Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

Smiljan, Grad Gospić, Ličko-senjska, Croatia
Death 7 Jan 1943 (aged 86)
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Belgrade, Belgrade, City of Belgrade (Grad Beograd), Serbia
Plot Third room
Memorial ID 1623 · View Source
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Inventor. He received world-wide notoriety as a Serbian-American inventor and engineer who discovered and patented the rotating magnetic field, which is the basis for most alternating-current machinery. In May of 1888 he sold the 40 patent rights to his system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers, and motors to George Westinghouse. He also developed a three system of electric power transmission. A sickly child, he was born to an Eastern Orthodox priest and poet and a mother, who invented an egg beater and other kitchen apparatuses. While in high school, he was diagnosed with cholera and was on his deathbed for nine months. He was educated for an engineering career at Polytechnical Institute in Graz, Austria and the University of Prague in the Czech Republic. At Graz, he became interested in the electrical motor and conceived alternating current. After two years in college, his father died leaving him no tuition to finish college, hence he began to learn from practical experiences. Traveling to Budapest, Hungary he continued his quest of utilizing altering current while working with the telephone company. In 1882 he traveled to Paris, France for an engineering position with Continental Edison Company, and after proving his talents, he was sent on assignment to Strasbourg a year later. Working on his own time, he constructed his first motor. Unable to interest anyone in Europe with his ideas, he came to the United States in 1884 penniless, with poems he had written and calculations for a flying machine. He found employment with Thomas Edison but left claiming not being paid for his work and his ideas were not inline with Edison's. In 1888 Tesla introduced his motors and electrical system in a paper, “A New System of Alternating Current Motors and Tran.” which he presented before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. This led to him selling his patents to Westinghouse and “The Battle of the Currents” between Edison's direct current (D.C.) of electricity and Tesla-Westinghouse's alternating current (A.C.) began with the alternating current eventually winning. In 1891 he became a naturalized American citizen and invented the Tesla coil, which is used today in radios, televisions and other electronic equipment. In 1893 he and Westinghouse gained world-wide acclaim with the demonstration of the alternating current electricity at the World Columbia n Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. Later, he and Westinghouse partnered with General Electric to install AC generators at Niagara Falls, creating the first modern power station. At this point, Westinghouse build a laboratory for him to began various projects such as Wilhelm Rontgen's x-ray machine. Westinghouse managed his professional life and at times, his personal life, as although he was thought to be a genius, he would fail in his attempts when acting on his own becoming penniless and homeless. He suffered haphephobia, the fear of touching other people, which led to poor relationships especially with women. In 1893 he published an article on discoveries found in the xray machine in in “The Electrical Review.” On March 13, 1895, the building that housed his laboratory burned to the ground destroying all his papers and projects, but another laboratory was built at another location. In 1899 after leaving Westinghouse, he built a laboratory for testing in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and was there for a year before returning penniless to work with Westinghouse. In 1904 he was sued by the city for unpaid debts, his laboratory demolished , and contents sold two years later at auction to satisfy his debt. In 1917 he was awarded the Edison Medal, the most coveted electrical prize in the United States. On July 4, 1917 in Shoreham, New York, the 197-foot Nikola Tesals's Wardenclyffe Tower was destroyed and he was sued for debts; this was his failed attempt to produce electricity for the world. In 1943 he was credited posthumously with another invention when the United States Supreme Court overturned Guglielmo Marconi's patent No. 7777 stating that Tesla along with two other pioneers of the radio invention,Joseph Lodge and John Stone, had developed the radio-tuning apparatus at least two years sooner than Marconi. He patented the basic system of radio in 1896, and published diagrams describing the basic elements of the radio transmitters, which were later used by Marconi. On his 75th birthday in 1931, his photograph appeared on the cover of “Time Magazine.” Seventy birthday congratulation letters from various scientist including Albert Einstein were bound in a volume for him. He battled mental health problems all his life, and as his physical health declined with aging, so did his mental health with some calling him the “mad scientist.” In his final years, he enjoyed feeding the pigeons in the city's parks. Through the years, he moved from hotel to hotel leaving unpaid bills at each. Finally, the wealthy Westinghouse paid for him to live for the last ten years of his life at The New Yorker Hotel, where he died in his two-room suite. After a funeral with 2,000 attendees including several Nobel Prize recipients, his body was cremated with his ashes interned in a golden sphere for display along with his death mask at the Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia. He was inducted into the Inventor’s Hall of Fame in 1975 and starting the following year, the Nikola Tesla Award, an annual prestigious honor, was presented by the Institute of of Electric Engineers. The United States Postal Service honored Tesla with a commemorative stamp in 1983.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1623
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Nikola Tesla (10 Jul 1856–7 Jan 1943), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1623, citing Nikola Tesla Museum, Belgrade, Belgrade, City of Belgrade (Grad Beograd), Serbia ; Maintained by Find A Grave .