Born July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, Lika to a Serbian Orthodox Priest father and an inventor mother. While working as an electrical engineer in Budapest the answer to the problem of rotating magnetic field came to him during a walk in the park with a friend, and he drew a diagram in the sand with a stick. Based on this, he built and successfully ran an induction motor - considered one of the 10 greatest discoveries of all time. He moved to America and worked at Edison's labs improving Edison's dynamos.
However, the two fell out over Tesla's invention of Alternating Current, a better more efficient system than Edison's Direct Current current which Edison had invested a significant amount of money in. George Westinghouse licensed Telsa's AC patients and to get past Edison's control of DC based patients. Edison campaign against AC, promoting false stories of AC deaths and lobbying politicians. Eventually, however, AC won out after Tesla designed the first hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls.
He experimented with X-Ray at the same time as Roentgen (but never claimed priority). In 1896 is patented the basic system of radio before Marconi.
At his lab in Colorado Springs Tesla created artificial lightning, caused a blackout when he accidentally burnt out a local power station and received messages he believed were from Mars. The lab was torn down and sold to pay off his debts.
With money from JP Morgan (Tesla having told Morgan he lost his money in the Panic of 1901, which Morgan caused and so gave Tesla the money through guilt), Tesla began building a transmission tower on Long Island to transmit electricity over great distances to power ocean liners, destroy warships, run industry and transportation and send instantaneously all over the globe, but Morgan, realising you couldn't charge for transmitted power, withdrew his support.
In 1915 The New York Times announced that Edison and Telsa would share the Nobel Prize for Physics. Neither did and the rumour spread that the competitors refused to accept it if the other received it.
During World War I, Tesla suggested the idea locating submarines using high frequency electric rays, inspiring later radar experiments.
In 1928 Tesla his final patient for a VTOL biplane.
Between 1934 and 1937 Tesla theorised about a charged particle beam projector (called a "peace ray" or "death ray" in the press) to be used against infantry or aircraft. While Tesla was negotiating selling it to other countries Tesla claimed that his lab was broken into and his papers searched. He said nothing was stolen and all the blueprints were in his mind, not on paper.
Despite having obtained over 300 patents Tesla died impoverished 7 January 1943. Despite having come an American citizen, the FBI got the Alien Property Custodian to seize Tesla's belongings and check them for anything sensitive in nature in relation to the war effort.
- Tajna Nikole Tesle ("The Secret of Nikola Tesla") 1980 - starring Orson Welles as JP Morgan.
- Nikola Tesla-Visionary of Modern Times 2012 - telemovie.
- Fragments of Olympus - The Vision of Nikola Tesla - his life told through the FBI investigation of his belongings.