July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Nikola Tesla!

Today marks the birth of an inventor who revolutionized the field of science, especially in electricity and electromagnetism.

He was born in the small village of Smiljan, Vojna Krajina, in modern-day Croatia 153 years ago. 

Tesla is most famous for his invention of the radio.  The original credit to the radio was given to Guglielmo Marconi, but in 1943, just months after Tesla had died, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its decision and gave the radio patent credit to Tesla. 

Tesla is said to have remarked to a friend, regarding the original decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, that "Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using 17 of my patents."

Thomas Edison, the inventor of direct current electric power, was an adversary to Tesla, who invented alternating current electric power. 

In the New York Times on October 19 in 1931 Tesla was quoted to say, "If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search"¦ I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety percent of his labor."

Tesla formed his own electric company in 1886 called Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing. 

During this time he invented the Tesla coil, which is a type of resonant transformer circuit that he used in many of his inventions and discoveries.

Tesla obtained a minimum of 278 patents worldwide for his inventions.  Some of his patents are not accounted for and sources have discovered some hidden in patent archives. 

He died of heart failure in the New Yorker Hotel alone on January 7, 1943.  Tesla's body was later cremated and his ashes were brought to Belgrade, Serbia where they still lay today in the Tesla Museum.