Nikola Tesla and Theoretical Significance of His Work


“The genius who lit the world”, “the man who invented the twentieth century”, “the patron saint of modern electricity” – all these metaphors apply to one man in the history of electrical engineering. And this man is Nikola Tesla. Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) laid foundations of modern electrical engineering by his contribution into its theory and practice. My goal in this paper is to explore the theoretical significance of Tesla’s work as the basis for modern AC engineering and discuss things that contributed to his recognition as one of the most prominent scientists in the U.S. history. I will also focus on the question of why many people would say Tesla was a mad scientist later in his life.

Nikola Tesla: Biography in Brief

Nikola Tesla was born 10 July 1856 in a Serbian family. The place of his birth was the village of Smiljan situated near Gospic  – a town in Croatia that was a part of Austria-Hungary at that time. Tesla’s father was known to be a clergyman, and his mother is described as “exceptionally bright and an inventor of household and farm implements” despite being illiterate (Klooster 302). Tesla might have got his knack for prolific inventing from his ingenious mother. Tesla, who is believed to be America’s most prominent electric engineer, studied engineering at the famous University of Graz (Austria) (Spencer 301). He is thought to have started his inventing career there.  In 1882, Tesla came to Paris and was hired by Continental Edison Company. Two years later Tesla immigrated to the U.S. and got his citizenship in 1891 at the age of 35 (Klooster 302).
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