Nikola Tesla. Who is he? Do kids these days know how much this man contributed to science and technology? I figured I would ask.

My brother is visiting me while he goes to camp to build robots and remote control cars; two things invented by Tesla. I asked my little brother today if he had ever heard of him. Looking over his bowl of coco-puffs, he shrugged and mumbled, “Nah.” It made me realize that on Telsa’s birthday, this would be a great opportunity to highlight one of my favorite geeks and game changers!

Here is a list of some of Tesla’s inventions:

1. Alternating Current — Alternating currents really caused quite a stir at the 1893 World’s Expo in Chicago. At this point, a war on how electricity would be produced and distributed was on between Tesla and Edison. Yet, despite all the feuding, it is Tesla’s system that currently provides power generation and distribution to North America.

2. Light – Tesla invented how light can be harnessed and distributed. At the World’s Fair, Tesla took glass tubes and bent them into famous scientists’ names, in effect creating the first neon signs.

3. X-rays —  X-rays, like so many of Tesla’s contributions, stemmed from his belief that everything we need to understand the universe is virtually around us at all times. We just need to develop real-world devices to augment our perceived existence. Though  Tesla did not invent the x-ray, he was a pioneer in its research.

4. Radio — Guglielmo Marconi was initially credited to be the inventor of radio, even to this day. However, the Supreme Court overturned Marconi’s patent in 1943, when it was proven that Tesla invented the radio years before Marconi. In 1904, however, The U.S. Patent Office reversed its decision, awarding Marconi a patent for the invention of radio. At the time Edison had a lot of influence and was a financial backer of Marconi.

5. Remote Control —The first remote controlled model boat was demonstrated in 1898. Utilizing several large batteries; radio signals controlled switches, which then energized the boat’s propeller, rudder, and scaled-down running lights.

6. Electric Motor —1930 saw an economic crisis and a world war. Neither are helpful when trying to gain traction for an invention like the AC electric motor.  Nevertheless, this invention has fundamentally changed the landscape for industrial fans, household applicances, water pumps, machine tools, power tools, disk drives, electric wristwatches and compressors.  Tesla’s invention of the electric motor has finally been popularized by the automobile named after him.

7. Robotics — Tesla had the idea that all living beings are merely driven by external impulses. He is quoted in saying, “I have by every thought and act of mine, demonstrated, and does so daily, to my absolute satisfaction that I am an automaton endowed with power of movement, which merely responds to external stimuli.” Thus, the concept of the robot was born.

8. Laser — Tesla’s invention of the laser has transformed surgical applications in a major way, and they have given rise to much of our current digital media.

9. Communications  — J.P. Morgan backed Tesla with $150,000 to build a tower that would use natural frequencies to transmit data, including a wide range of information communicated through images, voice messages, and text. This represented the world’s first wireless communications.

10. Limitless Free Energy — There that same backing came the question of energy. Tesla wanted to show people how energy was free and available to everyone.  He was dedicated to empowering the individual to receive and transmit this data. But to Morgan, what good is energy if it can’t be metered and controlled? We know who won that argument.

Tesla has a countless number of other patents and inventions. For a full list of his patents, click here.

Tesla: The Geek

The Oatmeal did this great comic on Tesla, the geek. Here is some of it . If you would like to see the entire thing, click here.


I also found this hilarious video on the Tesla/Edison feud. It’s a little graphic, so please consider yourself warned:

Happy Birthday, Tesla. You really were the electric Jesus. 🙂

2 Responses

  1. Inspiring Quotes

    Thanks for sharing this! Tesla was truly brilliant. He could even run “mental simulations” in his mind where he could engineer a machine in his mind and then run it and know the wear with microscopic precision. A truly miraculous mind!


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