“I do not think you can name many great inventions that have been made by married men.” That is a quote stated by Nikola Tesla that expresses the selfish commitment sometimes required to succeed as an inventor. The Serbian-American inventor, and engineer, devoted his life to science and inventions. He held as many as 300 patents for his designs, if not even more, as Tesla did not officially complete all of them. Many of these crazy Nikola Tesla Patents changed all of our lives forever.
The minimum accepted number nowadays is 278, but there were arguably some more patents that were either not completed or were inventions that were not under the protection of the patent office. Twenty-six different countries issued Tesla patents, but most of them were in the U.S.A. The number is staggering, and it is clear to see why Tesla is considered by many as one of the all-time greats. His work with electricity changed our lives completely. Many of his handy inventions also contributed to our overall quality of life.
In this article, we examine just a few of his innovations more closely. Some of these ideas are crazy Nikola Tesla patents that grabbed my interest. Let’s also see if we can try to understand how Nikola Tesla became such a successful inventor. What were the thought processes that enabled him to become such an influence on the world today? Lastly, we will analyze what lessons we can learn from Tesla and how we can incorporate some of them into our work.
The Serbo-American inventor was born on the 10th of July in 1856 in the village of Smiljan in Croatia. He was born in the county of Lika in western Croatia, in an area that had a considerable population of native Serbs. His parents, Milutin Tesla and Djuka Tesla lived in Croatia but were of Serbian nationality.
The native village of Smiljan was, at the time, a part of the Austrian empire, which spanned across several central and eastern European countries, including Croatia. Tesla’s father, Milutin, was an Eastern Orthodox priest, a religion that was widespread within Serbia. Nikola’s father wanted his son to become a priest, but that was not to be, as Nikola had little interest in religious matters. It was Tesla’s mother, Djuka, that mostly inspired Nikola to be inventive. Djuka invented several home appliances at the time, and Nikola believed that he received the talent for inventions from his mother.
The Tesla family had five children, and Nikola was the fourth to be born into the family. They lived in a relatively small house located right next to the Orthodox church of the village. The home from Tesla’s youth is now a museum that people visit from around the world. He and his four siblings shared a modest upbringing. The five children of the Tesla family were:
- Dane – the older brother of Nikola Tesla, who died at an early age due in a horse accident.
Tesla’s Interest for Inventing Came at an Early Age
Tesla attended the local primary school in Smiljan, where he learned many new skills, including German, arithmetics, and religion. He stayed in Smiljan until 1862 when his father moved to Gospic to work at the local Orthodox church. The town of Gospic was not far away, and Nikola attended the primary school in that town as well. Tesla showed a natural talent for logical thinking at a very early age in primary school already.
His interest in electricity developed later in his schooling life. That happened when the family moved to the town of Karlovac in the northern part of modern Croatia, nearby Slovenia. Tesla attended the Higher Real Gymnasium, in 1870, which was the local high school.
During a demonstration by his physics teacher, Nikola became interested in the physics of electricity and was genuinely amused by what were relatively new concepts for the time.
Tesla’s exceptional mind began to emerge. He managed to complete a four-year schooling process in just three. He was able to perform calculations without using paper, which made some teachers believe that he was cheating. He was an astute student and was a natural at learning. He was also able to remember many long poems in by heart.
In the next few years, Tesla stayed in Karlovac and continued his education. During this time, he contracted cholera and came close to dying several times.
Move to Austria
In 1874, Tesla wanted to evade military conscription. He felt that it would set him back a few years in his hopes of becoming an inventor. He hid out in the mountains to the southeast.
1875 was a crucial year in Tesla’s life development. He studied at the Austrian Polytechnic School in Graz, Austria. He achieved top marks every year and received commendations by the dean of the school. Tesla worked hard and studied so much that he barely caught any sleep. Some professors were so concerned about his health that they encouraged him to drop out of school. Nothing would stand in the way of Tesla’s goals.
Tesla enjoyed studying and reading scientific books, which took up most of his time. Tesla once said that “of all things, he liked books best.” A lack of sleep didn’t seem to disturb him at all. He was able to stay highly-functional for the majority of his day and only slept for a couple of hours.
Unfortunately, as a result of being a night owl, he also developed a gambling addiction at this time. He lost most of the money for his tuition. His gambling, combined with other problems, forced Nikola to drop out of school in 1878. He hid this truth from his father and family by moving to Maribor in Slovenia.
Eventually, his father, Milutin, found him and went to Maribor to ask his son to come home. Nikola refused. A year later, Tesla’s father died, and Nikola moved back to Croatia to the town of Gospic, where he started lecturing in his old school in Gospic.
In the year of 1880, Tesla moved to Prague to study at Charles-Ferdinand University but was unable to enroll. He still attended some lectures and later moved to Budapest, where he worked for the Central Telegraph Office as the chief electrician.
Tesla and the Edison Company
Tesla managed to build a reputation in Budapest as a very skilled electrician. With the help of some valuable contacts, he was able to then relocate to Paris, where he met the manager of the Continental Edison Company. While working there, he often worked in the field and installed indoor lighting. The managers soon noticed that Tesla was very skilled, so they asked him to help build and design electric motors.
The Paris branch of the Edison Company was one of the remote company locations, but the headquarters were in New York City. Paris branch manager, Charles Batchelor, requested Tesla to move to the United States in 1884. Tesla soon established himself as perhaps the most crucial innovator and engineer of the company. He was responsible for building and improving generators and their installations.
Soon, Tesla made enough money to be able to start making inventions on his own. Many of the designs were part of his job, but he also made more of them in his spare time. Tesla retained the same diligence that made him so successful in his school days; he worked for hours on end and often spent days without going to sleep.
Tesla clashed with the Edison managers often and was unhappy by the working conditions at the company. Many times, Tesla did not receive payments on time and didn’t receive some bonuses that he felt he deserved. Tesla saw an opportunity to make his own business a reality, so he left the Edison Company after just six months. He established the Tesla Light & Manufacturing Company in 1885.
After moving to New York City, Tesla stayed there for the rest of his life. This city was Tesla’s playground, and he built a laboratory in 1889. Some of his greatest inventions came from this New York lab. Let’s take a look at some of the best and even craziest patents that Nikola Tesla made during his life.
Crazy Nikola Tesla Patents
The majority of Tesla’s patents were granted within the United States. Tesla owned more than one hundred patents that were given by the U.S. Patent Office. He held patents in twenty-six additional countries worldwide. Altogether, there were more than three hundred patents in Tesla’s name. Besides the U.S., Tesla held many patents in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Hungary.
Some of Tesla’s patents were life-changing for society and downright revolutionary. In contrast, others were crazy in their way, but still very useful for the development of the later technologies. Some patents were focused on practicality and were developed primarily for everyday use. Tesla was perhaps the most prolific inventor of all time, but he didn’t receive the credit for his work during his lifetime. Tesla’s work only began to be acknowledged in the 20th century, and many now consider him as one of the greatest inventors of all time.
Here are some of the most important, and also some of the most interesting Nikola Tesla patents.
The Tesla Coil
If you were to pick one invention that many people connect to Tesla, it is this one. When we think of Tesla, we visualize this peculiar tower that shoots lightning into the air. The USPTO granted the patent for his Tesla Coil in 1891. He first developed it for fun, but it turned out to be quite an important discovery later on. The Tesla Coil uses various components that were common at the time but arranged in such a way that they formed a new and fantastic device.
At the heart of the device were giant coils of wire, which increased the output to around twelve million volts. The Tesla coil was able to withstand high frequencies and high voltages, which made for a fantastic display of electrical energy as lightning danced around the room. The room itself was surrounded by a grounded metal cage to protect bystanders from any stray electrical energy.
Tesla’s Magnifying Transmitter
Tesla was a proponent of wireless electrical energy which today, is still in its infancy. It just shows how forward-thinking and far ahead of his time, Tesla was. The magnifying transmitter was developed subsequently as an essential addition to the Tesla coil itself. The coil provided the source of electrical energy, which passed onto the magnifying transmitter. The concept behind the invention is quite complicated, but it is one of the most unique and captivating Tesla inventions. Many of its ideas and technology remain a mystery to this day. Tesla built the Wardenclyffe Tower to prove that electrical power could be transmitted wirelessly. Unfortunately, in order to satisfy his debts, this tower was demolished for scrap and the project never produced any significant results.
The Alternating Current (A.C.)
Tesla was arguably one of the most famous inventors to help develop the concept of the alternating current. Alternating current was perhaps his most notable achievement since he designed the A.C. motor in 1888. Alternating current is used everywhere today, from bringing electricity to our homes and to making our electric cars move. It helped companies to establish a better distribution system for electrical power and lighting systems worldwide.
Tesla’s Induction Motor
Another vital patent of Tesla’s was undoubtedly the induction motor. This device was arguably one of his most significant life achievements, which also most probably brought him the most money. Alternating current powered his induction motor. This unique configuration enabled the motor to use multiple phases of current to power rotating magnetic fields, causing the motor spinning.
Tesla’s motor was first designed in 1887 when he received substantial financial backing from investors Alfred S. Brown and Charles F. Peck. Tesla worked on the concept for many years. He is believed to have patented the engine at the last moment. He had plenty of competition for the motor, most notably from Galileo Ferraris, but Tesla eventually won the rights to the patent.
Tesla’s Wireless Lamp
An achievement that is still very relevant today is the wireless lamp. It was the symbol for wireless transmission of electrical energy, and it didn’t gather a lot of momentum at the start. Today, the patent is relevant to all the wireless technologies around us. Tesla was one of the first inventors to think about wireless technology and was well ahead of his time. For about one hundred years, the technology never materialized, but Tesla was arguably the first one to have the idea.
The Niagara Falls Power Plant
Tesla was asked by authorities to make use of all the potential electrical power that the Niagara falls could offer. At first, the managers of the project were interested in Edison’s idea for building direct current (DC) power plants. Once they learned that the Westinghouse company was promoting Tesla’s innovation of alternating current, the contract was awarded to Tesla to design the power plant.
The reason that this patent was so important is that it set the standard for hydroelectric power plants and electrical transmission throughout cities worldwide. Almost all of the subsequent power plants powered by water today originate from Tesla’s designs.
Tesla died alone on the 7th of January in 1943 at the New Yorker Hotel. Nikola Tesla devoted his life to science. Few inventors have matched the sheer number of inventions claimed by Tesla. He was indeed one of the most famous personalities in human history that improved our daily lives. The development of alternating current changed the way electricity gets distributed across the world. His induction motor is an essential part of our homes and industries around the globe.
Tesla’s determination enabled him to become a prolific inventor. While it is true that he sacrificed most of his personal life for his work, he is most definitely considered by many as one of the greatest scientists and inventors that ever lived.