“The Almost Forgotten Nikola Tesla”
By Jim Girard
The first thought when asked about Tesla is typically “oh, the car guy Elon Musk?” No, not exactly.
Elon Musk named his company after Nikola Tesla, an almost mythical being who pioneered most of the technology used today. An almost forgotten man whose life was a labor of love to help mankind.
He was once a celebrated man, rubbing elbows with such notables as J.P. Morgan, Edison, Westinghouse, Marconi, Einstein, and Mark Twain. Later in life, a recluse stranded on the land of forgotten.
Many of his adversaries found great success based on Tesla’s inventions, but Tesla died nearly broke. After his death almost 80 years ago, he has legions of followers who have dedicated their life to understanding his work.
I caught the Tesla bug in the late 1980’s. I read every book I could find on him and began to experiment based on some of his works. His experiments in Colorado Springs in 1899 rivaled the Greek god Zeus, the god of lightning. His magnifying transmitter generated lightning discharges 135 feet long. He lit florescent bulbs 26 miles away. He claimed he could transmit electrical power without wires over long distances. All of this before electricity was widespread across the country.
Not much is known about his work. In 1893, there was a fire in the building and he lost all of his notes and inventions. Tesla’s Colorado Springs Notes were published in 1976 almost 30 years after his death. He presented to many professional societies and published several articles in top professional journals in his time. Most of Nikola Tesla’s knowledge was in his head. He had a photographic memory and could recite any books from memory. Even the engineering designs were also in his mind. He could assemble, run, and test in his mind and most of his inventions worked the first time. After his death, the FBI seized all of his papers and most recently released to the public.
Tesla’s work in Colorado Springs has not been eclipsed in over 100 years. His scientific discoveries help usher in the industrial revolution and modern life. Many gained fame and fortune off of his work, while Tesla died alone nearly broke. Tesla once said “Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future – for which I really worked – is mine.”