“The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.” – Nikola Tesla
This man shaped the future as we know it. He invented the 20th century and gave us countless innovations all while trying to fight his own demons.
Born in 1856 in Croatia Tesla excelled in his studies. He performed calculus so well in his mind the teacher thought he was cheating. He did study mechanical and electrical engineering. He conceptualized the induction motor and to explain his ideas he went to meet Thomas Edison in New York. Edison, having invented the DC motor, found Tesla’s ideas to be a direct competition to his monopoly of supplying electricity to New York City. He offered Tesla $50,000 if he could invent the induction motor. In a few months he did it. His invention to transmit electricity was miles better than what Thomas Edison had designed. It was safer and more efficient. Edison refused to pay the sum offered and Tesla immediately resigned. He began to dig ditches at just $2 per hour until financers offered to fund his innovations. He then produced all the components required for his AC motor. His invention is still in use today all over the world to transmit electricity.
Before Tesla came to America he had dreamed of harnessing power from nature, specifically the Niagara Falls. 30 years later, he did just that. He was funded by J.P Morgan, John Jacob Astor (the one portrayed in the movie Titanic), Lord Rothschild & W.K. Vanderbilt, the richest people in the world at the time. When asked if he was sure his design would work he said they work perfectly in my head.
The guy was a creative machine and he had such a powerful mind that he could see the prototype of his inventions working in 3D as if it was real. This skill of his was so advanced he claimed to literally build a machine in his head and turn it on, coming back after a few hours or a few days to see how well it was functioning as designed, making refinements and changes where necessary. His method of working was pretty unorthodox compared to other inventors, as he rarely created sketches or drawings, relying instead on the power of his own imagination to work out details.
Things he created directly or indirectly
- Hydro-electric power plant
- Remote Control
- Neon Lighting
- Wireless Communications
“The World System has resulted from a combination of several original discoveries made by the inventor in the course of long continued research and experimentation. It makes possible not only the instantaneous and precise wireless transmission of any kind of signals, messages or characters, to all parts of the world, but also the interconnection of the existing telegraph, telephone, and other signal stations without any change in their present equipment. By its means, for instance, a telephone subscriber here many call up any other subscriber on the Globe. An inexpensive receiver, not bigger than a watch, will enable him to listen anywhere, on land or sea, to a speech delivered, or music played in some other place, however distant. These examples are cited merely to give an idea of the possibilities of this great scientific advance, which annihilates distance and makes that perfect conductor, the Earth, available for all the innumerable purposes which human ingenuity has found for a line wire. One far reaching result of this is that any device capable of being operated through one or more wires (at a distance obviously restricted) can likewise be actuated, without artificial conductors and with the same facility and accuracy, at distances to which there are no limits other than those imposed by the physical dimensions of the Globe. Thus, not only will entirely new fields for commercial exploitation be opened up by this ideal method of transmission, but the old ones vastly extended.” – Nikola Tesla describing his project.
As we can see what we have today is what he was trying to create in a much more efficient and effective way 100 years before us.
He was a genius without question. He spoke 8 languages and could read and recite books at will.
The reason he was not famous is because he was an inventor, he was not a marketer or a businessman. He was cheated by people like Thomas Edison and J. P. Morgan who only cared about money and fame. He never cared about money and he was truly happy when he was working in his lab. His contributions to the world were not incremental, rather revolutionary. A man we owe this century to.