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Nikola Tesla is born, July 10, 1856

-July 10, 2014

Nikola Tesla, one of history’s most under-appreciated and under-acknowledged engineers, was born on July 10, 1856.

Credit for his work is often gray and debated, sometimes due to unscrupulous competitors and sometimes due to timing.

Indeed, Tesla is known to have worked on a radio before Marconi, an X-Ray machine before Roentgen, an induction motor around the same time Ferrari claimed his, and experimented to find “small charged particles” years before Thomson was credited with proving the existence of electrons.

Tesla is perhaps best known within engineering circles for his work on AC (alternating current) and his “War of Currents” feud with Thomas Edison (side note: Edison, an employer of Tesla’s for some time, is known in some engineering circles as the man who copied and stole from Tesla).

Even with such challenges and a lifetime of illnesses, Tesla accrued about 300 patents. He died penniless and in debt in his New York apartment on January 7, 1943, at the age of 86. After his death, much of Tesla’s papers and works were impounded by the United States' Alien Property Custodian office. This was despite the fact that Tesla had become a US citizen at 35 years old.

Eventually many of his personal notebooks and works were declared “top secret” by the FBI and shuttered away from public view. Reasons given for doing so were that Tesla had done significant work with various US government agencies.

There are now plans to create a Tesla museum at the site of his Wardenclyffe lab with money raised by the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe group. Tesla’s 158th birthday will be celebrated at the Shoreham-Wading River High School auditorium, near the site where his Wardenclyffe laboratory still stands today on Long Island, NY, featuring presentations on Tesla and his work, and a discussion on the future of Wardenclyffe.

Share your favorite Tesla story or invention below.

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For more moments in tech history, see this blog. EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.


Editor's note: This article was originally posted on July 10, 2012 and edited on July 10, 2014.

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