Dr. Nikola Tesla – Early Life

In the last article we have just been introduced to the towering personality that world knows as Dr. Nikola Tesla. ‘Towering’ rather is a too lesser of a word to describe Dr. Tesla’s achievements and his life. If I have to put it in the correct context I need to call it ‘Himalayan personality’ because Dr. Tesla had indeed surmounted such gigantic heights and hence was recognized as ‘God of Science’. Today let us acquaint ourselves more with this legend.

In my earlier blogpost, I had specifically written about birth of Nikola Tesla, along with his education, honours that he received and just a very few of his most well-known inventions. Today’s blogpost would be a kaleidoscope, a peek into his early years as a child, then as a teenager and then as a young rising inventor. This was the period that rooted Dr. Tesla very well in devotion which in-turn shaped an innovator out of him.


Dr. Nikola Tesla
Dr. Nikola Tesla at the age of 23


We now know that Dr. Nikola Tesla was born in a religious Catholic family. His father, Milutin Tesla, was a priest, so was his maternal grandfather. His mother,Duka Tesla, was a village rustic; who though had not received any formal education but yet was a homemaker with innovative zeal. From her everyday innovations, she had even herself created a mechanical eggbeater. Thus young Nikola’s familial upbringing had both, science and spirituality (devotion); embedded in every brick that went on to lay the very foundation of his super advanced sciences and strong devotion which were always the two parallel forces driving his life forward. Dr. Nikola Tesla was very close to his mother and he credited his photographic memory and creativity to her. Indeed its parents who create and carve the early personality of every child and set him / her on further paths. But for parents to have their child shaped as Nikola Tesla, they have to be extremely open, innovative, logical, fearless and most importantly devotional in their lives.

Apart from his parents Dr. Nikola Tesla also had three sisters namely Milka, Angelina and Marica and an elder bother Dane in his family. Dane unfortunately died in a horse-riding accident which caused his untimely and tragic death. Tesla antagonists have planted stories, which claim Nikola being involved in his brother’s accident, which is a blatant lie aimed at maligning Dr. Nikola Tesla.

After learning German, arithmetic and religion at lower and primary school at Smiljan, Nikola’s birthplace, Tesla family moved to Gospic where Nikola’s father worked as a Pastor, while Nikola completed his schooling. Further in 1870 Teslas moved to Karvolac where Nikola pursued his further higher education. Here Nikola used to solve something as puzzling as integral calculus problems not on paper but just in his mind. Just in his mind!!! It was unbelievable and rather initially teachers thought of Nikola cheating on them. But that was not the case. Rather after this, Nikola proved himself to be genuine and completed his graduation within just three years instead of usual four years it took and passed out in 1873. In the same year he returned back to Smiljan but contracted near-fatal cholera and yet came out of it strongly.


Dr. Nikola Tesla
Dr. Nikola Tesla


In the year 1874 Tesla went around in the mountainous countryside to attach himself and understand, God and nature, and their workings. This encounter of Tesla not only made him mentally and physically strong but also familiarized him to the workings of nature, which further became the basis of most of his findings.

From 1875, Dr. Nikola Tesla enrolled himself at Austrian Polytechnic in Graz. His stay here is worth mentioning. First of all, he was enrolled here on a scholarship. Here Nikola was so hungry for knowledge that he never missed even a single lecture, earned the highest possible grades, passed nine exams which was twice more than what was actually required and even started a Serbian culture club. Finally the Dean of the Polytechnic himself wrote an appreciation letter to Nikola’s father, praised Nikola and let him know that Nikola had been adjudicated to receive ‘Star of the first rank’. It was here that Dr. Nikola Tesla started his rigorous working schedule, working all the way from 3:00 am to 11:00 pm, i.e. 20 hours a day, that too without any weekly holidays or other leaves. In December 1878 Nikola left Graz to be back at Gospic where now he took up teaching at higher school.

After being in Prague in 1880, Dr. Nikola Tesla came to Budapest to work for Ferenc Puskas at Budapest Telephone Exchange which was under-construction then. Hence Tesla took up the job of Draftsman at Central Telegraph Office. Just within few months from this, the Budapest Telephone Exchange became functional and Tesla was specifically made Chief Electrician. During his stay here he made multiple improvements in the central station equipment. It was here that Dr. Nikola Tesla had his first invention. Dr. Tesla perfected a telephone repeater and amplifier. For public good, Tesla didn’t even apply for a patent of this invention of his.

Further, Tesla took up work with Continental Edison Company at Paris, France as an Engineer, designing improvements in their electrical equipment. Here again Tesla gave an efficacious performance. As a result of this, Charles Batchelor, to whom Nikola Tesla reported, sent him to New York, United States to directly meet Thomas Alva Edison. He was sent along with a special recommendation letter from Batchelor addressed to Edison stating that, “I know two great men. You are one of them; the other is this young man”. So it was the year 1884, when with nothing but just four cents in his pocket, Dr. Nikola Tesla’s arrival was marked on the soil of United States of America, which became the land of action for him for almost next six decades to come, during which he had over 700 registered patents to his name.

Nikola Tesla was thrilled to meet Thomas Edison in person because till that time Tesla used to idolize Edison. But this was soon not to be so…  (to be contd.)

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