The quintessential mad genius he's already changed the world and is ready to do even more
Tesla was born to Serbian parents in the village of Smiljan, Austrian Empire near the town of Gospić, in the territory of modern-day Croatia. His baptismal certificate reports that he was born on 28 June 1856, to Father Milutin Tesla, a priest in the Serbian Orthodox Church, Metropolitanate of Sremski Karlovci and Đuka Mandić. His paternal origin is thought to be either of one of the local Serb clans in the Tara valley or from the Herzegovinian noble Pavle Orlović. His mother, Đuka, daughter of a Serbian Orthodox Church priest, came from a family domiciled in Lika and Banija, but with deeper origins to Kosovo. She was talented in making home craft tools and memorized many Serbian epic poems, but never learned to read.
Nikola was the fourth of five children, having one older brother (Dane, who was killed in a horse-riding accident when Nikola was five) and three sisters (Milka, Angelina and Marica). His family moved to Gospić in 1862. Tesla attended school at Higher Real Gymnasium in Karlovac. He finished a four-year term in the span of three years.
Tesla then studied electrical engineering at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz (1875). While there, he studied the uses of alternating current. Some sources say he received Baccalaureate degrees from the university at Graz. However, the university says that he did not receive a degree and did not continue beyond the first semester of his third year, during which he stopped attending lectures. In December 1878 he left Graz and broke all relations with his family. His friends thought that he had drowned in the Mura River. He went to Maribor, (today’s Slovenia), where he was first employed as an assistant engineer for a year. He suffered a nervous breakdown during this time. Tesla was later persuaded by his father to attend the Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague, which he attended for the summer term of 1880. Here, he was influenced by Ernst Mach. However, after his father died, he left the university, having completed only one term.
Tesla engaged in reading many works, memorizing complete books, supposedly having a photographic memory. It’s said that he experienced detailed moments of inspiration. During his early life, Tesla was stricken with illness time and time again. It is supposed the he suffers from a peculiar affliction in which blinding flashes of light would appear before his eyes, often accompanied by visions. Much of the time the visions were linked to a word or idea he might have come across, at other times they would provide the solution to a particular problem he had been encountering; just by hearing the name of an item, he would be able to envision it in realistic detail. There is even talk that Tesla can visualise an invention in his mind with extreme precision, including all dimensions, before moving to the construction stage; a technique sometimes known as picture thinking. What is known is that he simply does not create any blueprints for his devices before construction unless he needs the assistance of a particular craftsmen and even then only given them the information pertinent to their part of the whole.
In 1880, he moved to Budapest to work under Tivadar Puskás in a telegraph company, the National Telephone Company. There, he met Luke Reirdan who was testing several devices of his own in conjunction with the Company. Reirdan is so impressed by the passionate young man that the next year they found the Reirdan & Tesla Electrical Manufacturing Company and immediately patent hundreds of technologies under the company name.
In 1883 Reirdan and Tesla develop electrical systems for Airships reducing the weight and size of the controls a great deal and consequently start developing an airship construction and design arm to their company which grows into a major component of their business. They provide basic airships and hardware to every government and military grade to only a select few including Britainn, Germany, France, and the Scandinavian countries.
Reirdan and Tesla take Reirdans wireless technology to a new level in 1884 with the development of analytical machines, a terminal with type keyboards and paper read outs are wirelessly connected to larger analytical machines with automated paper punch card storage system. The development is hailed as one of the great achievements of the modern age.
Tesla himself remains a single eccentric man who stays away from the public limelight. He considers Edison a personal rival having received more than simple criticism for his various papers from Edison himself. He let’s Reirdan handle most of the day to day operations and is quite happy allowing him to act as the front man for their operation.