Nikola Tesla was born in the village Smiljan of LikaCounty in the Austrian Empire. He wasborn on July 10th, 1856. Tesla’sfather, Milutin Tesla, was a writer and an Orthodox priest who pushed forNikola to join him in the priesthood. Tesla’smother, Djuka Mandic, always made household appliances in her free time. Tesla credited his mother for hiscreativeness and eidetic memory.
Teslawas not an only child, having 4 siblings. He had his three sisters, Milka, Angelina, and Marica and his brother,Dane. Dane died in a horseback ridingaccident when Nikola was only five years old. Ayear later, Nikola started elementary school where he studied arithmetic andGerman.
In 1870, Tesla moved up north toKarlovac so that he could start attending high school up there. While in high school, Nikola was accused byhis teachers of cheating since he was able to do integral calculus in head. Teslanoted that his physics professor is the reason that he developed an interest indemonstrations of electricity. Hefinished high school and graduated in 1873, completing a four-year term in onlythree years. In1873, he moved back to Smiljan where he contracted Cholera he was bedridden fornine months.
He was in such badcondition that he was near death multiple times. Milutin prayed for his son and said that ifNikola were to get better, he’d send him to the best engineering school eventhough it was Milutin’s dream for Nikola to enter the priesthood. Very shortly after Milutin’s promise to hisson and God, Nikola recovered back to perfect health. In 1874, Nikola was able to avoid being draftedinto the Austro-Hungarian Army by running away to the southeast of Lika. He roamed the mountains of Tomingaj and hesaid that the exposure to nature not only made him stronger physically butmentally as well.
In1875, Tesla had enrolled himself into Austrian Polytechnic located in Graz,Austria. Nikola had a perfect firstyear. He had never missed a lecture and hereceived the highest that were possible to achieve. He had also passed nine exams which werenearly double the amount of exams that were required. He even got a letter of commendation sent fromthe dean of the technical faculty. During his second year, Nikola had a disagreement with one of hisprofessors over the Gramme dynamo which is an electrical generator that produces direct current. The dispute was over whether or not thecommutators were necessary and when Nikola told his professor that they were infact not essential, the professor took offense to this.
At the end of his second year, Nikola hadlost his scholarship and had fallen into a serious gambling addiction, but atthe time he did not see it as an addiction. While in his third year, Nikola gambled away his tuition money and muchmore. He later gambled it back hislosses and gave up gambling for good. When it came time for examinations, he was unbelievably unprepared andasked multiple times for an extension for studying, but he was denied each time. He did not receive grades for the finalsemester of third year and he never graduated from university. In 1878, Nikola left Graz andcompletely disconnected himself from his family to conceal the fact that he had dropped out ofschool. All of his friends had thought thathe had drowned in a nearby river. Tesla moved to Maribor where he could be by himself.
In March of 1879, Milutin went to Maribor andbegged Nikola to come home, but he was unable to persuade his son. Shortly after his encounter with his father,Nikola suffered from a nervous breakdown. Later that month Nikola was sent home under police guard for not havinga residence permit in Maribor.
In April,Milutin died at the age of 60. In1881, Tesla moved to Budapest, Hungary to work at the Budapest TelephoneExchange. Within only a matter of monthsTesla was given the chief electrician position. During this time, Tesla had made many improvements to theequipment. He also claimed to have finalizeda telephone repeater but it was never patented. In 1882, Tesla was given a job in Paris working for the ContinentalEdison Company. He gained a large amountof practical experience in electrical engineering while working there.
In 1884, Charles Batchelor, the Edisonmanager of Paris was brought to New York City to oversee work that was takingplace there for the Edison Machine Works. Batchelor requested that Tesla come along as well and in June, Teslamoved to the United States. Just as inParis, Tesla’s job was to regulate installations and improve generators. One of projects that Tesla was assigned wasto develop an street lighting system that was arc-lamp based.
The designs that Tesla had created were neverput into production. It is unclear whythis was the case, but it is speculated that it was due to a deal made betweenEdison and an arc lighting company. Tesla had only been working at the Edison Machine Works for a short timeof six months when he quit