Nikola Tesla: Biography, Invention, Facts, and Quotes | Everyday Science

Nikola Tesla: Biography, Invention, Facts, and Quotes


Nikola Tesla

In this article, we are going to talk about the great scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla’s life and his inventions and discoveries. 


Born: July 10th,1856
Place of Birth: Smiljan, Austrian Empire (Now in Croatia)
Died: January 7th,1943
Cause of Death: Coronary thrombosis
Place of Death: New York- U.S
Nationality: Austrian Empire, United States
Occupation: Electric Engineer and an Inventor
Awards: Order of the Yugoslav Crown, IEEE Edison Medal, John Scott Legacy Medal, and Premium, IEEE Nikola Tesla Award

Nikola Tesla

Early Life:  

Tesla was born in Smiljan, Croatia on July 10th, 1856. Tesla had five siblings including Dane, Angelina, Milka, and Marica, and Tesla himself. Nikola Tesla’s interest in electrical invention started by watching his mother Djuka Mandic inventing small household appliances in her spare time when he was growing up.

Nikola Tesla’s father was a Serbian orthodox priest and writer. His father wanted him to join the priesthood. But Tesla was more interested in the sciences.


Tesla studied at the Realschule, Karlstadt in Germany; the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria; and the University of Prague during the 1870s. After that Tesla moved to Budapest, where he worked at the Central Telephone Exchange.

The idea for an induction motor came to Tesla while he was residing in Budapest, But after spending several years trying to gain interest in his invention he moved to America from Europe.

Also Read: Alan Turing Story: How a Mathematician Genius become a criminal

The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla:

1. The Alternating Current:

The Alternating Current (AC) was Tesla’s most distinguished accomplishment. He made AC power’s utilization far-reaching. AC power sends power over long separations more effectively. Westinghouse purchased Tesla’s AC licenses and utilized them to offer on the lighting of the Chicago World’s Fair. Westinghouse won the agreement and had the option to give power at around $150,000, which is short of what it would have cost to give power utilizing direct current.

Alternating Current

2. Tesla Coil:

In 1891 Nikola Tesla designed an electrical resonant transformer circuit that’s known as the Tesla coil. Tesla coil is used in producing high-voltage, low-current, and high-frequency alternating-current electricity. The Tesla Coil was used in the experiments with electrical lighting, phosphorescence, X-ray generation, high frequency alternating current phenomena, the transmission of electrical energy without wires and electrotherapy.

Tesla coil circuits were used for wireless telegraphy in sparkgap in the 1920s and in medical equipment such as electrotherapy and violet ray devices. Today, they are mainly used for entertainment and educational displays. The small coils are still used as leak detectors for high vacuum systems

Tesla coil

3: Remote Control

The world’s first wireless remote control was invented by Nikola Tesla. That he unveiled in 1898 in Madison Square Garden in New York City. He called his invention teleautomation which could be used to control a range of mechanical contraptions. A miniature boat that was controlled by radio waves was used bt Tesla in the experiment. The boat had a small metal antenna in it that could receive exactly one radio frequency. Tesla controlled the boat through his box shaped remote control that was equipped with a lever and a telegraph key that was originally designed to send Morse code signals.

Read Also: Galileo Discoveries: What did Galileo Galilei invent and discover?

The boat received signals generated from the remote control which shifted electrical contacts on the boat and in turn adjusted settings for the rudder and propeller, allowing the operator to control the boat’s motion. Tesla’s intended client was the U.S Navy but the NAVY thought that the technology was too flimsy for war and didn’t fund the invention to move further but the concept of remote caught on and companies started invented remotely controls for many other types of equipment.

Remote Control, Image credits; Business insider

4:  Teleforce or Tesla’s Death ray

Over the course of Tesla’s life he tried to find a way to beam limitless power directly through the air and he did manage to develop such devices that could transmit electric energy wirelessly but he had no funding to further pursue his ambition. In 1934, Nikola Tesla claimed that he had made an incredible an incredible discovery, He claimed that he had found a way to make a device that could kill from miles away with the just the sheer force of electricity.

Related Article: Isaac Newton Discoveries and Inventions

Nikola Tesla called his invention the Teleforce but it is mostly known as the Tesla death ray. Tesla resisted the term death ray to describe it because he said that it didn’t transmit rays as a ray of energy would dissipate in the air but transmitted a focused energy along a narrow path that made it powerful enough to bring down airplanes and kill people instantly.

Read more about Nikola Tesla Death ray

5: Telegeodynamics:

This system was designed by Nikola Tesla to help in locating the underground mineral structures through the transmission of mechanical energy through the subsurface. The reflected and refracted signals gives a data to be analyzed and to deduce the location and characteristics of underground formations through it.

6:  Violet Ray:

Nikola Tesla introduced his first prototype of the violet ray at the world’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Violet Ray is a medical appliance which was used in the early 20th century to discharge in electrotherapy. Violet Ray normally has a disruptive discharge coil along with an interrupter to apply a high voltage and high frequency, low current to the human body for therapeutic purposes.

Tesla Violent Ray machine

7:  Tesla’s Oscillator

Tesla patented the electro-mechanical oscillator in 1893. The Oscillator is a steam-powered electric generator. Tesla claimed once claimed that in 1898 one version of the oscillator caused an earthquake in New York City and people started calling it it the “Tesla’s earthquake machine”.

electro-mechanical oscillator
Electro-mechanical oscillator

8. AC Induction Motor

Nikola Tesla had filed for his Induction motor patent long before Ferrari presented their induction engine. The Induction motor uses electromagnets to spin. The induction motor is commonly used in Vacuums, blow dryers, and power tools to this day.

9: Three Phase Electric Power

The Polyphase power systems were invented by Galileo Ferraris, Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky, Jonas Wenström, John Hopkinson, and Nikola Tesla in the late 1880s respectively. Three-phase electric power is a common method of alternating current, electric power generation, transmission, and distribution.

Three-phase electric power is a type of polyphase system and is the most common method used by electrical grids worldwide to transfer power. It is used to power large motors and other heavy loads as well. A three-wire-three-phase circuit uses less conductor material to transmit a given amount of electrical power which makes it more economical than the two-wire single-phase circuit.

Three-phase electric power

10. Neon Lamps

Fluorescent or Neo lights were not invented by Nikola Tesla but he improved on the inventions. He created the first neon sign out of the lights. Tesla demonstrated neon light signs and how they can make unique designs and form words at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Neon Lights

11:  Tesla Valve

The device is named after Nikola Tesla. He was awarded U.S. Patent 1,329,559 in 1920 for his invention. Tesla called it a valvular conduit. The Tesla valve is a fixed-geometry passive check valve. It allows fluid to flow in one direction, without moving parts.

12: Wireless Telegraphy/Radiotelegraphy

Wireless telegraphy or radiotelegraphy is a transmission of telegraph signals by radio waves. Nikola Tesla created a basic design for radio in 1892. On November 8, 1898, he patented a radio-controlled robot-boat. Tesla’s robot-boat had an antenna that transmitted the radio waves coming from the command post. The radio waves were received by a radiosensitive device called coherer which in turn transmitted the radio waves into mechanical movements of the propellers on the boat and changed the boat’s direction.

Most people are unaware of Tesla’s work with the radio because Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi claimed the first patents for radio that were actually created by Tesla. The patent turned out to be invalid in 1943 and Tesla’s claim turned out to be true.

Radio room in 1939, Radiotelegraphy

13: Tesla Turbine

Tesla made his own turbine-style engine which used combustion to make specks of dust rotate. The engine had a fuel efficiency of 60% compared to our fuel efficiency that is about 42% it was a big achievement.

Tesla Turbine

14. World Wireless System

The world wireless system was designed by Nikola Tesla. Tesla’s idea for a world wireless system started in the early 1980s when he learned of Hertz’s experiments with electromagnetic waves. This system was based on his theories of using Earth and its atmosphere as electrical conductors. He claimed that this system would transmit electric energy without wires on a global scale. And point-to-point wireless telecommunications and broadcasting.

Nikola Tesla in his Laboratory

15: Vacuum Variable Capacitor

In 1896 Nikola Tesla filed a patent for a Vacuum Capacitor. The vacuum variable Capacitor was to enhance the quality of electrical components for handling “high frequency and potential currents”. The above components were necessary for Tesla’s studies about DC impulse research. The products have been available commercially since 1942.

Vacuum Variable Capacitor

Nikola Tesla Facts

  • The Man who invented the 20th century

In 1890 the Niagra falls power plant which was designed by Nikola Tesla made it possible to distribute low current, high voltage electricity supply to distant homes and industries.

  • The Man that started the Second Industrial Revolution

By pushing the world towards modern technology Nikola Tesla started a Second Industrial Revolution and for giving the world the technological marvels he has also been called “The Man Who Invented the 20th Century”

  • Father of Electricity:

Nikola Tesla Changed the world and transformed daily life at the turn of the 20th century with his inventions and contributions toward the electric age by inventing the modern AC electricity system.

His inventions led to the radio and television and the modern world as we know it.

  • Eidetic Memory:

Tesla had an Eidetic or as we simply call it a photographic memory. It is an ability to recall images from one’s memory after seeing it just once with high precision because of his memory he rarely composed diagrams of his inventions instead worked from memories and pictures in his mind.

  • A Polyglot:

Tesla was a hyperpolyglot and knew eight languages including Serbo Croatian, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin fluently.

  • Prolific Inventor:

Nikola Tesla invented the electric motors that are used in everyday appliances in our homes from fans, water pumps, the machine, and power tools to disk drives and compressors.

  • Hundreds Of Patents:

It is said that Tesla had applied for more than 700 patents during his lifetime and received at least 300 patents we know of today.

  • Sought Free Energy For The World:

One of Nikola Tesla’s ultimate goal was to find ‘free energy’ sources which all people could share, and many of his free energy sources are still sensitive issues and have been kept secret by the U.S. Government. Tesla discovered that broadcasting electric power through the air without wires is possible and set out to provide free energy to the world via his wireless transmission tower, Wardenclyffe Tower that is situated on Long Island, New York. But the project remained incomplete as his financial backer J.P. Morgan cut off funding and no other investors came forward.

  • Could Have Been World’s, Richest Man:

Tesla signed a patent licensing agreement with Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company’s owner and founder Westinghouse in 1888, in the agreement he was given stocks, salary, bonuses, and a royalty for each horsepower of electricity produced by his AC motor.

By 1907 the clashes of Currents between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse had put Westinghouse more than $10 million in debt and when they appealed to Tesla for some relief from the royalties, Tesla tore up the 12$ million worth of the contract which makes $300 million in today’s money. At the end of his life, Tesla was totally broke and living on the 33rd floor of the New Yorker Hotel, and his bills were paid by his previous business partner George Westinghouse.

  • Nikola Tesla’s IQ

Nikola Tesla’s IQ is estimated from 160 to 310 points by different measures. He was a real genius that history didn’t take much notice of.

15 Quotes of Nikola Tesla

Tesla gives us hope that once you set out to achieve something then everything can be achieved when you try hard enough, taught us resilience, his legacy lives on even if he does not. The world will be forever grateful to his beautiful mind. Here are 25 Nikola Tesla quotes to discover the genius within and become the inventor of your dreams.

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

I don’t care that they stole my idea … I care that they don’t have any of their own.

The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.

Of all the things, I liked books best.

Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine.

Our virtues and our failings are inseparable, like force and matter. When they separate, man is no more.

I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men.

The feeling is constantly growing on me that I had been the first to hear the greeting of one planet to another.

If your hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.

My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe, there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, and inspiration.

Everyone should consider his body as a priceless gift from one whom he loves above all, a marvelous work of art, of indescribable beauty, and mystery beyond human conception, and so delicate that a word, a breath, a look, nay, a thought may injure it.

All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.

Life is and will ever remain an equation incapable of solution, but it contains certain known factors.

We crave for new sensations but soon become indifferent to them. The wonders of yesterday are today common occurrences.

The invention is the most important product of man’s creative brain. The ultimate purpose is the complete mastery of mind over the material world, the harnessing of human nature to human needs.

Nikola Tesla Death

After giving the world so many great inventions and practically pull it towards modern technological times, Nikola Tesla died from Coronary thrombosis on January 7th, 1943 at the age of 86 in New York City, Where he had lived for nearly 60 years but the legacy of his work lives on.

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