Nikola Tesla – A Life Lived and Died

Nikola TeslaAs the Nikola Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity book slowly springs to life (and sometimes to a life of its own), it became necessary to put together a rolling timeline of major events from birth to death.  Tesla’s life, of course, is interwoven with other key players in the development of alternating current, radio, wireless transmission, remote control guided weapons, and a few other exciting inventions to be named later.  As the timeline develops I’ll add some of the peculiar oddities that Tesla engaged in, as well as non-inventor folks like Mark Twain and Robert Underwood Johnson, but for now the following hints at some of the key scientific events.

1856    Born

1861    Brother killed

1862    Family moves to Gospic

1870s   Cholera

1875    Enters Graz for electrical engineering

1878    Leaves Graz w/o degree; breaks off relations with family

1881    Employed as assistant engineer in Marburg for 1 year; has nervous breakdown

1880    Attends University in Prague for summer term; father dies so leaves University

1880-1881   Moves to Budapest to work for Puskas in a telegraph company

1882    Moves to Paris to work for Continental Edison with Batchelor; conceived of induction motor and rotating magnetic fields patents

1884    Arrives in US w/letter of introduction from Batchelor to Edison

1885    Quits Edison feeling like cheated by him

1885    Digs ditches; works on polyphase system design; gets first patent

1886    Forms Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing company

1887    Constructed initial AC induction motor; began investigating what would later be called x-rays

1888    Demonstrates to IEEE; develops principles for Tesla coil; begins work with G. Westinghouse

1891    Early demonstration of wireless energy transmission

1891    Becomes naturalized American citizen

1891    Invents Tesla coil

1893    First wireless transmission; Columbian Exhibition (Chicago)

1895    Lab burns down

1896    Electrical generation from Niagara Falls using his AC system

1898    Moves into Waldorf-Astoria hotel

1899    Moves to Colorado Springs

1900    Returns to NYC

1901    Signs contract with J.P. Morgan; construction on Wardenclyffe begins

1906    Invents bladeless turbine

1917    Wardenclyffe demolished; awarded Edison Medal

1931    On cover of Time magazine for seventy-fifth birthday

1943    Dies on January 8 in Hotel New Yorker; government seizes estate

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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