Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan Lika, Croatia, in 1856. The son of a Serbian Orthodox pastor, Tesla took up engineering studies at the Austrian Polytechnic School despite being initially earmarked for a religious career. In Budapest, he began working in electrical engineering and was soon employed by the Edison company. In 1884, Tesla emigrated to the USA and began working at the Edison Machine Works. He later worked independently on his own projects. Nikola Tesla died in New York on 7 January, 1943.
Throughout his life, Nikola Tesla was a prolific inventor. His patented inventions total in excess of one hundred together with an incalculable number of unpatented inventions. Tesla’s legacy includes: fluorescent lighting, a Tesla induction motor, three-phase electricity and the AC (alternating current) method of electricity supply. His Tesla coil, which he developed as early as 1891, remains in use to this day for electronic equipment. Though Marconi was originally credited with the invention of radio, using seventeen of Tesla’s earlier patents, the US Supreme Court cancelled his patent in 1943, ruling instead in favour of Nikola Tesla’s earlier ground-breaking patents.
In many ways Nikola Tesla’s creative outlook was decidedly future-oriented. He had a keen interest in X-ray and similar electromagnetic wave technologies and much of his work focused on the wireless transfer of power. A ‘lost’ invention, it was claimed, harnessed cosmic rays to create a generator with zero-fuel consumption. In his later creative phase, Nikola Tesla devoted considerable time to visionary projects involving the concept of large-scale weaponry designed to neutralise entire military forces, pre-empting the speculative missile defence shield developments of the early 21st century.
Evidence of eidetic memory (‘total recall’ or ‘photographic’ memory) is controversial. However, this is one explanation for the remarkable powers of the following individuals:
• Kim Peek, the real-life ‘Rainman’, is said to have memorised over 9,000 books, reading at a speed of 12 seconds per page.
• Swami Vivekananda, Indian guru and philosopher, famously memorised a ten-volume encyclopedia in a matter of days.
• Stephen Wiltshire, MBE, is an architectural artist. He is a prodigious savant who draws accurate landscapes entirely from memory after just one viewing.
• Nikola Tesla memorised entire books and envisioned his inventions in astonishing detail – including specified dimensions.