The Legend of Nikola Tesla

The LegendNikola Tesla was born July 9, 1856, in the small village of Smiljan, Croatia. His father was and orthodox priest and his mother was an uneducated woman with an uncanny ability to memorize epic poetry. When Tesla was enrolled in school he excelled in math and languages. At an early age Tesla developed a remarkable aptitude for solving problems by using rigid self-discipline.

During his school years Tesla was occupied with the problem of using alternating current for the distribution of electrical energy. Tesla was able to attend the better schools in Europe. Furthermore, financial difficulties forced him to leave school altogether. On the most part Tesla was self-educated.

In 1884 while working for the Continental Edison Company, Tesla received and opportunity to achieve one of his major dreams of moving to America. In June of that same year, while in New York City, Tesla was offered a position with Thomas Edison.

For the next four years Tesla had a stormy life, soon after leaving Edison’s employment and forming his own company, which was also short lived.

In 1887, his luck changed when he met A. K. Brown of the Western Union Company. Brown became interested in Tesla’s ideas of alternating current. They formed the Tesla Electric Company in 1888 and was awarded his first alternating current patent. Soon after this patent, he was invited to speak at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Tesla made a great impact on another inventor and industrialist, George Westinghouse.

Westinghouse and Tesla started out on a tremendous inventive journey. At this time their system of alternating current and Edison’s system of direct current were at great odds with each other. This adversary relationship was give the nickname of “Battle of the Currents”. By 1893, the “Battle of the Currents” was all but over. Tesla had used his alternating current system to power the World’s Fair at Chicago. Because of the tremendous display, Tesla and Westinghouse were awarded the contract to build three generators for the Niagra Falls Hydro station. This would be one of the words greatest engineering feats.

Tesla continued his prodigious work on new and innovative inventions. He was the first to demonstrate a radio controlled “robot boat”. He also, pioneered the basic principles of radar thirty years before its actual development.

The Tesla legacy is everywhere. His greatest discovery, the alternation current motor, laid the foundation for the power system used throughout the industrialized world. The Tesla coil is widely used in television and radio sets. Even today, scientists still eagerly explore Tesla’s concepts.

Although Serbian by birth, he always maintained he was an American at heart. All of his life, Tesla felt his greatest achievement was when he attained American Citizenship in 1891.

Nikola Tesla died at the age of eighty six in New York City. To this day he is still called “A man out of time.”

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