Nikola Tesla: A Man Ahead of His Time

Nikola Tesla: A Man Ahead of His Time

He grew up to be over six feet tall, a fashionable
dresser, and friends with some of the most
famous Americans of his time.
But he started life in a corner of the Austrian
Early Life
When Nikola Tesla was born, the Austrian Empire
still existed.
An ethnic Serb, he came into the world in
modern-day Croatia on July 10th, 1856.
His birth seemed to foreshadow his life’s
work, as his mother was in labor during a
massive lightning storm.
The lightning that flashed during Tesla’s
birth was considered an ill omen by the midwife,
but Tesla’s mother didn’t agree.
Instead, she proclaimed that:
“He will be a child of light.”
His mother was not wrong – as we know today,
Tesla is the reason we have alternating current
But, on top of that, starting in childhood,
Tesla saw flashes of light that reportedly
came to him before he had ideas.
There’s another side of the story to the
flashes of light that has emerged, however.
It’s possible that these flashes – or visions
– were actually caused by a traumatic event
he witnessed in childhood.
When Tesla was just five years old he saw
his only brother, Dane, die in a horse riding
It was after this that Tesla began having
the flashes of lights and visions.
He had them for the rest of his life.
The family lived in a modest home, one that
has since been rebuilt complete with a statue
of Tesla in the yard.
Tesla’s father was an Eastern Orthodox minister,
and his mother was a brilliant woman who was
an inventor herself.
She created mechanical appliances to use around
the house, and her tinkering and creative
thinking undoubtedly influenced her son.
Tesla’s mother also had an incredible memory.
She could memorize entire epic poems, and
Tesla credited his own photographic memory
to the genes he inherited from his mother.
He memorized entire books, visualized his
projects and ideas, and spoke several languages.
In his early years at school, Tesla’s studies
focused on German, math, and religion.
By the time he entered the later years of
his education science had become a key focus.
He moved away from his family to attend the
Higher Real Gymnasium.
Here, Tesla was accused of cheating because
of his photographic memory.
His outstanding memory allowed him to perform
integral calculus using only his mind – no
pen or paper required – and so his teachers
became suspicious.
Nonetheless, Tesla was able to finish the
necessary work to graduate in only three years
instead of the customary four.
During his three years at the Higher Real
Gymnasium, Tesla was introduced to a phenomenon
that ultimately defined his career and how
he’s remembered today.
In his physics class, the teacher demonstrated
Tesla was fascinated.
But it would be some time before he could
launch a career studying and using electricity.
He became ill shortly after graduating in
For nine months, he was bedridden with cholera
and only narrowly escaped death.
His brush with death helped form Tesla’s
lifelong germaphobe tendencies…he was so
fearful of germs that it took him 18 napkins
to get through a single meal.
In 1874, Tesla was expected to be conscripted
into the military.
Tesla had no interest in serving, and managed
to escape from the requirement by running
away to a mountainous region where he was
able to disguise himself as a hunter.
After a year, Tesla was able to emerge from
the mountains and start seriously studying
He began attending classes at Austria Polytechnic,
where he quickly showed himself to be both
a talented and diligent student.
In fact – he may have been too diligent.
Years after he left the school, and after
his father had died, Tesla discovered a pile
of letters that the school sent to his father
warning them that Tesla was overworking himself.
According to Tesla himself, he was working
incredibly hard – getting up at 3 AM, and
not going to bed until 11 PM.
During that time, he was fully focused on
his studies.
He didn’t even take off holidays or Sundays
from this routine.
By the time his first year was over, he had
passed twice as many exams as he needed to
and received the highest grades possible.
But even someone with a brain like Tesla’s
couldn’t sustain that kind of schedule.
His second year in school was a complete reversal
from his first.
After losing a scholarship at the end of his
second year, Tesla began gambling.
Gambling wasn’t just a pastime for him – he
was addicted to it.
He lost his tuition money gambling, and then
when final exams rolled around he was unprepared
to take them.
He never did take them…and so he never graduated.
Unwilling to face his family and tell them
he did not graduate, Tesla simply fled to
the town of Maribor and took up work as a
He started gambling again, playing cards on
the street.
At first, some of Tesla’s friends thought
he had drowned, but Tesla’s father figured
out the truth eventually.
He tried to get his son to return home, but
Tesla refused.
Eventually, he was forced to return home when
he was arrested for not having a residence
For a year, Tesla worked as a teacher in Gospic,
the town where his family lived.
But his extended family wanted to help him
get back to school…so they pooled their
funds and off to Prague he went.
But it wasn’t an easy jump back into academia.
He arrived too late to actually enroll.
And even if he hadn’t been late, Tesla was
missing some of the key studies required to
Namely, Czech and Greek.
So he did not achieve his academic dreams,
but by 1881 Tesla was able to find work in
his preferred field.
He had found a job as an electrical engineer
with the Central Telephone Company in Budapest.
While working there, he and a friend had a
habit of walking through the park.
One day during the walk, Tesla got one of
his visions – he knew how to build an induction
He picked up a stick, found a patch of dirt,
and sketched out his idea there and then.
He then built a prototype of the motor.
It made sense to him, and he knew the importance
of it, but he couldn’t drum up much interest
for his invention in Europe.
While Tesla was working in Europe, Thomas
Edison had launched his Edison Company – which
included a branch in Paris.
Tesla secured a job at the Continental Edison
Company helping with the installation of lighting
in Paris.
His talents were soon taken advantage of for
design and for troubleshooting.
And within two years, he was recruited to
travel to America to work for Edison directly
in New York.
He and hundreds of others worked in Manhattan,
installing lights and building out an electric
utility for New York City.
Tesla described his experiences and impressions
of Edison:
“I came from Paris in the Spring of 1884,
and was brought in intimate contact with him
[Thomas Edison].
We experimented day and night, holidays not
His existence was made up of alternate periods
of work and sleep in the laboratory.
He had no hobby, cared for no sport or amusement
of any kind and lived in utter disregard of
the most elementary rules of hygiene.
There can be no doubt that, if he had not
married later a woman of exceptional intelligence,
who made it the one object of her life to
preserve him, he would have died many years
ago from consequences of sheer neglect.
So great and uncontrollable was his passion
for work.”
But as he had in his first year of school,
Tesla was also a non-stop worker.
One story relates that he stayed out all night
working, and took some gibes from people for
being out all night.
When Edison found out he was actually out
working, Tesla earned Edison’s respect.
Working for Edison wasn’t ideal for Tesla,
He only lasted six months at the company.
Edison and Tesla disagreed over the alternating
current and the direct current, with Tesla
favoring alternating and Edison favoring direct,
but it’s still unclear if that disagreement
was the primary reason Tesla ended up leaving
the company.
Tesla and Edison also differed in their approaches
to business and science – Edison was attuned
to the marketing side of things, while Tesla
was highly focused on the scientific invention
and innovation part of the work.
It’s possible his leaving may have been
precipitated by a bonus he thought he was
getting…and was then refused.
The manager at the Edison Company challenged
employees to design two dozen different machines.
The first person to successfully do so would
receive a huge bonus – fifty thousand dollars!
That translates to millions of dollars by
today’s standards.
Tesla jumped at the chance to tackle the invention
and earn a huge amount of money.
He completed the task, presented his work…and
was denied the bonus.
The manager and Edison claimed the challenge
had been issued jokingly…and Edison himself
told an upset Tesla:
“Tesla, you don’t understand our American
Regardless of the reason, the fact is that
Tesla departed from Edison’s company after
only a few short months.
He had it in his mind that he was going to
start his own company, researching and working
with alternating currents.
It wasn’t so easy to just get started, though.
When Tesla quit Edison’s company, he had
to earn money to live on by digging ditches
for only two dollars a day.
“My high education in various branches of
science, mechanics and literature seemed to
me like a mockery,” he said of this time.
While he was doing that, though, he was pitching
He found people who liked what they heard,
and trusted the scientific knowledge of this
young immigrant.
By 1885, he was working on getting his arc
lighting system patented and had a funding
promise from two businessmen to start Tesla
Electric Light and Manufacturing.
Only a year into the venture, though, they
pulled out and left Tesla in the lurch.
Yet again, the inventor was penniless.
In 1886, though, he met two men who were looking
to invest in scientific inventions.
They set Tesla up with a laboratory in New
York City, established a profit-sharing structure,
and the Tesla Electric Company was born.
In only a year, Tesla had created an induction
motor that ran on alternating current.
This time, he had two business partners who
were ready and willing to handle the marketing
and business end of things.
Soon after, Tesla published a paper entitled:
“A New System of Alternating Current Motors
and Transformers.”
It laid out his ideas, and it got him noticed.
George Westinghouse read the paper, and he
liked what he read.
Westinghouse licensed Tesla’s induction
motor, and also gave him a consulting job
at the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing
Lab in Pittsburgh.
Westinghouse wanted to be the person who provided
the United States with long distance power,
and he believed Tesla was the person to help
him achieve his goal.
In the early 1890s, Westinghouse and Edison
were competing heavily in the electric industry.
Edison was throwing out claims that Tesla’s
AC current wasn’t safe, and meanwhile Westinghouse
was facing financial difficulties.
But Westinghouse paid Tesla for the licensing,
and so he had the ability to continue working
on projects that he wanted to.
One of those projects was the Tesla coil.
The Tesla Coil, which he patented in 1891,
allowed electricity to be transmitted wirelessly.
It was the first invention of its kind, and
it was used in antennas, used to send telegraphs,
and even though the original design isn’t
used anymore, a different version of it is
still used in tv and radio to this day.
1891 was a landmark year in Tesla’s life
for another reason, too.
Along with the patent for the Tesla Coil,
he was also granted U.S. citizenship.
Tesla continued his relationship with Westinghouse
into the 1890s, as they sought out his help
for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Westinghouse was in charge of lighting the
entire event, but also had its own display.
Here, he gave demonstrations to the public,
showing how an AC current worked.
Tesla’s next major project came at Niagara
Power was being generated at the falls, but
there was a need for an efficient transmission
Based on Tesla’s recommendation, Westinghouse
was hired to build an AC generation system
at Niagara.
Tesla did the design work, and the resulting
hydroelectric power plant began providing
electricity to the city of Buffalo, New York.
With all of these projects, Tesla was gaining
visibility both in American and around the
And he was getting to know other high profile
people, too.
Not all of them were in the scientific sphere,
One of the American celebrities that Tesla
got to know was Mark Twain.
Even when he was living in Croatia, Tesla
was reading Twain’s books.
The two met in New York City, having crossed
paths at a social event.
Twain had always been interested in technological
innovation, and so the two spent much time
together in Tesla’s lab.
A photograph of Twain’s hand that Tesla
took using light from “Crookes Tubes”
brought Tesla right to the edge of discovering
x-rays…unfortunately he didn’t realize
how close he had come until x-rays were actually
discovered and the use of crookes tubes in
the invention was made known.
Twain was also a part of another Tesla experiment…an
experiment specifically designed to address
Twain’s digestive issues.
Twain was often constipated, and he wasn’t
shy about complaining of the condition.
Tesla had developed a vibrating disk that
would essentially shake whoever stood on top
of it.
He urged his author friend to climb on board
the device, and literally have his digestion
issues solved by shaking his bowels loose.
When Tesla thought Twain had had enough of
the shaking treatment, he told him to get
But Twain didn’t want to get off.
He stayed on top of the disk, and continued
to be shaken, ignoring Tesla’s urgings.
He shouldn’t have ignored Tesla – eventually
the shaking did its job, and then some, on
Twain’s bowels.
He couldn’t control them.
The famous author had quite literally gone
to the bathroom in his suit in the middle
of Nikola Tesla’s laboratory.
Tesla never stopped inventing.
He said that he only slept two hours per night,
and he was always looking for the next project.
Wireless transmission of electricity was one
of his main goals, but he needed funding to
achieve it.
Living in New York, he had ample access to
wealthy people.
He was able to convince J. Pierpont Morgan
of the viability of wireless transmission,
and the banker provided him with one hundred
fifty thousand dollars to build a transmission
He was competing with Marconi to transmit
wireless messages, but Marconi got there first.
Investors, including Morgan, pulled their
funds from Tesla’s project and he was forced
to abandon the effort in 1906.
When the project was abandoned, Tesla didn’t
just have to stop construction – he had to
actually mortgage the property.
Tesla owed huge amounts of money to the Waldorf
He lived at the lavish hotel, and he lived
large – spending twenty thousand dollars – that’s
nearly five hundred thousand today – in the
short time he lived there.
In 1917, the transmission tower was demolished
after Tesla lost it in foreclosure.
He also tried to sue Marconi, asserting that
he had stolen Tesla’s ideas to create his
wireless transmission technology.
Tesla was a genius, there’s no doubt about
But he was a difficult man – he had many quirks
and obsessions, and was completely, utterly
focused on his work.
He never married, thinking a woman in his
life would interfere with his work.
As he said,
“I do not think you can name many great
inventions that have been made by married
But there also indications Tesla didn’t
think he was worthy of women.
Then, he became dissatisfied with the attitude
of modern women in the 1920s.
In 1924 interview, Tesla explained his thoughts
on women:
“I had always thought of woman as possessing
those delicate qualities of mind and soul
that made her in these respects far superior
to man.
I had put her on a lofty pedestal…I worshiped
at the feet of the creature I had raised to
this height, and, like every true worshiper,
I felt myself unworthy of the object of my
worship.But all this was in the past.
Now the soft-voiced gentle woman of my reverent
worship has all but vanished.
In her place has come the woman who thinks
that her chief success in life lies in making
herself as much as possible like man–in dress,
voice and actions, in sports and achievements
of every kind.”
Tesla put some of his social and nurturing
energy that he wasn’t putting towards women
towards the pigeons that flocked throughout
New York City.
And one in particular caught his attention.
“I have been feeding pigeons, thousands
of them for years.
But there was one, a beautiful bird, pure
white with light grey tips on its wings; that
one was different.
It was a female.
I had only to wish and call her and she would
come flying to me.
I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman,
and she loved me.
As long as I had her, there was a purpose
to my life.

When that pigeon was hurt, Tesla invented
a device to help heal its injured wing and
Tesla lived out his life in New York City,
never married, but surrounded by the famous
and the intellectual.
He invented constantly, right up through the
1930s when he was well into his seventies.
In January 1943, a maid decided to enter Tesla’s
hotel room even though he had put up a Do
Not Disturb sign.
It had been up for 48 hours…when the maid
opened the door, she was confronted with the
sight of the famous inventor’s body.
He died of coronary thrombosis at 86 years
Behind him, Tesla left a legacy of invention,
innovation, and scientific exploration.
He played a crucial role in the spread of
electricity and the creation of devices that
led to the technology we have today.

100 thoughts on “Nikola Tesla: A Man Ahead of His Time”

  1. Totally incomplete video
    No inventions properly explained and very minimal is explained about his struggle and genius
    The man helped shape the human existence and godfather of technology

  2. Simon, you DA MAN!!  lol  Love your vids, Brother.      "It bothers me not that they steal my ideas; it bothers me that they have none of their own"–N Tesla

  3. Horseshit, most of it. Tesla did not invent AC power. It was well known long before he developed his system. Tesla was a shameless self promoter who's name was as familiar to the populace as almost any entertainer or world leader of the day. Most of his product just plain didn't work. His battle with Edison has been twisted over the years through retelling until it bears little resemblance to what happened. He was certifiable long before he died. While he was a great mind – a mind that developed a few amazing things – the reality is the the legend and the reality of Tesla are two wildly different things.

  4. Nikola Tesla is one of the greatest minds to have ever lived, far ahead of his time!
    I don't think he ever really got the credit he deserved, even though without a genius like Tesla, technology and electricity would be 100 years behind!

  5. Not sure why Tesla has a slavish cult following. He was a undeniable genius who invented some world changing technologies, but I dont think he quite lives up to the mythologizing. Even saying he wasnt the greatest inventor ever will get me a ton of hate, and in there lies the problem. Drop the myth, his working inventions should be enough to establish him as a genius for the age.

  6. People in positions of power worked very hard to destroy Tesla and his work. We could have much cheaper energy if the energy and oil companies didnt destroy him. His death was under suspicious circumstances as well and within 12 hours of his death the newly formed FBI came and took all his work.

  7. The world's treatment of Tesla is deplorable. Had he not been screwed over so many times by so many it would be his name that would be at the top of the most important inventor, and NOT egotistical blow hard crook, thomas edison.

  8. You forgot to mention that after his death, the invention of radio was rightfully attributed to Tesla.

  9. Not historically accurate. Especially with the controversy surrounding the Wardenclyffe Tower. Tesla has no equals. An average person watching this video might conclude that Marconi was as smart or smarter than Mr. Tesla. That is just downright disrespectful and almost laughable. Thus a thumbs down 👎🏻

  10. Proud that he was born in Croatian little vilage called Smiljan near Velebit mountain. Very easy to visit because of nearby highway wich lead to adriatic coast. Everyone is welcomed. His grand mother and grandfather were croatian aristocrats.

  11. to be fair, Edison was right. DC is better to be used at long distance, it's called HCDC, it's used for some electrical grid in the world (but despite it's efficiency, it's too expensive to change it) and best it's used for long distance optical cable under the sea, the internet backbone.

  12. Albert einstein was asked what it was like being the smartest man alive by a reporter, he then responded I dont know you'll have to ask Nikola Tesla

  13. Ok this was great but Nikola Tesla never lived in Croatia, that was Austrian empire back then

  14. At this time , there are 148 Stupid morons who gave no clue thumbs down – y’all are ignorant Wal-Mart trash.


  16. Hm, yet another story that makes it seem to me that the USA were rather built on exploits than on a constitution. A place where the poorest souls and the most predatory people in the world came together.

  17. So, in summary: Brilliant mind, obsessively dedicated to his endeavors, started many things, didn’t finish hardly anything whether it was because of himself or lack of money. Died an old man, ever the tinkerer from birth to death.

  18. A man well ahead of his time. So gorgeous as a young man but he didnt age well. He should have fasted and dry fasted and perhaps he did, any idea of that or his diet? Also I wonder if he had temporal lobe epilepsy, it comes with high IQ and often migraines and visions and flashes of light. Love how when Einstein was asked How does it feel to be the smartest man in the world, he said "I dont know. I will have to ask Nikola Tesla.' Smack! TY!!

  19. We also know that Edison was not personally responsible for many of the inventions attributed to him as he employed people to do this work for him.

  20. It's too bad there was never a Tesla biopic with Ralph Fiennes in the lead role.
    Honestly, give him the hairdo and the mustache and that's him at 0:21

  21. Amazing video, great channel keep the videos coming, your educating/informing the internet in a great way!!

  22. He was born at the right time and came to the USA at the right time. He was shifty. If he had remained with Edison he'd still be an unknown and another would have come up with a/c current. He wasn't known in the public due to the big names like Edison, Westinghouse, Singer, G/E and so many more. HE WAS SO SMART HE WAS FEARED BUT UPON DEATH THE GOVT TOOK HIS FILES!

  23. REQUEST… Eleftherios Venizelos / Ioannis Metaxas / Mustafa Kemal
    Huge fan of Biographics & VisualPolitik, please continue the great work Simon, Jack, Jamie & Shell

  24. Tesla never "lived in Croatia", for the simple reason that it didn't exist. He lived in the Austrian Empire and was of pure Serbian descent.

  25. Good lad, he would be considered mgtow now haha! I think hed be absolutely disgusted if he could see modern feminists…they have pretty much destroyed what it is to be a real woman, all in pursuit of trying to act and be like a man. Sadly they can't even get that right.

  26. Just a fact about Tesla, his whole family and other villagers bearing his last name were all slaughtered by Croatian Ustashe during WW2 in one day. And Nikola was still alive when this happened so imagine the great inventor when he learnt the news

  27. MY EX GF is a genius on the level of Tesla – in her 4 years at uni she got 100% in every single one of the 156 exams despite attending very few lectures and just reading the books the day before each exam. She also got 3 patents in microwave technology whilst there.

    Now she works as a receptionist at a hotel – why? She is a high-level narcissist and this allows her access to new 'victims' every day.
    The single biggest waste of talent I have ever witnessed.

  28. I laughed my ass off about the story of Mark Twain messing his pants. That sounds like something he may have written.

  29. No mention of his time in Colorado and his investors freaking out that he wanted to transmit power for free? What about his inventions that interested the government such as his "death ray" or his frequency gun that would harmonically vibrate things to death? I enjoy these episodes but this one was lacking.

  30. Many people (both experts and individuals living with the condition – including me) think that Tesla was probably on the autism spectrum. That would explain his unusual combination of genius, obsession, and naivete – among other things. These days Tesla is being recognized more and often as an underappreciated genius — but to those of us on the autism spectrum, he's also a hero and role model.

  31. The real heroes in so-called current war was nor Tesla or Edisson , but the American companies who fearless and with uttermost determination, invest in the new technology. They , and only they should be praised for the progress.

  32. Having a patent does not mean you are the inventor.
    The idea could have been purchased, bought, transfered, copied, stolen.
    Now go back and inspect Tesla's patents more closely. Each one.

  33. goood as always, although you missed out on all the inane plots from the US government, stealing his works after he died.. his death ray and whatnot..

  34. Three consecutive psychics have stated that Nicola Tesla has provided and guided my spiral escalator invention. I did not know he lit the Columbian Exhibition Chicago World's Fair – no wonder it was so beautiful. My step-grandmother was in attendance. I believe Twain and Tesla were fond of one another…

  35. Fair Bloody Dinkum it is a pity that this episode of Biographics wasn't longer and more substantial. There was a lot more to Nikola Tesla's life than this short exerpt.

  36. Tesla invented the radio and holds the patent to this day after fighting in the end of his life to get it back after Marconi's family paid off the patent office.
    Otis Pond, an engineer then working for Tesla, said, "Looks as if Marconi got the jump on you." Tesla replied, "Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using seventeen of my patents."

  37. Not bad but this biography is far from complete. There were mysteries about Tesla especially in the latter part of his life….

  38. That promised bonus was not a joke… Edison was a duplicitous snake, and not an inventor at all, he was merely a business manager who stole the ideas of his "Muchers" Also the 'vibrating disk was the origin of the legendary "brown note" that the DOD was searching for… (a sound frequency that would cause enemy combatants to lose control of their bowels)

  39. Interesting that there is no mention of his possessions being collected by the US government. Is that not factual?

  40. To love a woman and raise a generation is the highest of achievement. Brilliant, an advancer, but ultimately a loser. Such a pity- his parents weren’t so selfish as he to our benefit

  41. Funny how genetics were barely understood at the time but he attributed his intelligence to genes he inherited from his mother… recent studies have confirmed that offspring is much more likely to inherit intelligence from the mother.

  42. Sounds like Thomas Edison was a hater just like he didn't want to give credit to the black man who really invented the light bulb.

  43. I love his genius but I especially love the fact that he wasn’t a greedy Gus. I think the story of Juan Seguin would be interesting. Thank you.

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