Nikola Tesla Biography

An Extraordinary Inventor
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Nikola Tesla

A Short Biography

Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia (then part of Austria-Hungary) on July 9, 1856, and died January 7, 1943. He was the electrical engineer who invented the AC (alternating current) induction motor, which made the universal transmission and distribution of electricity possible. Tesla began his studies in physics and mathematics at Gratz Polytechnic, and then took philosophy at the University of Prague. He worked as an electrical engineer in Budapest, Hungary, and subsequently in France and Germany. In 1888 his discovery that a magnetic field could be made to rotate if two coils at right angles are supplied with AC current 90 degrees out of phase made possible the invention of the AC induction motor. The major advantage of this motor being its brushless operation, which many at the time believed impossible.

Tesla moved to the United States in 1884, where he worked for Thomas Edison who quickly became a rival - Edison being an advocate of the inferior DC power transmission system. During this time, Tesla was commissioned with the design of the AC generators installed at Niagara Falls. George Westinghouse purchased the patents to his induction motor, and made it the basis of the Westinghouse power system which still underlies the modern electrical power industry today.

 He also did notable research on high-voltage electricity and wireless communication; at one point creating an earthquake which shook the ground for several miles around his New York laboratory. He also devised a system which anticipated world-wide wireless communications, fax machines, radar, radio-guided missiles and aircraft.

Tesla: My Early Life

Editors Note, September 21, 1994

An electronic text (ASCII) and portable document format (PDF) version of this file was created by John R.H. Penner from a small booklet found in a used bookstore for $2.50. The only form of date identification is the name of the original purchaser, Arthua Daine (sic), dated April 29, 1978. However, the book appears to be considerably older, made with a typewriter, then photocopied and stapled. The only other significant features of the booklet is that it contains four photocopied portrait photographs of Nikola Tesla, and was originally forty pages long. The book has no copyright identification, nor any means of contacting the publishers. As far as this editor is aware, this autobiography is no longer available in printed form anywhere. In the interest of making this important text available to the wider public, the entire original text has been retyped word-for-word as it originally appears into this electronic format. If anyone knows how to reach the original publisher, please contact the editor, so that proper credit may be given as is due. John Roland Hans Penner, 464 Scott Street, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2M 3W7, Canada Phone: 905.646.3551; eMail: J.Penner@GEnie.GEIS

These files may be freely redistributed as long as the content is not modified in any way. It may not be sold or published for money unless specifically authorized prior to publication by express permission of Kolmogorov- Smirnov Publishing, or John R.H. Penner. Unless otherwise notified, this work is Copyright 1995 by John R.H. Penner.

According to a note found at The Realm of Electric Shadows, the original version of this autobiography was entitled My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla [1] originally published in Electrical Experimenter, in six monthly installments, February - July 1919. It has been republished since by Hart Brothers in 1981.

Excellent image of very large Tesla coil, 2007

Notes: 1. Geocities site no longer online
Notes: 2. Text updated in line with suggestions at