It was probably fate that Nikola Tesla and electricity would be intertwined forever in world history. Born some time in early July 1856, there was a thunderstorm going on at the time of his birth around midnight. With more than 300 patents in total, this electrical engineer helped to provide the foundation of what we all use every day. Not bad for a kid who was called a “bad omen” from the moment he was born.
1. We Don’t Know Everything
Nikola Tesla died in 1943 and much of his work was initially confiscated by the US government under the auspices of the Office of Alien Property. Over time, much of his work was released either to his estate or to the Tesla Museum that is in Belgrade. Some of his work, however, continues to remain classified by the US government, meaning only a select few people know right now the true extent of this man’s work.
2. A Beneficial Rivalry
Many people have painted the relationship between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla has two men who treated each other as enemies. Although the two had an extensive rivalry, much of what we consider to be fact is actually just public speculation that was turned into fact. Tesla wanted to use alternating current and Edison wanted to use direct current for electricity. In the end, both would be used in some way.
3. Before His Time
The main reason why Tesla was so concerned about making his inventions as public as possible was because he wanted to “go green” before going green was popular. He was concerned that the planet was consuming its resources too quickly and wanted to change that. Tesla sought out energy sources that were renewable, which caused him to research power sources that could be generated by water or air. He even studied how to generate power through lightning strikes within his lab.
4. The Real Internet Inventor?
If Nikola Tesla had access to 21st century resources, he may just have been able to give Steve Jobs a run for his money. One of his “craziest” ideas was to take specific information and then assign it to specific frequencies that could be broadcast to handheld units. In his vision, this would give people instant access to information they needed, like stock quotes. This means that he actually saw that the internet was possible long before the personal computers were hitting the market.
It could even be argued that the handheld units could be a precursor of what a smartphone would be able to do. This is why the classified information that the US government holds is so intriguing. If Tesla could envision the information age decades before anyone else, then what other “crazy” ideas did he happen to have?
5. Not For Profit
Nikola Tesla was a famous guy with famous friends. He hung out with Mark Twain. Yet while others in his field were making millions of dollars from their inventions, Tesla took a different approach. He wanted everyone to be able to benefit from his inventions. He lived near the poverty line simply because he wanted others to benefit freely from what he was able to create.
There may be a personal reason for not focusing on wealth. He loved playing pool and could hustle like a pro. He’d be able to pay for his meals from his pool playing skills and that was often good enough for him. Having a photographic memory probably helped this process quite a lot as well.
6. A Constant Struggle
Tesla may have had a brilliant mind, but it would also be a mind that would attempt to betray him from time to time. He would suffer from frequent bouts of insomnia, leading him to claim that he would only need to get 2 hours of sleep each night. Tesla also had a certain obsessive compulsiveness about him that ruled his life. Interestingly enough, he had a particular fascination with the number three. Before eating, he would also polish the dining room utensils using 18 napkins.
Tesla particularly hated round objects and he especially hated pearls. According to one story, Tesla’s secretary reported to work one day wearing pearl earrings and he made her go home for the day. Yet he could also funnel this OCD of his to visualize different dimensions in space and time that would help him to figure out complex problems that others wouldn’t even bother attempt.
Nikola Tesla changed the world with his work. He might still be changing the world for all we know. His selflessness has fueled untold creativity and allows us all to be as productive as we are today.