Occupation: inventor, scientist
Best known as: inventor of alternating current
Nationality: Serbian / American
Home: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Born: July 10, 1856, in Smiljan, Austrian Empire (present-day Croatia)
Died: January 7, 1943, New York City, USA
Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest scientists of all time and is known as the "patron saint of modern electricity." He is best known for his contributions to the field of electromagnetism at the turn of the 20th century. Tesla invented alternating current (AC) and successfully waged a fierce rivalry (called the "current war") with Thomas Edison, the inventor of direct current (DC). Additionally, Tesla is credited with inventing the radio and has also contribued to the fields of magnetism, robotics, remote control, radar, computer science, ballistics, nuclear physics, and theoretical physics. His achievements helped to start the Second Industrial Revolution. In addition to his scientific achievements, Tesla was notable for his eccentric personality (see Trivia for more details).
Friends: Mark Twain
Enemies: Thomas Edison
- According to legend, he was born at exactly midnight during an electrical storm.
- Tesla was celibate and asexual, and he said his celibacy helped him in his scientific work.
- Some people think he had OCD. He would always do things in threes and refused to stay in any hotel room unless its number was divisible by three.
- He felt physically revolted at the sight of jewelry, especially pearl earrings.
- He hated to touch round objects or human hair other than his own.
- He was obsessed with pigeons. When he lived in New York City, he bought special seed for the pigeons in Central Park and brought some into his apartment.
- Tesla became a vegetarian late in life.
- Once he fired a secretary for being overweight, and another time he repeatedly told an assistant to go home and change her clothing because he didn't like it.
- He wouldn't hold conversations without his Tesla coil blasting electricity through the room. This often terrifled the audience, but he assured them it was safe.
- Tesla made his first $1 million by the age of 40 but didn't care much about material wealth, and died rather poor.
- He believed in eugenics.
- Tesla believed in feminism and thought women would become the dominant gender in the future.
- He spoke eight languages: Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Latin, and Serbo-Croatian.