Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)

Nikola Tesla

1856 On the 10th of July, in Smiljan village, Croatia, Nikola Tesla was born. His father, Milutin Tesla, was an Orthodox priest, and his mother, Djuka Mandic, had inventor skills, especially for household appliances field. Nikola had four brothers, an elder one (who died when he was 9 years old) and three sisters.

1972-1875 During this period he attended “Gymnasium Karlovac” courses, in Karlovac, where he graduated during only three years the four-year education cycle.

1875-1878 He studied electrical engineering at University in Graz, but it seems that he gave up to courses during the second semester of the third year.

1878 He was Junior Engineer for one year in Maribor (in Slovenia nowadays).

1880 During summer, at his father’s urging, he enrolled to courses of University in Carolina, Prague. He gave up immediately after his father’s death.

1881 He started his career as engineer, in Budapest, to a phone company and after that he became chief engineer. It seems that while he was walking in a park in Budapest, together with one friend, Tesla confessed to this that he had in his mind some ideas regarding rotating magnetic field. By a stick, he would have designed a diagram in sand in order to explain to his friend the principle of induction engine.

1882 Before leaving to USA, Tesla moved to Paris to work as an engineer for one of Thomas Edison’s companies. It seems that here Tesla designed the dynamo.

1884 After a while spent at Strasbourg, where he privately built a prototype of induction engine that seemed to work perfectly, Tesla left to USA because of Thomas Edison’s offer. It seems that Edison had invited Thomas after a recommendation of Charles Batchelor who said: “I know two great people, one is you and the other is this young man”. Tesla’s dream, since he was a child, was to go to America and to harness Niagara Fall’s power.

At the beginning Tesla was a simple engineer, but as a consequence of solving some problems that seemed to be impossible, he rapidly evaluated getting some important tasks. Edison had promised him a very good salary (about 50.000 dollars) to improve company’s services.

1885 When Tesla asked Edison the promised payment, he answered: “Tesla, you do not understand our American humour?”, giving him only a salary of 18 dollars a week. Tesla stopped this collaboration immediately after he had not got a higher salary, from 18 to 25 dollars a week.

1886 Tesla founded his own company, Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing, but investors did not agree his plans to make an AC motor, drawing him out of the business.

1887 He made the first induction engine, without brushes, powered by AC. On April, Tesla began the researches related to what would be called “X rays”.

1888 He presented his invention at American Institute of Electrical Engineers. One of the most impressed was industrialist and inventor George Westinghouse. One day he visited Tesla’s lab and was amazed because of what he saw. The two became associates and the use of electricity would start in America.

1891 He invented wireless energy transmission. Tesla effect (called like this in his honour) is a concept for the applications of this kind of electricity transport. On July, Tesla became American citizen.

1892 He started to get the first patents regarding the field of multistage supply and he continued the researches of rotating magnetic field principles.

1892-1894 During this period he activated as vice president of American Institute of Electrical Engineering.

1893 Tesla succeeded to transmit wireless electromagnetic energy, building the first Radio transmitter and he barely registered the patent in 1897. After 2 years since he had registered the trademark, in 1899, Gugliemo Marconi succeeded the first Radio transmission. Marconi’s patent was refused because it was considered a copy of Tesla’s. The two inventors had been judged and the court decided in 1943 that righteousness was by Tesla’s side (even if many books still mention Marconi as Radio inventor).

1894 Columbia and Yale Universities offered him the title of “Doctor Honoris Causa”. Franklin Institute awarded him with “Elliot Cresson” Medal.

1895 He invented the generator, known as “Tesla’s Generator”.

1896 The first hydro plant was built at Niagara Falls because of Tesla’s findings and it succeeded to transmit electricity to Buffalo city, New York.

1899 Tesla moved to a laboratory in Colorado Springs, USA to start high voltage experiments and measurements. Tesla’s goals in this lab were to build a high power transmitter, to enhance environments to isolate and individualise the transmitted power and to determine the laws of current propagation through the ground and atmosphere.

1915 New York Times announced that Tesla and Edison were about to get Nobel Award for Physics. It was strange because none of them got the award and the reason is still unknown. It was rumoured that Tesla would have refused the award because he did not wanted to share it with Edison and because Marconi had already got it.

1934 Emile Girardeau was working for the first radar system and he declared he used Tesla’s principles.

1943 On the 7th of January, Nikola Tesla died in New Yorker Hotel, New York, USA, where he had been living his last ten years of life. It happened at the 33rd floor, room 3327, in a nice two rooms flat. The funeral took place at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York. Condolence telegrams were sent by many noteworthy people, including first Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and vice president Wallace. More than 2000 people participated, scientists and many Nobel Award laureates. He was cremated and his ash was put into a golden sphere, Tesla’s favourite shape.

     Tesla is considered one of the greatest scientists of the end of century XIX and the beginning of century XX. Tesla’s inventions and theoretical work founded modern knowledge about AC, electric power, AC systems including multistage systems, power distribution systems and AC motor which determined the second Industrial Revolution. In his honour, the measurement unit of magnetic field in International System of Units was called “Tesla”.[1]





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