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Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor in the late 19th and early 20th century. Tesla invented many things and had around 300 patents worldwide. Most notably of these was his design of alternating current (AC) which is used today throughout the entire world to provide electricity to countless homes. Tesla had a great impact on the United States, and Earth in general with his numerous inventions. Because of this, Tesla has had a huge emergence in popular culture today despite dying penniless and alone in a New York apartment.
Nikola Tesla was born July 10th, 1856 in modern day Croatia. Both his parents were Serbian Priests, and Tesla credited his photographic memory to his mother’s genetics and his creativity to her methods of raising. Throughout his young life Tesla went to different schools and showed his high capacity abilities, such as being able to perform integral calculus in his head , which made him top of his class in college. Tesla claimed he worked “3 a.m. to 11 p.m., no Sundays or holidays excepted”. However, during his second year in college he became addicted to gambling and later had to drop out of his university at the end of his third year. To hide this, Tesla severed all connections with his family and, after moving around some, eventually was hired as the chief electrician in 1881 at the Budapest Telephone Exchange, making many improvements to their equipment.
In 1882 Tesla began working for Thomas Edison’s company in France, and in 1884 moved to New York City to work more directly with Edison. Tesla solved more and more difficult problems for Edison, and was eventually tasked with redesigning Edison’s Direct Current (DC) generators, with Thomas Edison claiming “There’s fifty thousand dollars in it for you – if you can do it.” which was over one million dollars at that time. When Tesla accomplished this task, after a few months, by designing AC power, Edison remarked “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.” Tesla immediately resigned after this incident and later became rivals with Edison over the DC versus AC debate.
After Tesla’s resignation, he formed his own company Tesla Electrical Light & Manufacturing, which installed illumination systems designed by Tesla. When Tesla proposed that the company should work on AC systems and motors, the investors disagreed and fired him, leaving him broke to work as a ditch digger for $2 an hour. A large reason why Tesla’s proposal to work on AC was rejected so harshly was because Thomas Edison was dedicated to discrediting Tesla’s AC so he could promote his own DC. To do this, Edison publicly electrocuted animals, including an elephant to show the dangers of AC. This did not work however, since alternating current is now used worldwide. Edison’s Direct Current system was extremely inefficient on a large scale, unable to travel more than 2 miles without needing a direct current power station.
Tesla again got back into inventing a few years later, starting a new company, the Tesla Electric Company. Throughout his years Tesla invented and patented many more things, and he played a large role in the development of X-Ray experimentation, Radio, Wireless energy transfer fluorescent light, laser beams, wireless communication, remote control, robotics and more. Tesla died on January 7th, 1943 at age 86 in New York. Despite dying penniless, Tesla lives on by his inventions, and is honored by the many things dedicated to him, including his birthday July 10th, being declare Nikola Tesla day by New York and many other states. Many of the things Tesla designed are still used today, including a motor design of his used in the Model S electric car by the car company Tesla Motors, named after Nikola Tesla. Recently, over one million dollars was raised on the crowd funding site Kickstarter.com and organized by the comic strip writer of “The Oatmeal” to purchase Tesla’s old laboratory to build a museum. Tesla was a true genius, and completely devoted his life to science. He claimed that he remained celibate his entire life since relationships would only get in the way of his work. Tesla completely dedicated his life to science, and we have him to thank for many of the technological advances in the 20th century.
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