The Man Who Invented the 20th Century: Why We Love Nikola Tesla, Part 1

Engineer, inventor, mad scientist – Nikola Tesla was undoubtedly one of the biggest influences to modern electricity supply systems, engineering, and electronics.  Here are a few reasons why we love this man:

He was born during a lightning storm.

For someone destined to become the man who harnessed electricity into the power system still used as the worldwide standard today, there is perhaps no grander or more fitting entrance for a man who would leave such a mark on the world.

He once shot current through his own body just to prove a point.

At the height of the aforementioned rivalry between Edison and Tesla, Edison and his cohorts would illustrate the dangers of Tesla’s Alternating Current by electrocuting animals. Tesla’s response? Shooting current through his body, thus producing light and effectively demonstrating just how safe AC was.

He conceived of what essentially amounts to smartphone technology in 1901.

Decades before the invention of handheld data-receiving devices, Tesla developed an idea wherein he and his business partner would aggregate telegram messages and stock quotes, encode them, and assign them frequencies. That frequency would then be broadcast to a device that would fit in someone’s hand.

He maintained a level of mutual respect with even his largest rival, Thomas Edison.

Upon his arrival in the United States, Tesla was hired by Edison to help with the designing of his direct current generators. Tesla quit mere months later in order to pursue his own invention, the alternating current induction motor, and thus began the so-called “Current Wars”  the decades-long conflict between the two on how electricity should be produced and distributed.

Despite a decades-long butting of heads that allegedly included shady business practices, stolen ideas, and even patent suppression, Tesla and Edison are still considered to be the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of their time in that they publicly acknowledged and showed respect for each others intelligence. Edison once attended an event where Tesla was speaking and, when Tesla spotted him in the audience, he led the crowd in giving Edison a standing ovation. Likewise, Edison provided Tesla a laboratory to use when Tesla’s caught on fire.

Tesla’s ideas, inventions, and innovations helped shape the world we live in today. He developed the fluorescent light bulb. He conceived of the earth as a giant magnet able to use frequencies as a transmitter. He played a central role in the invention of the X-ray. He invented the radio. He invented the remote control. The electric motor. The laser. And the list goes on. With so many contributions to his name, it’s no surprise that so many things we use on a daily basis have been influenced by Tesla in some capacity.

Here in PCTI’s Tesla conference room, we discuss cool applications like the 50KW pulsing DC power supply for a hypersonic wind tunnel application, or a hybrid electric flightline aerospace ground support equipment generator system.

Stay tuned next month for Why We Love Nikola Tesla, Part 2.

Nikola Tesla
PCTI is a proud friend of Nikola Tesla Coloring Book founded by Niffer Desmond. Click on image above or visit teslacoloringbook.com for more information.
Pittsburgh Tesla Club
PCTI recently became friends with Pittsburgh's Tesla High Voltage Electronics Club. Click on the image above to learn more or visit www.pgh-tesla-club.com