)
  • 1937: Medal of the University of Paris (France)
  • 1939: The Medal of the University of St. Clement of Ochrida (Bulgaria)

And of course, the most prestigious National Inventors Hall of Fame could not fail to recognize his genius, and so he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2015.

Nikola Tesla’s first patent

Patents:

Nikola Tesla’s first patent

Nikola Tesla stands out even among the many bright and innovative minds of the late nineteenth century for the sheer magnitude of his contribution to science. Tesla filed at least 278 patents during his illustrious career.

The Tesla coil, perhaps Tesla's most renowned and certainly one of his most dramatic inventions, resulted from his desire to build a device that could transport electricity wirelessly.

Other than the United States, 196 Tesla patents have been identified from another 26 nations. Most of these patents were awarded in France and the United Kingdom.

Life circumstances in the 1900s

From 1900 through 1910, Tesla resided in the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, where he racked up a sizable tab. 

The original structure of Waldorf Astoria, New York

In 1922, he relocated to the St. Regis Hotel and subsequently maintained a pattern of transferring to a new hotel every few years and leaving unpaid bills behind.

Every day, Tesla walked to the park to feed the pigeons. He started feeding them from his hotel room window and nursing injured birds back to health. Tesla stated that an injured white pigeon visited him daily. 

He spent more than $2,000 on the bird's care, including building a gadget to keep her comfortable while her broken wing and leg were mended. Tesla was evicted from St. Regis in 1923 because of unpaid fees and complaints about the mess produced by pigeons. 

It also forced him to depart from the Hotel Pennsylvania and the Hotel Governor Clinton in 1930 and 1934, respectively. He also stayed at the Hotel Marguery at one point.

In 1934, Tesla changed residences to the Hotel New Yorker. 

New Yorker Hotel Nikola Tesla room

Besides his rent, Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company began paying him $125 per month.

According to several stories, Westinghouse was concerned, or possibly warned, about the negative publicity that could result from its former star inventor's poverty.

The payment has been described as a "consulting fee" to get around Tesla's aversion to accepting charity. Tesla biographer Marc Seifer described the Westinghouse payments as an "unspecified settlement." Westinghouse provided the funds for Tesla for the rest of his life.

75th Birthday Press Conference 

One of Tesla's friends, Kenneth M. Swezey, organized a celebration for the inventor's 75th birthday in 1931. Tesla received congratulatory letters from over seventy pioneers in science and engineering, including Albert Einstein.

He welcomed the journalists to see his creations and hear anecdotes about his past achievements, current events, and occasionally bizarre claims.

Time Magazine honored Tesla by featuring him on its cover with a caption, "All the world's his power house," noting his contributions to electrical power generation.

The party was such a success that Tesla made it an annual affair, with a great spread of food and drink, including specialties created by him. 

Personal life

Personal appearance

Tesla stood 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 142 pounds from 1888 to 1926, with slight weight variation. 

In New York City, he was an exquisite, sophisticated figure who was fastidious in his grooming, attire, and everyday activities—an image he maintained to strengthen his business contacts.

According to reports, he also had bright eyes, "extremely huge hands," and "remarkably big" thumbs.

Eidetic memory

Tesla was a voracious reader who memorized entire volumes and was said to have a photographic memory. 

His eight languages were: Serbo-Croatian, French, Czech, German, Hungarian, English, Italian, and Latin. 

In his autobiography, Tesla stated that he had many flashes of inspiration. 

Tesla was afflicted with a disease throughout his childhood. Before his eyes, blinding bursts of light would occur, often accompanied by visions. 

The visions were frequently tied to a term or idea he had come across; at other times, they supplied the answer to a specific problem he had faced. He could imagine something in realistic detail just by hearing its name.

Before moving on to the construction stage, Tesla envisioned an invention in his head with extraordinary detail, encompassing all dimensions, a method known as "picture thinking."

He rarely drew by hand and instead relied on recollection. Tesla had regular flashbacks of incidents that occurred earlier in his life since he was a toddler.

Relationships

Tesla had been a longtime bachelor who once claimed that his celibacy aided his scientific abilities. He previously stated that he could never be worthy enough for a woman, believing that women are superior in every manner.

He changed his mind when he realized women were attempting to outdo men and become more powerful.

Tesla never pursued or engaged in any known relationships, preferring to find all of his stimulus in his work.

Tesla was an introverted man who preferred to be alone with his work. However, many people praised and admired Tesla when he did engage in social activities.

"Seldom did one meet a scientist or engineer who was also a poet, a philosopher, an appreciator of beautiful music, a linguist, and a connoisseur of food and drink," wrote Tesla's friend Julian Hawthorne.

Tesla surrounded himself with notable and remarkable people. Among his friends are:

Robert Underwood Johnson, Francis Marion Crawford, Stanford White, George Scherff, Stanford White, Kenneth Swezey, and Fritz Lowenstein.

In his later years, Tesla and Mark Twain spent much time together in his lab and elsewhere.

Tesla met the Indian Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda at a reception hosted by actress Sarah Bernhardt in 1896. Tesla told the monk that he could mathematically show the relationship between matter and energy, which Vivekananda felt would give Vedantic cosmology a scientific grounding. 

Tesla befriended George Sylvester Viereck, a poet, writer, mystic, and subsequently Nazi propagandist, in the late 1920s.

Sleep habits

Tesla claimed he never slept over two hours per night but he admitted to "dozing" occasionally "to replenish his batteries."

Tesla developed strong skills in billiards, chess, and card-playing during his second year of study at Graz, spending up to 48 hours at a game table at a time. 

At another time, Tesla worked for 84 straight hours in his laboratory.

Work habits

Tesla started working around 9:00 in the morning every day until 6:00 in the evening or later, with supper at Delmonico's restaurant and then the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel around 8:10 pm. 

He would place his supper order with the headwaiter, the only one who could serve him. 

He ate alone, except on rare occasions when he would serve dinner to a group to fulfill his social commitments, and then he went back to work, often until 3:00 am.

Tesla walked between 8 and 10 kilometers for exercise. Every night, he curled his toes 100 times on each foot, claiming that it activated his brain cells.

In his final years, Tesla became a vegetarian, surviving on milk, bread, honey, and vegetable

juices.

Views and Beliefs on Experimental and Theoretical Physics

Tesla rejected the hypothesis that atoms are made of smaller subatomic particles, claiming that an electron could not generate an electric charge. 

If they existed at all, Tesla felt that electrons were some fourth form of matter or "sub-atom" that could only exist in an experimental vacuum and had nothing to do with electricity. Tesla also believed that atoms were immutable, meaning they could not change state or split in any way. 

He believed in an all-pervasive ether that communicated electrical energy, as proposed in the nineteenth century.

Tesla's biographers generally agree that he had a humanist philosophical outlook. Like many of his generation, Tesla became a proponent of an imposed selective breeding form of eugenics.

Tesla believed that human "pity" had impeded the natural "ruthless workings of nature." 

He argued for eugenics despite not believing in the concept of a "master race" or the intrinsic superiority of one person over another.

On society

In 1926, Tesla commented on the issues of women's societal subordination and the struggle for gender equality. He predicted "Queen Bees" would control humanity's future. 

He felt that in the future, women would become the dominant sex.

Tesla made predictions about the relevant issues of a post-World War I environment in a printed article, "Science and Discovery are the Great Forces which will lead to the Consummation of the War." 

On religion

Tesla was brought up in an Orthodox Christian household. 

Later in life, he stated he was not a "believer in the orthodox sense," that he opposed religious fanaticism, and that "Buddhism and Christianity are the greatest religions both in the number of disciples and in importance." 

He also stated that "to me, the universe is simply a great machine that never came into being and never will end," and that "what we call 'soul' or 'spirit' is nothing more than the sum of the functions."

Literary works

Tesla authored several books and articles for magazines and journals, including My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla, which was compiled and edited by Ben Johnston in 1983 from a series of 1919 magazine articles by Tesla that were republished in 1977; The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla (1993), which was compiled and edited by David Hatcher Childress; and The Tesla Papers.

Many of Tesla's writings, including "The Problem of Increasing Human Energy," published in The Century Magazine in 1900, and "Experiments with Alternate Currents of High Potential and High Frequency," published in his book Inventions, Researches, and Writings of Nikola Tesla, are freely available online. 

Death

Nikola Tesla’s last photo

On January 7, 1943, at 86, Tesla died alone in Room 3327 of the Hotel New Yorker. Maid Alice Monaghan later found his body after she had entered Tesla’s room, ignoring the “do not disturb” sign that Tesla had placed on his door two days earlier. Assistant medical examiner HW Wembley examined the body and ruled that the cause of death had been coronary thrombosis.

Later that year, the US Supreme Court nullified four of Marconi’s key patents, belatedly recognizing Tesla’s radio innovations. The AC system Tesla championed and improved remains the international standard for power transmission.

FAQS

1. How many siblings did Nikola Tesla have?

Nikola Tesla had four siblings, three sisters and a brother who died young.

2. What is the IQ of Nikola Tesla?

Tesla was a real genius with an estimated IQ ranging from 160-310.

3. What type of engineer was Nikola Tesla?

Tesla was an electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist.

4. Who used tesla's patents to start an electric company?

George Westinghouse used Tesla's patents to start an. electric company

5. What did Nikola Tesla mean by 3 6 9? 

There are a total of 1 to 9 digital root numbers, according to Nikola Tesla's 369 Theory. These digital root numbers can be combined to create any other higher or lower number.

6. Who won the war of currents? 

When the great machinery began supplying power to Buffalo, more than 20 miles away, on 16 November 1896, there could be no doubt that AC had won the War of the Currents.

7. Did Nikola Tesla invent the fluorescent light bulb?

Edmund Germer developed the fluorescent lamp and the high-pressure mercury-vapor lamp, which enhanced the efficiency of lighting devices and produced less heat than incandescent lighting.

8. Where is Nikola Tesla buried?

Date of burial: January 12, 1943

Place of burial: Ferncliff Cemetery, New York, United States

Legacy and Honors

One of the most remarkable pioneers in the world of electricity is Nikola Tesla. Throughout his life, however, the brilliant inventor, engineer, and physicist was a misunderstood genius, often overshadowed by his more well-known research colleagues.

Though, in current times, an increasing number of people and organizations are paying respect to this remarkable guy. Tesla’s legacy lives on in books, movies, radio, television, music, live theater, comic books, and video games. 

The influence of Tesla’s technology, whether fabricated or imagined, is a common theme in different forms of science fiction.

Things named after Tesla:

1. Awards

The Nikola Tesla Awards

The Nikola Tesla Awards

2. Enterprises and organizations

  • Tesla, Inc., the most popular electric car manufacturer in America
  • Nikola Motor Company is a hydrogen and electric class 8 truck manufacturer in the US
  • Ericsson Nikola Tesla, a Croatian affiliate of the Swedish telecommunications equipment manufacturer, Ericsson Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing

3. Holidays and Events

4. Places

Nikola Tesla Museum in Colorado

5. School

Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, Washington

6. Ship

  • A liberty ship, SS Nikola, was launched on September 25 September 1943, sold from government service in 1947, and scrapped in 1970.

7. Plaques and Memorials

  • Frano Kršinić sculpted a monument of Tesla in Niagara Falls, New York, portraying him reading notes.
Frano Kršinić sculpted a monument of Tesla in Niagara Falls, New York
  • An identical monument is also standing at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Engineering.
  • A monument of Tesla standing on an alternator was unveiled on July 9, 2006, on Tesla’s 150th birth anniversary, at Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
A monument of Tesla standing on an alternator
  • Jane Alcorn, president of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, and Matthew Inman purchased the land where Wardenclyffe Tower had stood in 2012, intending to turn it into a museum. The Tesla Dream Continues in Wardenclyffe.
  • The IEEE erected a commemorative plaque honoring Nikola Tesla on the façade of the New Yorker Hotel in July 2001.
  • On December 7, 2013, a full-size, crowdfunded statue honoring Tesla was unveiled in Palo Alto, California, complete with free Wi-Fi and a time capsule (to be opened on the 100th anniversary of Tesla’s death, January 7, 2043.)

8. Computing

  • Tesla is the name of a video card graphics processing unit developed and built by Nvidia.

9. Currency

  • Between 1970 (statue) and 1993, the Yugoslav dinar featured Tesla on six banknotes.
Yugoslav dinar featured Tesla on six banknotes
  • Tesla is honored on the 100 Serbian dinar banknote.
  • When the Croatian Euro coins come out in 2023, they will feature Tesla on the 10, 20, and 50-cent coins. 

Nikola Tesla Then and Now

Perhaps even more exciting than the countless scientific milestones Tesla achieved are his predictions about the future.

Tesla’s predictions:

1. Smartphones

2. Nikola Tesla predicted mobile phones in 1909. 

For us today, this would be normal, but Nikola, in 1926, was asked about the future of communication. He said that in the future, people would be linked together via wireless technologies even if they were thousands of miles apart, speaking face to face.

3. Wireless local area network WLAN

With the help of sophisticated machines, people will communicate with one another without interference. And now, this has become a reality not only with smartphones but with video calls thru IoT.

4. Self-driving cars and free energy (solar) are almost within reach.

Nikola Tesla Then and Now

Nikola Tesla’s Quotes

Tesla was also a gifted poet. Most of his thoughts and musings were written as poems that would later serve as reminders or guidance to him in the future.

The following are among his beloved and well-noted quotes:

 On scientific inquiries and discoveries:

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.”

― Nikola Tesla

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

― Nikola Tesla

On innovation and creativity

“I don't care that they stole my idea . . I care ‌they don't have any of their own”

― Nikola Tesla

On being single:

“Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.”

― Nikola Tesla

“The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”

― Nikola Tesla

“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.”

― Nikola Tesla

Key Takeaways

Either point of view, there is no denying the lessons we can learn from Nikola Tesla's life story. 

Lesson 1. He was fearless and unhesitating. Tesla, believing in himself, constantly takes on challenges. When Thomas Edison asked to improve a system, he took on the challenge and triumphed.

Key Takeaway: In life as in business, be fearless and take on challenges. There's no reward without taking risks.

Lesson 2: Persistence pays. Nikola never wavered in his belief that he could change the world with his concepts. And he did!

Key Takeaway: Don't stop dreaming. If your ideas don't bear positive results for a time, don't abandon them and lose hope. With hard work and persistence, your time will come.

Lesson 3: Surround yourself with interesting people: Tesla collaborated with the best minds during his time. As a result, Tesla had the opportunity to learn from them and improve what he sees as shortcomings in their systems.

Key Takeaway: Learn from your industry's thought leaders. Collaborate and be open-minded.

Lesson 4: Value your network. Towards the end of his life, he liked to socialize with the greatest of his time: noteworthy scientists, outstanding politicians, great artists, and businessmen. 

Key Takeaway: Your network can be your source of inspiration, guidance, and help in the industry. Value people and appreciate them.

For further reading, you may check:

Brian Hadi Attarbashi

Brian is the CEO of AI bees. When he is not running the company with German precision, Brian writes expert articles about marketing and manufacturing. When not doing these, you will find him rescuing dogs or mowing competition down at a jiu jitsu studio.

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