Biography of Nikola Tesla

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Category: Biography
Type: Profile
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Nikola Tesla”” is the name most of us know just as a great scientist’s name, but the fact is we know his works and his discoveries that shaped the power of technology which changed the world in the 20th century only to a small extent. He had many other names like “”Father of Alternating Current””, “”Electrochemical Wizard””, “”The Futurist””, Edison’s rival”” etc. He is one of the most mystical and dramatic figures of engineering and most controversial scientist in the history of mankind.

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One of the important points is Tesla’s papers and records contained still more discoveries in which some them are not fully understood yet.

Nikola Tesla was an American inventor with Serbian roots, he was born on July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, Yugoslavia (now-Croatia), in a family of an orthodox priest and his mother was a very talented woman who invented many household appliances. But Tesla’s life was full of struggle and he had to face many hard times unlike a any other common man. He studied in “”Graz University of Technology”” in the branch of Electrical and electronics engineering and he also received a degree in Prague university. His first job was as an electrical engineer in a telephone company in the town of Budapest, later he moved to Paris to work for a branch of Edison company. That was time when Tesla done many experiments and made his first discovery of an induction motor powered by alternating current. He desperately wanted to continue his experiments and develop his idea to build a prototype of his discovery but he could not do it as lacked money and the investors in Europe were not interested in his project and denied to fund him. This made Tesla to make the decision to move to America in 1884. Then he started to work for Edison, and he shared his ideas and concepts about his project but Edison thought his ideas were terrible. But he appreciated Tesla’s work and suggested him to work on his DC motors. After that Tesla conducted many experiments to grab an investor to fund his work, but Edison did not give him the needed support and even opposed him. This made them rivals. However Tesla managed to find an investor and he developed a system that can generate alternating current and can transmit it to long distances. His systems were exhibited to the public at a world exposition in 1893, this brought him fame that has become worldwide. During his course of life Tesla received many awards and honors: “”honor of Yale University and Columbia University, Edison medal and other awards”” (cheney, 1981, p.350). Since Tesla and Edison did not agree to receive the prize together and did not agree with one another’s work the Nobel prize was not awarded to both of them.

The peak time of Tesla’s carrier was in 1900 to 1905 when, he convinced J.P.Morgan to support his research to construct a tesla. He started to build a large tower intended to transmit signal and power on a long island. But it was never completed as Morgan withdrew his funds, and the tower was demolished. But still he wanted to continue his works and experiments on wireless transmission of power but his financial status was deteriorated and he do it. After that he spent his remaining life in poverty. Nikola Tesla died in 1943 in hotel named New Yorker. After his death, all his research papers and his laboratories were closed and were confiscated by FBI. Some his famous papers are nowadays located in the Tesla museum, located in Belgrad (Cheney, 1981, p.22).

Tesla’s major discoveries

Tesla made many inventions in which some became very popular and successful, but some went unknown. Some could not get popularity due to the opposition from other scientists and some could not due to FBI recovering his research papers without letting them out to public after his death.

Tesla’s major discoveries include, Tesla coil, remote control, violet ray, alternating current, tele force, induction motor, neon lamp, wireless telegraphy, etc. His invention of “”Rotating magnetic field”” allowed us to use alternating current instead of DC current, which was used widely back in 1880’s. Tesla worked hard to prove that a motor can be powered directly through alternating current but not with DC current. He created a prototype to prove his theory and was successful to do it. And in 1882 Tesla discovered that rotating magnetic field would allow to run an engine using alternating current. Another great discovery was “”Tesla coil””, which he showed to public in New York laboratory and it was a great success. It was mainly based on polyphase system of alternating current. It had a great advantage of transforming current from one place to another just through air without using any wires. Using this idea in1890 he created high voltage transformer, which significantly impressed both his opponents and public. Another milestone was wireless transmission of radio signals, which brought a drastic change in communication process. This idea was the base to many other inventions also. It was also used in high frequency heating, radio guided ships and torpedo. He also made some significant military weapons, electromagnetic shells etc.

Tesla’s life is one of the most fascinating examples of true zeal and passion for science. Having many struggles and obstacles in his life he was able to excel in his life and made a great contribution to modern electrical physics. He was one of the persons to change the face of technology of the world in the 20th century.


Cheney, M. (1981). Tesla: the man out of time. New York: Simon and Schuster publication.

Rusch, E. (2013). Electrical wizard: how nikola tesla lit up the world. Massachusetts: Candlewick press.

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Biography of Nikola Tesla. (2019, Sep 20). Retrieved from