33 Interesting Facts About Nikola Tesla

Last updated on April 6th, 2023

Nikola Tesla is among some of the most prolific inventors of all times. He is also regarded as one of the pioneers of electromagnetic induction and the developments that have been made based on the invention of alternating electric current. With these interesting facts about Nikola Tesla, let’s learn more about him and his career, inventions, and personal life.

Facts about Tesla’s birth, his mother’s involvement in his career, his father’s will and connection with Thomas Edison etc.

1. Tesla was born during a lightning storm. Yes, the man who would conduct experiments with light later on in his career was born during the darkest of the times.

2. Tesla thought of mobile phone technology and wireless internet way back in 1901. He had imagined transmission of messages wirelessly before anyone did.

3. Tesla once shook the poop out of Mark Twain with an earth shaking experiment: once Tesla invited Twain to witness one of his experiments, where he was to demonstrate his high frequency oscillator. Mark Twain was known for his digestive problems and was instructed by Tesla to stand on the platform underneath which was the oscillator. After a minute and half, Twain left the platform in search of the facilities.

4. Nikola Tesla moved to the U.S. to work for Thomas Edison, another famous inventor of his time and his future rival.

5. Nikola Tesla became U.S naturalized citizen in 1891.

6. They called him mad: Tesla for his attitude and intellect was also known as “mad scientist.” He also tried to develop a particle gun, or death ray.

Image of Nikola Tesla at age 40
Nikola Tesla at age 40. Image credit – Wikipedia

7. Unmarried life: Tesla did not marry and had explanation for why he was not going to marry. Other famous scientists that did not marry include: The Wright brothers (they built the world’s first heavier-than-air aircraft and made a successful flight on December 17, 1903), Isaac Newton, Henry David Thoreau (Author of Walden and Civil Disobedience).

8. In 1960, the General Conference on Weights and Measures named the SI unit of magnetic flux density “The tesla” (The tesla (symbolized T) is the standard unit of magnetic flux density. It is equivalent to one weber per meter squared (1 Wb. m 2 ).) in his honor.

Large Tesla Coil at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade
Large Tesla Coil at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade. Photo: e2dan / Shutterstock.com

9. He also invented the Tesla coil which is still used in radio technology today.

10. Did you know who is the inspiration behind Tesla’s interest in electricity and related things? It is his mother – Djuka Mandic, who invented small electrical appliance in her spare time while Nikola Tesla was still growing up.

Also read: 50 Interesting facts about Albert Einstein

11. Nikola’s father who was a priest wanted Tesla to join the church and pursue the priesthood. However, Tesla was interested in the sciences.

Tesla AC induction motor of 1888, from Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing Company.
Tesla AC induction motor of 1888, from Westinghouse Electric Manufacturing Company.

12. Tesla had the idea to develop an induction motor when he was working at the Central Telephone Exchange in Budapest.

13. Tesla in pursuit of his inventions moved to the U.S. in 1884 with little to no cash. However, he managed to grab a letter of introduction to the famed inventor – Thomas Edison, who would only become his rival in the time to come.

14. Shaking hands with Edison: when Tesla joined Edison, Edison was pursuing DC based electrical works which were becoming standard in the country. The duo worked together for sometime but ultimately separated because of their conflicts which spanned their business and scientific thinking.

15. In 1885, Tesla parted with Edison and was able to gather funds for the Tesla Electric Light Company. He proved beneficial for his investors by turning their investments into profits but at last, he was expelled again from the company. To survive, he worked as a manual laborer.

Facts about Tesla and AC based inventions, first hydro electric power plant in the U.S., Tesla’s photographic memory, his classified inventions, patents, lofty ambitions and death.

16. Tesla’s luck was soon to favor him, as he founded, once again, his new Tesla Electric Company. This company would bring him a fortune and a good name; and he ended up filing for several patents for AC-based inventions the same year. The roller coaster continues testing the limits of this great inventor and thinker.

17. George Westinghouse when became aware of the new invention of AC (alternating current) which could be transported to long distances without much loss, purchased Tesla’s patents for a sum of $60,000 in cash and stock in the Westinghouse Corporation. This had obvious effects on Thomas Edison who was doing his best to oust Tesla from the current supply business. Edison started negative propaganda with a press conference in an attempt to tamper peoples’ interest in alternating current.

18. The first hydro electric power plant in the U.S., installed at Niagara Falls, was designed by Tesla. The current from the hydro electric power plant was used to power the city of Buffalo, New York. This achievement made the use of alternating current quite famous throughout the world.

19. Tesla also pioneered the rotating magnetic field (a key principle in the operation of the alternating-current motor.), which is the basis of most AC machinery used today.

20. Tesla had a photographic memory. He could envision three dimensional structures in his head and work on them to be able to invent something. Quite amazing, isn’t it!

Related: Facts about Henry Ford

21. He was also very concerned about hygiene and neatness because he had a fear of germs. It is said that he used 18 napkins to clean his dining room before his evening meals.

Statue of Nikola Tesla.
Statue of Nikola Tesla in front of coffee shop.

22. Many states in the U.S. celebrate July 10, Tesla’s birthday – Nikola Tesla Day.

23. Tesla was not so convinced by the idea of transporting electric current in the form of DC. So he invented AC which needed fewer support system and could be transmitted over to long distances.

24. Tesla’s first invention: voice amplifier for the telephone receiver was Tesla’s first invention which he made in 1881.

25. Tesla did not like pearls so much that one day his secretary wore them for office and he sent her back for the day.

Facade of Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.
Facade of Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.

26. Some of Tesla’s inventions are classified. The Office of Alien Property seized all of his belongings. Later some of these items were delivered to the Tesla museum in Belgrade and some were sent to his family.

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