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Nikola Tesla: About

Nikola Tesla


Who was Nikola Tesla?

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor and engineer who discovered and patented the rotating magnetic field, the basis of most alternating-current machinery. He also developed the three-phase system of electric power transmission. He immigrated to the United States in 1884 and sold the patent rights to his system of alternating-current dynamos, transformers, and motors to George Westinghouse. In 1891 he invented the Tesla coil, an induction coil widely used in radio technology.

Tesla was from a family of Serbian origin. His father was an Orthodox priest; his mother was unschooled but highly intelligent. As he matured, he displayed remarkable imagination and creativity as well as a poetic touch. Training for an engineering career, he attended the Technical University at Graz, Austria, and the University of Prague. At Graz he first saw the Gramme dynamo, which operated as a generator and, when reversed, became an electric motor, and he conceived a way to use alternating current to advantage. Later, at Budapest, he visualized the principle of the rotating magnetic field and developed plans for an induction motor that would become his first step toward the successful utilization of alternating current. In 1882 Tesla went to work in Paris for the Continental Edison Company, and, while on assignment to Strassburg in 1883, he constructed, after work hours, his first induction motor. Tesla sailed for America in 1884, arriving in New York with four cents in his pocket, a few of his own poems, and calculations for a flying machine. He first found employment with Thomas Edison, but the two inventors were far apart in background and methods, and their separation was inevitable. Continue reading from Encyclopedia Britannica

From our Collection

Link to Tesla: Inventor of the Modern by Richard Munson in the catalog
Link to The Inventions, Researches, and Writings of Nikola Tesla by Thomas Commerford Mann in Freading
Link to The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the race to light the world by Mike Winchell in the catalog
Link to My Inventions and Other Writings by Nikola Tesla in the catalog
Link to Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the race to electrify the world by Jill Jonnes in the catalog
Link to Lightning Strikes: Timeless Lessons in Creativity from the Life and Work of Nikola Tesla by John Wasik in the catalog

Link to Revolutionary Biographies Resource Guide Series