Throughout history there have been men and women that have stood out; some are remembered at the drop of a hat, others take a little mental jogging and some are just plain forgotten. Nikola Tesla fits all three categories. There are those that refer to him as ‘the father of modern times,’ others claim that he was a farce that rode the coat tails of other scientists. If we push it all aside and look at the man, the ideas and the actual accomplishments, you can come up with your own opinion.
Nikola Tesla was born the son of a priest (father) and an inventor (mother) in 1856; about 30 years before the first gasoline-powered car graced us with its presence. Although his father wanted him to follow a religious path, it was his mother that captured his mind. He attended universities in both Austria and the Czech Republic and, like many inventors, he was full of ideas but after failing to spark interest in Europe, he left his home for America in 1884 at the age of 28. He arrived with the clothes on his back and a letter of introduction to Thomas Edison. Tesla worked for/with Edison for the next year until money got in the way. While Edison was driven by the marketing and monetary success, Tesla was driven by the science and how it could help the world. Need I go any farther with this train of thought?
Being the driven man that Tesla was, he continued to think, build and even file patents while working a manual labor job just to survive. He caught his first break in 1887, with the invention of the AC (alternating current) electrical system and the solution to distributing power across the nation. This changed the face of the world…
Now, Tesla had some momentum and was able to show the world tangible ideas… the professionals lined up, the public lined up and other scientists ganged up. “What? Why? How?” Let’s look at some of the marvels that came out of this man’s head.
The year? 1895. Tesla designed one of the first AC hydroelectric power plants in America, at Niagara Falls. The following year, it was used to power the city of Buffalo, New York, an almost magical success publicized throughout the world. With this milestone and the mass reporting of it, the alternating current system would quickly become the predominant power system of the 20th century throughout the world — pushing Edison’s expensive DC system out the door. See where this was going? Despite the roadblocks of being a poor immigrant, being constantly blocked by big money such as Edison, Carnegie and even Albert Einstein at times, he persevered and gained the support of George Westinghouse.
So, what other awesome things came from Nikola Tesla?
The electro-magnetic motor: It drives everything from a CD player to the cooling fans at a nuclear power plant.
The Tesla coil (or transformer): That little black box that you plug into the wall to charge your smart phone, along with many other devices, is a type of modern day Tesla coil.
The remote control: He built and demonstrated a radio-controlled boat (“telautom automatics”) at Madison Square Garden.
Wireless transmission of electricity (recently accomplished by Japanese researchers): sending power through the air without wires.
Tesla also built the first electric car, which has now been revisited by the motor company bearing his name.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are literally thousands of pages on Tesla’s inventions and ideas… never openly taught. Why? Suppressed by big money and fame… or so it would seem.