Nikola Tesla: The Forgotten Father Of Technology

1851 words - 7 pages

Throughout history only a small group of people were able to affect the lives of most of the world's population. In terms of science and technology, one person can have a tremendous impact on mankind; specifically that one person was Nikola Tesla. The eccentric and brilliant Croatian born electrical engineer contributed profoundly to our understanding of magnetism and electricity. He is known for his creation of the first alternating current (AC) induction motor, based on his research and discovery of rotating magnetic fields. Nikola Tesla had 700 patents in the US and Europe. Tesla's discoveries include the Tesla Coil, fluorescent light, wireless electrical energy, radio, remote control, and the discovery of cosmic radio waves (Feldman 224).Born in Smiljan, Yugoslavia, he was the son of an Orthodox priest and an illiterate mother. Both he and his elder brother Dane were said to possess photographic memories, to a degree where Tesla needed occasional help from his sisters in determining what was real and what was imaginary. He had episodes of light flashes disturbing his thoughts, due to his photographic memory (Vujovic 3-4). Whatever burden these episodes compelled, it's clear that Tesla's phenomenal memory served him well in both engineering and social settings (he spoke several languages fluently).He attended the Technical University at Graz, Austria, and then the University of Prague. At Graz he saw his first dynamo-electric machine, which operated as a generator and when reversed became an electric motor. Through his observations of this machine he conceived a way to use alternating current to his 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 towards the successful utilization of alternating current (Hunt 31-33).In 1882 Tesla went to work in Paris for the Continental Edison Company and during after-work hours he constructed his first induction motor. In 1884, Tesla sailed to New York with only four cents in his pocket. He first found employment with Thomas Edison, but the two inventors were far apart in background and methods, and their separation was inevitable. Edison was a fanatical and egotistical scientist, while on the contrary Tesla was cultured, educated in electrical theory, soft spoken and fluid in several languages. By his own account, Tesla worked hard for Edison and his DC generating system, creating several patented improvements for the Menlo Park Wizard (Dobbermuth-Costa 54-55). He proposed additional revisions and enhancements to the Edison dynamo design and asked what they would be worth. "$50,000", was Edison's reply (at least $1M dollars today). Tesla redoubled his efforts and delivered as promised. When he presented his case for payment, though, Edison told him that he just didn't understand American humor and offered him a modest raise instead. Tesla refused and quit working for General Electric,...

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