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Between all of his incredible inventions and the hype around the car company bearing his name, Nikola Tesla is attracting lots of attention. But where is he from?

Nikola Tesla was born in the village of Smiljanof the Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia) on July 10, 1856. After bouncing around a few different cities in the Austrian Empire, Tesla moved to Paris in 1882 before finally emigrating to the United States in 1884, where he spent the rest of his life.

Nikola Tesla is one of the most famous scientists and inventors in history. At least in name. But many people don’t actually know all that much about him. In this article, we’ll dive into his life and see where Tesla is from, who he is, what he’s famous for, and any sort of relevance he has to the popular car company taking over the industry.

With a topic like this one, creating accurate content that you want to read requires a lot of research. So we’ve done the work for you and thoroughly vetted all the information below to make sure that you get the most out of this piece. When you’re done reading this article, I want you to know everything you want to know about Nikola Tesla, one of the most well-known, yet misunderstood, scientists in history.

Table of Contents

Who Is Nikola Tesla?

Nikola Tesla is one of the most famous scientists and inventors of the 19th and 20th centuries, revolutionizing the ways in which electricity can be harnessed and used. Born in the Austrian Empire in 1856, Tesla had an early interest in — and affinity for — physics and other sciences, and spent much of the 1870s studying these fields, though never receiving a degree.

Due to his skills and intelligence as an engineer and scientist, Tesla was able to garner the attention of people of power at the Continental Edison Company in his late 20s and his life really took off from there. After emigrating to the United States in 1884, Tesla spent a short time working at Edison in Manhattan before leaving the company to branch out on his own and see what he could do.

This is when everything really went parabolic, as Tesla used his inventions and showmanship to garner investments from wealthy individuals and really start working on his true love — electricity. Through his work and studies, Tesla created the alternating current (AC) induction motor and has a number of AC-related patents and inventions. He is largely credited with creating the groundwork for the AC electric distribution system we still use to this day.

Fun Facts About Nikola Tesla

Tesla did a lot of interesting things during his life. From the places he lived, to his secret personal life, to all of the wild inventions he created. I could go on for days about all the things that he did and all of the patents and inventions he came up with.

But for the sake of brevity — so I don’t get caught up in excitement and go on for multiple pages — I’ll just run through a list of some fun facts about Tesla. So let’s hit some of the high points of his life. Here are some of the most interesting things about Nikola Tesla:

  • Tesla, arguably one of the smartest people to ever live, dropped out of college from the Graz University of Technology. He never received a degree in any field even though he studied engineering and physics tirelessly.
  • He worked at the Continental Edison Company for a short time and met Thomas Edison on multiple occasions while employed there.
  • Tesla ended up taking on Edison head-to-head in a battle for the groundwork of the nation’s entire electrical distribution system. Tesla favored alternating current (AC) and Edison backed direct current (DC). To help his case, Tesla subjected himself to shocks from 250,000 volts of AC to demonstrate its safety. This helped lead to the AC electrical system the country runs on today.
  • He was the first person to use the power of water to create electricity, with a hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls. To this day, a statue of him looks over the powerful falls.
  • Tesla attempted to create free unlimited electricity to the world through his Wardenclyffe Project in the early 1900s. This project was meant to have a Tesla Tower constructed with a massive copper transmitter on top that could produce wireless electricity. Originally funded by famous banker John Pierpont Morgan, the project eventually lost traction and funding and Tesla was never able to complete it.
  • Tesla eventually ran out of money himself and moved from hotel to hotel in New York without paying his bills. He ran up huge unpaid bills at the Waldorf Astoria and St. Regis Hotels in New York City before Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company began paying his rent at the Hotel New Yorker. This is the same hotel in which Tesla eventually died nearly a decade after moving there.

Hopefully that gives you a bit of an idea about some of the incredible things that Tesla was able to accomplish. But let’s get back to the regularly scheduled programming and take a look at some more detailed information about the heralded life of Nikola Tesla.

Where is Tesla From?

Due to his many accomplishments and extended amount of time here in the states, many people believe that Tesla is actually from the United States. But that’s not the case. Tesla was originally born on July 10, 1856 in a small village known as Smiljan in the Austrian Empire, which is now known as Croatia.

Moving around a bit as a child, teenager, and young adult, Tesla bounced around modern-day Croatia while he studied and got older. In 1881, he moved to Budapest to work at the Budapest Telephone Exchange as the chief electrician. Then just a year later, in 1882, Tesla moved to Paris to begin working at the Continental Edison Company — of course named after Thomas Edison.

It wasn’t until 1884 when Tesla finally moved to the United States in his late 20s. He originally moved here to work at Edison Machine Works, which was a subsidiary of the Continental Edison Company with which he worked in Paris. Located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, Tesla fell in love with the city and spent the majority of the remainder of his life in New York.

Is Nikola Tesla Still Alive?

As mentioned above, Tesla was born way back in 1856. He would have to be well over 150 years old at this point to still be alive today! And while he was certainly an amazing scientist and arguably one of the most intelligent people that’s ever lived, even Tesla never came up with a way to beat death.

In fact, he’s been dead for nearly eight decades at this point, having passed away in 1943 at the ripe old age of 86. His death, like much of his life, was a bit of a strange one. I’ll preface this by saying that throughout much of his life, Tesla refused to seek medical care for any ailments that he faced. He preferred to let nature run its course and believed that doctors and other medical professionals were unnecessary for the vast majority of issues that humans faced.

His decline towards death began in 1937 when he was struck by a taxicab while crossing the street at age 81. Severely injuring his back and breaking three ribs, Tesla refused treatment and never fully recovered from his injuries. This led to a slow decline in his overall health, and just over 5 years later, Tesla died alone in his hotel room at the New Yorker of coronary thrombosis. His body was discovered by the maid two days after he passed.

Tesla was cremated after this death, and his ashes remain on display to this day at the Nikola Tesla museum in Belgrade, Serbia. The ashes reside in a gold-plated sphere, his favorite geometric object.

Did Nikola Tesla Start Tesla?

One of the main reasons that Nikola Tesla has come back into the limelight in recent years is because of the wildly popular car company bearing his name — Tesla Inc.  Originally founded as Tesla Motors in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, the company focuses on producing high-end electric cars and battery evolution.

Less than a year after being founded, Elon Musk made a $6.5 million investment and became the largest shareholder in the company. Musk has served as CEO of Tesla since 2008 and is one of the biggest reasons for the company’s wild success in recent years as it’s become one of the most valuable companies in the entire world.

All of that to say no, Nikola Tesla did not start Tesla. As you just read above, Tesla died in 1943, 60 years before Tesla Inc. was ever founded. Due to the vision of the company to revolutionize electric cars and create the best battery-powered vehicles in the world, the founders named the company after the famous inventor and scientist as a tribute to his accomplishments.

Where Is Nikola Tesla From?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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