34 Fascinating Photos of Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

Born and raised in the Austrian Empire, Tesla studied engineering and physics in the 1870s without receiving a degree, gaining practical experience in the early 1880s working in telephony and at Continental Edison in the new electric power industry. In 1884 he emigrated to the United States, where he became a naturalized citizen. He worked for a short time at the Edison Machine Works in New York City before he struck out on his own. With the help of partners to finance and market his ideas, Tesla set up laboratories and companies in New York to develop a range of electrical and mechanical devices. His alternating current (AC) induction motor and related polyphase AC patents, licensed by Westinghouse Electric in 1888, earned him a considerable amount of money and became the cornerstone of the polyphase system which that company eventually marketed.

Attempting to develop inventions he could patent and market, Tesla conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He also built a wireless-controlled boat, one of the first-ever exhibited. Tesla became well known as an inventor and demonstrated his achievements to celebrities and wealthy patrons at his lab, and was noted for his showmanship at public lectures. Throughout the 1890s, Tesla pursued his ideas for wireless lighting and worldwide wireless electric power distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs. In 1893, he made pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices. Tesla tried to put these ideas to practical use in his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project, an intercontinental wireless communication and power transmitter, but ran out of funding before he could complete it.

After Wardenclyffe, Tesla experimented with a series of inventions in the 1910s and 1920s with varying degrees of success. Having spent most of his money, Tesla lived in a series of New York hotels, leaving behind unpaid bills. He died in New York City in January 1943. Tesla’s work fell into relative obscurity following his death, until 1960, when the General Conference on Weights and Measures named the SI unit of magnetic flux density the tesla in his honor. There has been a resurgence in popular interest in Tesla since the 1990s.

Nikola Tesla in front of the spiral coil of his high-frequency transformer at East Houston St. 46, New York.
Photograph of Tesla standing in the middle of the laboratory and lighting a vacuum bulb by waves from a distant oscillator — His body is, in this case, subjected to great electrical pressure.
Lighting a disconnected vacuum bulb of 1,500 candle power by high-frequency currents — Photograph taken by the light of the bulb itself, exposure about two seconds.
First photograph ever taken by phosphorescent light. The face is that of Mr. Tesla, and the source of light is one of his phosphorescent bulbs. The time of exposure, eight minutes. January, 1894.
Dr. Nikola Tesla — This immigrant from Yugoslavia invented a.c. motors and radio. A 1943 Supreme Court decision invalidated Marconi radio patents because of Tesla’s prior work.
Nikola Tesla in his forties.
The hand of Nikola Tesla, taken by his wonderful artificial daylight, just perfected. This is the first photograph made by the light of the future.
A glow of nitrogen fills the atmosphere. Tesla is photographed sitting in front of his generator in 1899.
Photograph showing an incandescent lamp lighted by means of waves transmitted through space to a coil without a condenser.
Publicity photo taken of Tesla by a reporter during his annual birthday press event.
Tesla working in his office at 8 West 40th Street.
Tesla demonstrates “wireless” power transmission in his Houston Street laboratory in March 1899.
Nikola Tesla, 1885
Experiment illustrating the action of a synchronized circuit energized by waves transmitted from a distant oscillator – The energy received is transferred upon another unresponsive circuit, lighting the incandescent lamp attached to the same.
John T. Morris, Victor Beam and Tesla pose with the alternator that had been discovered.
Tesla holding a gas-filled phosphor coated wireless light bulb which he developed in the 1890’s, half a century before fluorescent lamps come into use. Published on the cover of the Electrical Experimenter in 1919.
Tesla is seen in his New York City office in 1916.
Tesla in 1879 at age twenty-three.
The master of lightning in his room at the Hotel New Yorker.
Tesla receives the Order of the White Lion from the Czechoslovak governments, July, 11, 1937.
Tesla in 1916 pointing to a discharge in a photograph taken at Colorado Springs in 1899.
Nikola Tesla photographed working in his office at 8 West 40th Street. The image was taken in 1916.
Pictured here is Nikola Tesla and one of his inventions in 1916.
Tesla experiments with currents of High Voltage and High Frequency in 1899.
Tesla near his transmitter in Colorado Springs, 1899. The device was capable of transmitting millions of volts of electricity over great distances without wires.
Tesla looks out the door of his laboratory in Colorado Springs. The image was taken in 1899.
Tesla on Time magazine commemorating his 75th birthday, 20 July 1931.
Tesla, aged 34, circa 1890.
Nikola Tesla, 1943
Tesla experiments with currents of High Voltage and High Frequency in 1899.
Nikola Tesla and one of his inventions in 1916.
This image shows a gas-filled phosphor coated light bulb which Tesla developed in the 1890’s. Half a century later fluorescent lamps came into use. Tesla was way ahead of his time.
Tesla performs a test as he carries a lamp a few meters from the generator, but it continues to shine. The image was taken in 1898.
Nikola Tesla during a demonstration of “wireless” transmission of electricity in the Houston Street laboratory in March 1899.

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