Nikola Tesla wasn't just brilliant; his inventions changed the world in ways that are still visible every single day. And though he has had a resurgence in notability in recent years, with a trendy electric car company named for him and numerous portrayals in film and television, he never quite got his due credit. Here's what you may not have known about his life.
The popular legend about how Tesla was born might be a little too cinematic to be true. According to Hourly History's Nikola Tesla: A Life From Beginning to End, Tesla entered the world in 1856, in what is now Croatia, in the midst of a horrific lightning storm. Reportedly, the storm was so bad that the midwife got the willies and told Tesla's mother that the baby would be a, quote, "child of darkness." Tesla's mother supposedly promptly told the midwife, "No, he will be a child of light."
Once Tesla's mother, an inventor herself, introduced science to her son, the boy's future was clear. Nikola loved studying science, and his schooling and research took him to Austria, Prague, and Budapest, where he ended up working for the Central Telephone Exchange. One day on a leisurely walk through the park in Budapest, he randomly came up with the idea for what would one day be the induction motor, one of his greatest inventions. He soon dreamed of setting sail for the United States, and at age 28, he finally did so.
According to the Tesla Memorial Society of New York, Tesla was able to immigrate to the U.S. because of a recommendation letter inventor Charles Batchelor wrote to famed "Wizard of Menlo Park" Thomas Edison, stating,
"I know two great men. One is you, and the other is this young man."
Tesla promptly went to work for Edison. At the time, Edison's company was using "direct current" electricity, and the newbie Tesla proposed an innovative idea: replacing the inefficient direct current setup with "alternating current." Edison scoffed at this, challenging Tesla to develop his ideas into a real invention, putting up $50,000 to sweeten the deal.
Tesla gleefully pounced on the challenge, and within only a few months, he proudly offered Edison his successful results. But Edison refused to pay, brushing Tesla off with a mean comment about how Tesla didn't understand, quote, "American humor." Tesla left Edison's company shortly afterward.
Keep watching the video to find out more about the little-known truth about Nikola Tesla!
#Tesla #Edison #Electricity
Born in a lightning storm? | 0:20
Working with Edison | 1:18
Right about electricity | 2:12
So many inventions | 3:08
Dreams unrealized | 3:51
A difficult life | 4:53
Death and resurgence | 5:43