Tesla, Nikola Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Tesla’s work on magnetism and electricity led to the development and introduction of alternating current (AC) electricity systems that revolutionized the electric power industry.

Born in a Croatian village in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Nikola Tesla was the son of a priest in the Serbian Orthodox Church. His mother was an amateur inventor who created simple devices, such as a mechanical eggbeater, to help with home duties. Tesla would later credit her with inspiring his inventive mind. As a youth, he saw a metal engraving of Niagara Falls and imagined that he would one day travel to America and develop a way to capture the energy of the falling water. In 1875, Tesla enrolled in the Austrian Polytechnic School in Graz, where he studied engineering and began working with alternating electric currents. After graduating, he moved to Budapest and later Paris. When his attempts to persuade European electric companies to switch from direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) failed, he left for New York in 1884 with the hope of finding support for his ideas with American power companies.Serbian immigrants;Nikola Tesla[Tesla]Tesla, NikolaInventors;Nikola Tesla[Tesla]Serbian immigrants;Nikola Tesla[Tesla]Tesla,NikolaInventors;Nikola Tesla[Tesla][cat]EUROPEAN IMMIGRANTS;Tesla, Nikola[cat]SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY;Tesla, Nikola[cat]BIOGRAPHIES;Tesla, Nikola

Nikola Tesla.

(Library of Congress)

When he arrived in America, Tesla brought a letter of recommendation from a former employer addressed to Edison, Thomas AlvaThomas Alva Edison that read: “My Dear Edison: I know two great men and you are one of them. The other is this young man!” Edison had little knowledge or interest in alternating current, but he was impressed with Tesla and hired him immediately. However, the two had a falling-out and Tesla resigned. Through the following year, Tesla worked as a day laborer to support himself in his new country. His confidence in the New World proved to be justified when he began working with George Westinghouse to develop a system for long-distance AC electrical transmission. Westinghouse’s company also succeeded in using AC power to harness the energy of Niagara Falls, realizing Tesla’s childhood dream. Although Tesla became wealthy, he invested his money in unrealistic projects, suffered a nervous breakdown, and died in poverty.Serbian immigrants;Nikola Tesla[Tesla]Tesla, NikolaInventors;Nikola Tesla[Tesla]

Further Reading
  • Cheney, Margaret. Tesla: Man Out of Time. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.
  • O’Neill, John J. Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla. New York: Adventures Unlimited Press, 2006.
  • Seifer, Marc. Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla–Biography of a Genius. New York: Citadel Press, 2001.
  • Tesla, Nikola. My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla. Radford, Va.: Wilder, 2007.

Czech and Slovakian immigrants

Industrial Revolution


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