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Nikola Tesla
Photograph of Nikola Tesla, a slender, moustachioed man with a thin face and pointed chin.
Tesla c. 1896
Born (1856-07-10)July 10, 1856
Smiljan, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia)
Died January 7, 1943(1943-01-07) (aged 86)
Resting place Nikola Tesla Museum
Belgrade, Serbia
Citizenship Austrian (1856–1891)
American (1891–1943)
Education Graz University of Technology (dropped out)
Engineering career
Discipline Electrical engineering
Mechanical engineering
Nikola Tesla signature 1900.svg

Nikola Tesla (July 10, 1856 – January 7, 1943), was a Serbian inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and physicist. He is best known for his part in the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. He was born in the village of Smiljan, in the part of former Austria-Hungary that is now Croatia. He later became an American citizen.

Tesla got his first job in Budapest in 1882, working at a telephone company. A few years later, he moved to the United States. His best-known invention was an electric motor that could run well on AC power. Tesla died of coronary thrombosis (a blood clot in his heart) in a hotel room in Manhattan, New York City, on January 7, 1943.


Tesla was born on July 10, 1856, in Smiljan, Austro-Hungarian Empire (modern-day Croatia). Tesla's father, Milutin Tesla, was a priest in the Serbian Orthodox Church. His mother, Georgina-Djuka, came from a long line of inventors. She was a great influence on her son. She invented and made different tools and devices to be used around her home. She also weaved beautiful designs with threads she had spun herself. In 1862, the Tesla family moved to the nearby Gospić, where Tesla's father worked as a parish priest. Both his parents were born in Lika, Croatia.

Nikola was the fourth child out of five. He had one older brother, Dane, who died when Tesla was five, two older sisters, Angelina and Milka, and one younger sister, Marica. Nikola, who loved science, was afraid that after his brother's accidental death he would have to continue the family tradition and become a priest.

After he graduated from an important high school in Karlovac, Croatia, Nikola went back to Gospić during the summer to see his family and almost died of cholera. He asked his father if he could go study engineering if, by some miracle, he survived. Nikola's father promised his dying son that he would send him to the best school in the world. Nikola's health improved quickly and his father sent him to study at Graz University of Technology in Graz, Austria, in 1875.

Tesla had a job in telephone and electrical engineering before moving to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison. After Tesla and Edison quarreled, Tesla found some investors and started working on his own. He set up laboratories and companies to develop electrical devices. His patented AC electric motor (induction motor) and transformer were licensed by American industrialist George Westinghouse.

Westinghouse also hired Tesla for one year to help develop a power system using alternating current. The advantage that made alternating current popular is the use of transformers for long-distance electric power transmission. Tesla is also known for his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tesla performed experiments using the ideas used in the invention of radio communication. He also performed X-ray experiments. Tesla was ahead of his time when he worked on the Wardenclyffe Tower project. He tried to show a way that people could communicate wirelessly but was unsuccessful, and the project was abandoned.

Tesla was a great showman, demonstrating his seemingly miraculous inventions. Although he made a great deal of money from his patents, he spent a lot on his experiments. For most of his life, he lived in different hotels in New York City. After he had spent his patent income, he became bankrupt and had to live in much poorer conditions. Tesla continued to invite the press to parties he held on his birthday to announce new inventions he was working on. At these events, he would make (sometimes unusual) statements. Because of his wonderful pronouncements without results or proof, Tesla gained the reputation of a "mad scientist." He died in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel on January 7, 1943.

Tesla's work was almost forgotten after his death, but since the 1990s, his reputation has become more popular because his ideas have been applied in more modern inventions. His work and reported inventions are also at the center of many conspiracy theories and have also been used to support various pseudosciences, UFO theories, and New Age occultism. In 1960, in honor of Tesla, the General Conference on Weights and Measures for the International System of Units dedicated the term "tesla" to the SI unit measure for magnetic field strength.

Nikola Tesla quotes

  • “I don't care that they stole my idea . . I care that they don't have any of their own.”
  • “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 history of science shows that theories are perishable. With every new truth that is revealed, we get a better understanding of Nature and our conceptions and views are modified."
  • Instinct is something which transcends knowledge."

Interesting facts about Nikola Tesla

  • Nikola Tesla was born during a lightning storm.
  • His father was a priest, but he followed in the footsteps of his mother and grew to love the sciences.
  • Nikola developed the idea that would later be used in smartphone technology.
  • Tesla had a fantastic sense of humor.
  • One of Tesla's famous friends was conservationist John Muir, who loved his idea of a hydroelectric power system because it was a clean energy system.
  • The first hydroelectric power plant, designed by Tesla, was built at Niagara Falls and used to power the city of Buffalo, New York.
  • Tesla refused to speak to women if they were wearing pearls.
  • Tesla was afraid of germs.
  • He had a photographic memory and the ability to visualize in 3D.
  • Some of Tesla's inventions are still classified.

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Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Nikola Tesla para niños

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