By Karoline A. Woodhouse
Introduction Although the use of electricity dates back to Benjamin Franklin’s days, it was not practical for use in the home until one person changed the way science thinks about it- Nikola Tesla. Nikola Tesla’s childhood, greatest inventions, and position as the electrician for the World’s Fair all shaped how he revolutionized the use of electricity and brought it to everyone in America. Childhood and Personal Life Born in a farm house on July 9, 1856 in Smijlan, Croatia to happy parents Djouka and Mijulin, Nikola Tesla was the fourth child. Nikola Tesla proved to be inventive, just like his mother. Although Nikola’s mother had little formal education, she was extraordinarily intelligent. She invented several tools to make household life easy, including things like egg beaters, looms, and butter churns. Tesla’s father was a priest. Young Tesla was extremely motivated by pride. Fights with friends or envy of their possessions lead him to inventing new better things. One time, he got in an argument with his friends and they excluded him from their fishing trip. In a fury, Tesla made his own fishing hook and went out to capture some fish himself. Because he did not own fishing bait, he decided to make the hook shiny so that the frogs would be interested. His idea worked, and he ended up coming home with about two dozen frogs when his friends came home with nothing. (Aldrich 13) Because Nikola Tesla’s hobbies seemed strange to his peers, Nikola Tesla did not have many friends and often isolated himself from others his age. This caused him to spend even more time on his inventions. One of his best childhood inventions was an insect powered propeller. It
consisted of a propeller and a pulley. Tesla glued June bugs to each of the propeller blades. The bugs flapped their wings in an attempt to get away, but all they ever did was spin the propeller. (Aldrich 14) Young Tesla was also a hard worker. He was inspired by the willpower and selfmanagement of the Greek mythology character Tantalus. Tesla later wrote that this early willpower and mental control were key pieces to his success. (Aldrich 15-16) Between ages ten and fourteen, Tesla attended gymnasium, or Siberian junior high school. This is when he first became fascinated by electricity. This is also when he first started reading books by Mark Twain. He grew to love Mark Twain’s books and believed that they were the cure to the sickness he had been in the hospital for beforehand (Aldrich 18-19). At age fourteen, Tesla moved from his home to a larger city where high school was offered so that he could take the more advanced classes that it offered. Unfortunately, Tesla nearly failed many of the grades because of his inability to draw. After graduating high school, Tesla moved to Bohemia to attend University of Prauge. Unfortunately, Nikola could only stay through the summer because of financial issues. Tesla moved to Budapest, Hungary, to get a job in a telephone company, only to find that the company was not yet open (Aldrich 30-31). He settled as a draftsman and designer for the Telegraph Office of Hungary instead. Tesla spoke fluently in eight languages: Serbian, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin. (Neill) Tesla never married and lived his adult life by himself in Manhattan, New York City. He was very likely to have an obsessive compulsive disorder as he had an affinity for the number three and had to stay in a hotel room divisible by three (Mast 14). Tesla spent the last ten years of
his life in a flat on floor 33 of a hotel named the Hotel New Yorker. His room number was 3327. Note the divisibility by three. He was also mysophobic. He often spent time cleaning his apartment and had an intense fear of germs. He also He was a vegetarian in his later years.
AC and DC Before Tesla, Edison was at the head of the campaign to electrify America with his invention of the electric light bulb and use...