The powerful mind of Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla looking at the camera while leaning his face on his hand
Zenobilis/IStock

Nikola Tesla immigrated to the USA as a young man. He was an inventor and electrical engineer. Some of the things he invented are important parts of our lives today. 

When most people hear the word “Tesla,” they may have the electric car company in mind. Not everyone knows that the company is named after the fascinating and gifted Nikola Tesla. Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in a small town called Smiljan, in modern-day Croatia. Nikola Tesla attended school in several countries. He originally studied engineering in Graz, Austria and the University of Prague, in the Czech Republic. 

Although he first wanted to study physics or mathematics, he was drawn to the wonders of electricity.

In the 1800s, people’s understanding of electricity was limited. In 1831, the British scientist Michael Faraday discovered the basic principles of how electricity is made. It wasn’t until the invention of the first light bulb in the 1870s that people had the option of lighting their homes with electricity. 

This is exactly what Nikola Tesla loved about electricity. So much was still unknown and so many uses had still not been uncovered. He first started work as an electrical engineer with a phone company in Hungary. During that time, he built the first induction motor in 1883. It was a big part of the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

The induction motor made it possible for energy to travel for long distances. 

Nikola Tesla later worked for the Continental Edison Company in Paris, France. In 1884, he came to the USA and worked for Thomas Edison in New York. The two men worked together for about 6 months and they quickly drifted apart. Thomas Edison operated his electrical appliances using direct current. However, Nikola Tesla felt that alternating current was more efficient. Direct and alternating current refers to the direction that electricity flows. The disagreement became knows as “the war of the currents”. It caused the two men to stop working together. 

The two inventors separated due to these disagreements. Shortly after, Nikola moved on to the Westinghouse Company, before establishing his lab. In his lab, he was able to create his own devices. Nikola Tesla, when allowed to create freely, discovered numerous electrical appliances.

He also began giving tours of his lab and inventions and spoke at lectures all over the world. 

His inventions were even displayed at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. He went on to create remote-controlled boats, numerous electric lamps, and various components still used today for electrical equipment. Although he made some of the most significant discoveries of his time, many of his plans were never fulfilled. Because of financial problems, he was not able to move forward with most of his inventions. 

Nikola Tesla’s genius could never be ignored. He had the idea of transmitting electrical signals through the air.

Some people thought this was odd and not possible. However, today we use this same concept for Wi-Fi. 

When Nikola Tesla died, his funeral had a huge attendance. Three Nobel Prize winners paid their respects, calling him “one of the outstanding intellects of the world.” His most famous inventions are the Rotating Magnetic Field, AC motor, Tesla coil, and early radio.

His name would go on forever as a symbol of intellect and invention.

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About Akudo McGee
Akudo McGee is a recent graduate from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. McGee has a Masters degree in European studies. Her field of focus is forced migration.