Nikola Tesla would have celebrated his 159th birthday today (July 10).
The Serbian-American scientist was a brilliant and eccentric genius whose inventions enabled modern-day power and mass communication systems.
The world-famed engineer could speak in eight languages, had an eidetic memory and held 300 patents by the time he died. His name was borrowed for the red-hot car and energy storage company created by entrepreneur Elon Musk and he has been cited as an inspiration by Google co-founder Larry Page.
In addition to his AC system and coil, throughout his career, Tesla discovered, designed and developed ideas for a number of other important inventions—most of which were officially patented by other inventors—including dynamos (electrical generators similar to batteries) and the induction motor.
He was also a pioneer in the discovery of radar technology, X-ray technology, remote control and the rotating magnetic field—the basis of most AC machinery.
Having become obsessed with the wireless transmission of energy, around 1900 Nikola set to work on his boldest project yet: to build a global, wireless communication system—to be transmitted through a large electrical tower—for sharing information and providing free electricity throughout the world.
The Father of Wireless Energy
Tesla went on to pursue his ideas of wireless lighting and electricity distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs, and made early (1893) pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices.
He tried to put these ideas to practical use in his ill-fated attempt at intercontinental wireless transmission, which was his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project.
In his lab he also conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wireless controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited.
Tesla was renowned for his achievements and showmanship, eventually earning him a reputation in popular culture as an archetypal “mad scientist”.
His patents earned him a considerable amount of money, much of which was used to finance his own projects with varying degrees of success.
He lived most of his life in a series of New York hotels, through his retirement. He died on 7 January 1943.
ON THE TECHNOLOGY OF THE FUTURE, HE SAID
It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages around the world so simply that any individual can carry and operate his own apparatus.