Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856 in the town of Smiljan, which is now part of modern day Croatia. During Tesla’s time it was an ambiguous region that was previously controlled by the Ottomans, and then switched hands to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Nikola had an older brother by the name of Dane and his father was named Milutin. Dane would die at a young age due to a horse riding accident.
Tesla’s parents had high hopes for Dane; they were tailoring him for success once he had grown to be a man. His father wanted him to follow in his steps and become a priest. Once Dane died, Tesla felt an obligation to live up to his parents expectations. Unfortunately, his parents were not very supportive of him in his young years. His father would scold him if he ever caught him reading. An experience worth noting was one when Tesla witnessed the firemen of his town attempting to put out a fire, though the hose was not pumping water from the nearby lake.
With no previous knowledge of mechanics Tesla instinctually ran into the lake and untangled the hose. Teslas education consisted of primary school in Smiljan, followed by higher education in Karlovac. Tesla found it hard to be visual in his work, due to the fact that all school materials and methods were made for right handed people, which Tesla was not. It is because of this, that Tesla formed a phenomenal creativity. Throughout his life Tesla would imagine machinery, and science, rather than illustrate it.
In his higher education, Tesla would be forced to take months off, due to his extreme devotion to learning. He would manage to survive on 4 hours of sleep everyday, while he spent the rest of the day reading, studying, and imagining. It is in his childhood that Tesla imagined some of his greatest endeavors, which would come to impact the world in the future. Prior to emigrating to the US, Tesla had a knowledge of telephony and electrical engineering. Upon arrival in 1884, he expressed a deep feeling of disappointment in the United States.
He believed that technologically and infrastructurally, the US was 100 years behind Europe. Regardless, Tesla would live the rest of his days in the United States. The reason that Tesla was in America was none other than to assist in Thomas Edison’s laboratory; this assistance would lead to the War of Currents. Tesla would be an important assistant to Edison as well as JP Morgan, who was the the chief financier of this endeavor. Though a conflict would soon arise between Edison and Tesla. Edison would go on to invent direct current electricity (DC).
Tesla noticed how wasteful DC was and sought to improve it. Tesla would confront Edison about his inferior electrical system, and claim that he could create one that is much safer and more efficient. This would come be come to be called alternating current (AC). It has been reported that in response to Tesla’s claims, Edison promised him $10,000 if he did (sarcastically). After Tesla demonstrated his AC electric generator to Edison, he proved all his points and demanded the $10,000. After Edison refused to pay up, the frustrated and ambitious Tesla took his invention and quit working for him.
At first, Edison and JP Morgan thought nothing of Tesla; later they would come to regret their underestimation of him. After leaving JP Morgan, Tesla was in need of a new investor. This new investor would be none other than George Westinghouse. With Westinghouse’s money, Tesla was able to start selling AC electricity, and AC electricity was being widely accepted. Tesla would go onto show, before a multitude of crowds, the safety and reliability of AC electricity. Some of his demonstrations in New York featured hundreds of thousands of spectators.
Tesla would show electricity moving through him, and would also shoot bolts of electricity into the crowd. He was nicknamed the Wizard of Electricity due to these eccentric performances. It was not long until Tesla’s electricity was powering the majority of America. At this point JP Morgan and Edison were desperate to smear Tesla as much as possible to lower the popularity of his invention. They published fake newspaper articles saying that AC current was not safe and had killed people with electrocution.
Edison and Morgan went so far as to execute a prisoner using AC electricity in order to make it seem dangerous. This plan would backfire on them, as the execution would last seven hours to kill the prisoner. For a whole seven hours a person was electrocuted in front of a group of journalists. This was a massive blunder to JP Morgan. In 1995, Tesla and Edison had to compete in front of Canada in order to gain approval to build a hydroelectric turbine in Niagara Falls.
This opportunity was literally a dream come true, for he had wished since he was a child to make use of the falling water at Niagara. The privilege of building turbines at Niagara Falls was given to Westinghouse and Tesla, and to this day you still see Westinghouse’s name on the turbines. It seemed as if Westinghouse and Tesla were taking the Western world by storm, though this prosperity would eventually come to an end. Unfortunately for Tesla, his success had made him numerous enemies. JP Morgan was using as much of his power as possible to bring down Westinghouse.
More notably, John D. Rockefeller, the kerosene tycoon, was also in pursuit of Tesla’s downfall. Westinghouse and Tesla had the cards stacked against them and would find themselves failing to make enough money to support themselves. Westinghouse was failing to pay Tesla for his work because he did not have enough money to keep up with all of Tesla’s patents. Tesla, in response, would take his patents and tear them in half in front of Westinghouse.
Claiming that their scientific endeavours were, “good work,” Tesla forgoed payment as long as he could continue inventing. Westinghouse’s spirits would be lifted and their ambitions were rekindled. But once again, Westinghouse simply could not afford all of the operation that they were doing. In the early 1900’s JP Morgan would visit Westinghouse, threaten him, and end up buying Westinghouse Electricity. This purchase would then create what is known as General Electric.
Westinghouse Electricity would continue to separately provide power until 1999. Though it is worth noting that Morgan had fired Edison due to his incompetence, and failure to recognize AC electricities promise. At this point Westinghouse was just scraping by, and Tesla was out of the job and broke. Though Tesla would find a new employer for his inventive capabilities. The US Navy would hire Tesla to do a multitude of services for them.
In these years (1900-1920) Tesla would work for the Navy, and he would use his time to fine tune his wireless electricity concepts. Its worth mentioning that once again, Tesla conducted his early engineering in his mind. He would soon invent remote controllable technology, wireless electric control, and use it as a means to control boats for the Navy. His inventions would be the building blocks for heat seeking technology, as well as the invention of probes. It must be emphasized that Tesla’s inventions were so ahead of his time, that the world was simply not ready for all of them at the same time.
This contributes to why he was not successful in business. Capitalists like JP Morgan only sought to market and sell one entity of Tesla’s inventions. It is rarely recognized that Tesla was also the inventor ofthe following: electric motor, magnetic motor, arc lamps, Tesla coil, thermo-magnetic motor, electro-magnetic motor, AC generator, electrical meter, incandescent light bulb, as well as velocity, frequency, and buoyancy meters for vehicles. His total amount of patents would exceed 300. His inventions were far ahead of his time, and still improved upon to this very day.
It is uncanny how brilliant Tesla’s mind was during his time; the evidence lies simply in his patents. But Tesla’s most influential invention was never patented, nor revealed to the public. Through the manipulation of the earths magnetic field, Tesla was able to theoretically turn his laboratory into a giant tuning fork for the world. This manipulation basically used the vibrating power of the earth’s atmosphere to transmit all magnetic electricity into the ground. This transmission of electricity was theoretically a way to provide electricity freely to the entire world. It would have been possible to stick an iPhone charger into the ground and have it charge your phone.
Though a problem lied in the balance of power use. In his test, Tesla almost caused an earthquake in his laboratory, because the amount of electricity used around the earth is not equal; certain areas use more than others. Tesla then concluded that this invention was too dangerous to bring into existence because it had the power to literally separate the world from its atmosphere, and effectively split it in half. He then destroyed any and all guidelines for creating what he had. To this day, it is unknown how Tesla turned the earth into a tuning fork, and utilized the magnetosphere. Tesla would die on January 7, 1943 at the age of 86.
He would die penniless, in a New York hotel with a few pet pigeons that he had gotten. This sad ending to a brilliant man’s life acts as a reminder of how far ahead Tesla was of his time. He would never marry, or pay attention to women in general. Though Tesla’s inventive capabilities could have launched him up to becoming the world’s first billionaire. Tesla’s personal notes show a particular fondness towards aircraft, and it can be concluded that he wanted to build them.
Though once again due to his disinterest for money, and lack of funds, he could not pursue his dream. Nikola Tesla could have literally been the aviator, before Howard Hughes. Though he may not have been able to accomplish all of his endeavors, Tesla left a profound impact on the United States, as well as the modern world for a century to come.