Nikola TeslaOf all the people who invented and built today’s modern world, he was not only one of the most brilliant, but the most selfless, relinquishing his claims to many patents and a potential vast fortune in order to ensure that mankind benefitted from his scientific breakthroughs, and today we salute him on


Born on July 10, 1856 in Croatia, educated in Serbia and Vienna, and an employee of the French telephone system, Nikola Tesla emigrated to the United States and went to work for one of his idols, Thomas Edison.

Turned out Edison was a skinflint and a lousy boss, a genius who was not above stealing credit for the work of other geniuses, or trying to discredit it if he could not. So, Tesla became an American citizen and struck out on his own.

Good thing for us, too, since Tesla delivered, among other things, the Alternating Current electricity that powers everything we own, the radio, induction motors, the Tesla coil transformer and that most indispensable of household items, the remote control device.

A restless and hard working lifelong bachelor, Tesla spoke 8 languages, had a photographic memory, slept only 2 hours a night and was issued over 300 patents for his inventions.

Somehow overlooked by history, this one-man scientific juggernaut powered America, and was a popular figure at least in New York City, where he lived and died in the New Yorker Hotel, with 20,000 people attending his funeral in 1943 and Mayor Fiorello La Guardia reading his eulogy (appropriately broadcast over the radio).

Albert Einstein considered him the smartest man in the world. Only recently is Nikola Tesla being given credit alongside Einstein, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell as one of the geniuses who invented everything important.

•Suggested Activities: Plugging something in, anything.

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