From Mental Floss:
The greatest geek who ever lived was born 160 years ago today. While he was alive, Tesla’s advancements were frequently and famously attributed to others. But history has shown us the magnitude of his work, a sentiment best expressed by Fiorello LaGuardia’s eulogy: “Tesla is not really dead. Only his poor wasted body has been stilled. The real, the important part of Tesla lives in his achievement which is great, almost beyond calculation, an integral part of our civilization, of our daily lives.” Thanks for everything, Nikola Tesla, and Happy Birthday!
1. On gender equality: “But the female mind has demonstrated a capacity for all the mental acquirements and achievements of men, and as generations ensue that capacity will be expanded; the average woman will be as well educated as the average man, and then better educated, for the dormant faculties of her brain will be stimulated to an activity that will be all the more intense and powerful because of centuries of repose. Woman will ignore precedent and startle civilization with their progress.”
From a 1926 interview by John B. Kennedy, “When Woman Is Boss."
2. On being American: “...the papers, which thirty years ago conferred upon me the honor of American citizenship, are always kept in a safe, while my orders, diplomas, degrees, gold medals and other distinctions are packed away in old trunks.”
From “My Inventions V – The Magnifying Transmitter," 1919.
3. On being Serbian: “There is something within me that might be illusion as it is often case with young delighted people, but if I would be fortunate to achieve some of my ideals, it would be on the behalf of the whole of humanity. If those hopes would become fulfilled, the most exciting thought would be that it is a deed of a Serb.”
From an address at the Belgrade train station, 1892.
4. On universal peace: "We begin to think cosmically. Our sympathetic feelers reach out into the dim distance. The bacteria of the "Weltschmerz" are upon us. So far, however, universal harmony has been attained only in a single sphere of international relationship. That is the postal service. Its mechanism is working satisfactorily, but—how remote are we still from that scrupulous respect of the sanctity of the mail bag!"
From “The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires as a Means for Furthering Peace,” 1905.
5. On his legacy:...MORE
“What the result of these investigations will be the future will tell; but whatever they may be, and to whatever this principle may lead, I shall be sufficiently recompensed if later it will be admitted that I have contributed a share, however small, to the advancement of science.”
From “The Tesla Alternate Current Motor,” 1888.
And from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Transmitter:
Nikola Tesla is undoubtedly one of the best engineers and inventors of all time. In honor of his 160th birthday, we’ve put together some interesting facts about his life.
1. Born During a Thunderstorm
Nikola Tesla was born around midnight 160 years ago during a fierce lightning storm. According to family legend, midway through the birth, the midwife wrung her hands and declared the lightning a bad omen. This child will be a child of darkness, she said, to which his mother replied: “No. He will be a child of light.”
2. Discussed Smartphone Technology in 1901
While trying to develop the first transatlantic radio, Tesla in a conversation with his funder and business partner, J.P. Morgan, brought up the idea of instant communication. The science behind the idea involved gathering stock quotes and telegram messages and sending them to his laboratory, where he would then encode them and create a new frequency, which would then be broadcast to a hand-held device. Essentially, Tesla envisioned smartphones and the internet roughly 100 years before they became a staple of our everyday lives.
3. Not Arch-Nemesis with Edison
While most people imagine the relationship between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison similar to that of a heated rivalry, in reality that was not always the case. The duo actually worked together and collaborated on designing direct current generators before Tesla left to work on his alternate current theory. Eventually, the two became business rivals that competed to prove whose technology was better. This became known as the War of the Currents.
4. Close Call with Cholera
At the age of 17, Tesla contracted Cholera and was bedridden for nine straight months. He was near death many times and his father agreed to send him to an engineering school if he recovered from the illness.
5. Tesla & IEEE...MORE
1888 & 1891: Tesla spoke to members of AIEE or the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (which merged with the Institute of Radio Engineers and became IEEE) at Columbia University in New York. Both times he spoke about his research and experiments with alternate currents and their application.
1892: Tesla was elected as the vice-president of AIEE for two consecutive years.
1917: Tesla received the Edison Medal, AIEE’s highest award, and originally rejected the offer, but was convinced by Bernard Behrend to reconsider and ultimately accept the award.