When he became independently wealthy in 1889, Nikola Tesla pursued his own interests. He rented out various workshop/laboratory spaces in Manhattan, including 175 Grand Street (1889-1892), 33-35 South Fifth Avenue (1892-1895), and 46 & 48 East Houston Street (1895-1902). This was where he and his hired staff produced some of their most important work. Read this biography of Nikola Tesla to learn more about His life and inventions.
Nikola Tesla’s early life
Nikola Tesla’s early life was a rather modest one. He was born in an Austrian Empire village in 1856, to a Serbian Orthodox father and a Romanian mother. His interest in electricity began at a very early age, spurred by his mother, who often improvised small household appliances. His father, an orthodox priest, encouraged his son to join the priesthood, but Nikola refused. Instead, he studied in Europe, working for a telephone company in Budapest.
As a teenager, Tesla studied energy technology. He became interested in a hidden mechanism which triggers a reaction when a voltage is applied to a certain frequency. Interestingly, this mechanism was not fully understood until much later, when Tesla became a genius. Tesla’s father encouraged him to study in the hills, where he would recover more fully and maintain a low profile. After graduation, he began reading books on hidden trigger mechanisms and conceived his own projects.
The influence of his ethnicity on Tesla’s early life was undeniable. As a Serb, Nikola Tesla inherited tribal rituals, egalitarian rule, modified Greek Orthodox religion, and superstitions. For example, women cloaked themselves in black, and men carried their weapons in one pocket. As the protectors of Europe, the Serbs bore the responsibility of the European continent in blood for centuries. Tesla’s life was greatly influenced by war.
Despite his achievements, Tesla was not a great businessman. The financial losses Tesla suffered were unmanageable. Morgan thought Tesla could not make money from his wireless electricity inventions. In response, Tesla sold off his assets to cover his dual foreclosures. His Wardenclyffe property was sold to a film processing company. Tesla’s partially completed tower was later destroyed by the U.S. government due to concerns that German spies might have used it to intercept messages.
As a boy, Nikola Tesla was fascinated with the electricity in his pet cat, Macak. He watched sparks fly as he stroked the cat’s fur. Tesla concluded that lightning bolts looked like cat fur and developed his first electrical circuit. This eventually led to the invention of the Tesla coil, which can generate huge voltages and create the largest man-made lightning bolt. Now, these electrical circuits are widely used in electronics.
In addition to developing a new way to power electronic devices, Tesla also improved the technology of neon lights. This invention improved neon light technology and helped with the formation of designs and words. Nowadays, you can see neon lights in casinos, hotels, bars, and roadside signs. X-rays were also developed with Tesla’s help, as he improved the process by which they were created. Tesla’s shadowgraph was later used to improve X-rays.
Besides electrical wiring, Tesla invented wireless electricity, which can be transmitted over short distances. Wireless towers and balloons were also created with this invention. While this invention was initially a novelty, the possibilities it enabled Tesla to dream of vaster scales became clearer as his inventions progressed. Now, wireless electricity can be used in many everyday applications, from toothbrushes to electric vehicles. These advancements have changed the way we communicate.
Nikola Tesla’s fascination with Mark Twain’s books started as a child. When he was bedridden with cholera, a nurse brought him a Serbian translation of the author’s books. Tesla was enthralled by the stories of the U.S. South, and eventually met the author in New York. After reading this novel, Nikola Tesla started working on his first electrical motor, the Watt-Hole.
One of the many interesting facts about Nikola Tesla is that he was a lifelong bachelor. Tesla explained that chastity benefited his scientific abilities. In fact, he once said that a woman was better than him in every way. This attitude changed, however, when he had an experience with cholera. He also became averse to women’s pearl and diamond earrings, and he slept only two hours a day.
After the fire in 1895, Tesla and his family moved to Colorado Springs, where he lived for two years. Afterwards, they returned to New York, where Tesla sought investors and funds for his wireless transmission system. In 1901, he received $150,000 from financier J.P. Morgan to develop and commercialise his invention. Tesla then began working on his new inventions while the energy from his experiments began to wane.
Another aspect of Tesla’s eccentricity was that he had a strange obsession with the number three. He would wash his hands three times a day and would walk three times around buildings before entering. He also hated pearls and would send his secretary home if she wore any. His eccentricity may have contributed to his mental illness. In fact, Tesla’s eccentricity was so strong that it is not surprising that he had a nervous breakdown, which probably contributed to his mental health issues.
His obsession with germs didn’t stop when he got older. He used 18 napkins to wipe his dining room every night, and wore white gloves to dinner. At the same time, he developed an idea that would allow wireless information to be gathered in a small area – much like a smartphone does today. The problem, of course, was that Tesla’s ideas never went anywhere, and he was far too shy to test them.
It’s no secret that Nikola Tesla suffered from serious mental illness. In a time when society didn’t fully understand mental illness, he struggled to complete a four-year engineering course. His illness was likely exacerbated by compulsive behavior and severe lack of sleep. Tesla would frequently fall asleep at his desk. In addition, he had an odd obsession with the number three. He would walk around a building three times before entering it.
Although he was just a young boy, Nikola Tesla cherished his sisters. His father died of a heart attack on 17 April 1879. The illness had been a secret for two years, but he continued to keep in touch with them throughout his life. His illness ultimately killed his career, as his father was unable to do anything for his son. Nikola Tesla’s illness impacted many lives and led to the development of modern technology.
In his early years, Tesla worked from 3am to 11pm every day. He also became addicted to gambling. In one stretch, he played cards for 48 hours. Soon afterward, he was bedridden again. His family and friends believed that he had died in the Mur River, but he had only lost his scholarship. He returned to his hometown and suffered a nervous breakdown. But, the ravages of the illness were not so fatal.
Despite his eccentric personality, Nikola Tesla never married and was a lifelong bachelor. He once explained that his chastity was essential to his scientific abilities. He once stated that he could never be worthy enough to marry a woman, because women were superior to men in every way. This attitude changed, however, during his later years. He felt that women were trying too hard to be as smart as men and that they were losing their femininity by attempting to achieve power.
One of the most enduring mysteries of Nikola Tesla’s life is the true story behind the mysterious fire that gutted his Manhattan lab in 1895. The inventor had moved to Colorado Springs for two years, but he eventually returned to New York to re-establish his business. This time, he was able to secure backing from financier J.P. Morgan. As he grew older, he began to develop the first wireless electricity network in Long Island, New York. Unfortunately, the grand scheme was not successful, and Tesla spent the rest of his life in a New York hotel, working on new inventions. He was also said to be able to communicate with pigeons, which he claimed to be able to communicate with.
In 1895, Tesla publishes a prospectus titled “World System.” He begins experiments on high-frequency currents, focusing on the development of electric motors. He also patents a pump and turbine based on new principles. His experiments lead to the creation of speed indicators. In 1896, he partners with Westinghouse and General Electric to build an AC generator for the Niagara Falls. Tesla’s experiments with electricity and electronics were hailed as “the most important breakthroughs in history.”
In 1879, Tesla attended the Realschule Karlstadt, the Technical University of Graz, and the University of Prague. He also worked as an electrical engineer in Budapest in 1881. He claimed to sleep for no more than two hours a day, but later acknowledged that he took naps to re-charge his battery. In 1883, Tesla moved to New York to work for Thomas Edison. His childhood dream was to harness the power of the Niagara Falls. Despite this setback, he continued to innovate and develop his inventions.