Nikola Tesla – The Greatest Inventor of All Time
Nikola Tesla was inventor, electrical engineer and physicist. He was born on 9th or 10th of July 1856 in Smiljan near Gospic in Croatia in Serbian family. Tesla’s father, Milutin, was an Orthodox priest, and his mother Georgina Mandicwas an uneducated but very intelligent woman. Tesla said that his family was previously named Draganich. One of the presumptions is that Tesla is named after the Roman settlement Tesleum, located near Raduch (birthplace of Nikola’s father). According to the second assumption, members of a branch of his family were given the nickname of Tesla because of their inherent trait, which they had almost all – very broad front teeth, which were remarkably similar to the bush cutter’s ax axle, which is called tesla.
Draganici probably came to Lika in the 17th century from the village of Ledenica near Novi Vinodolski. From the family history it is seen that since 1485, seven men were wearing the name of Nikola.
At the time when the French were in this region and still formed the Illyrian Provinces (1809-1891), Nikola Tesla Sr., Milutin Tesla’s father (1819-1879), served for some time as a sergeant in Napoleon’s army, probably before being a soldier in the Austrian Army, or in the Army of Krajina. He lived in Radaca and probably had many children. One of them vas Milutin, who was born on February 3, 1819 in Raduca. He learned German language school in Gospich, and after that he went to military school. However, he did not correspond to his military life, so he went bogoslovenia, were he was ordaned as an Orthodox priest in 1845.
He married Djuka Mandic (1821-1892) from Gradac. As a young priest, Milutin Tesla served from 1846 to 1852 in Senj, from where he was promoted to the parish governor. On the 10th of July 1856, his son Nikola Tesla was born, and then his daughter Mandica.
Nikola Tesla – Early years
As a kid, Nikola had liked toys of technical content. At the stream Vagancu, which runs under the hill where his birth house is located, he made a small millet wheel as a toy. He also made the air rifle from the butt of the base. He was interested in the mechanism of his grandfather’s pocket watch. He broke it apart, but could not put it back together.
After six years of service in Smiljan, Nikola’s father was relocated to Gospic in 1862, where Nikola started and finished the so-called elementary school. He liked animals and games with technical curiosity, he was often overwhelmed by cautiousness and discernment. Once, in the intent to strike the parachute, he jumped with an open umbrella from the roof and was restrained for weeks in the bed from injuries.
After completing the elementary school in Gospic in 1870, his parents sent Nikola to high school in Rakovec on the coast of Korana, where there is still a beautiful building of the former Royal High School, the present-day Karlovac Gymnasium.
Tesla lived in Rakovac with his aunt Stanka, who married to the retired Major. He took care of Nikola’s diet and tried to interest him in music and history of art, but that was not what Nikola was interested in. Music had no meaning though he had a very sensitive ear and good hearing. He only thought about his inventions. He told his friend that he was dealing with an invention that would enable him any material linking the talk between America and Europe.
Nikola was sensitive, so in the first half of the 7th grade he was absent due to the illness for two months. During the school he had an average rating of “good”, only in the second half of the 4th grade he was rated “very good”. In the first half of the seventh grade mathematics he got the grade “inadequate”, which he later corrected. His grade in mathematics was probably due to absences from the school because of the aforementioned disease .
Nikola Tesla graduated on 24th of July, 1873. After his graduation, Nikola returned to his parents in Gospic, even though his father Milutin opposed because there was a cholera epidemic in Lika. Nikola actually became infected, so he spent nine months in bed, sick. Thanks to the strong desire to go to study, he defeated cholera.
Tesla in Budapest (1881 and 1882)
In1881, Nikola Tesla realized that his parents had sacrificed much for him and trying to relieve them from the burden, he announced he was leaving for Budapest. At that time the telephone from America had just arrived in Europe and someone was needed to install the telephone system in Budapest. That was the ideal opportunity for Tesla. Tesla’s uncle spent a long time in the North American state and became a telephone specialist. Through his mediation Tesla was set up to work in the Telegraphic Office, where he first worked as a draftsman, and then moved to the Phone Central, where he worked on highlighting telephone signal using several inventions for voice amplification in telephony.
Tesla France (from 1882 to 1884)
Tesla’s announcement to his boss and friend Tivador Puskas, the discovery of the rotating magnetic field, and Puskas sent him to Paris, hoping that Tesla would succeed in realizing his idea, that is, constructing a motor with rotating magnetic field.
In Paris, from April 1882, he worked with A. Szigety’s friend at Compagnie Continentale Edison de Paris, which was involved in the construction of a DC power plant, and was in business relations under the supervision of Edison Company in New York. Tesla tried to realize his invention, but it was of no interest for the invention in Paris. As the “fault locator” was sent to Strasbourg to remove some difficulties in the construction of the power plant. The job was tedious , and burdened with numerous administrative problems. However, Tesla found time to construct a two-phase induction motor in a mechanical workshop. Speaking of the tests with the engine he had sprung in the summer of 1883, he says:
“… After all, I was pleased to see the rotation caused by alternating currents of different phases without a sliding contact or commutator, as I conceived a year ago. I was very pleased but this can not be compared to the delirium of joy that followed my first discovery. ”
Nikola Tesla then offered Edison’s continental company in Paris to redeem his multi-phase system, but they did not accept it.
Tesla in Prague in 1880
At the beginning of January 1880, as a 24-year-old Nikola Tesla went to Prague. In his biography, he says, “I went to Prague in the Czech Republic, fulfilling my dad’s desire to complete my education at the university there.” However, there is no documentation he was enrolled in any university in Prague.
About his stay in Prague, Nikola Tesla says that “there has been a lot of progress in that city. I took the commutator from the machine and studied the phenomenon from this new standpoint, but still without results.” Thus, it is unknown whether Tesla ever completed his studies and received the engineer’s degree. Never the less, the name of Nikola Tesla is worth more than any academic title.
Professor Njegovan, formerly a Dean of the High Technical School in Zagreb, decorated his dean’s room with a large sculpture of Nikola Tesla, made by sculptor Emil Bohutinski. This sculpture is in the technical museum in Zagreb, in the exhibition space of Tesla’s inventions.
Nikola Tesla in United States
In the spring of 1884, Tesla returned from Strasbourg to Paris. After unsuccessful attempts to gather the money to realize his invention, on recommendation of Charkes Batchellar, the factory manager, Tesla moved to New York to work at Edison’s Machine Works in New York. He did a lot of work in the company: he redesigned 24 different types of DC electrical machines and repaired the Oregon power plant installation. Unhappy with pay, he quits.
In March, 1885, he founded Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing Company, hoping to develop his engines. However, shareholders and financiers were looking for the development and manufacture of electric arc lamps for factories. From April 1885 to January 1886. Tesla has developed DC-lumen system covered by seven patents, which were also its first patents in the United States.
Seeking greater freedom for the realization of his ideas, Tesla leaves that company, which is failing because of the great economic crisis in America. He went through difficult financial problems, and in 1887 he worked as an electrician at a large Western Union company, contacted the director A.K. Brown. Brown immediately rated him as a prospective specialist and began negotiating with him on the founding of a special electrical engineering company, and in April 1887, near the Edison labs, he started Tesla Electric Company. Tesla finally had an opportunity to construct and test multi-phase motors. For this purpose the by well-known expert and professor at Cornell University William A.Anthony was invited. In the autumn of 1887 the experiment was successfully completed, which was confirmed by professor Anthony.
The peak of Tesla’s work in the United States
Tesla described his radio system in a lecture at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on February 24, 1893, and then on March 3 at the Assembly of Electricity Conservator at lighting center in St.Louis. He presented the basic principles of radio-technique, resonance, antenna system, and the system of four-circuit circuits in resonance.
The Tesla’s multi-phase system was first publicly tested at the World Expo in Chicago in 1893. It was open on the four-hundred-year anniversary of the discovery of America. It was the first world exhibition where electrical devices were introduced using Tesla’s multi-phase system.
Hydroelectric Power Plant at Niagara Falls
Approval for the exploitation of Niagara Falls was obtained in 1886. An International Niagara Commission was established, and its President was appointed by the well-known physicist William Thomson, and Lord Kelvin pleaded for the use of DC. Having obtained the right to apply Tesla’s patents, Edison’s company has proposed installing a three-phase system. Finally, in 1893, Westinghouse’s plan was adopted, which also predicted the conversion of a two-phase current generator into three-phase, for transmission by Buffalo.
The first Hydroelectric Power Plant at Niagara Falls was put into operation on April 15, 1895, and the power plant was completely completed in November 1896, and the first three-phase power line 35 kilometers long was built and commissioned.
For this occasion, the professor of electrical engineering at Yale University and former AIEE president Dr Harles F.Scott completed his report with the words: “The development of electricity from Faraday’s discovery in 1831 to the first major installation of the Tesla’s multi-phase system in 1896 is undeniably the largest an event in the entire history of technology.” After the power plant was commissioned, Lord Kelvin saw the benefits of AC power and said,”Tesla has more contributed to the science of electricity than a single man before him.”
“We have many a monument of past ages; we have the palaces and pyramids, the temples of the Greek and the cathedrals of Christendom. In them is exemplified the power of men, the greatness of nations, the love of art and religious devotion. But the monument at Niagara has something of its own, more in accord with our present thoughts and tendencies. It is a monument worthy of our scientific age, a true monument of enlightenment and of peace. It signifies the subjugation of natural forces to the service of man, the discontinuance of barbarous methods, the relieving of millions from want and suffering”
– Nikola Tesla’s speech at the opening ceremony of the hydroelectric power station, January 12, 1897.
Tesla’s last years
For the last seven years of his life, Tesla lived in New York from the pension he had been sent by the then Yugoslav government. In 1936/37. Nikola Tesla was visited by young electrician from Zagreb Ivan Ritting. In the second half of 1942, Tesla spent most of the time in bed and received no visits.
Early in the morning of January 8, 1943, the maid found him dead. He died alone, with no medical help. Afterwards, the doctor established that he died on a Thursday night. At WNYC radio on January 10, 1943, New York City’s mayor Fiorello Henry La Guardia announced Tesla’s death, and Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, expressed condolences to Tesla’s family.
Nobel Prize Laureates (1923, 1925, and 1927) Arthur Holly Compton, Robert Andrews Millikan and James Franck, joined the general mourning, calling Tesla “one of prominent world minds that paved the way with many important technological discoveries of modern technology. “
Memorial service was held in the most beautiful Protestant church of St. John the Divine in New York on Tuesday, January 12, 1943, at 4:00 pm, and was led by bishop William T. Manning in English. Dusan Sukletovic, priest from Serbia, completed the service in Serbian language. Service was attended by Yugoslav ambassador to the United States Ivan Subasic and Tesla’s nephew Sava N. Kosanovic.
The body of Nikola Tesla was transferred to the morgue of Franck D. Campbello at Avenue Madison on 81st Street. According to Tesla’s wishes, his body was cremated in the crematorium of the Franklin Cemetary in Ardsley, New York. Since 1956, his ashes are located at the Museum of Nikola Tesla in Belgrade.