On this day in 1856, Nikola Tesla, renowned inventor and purported greatest geek who ever lived, was born.
Serbian born, he was a star student who ultimately dropped out of his university because of a gambling problem that he later overcame. He then moved to various technical jobs around Europe before traveling to New York with four cents in his pocket and a letter of recommendation addressed to Thomas Edison.
He worked for Edison for years, helping to perfect many of Edison’s projects including his direct current generators and motors. When Edison refused to pay Tesla an agreed upon amount for a high profile project, Telsa resigned and started his own competing ventures.
Over his long and varied career, Tesla pioneered new technologies in electrical engineering (particularly alternating or AC current and wireless energy transmission), x-rays, radio, and wireless telecommunications.
In addition to his accomplishments, Tesla’s personality and eccentricities reflect the modern day idea of a “mad scientist.”
Always a driven man, he worked tirelessly, allowing little time for social or personal relationships and also claiming to never sleep for more then two hours at a time. He spoke several languages, supposedly had a photographic memory, was afflicted by bright flashing visions that often helped him with his work, and engaged in a technique called picture thinking, wherein he could visualize an invention in his mind precisely, never using a drawing or schematic, and move to the construction stage immediately. He may have suffered from Obsessive-compulsive Disorder and was celibate his entire life, despite many admirers.
Through financial misadventure and declining health in his later years, Tesla passed away, alone and virtually penniless, in the New York Hotel on January 7th, 1943. His renown and popularity declined over the years, falling into obscurity, but a recent insurgence of interest in his work and the perception of his underdog geek status has put Tesla on the pop cultural map. He was even played by David Bowie in the film The Prestige.
Check out more information on Tesla, fiction and non in these items from your library:
Morgan, Main – Teen
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