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The Tesla Timeline
Updated 12/21/19

Nikola Tesla
1856- 1943

When Event Comments:
1856 Tesla Born to Serbian parents in what is now modern-day Croatia Nikola Tesla was born a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in what was then called the "Military Frontier", in the village of Smiljan, on the stroke of midnight on July 10th, 1856
1875 Tesla begins technical schooling in Graz, Austria In his sophomore year, Tesla's father has a stroke and dies shortly thereafter. Tesla is forced to drop out of school due to lack of funds. Tesla learns to speak 5 languages.
1880 Tesla begins working for the American Telephone Company in Budapest Tesla suffers a nervous breakdown. 
1882 Tesla conceives of AC induction motor  Tesla sees the rotating fields in a vision, meticulously detailing the construction of both single and polyphase motors it in his notebook. He later designs his motor just "as seen" and it works just as he envisioned.
1882 Tesla begins working for Edison (in Paris, France) Tesla begins working for Continental Edison in Paris, France, helping them to resolve problems with the design of their DC dynamos.
Tesla constructs the first polyphase AC motor
While on assignment to Strasburg, France, Tesla constructs a working brushless polyphase AC induction motor. It is demonstrated before the former Mayor of the town and to wealthy potential investors. Unfortunately, Tesla is unable to secure financing.
1884 Tesla immigrates to the United States Fleeing from war, Tesla arrives in New York at age 28 with only 4 cents in his pockets!
1884 Tesla begins working for Thomas Edison Tesla comes highly recommended by Charles Batchelor, Manager of Continental Edison in France. Tesla is hired to improve Edison's DC dynamos.
1885 Tesla quits working for Edison Edison reneges on a promise to pay Tesla $50,000 for improvements to his dynamos, saying he was just joking - Tesla resigns in disgust…
1886 Tesla launches Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing However, his financial backers, Robert Lane and B. A. Vail, refuse to fund Tesla's AC Motor, and they fire Tesla! Tesla is forced to work as a manual laborer to survive.
1887 Tesla builds first AC Induction Motor This is the world's first brush-less AC motor. Tesla files key worldwide patents, locking the rights to the invention
1888 Tesla demonstrates AC motors to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) Once thought impossible, Tesla demonstrates a brush-less 2 phase 1/5 HP AC motor to the foremost group of Electrical Engineers in the USA
1888 Inventor and businessman George Westinghouse buys Tesla's key Polyphase Patents after buying patent for the AC transformer Westinghouse now controls AC motors and transformers - and the War of the Currents begins between Westinghouse (AC) and Edison (DC)…
1888 Tesla begins working for Westinghouse Tesla sets 60 cycles per second (now Hertz) as the North American standard for AC power transmission and distribution
1891 Tesla becomes a US citizen  Tesla builds his own experimental laboratory at 46 East Houston Street, in New York City
1891 Tesla invents 2-coil “Tesla Coil”  Tesla lights evacuated tubes with no wires, demonstrating the possibility of wireless power transmission
1892 First Polyphase Power System Installed Tesla is granted 40 patents, thereby locking in his rotating magnetic field principles and polyphase power distribution into a comprehensive system for the generation, transmission, distribution, and utilization of AC power.
1892 Tesla discovers X-ray radiation while experimenting with HV and evacuated tubes This is THREE YEARS before they are rediscovered by Willhelm Roentgen. Tesla terms the effect "radiant energy"€ of an invisible kind. Tesla actually warns of potential hazards of these rays during a lecture before the New York Academy of Sciences in 1897. ("The stream of Lenard and Roentgen and novel apparatus for their production")
1893 Demonstrates Wireless Transmitter/Receiver Tesla demonstrates system in St. Louis TWO YEARS before Marconi's first demonstration…
1893 Lighting the 1893 World's Fair Exposition Westinghouse and Tesla provide AC power to light the Chicago's Columbian Exposition, even though Edison forbids the use of Edison's light bulbs.. The public sees firsthand the capability of AC power.
1894 Tesla generates 1,000,000 volts Using a conical air-core Tesla Coil, Tesla later achieves 16 foot electrical discharges in his New York City lab
1895 Tesla harnesses Niagara Falls Tesla's first commercial 2-phase power plant, built by Westinghouse  - designed to deliver power to the industries of Buffalo, NY
1895 Fire destroys Tesla's laboratory Disaster strikes -  Tesla's laboratory is completely destroyed by fire, ruining the work of half a lifetime. Tesla is devastated.
1896 First long-distance transmission of polyphase AC Power AC Power from Niagara Falls is transmitted to Buffalo via Tesla's High Voltage Polyphase System
1897 Tesla files the basic Radio Patent Tesla's patents stand the test of time - he is indeed the Father of Radio
1897 Tesla releases Westinghouse from contract  The "War of the Currents" between DC and AC nearly bankrupts Edison and Westinghouse. Tesla gives Westinghouse a break on AC motor royalties, saving the company from bankruptcy
1898 Tesla Demonstrates Wireless Control  Tesla demonstrates a wireless controlled boat that uses binary logic. But, he is unable to interest the US military…
1898 Tesla develops electric Ignitor for Gasoline Engines Basically the same approach that's used in today's internal combustion engines
1899 Tesla begins his Colorado Springs Research Research phase: wireless transmission of messages and electrical power
1900 Tesla begins Wardenclyffe Transmitter Wardenclyffe 200 kW system is funded by $150,000 from J. Pierpont Morgan (51%) - Tesla tells Morgan that the system is for trans-Atlantic radio communication
1903 Tesla runs out of money  Morgan refuses to provide any additional funding after Tesla shares  his true plans for using Wardenclyffe for Wireless Power Transmission
1904 Marconi awarded patent for radio The US Patent Office reverses itself, wrongly awarding Guglielmo Marconi the patent for radio! Tesla begins his fight as the inventor of radio
1905 Wardenclyffe forced to close operations Tesla runs out of funds and cannot pay his workers, forcing him to close his lab
1906 Tesla announces Bladeless Turbine  Tesla's 200 hp 16,000 RPM Bladeless Turbine is demonstrated on his 50th birthday
1907 During the financial panic of 1907, Tesla agrees to release Westinghouse from paying royalties on every induction motor Weakened by the "War of the Currents", Westinghouse convinces Tesla to sell his royalty rights to Westinghouse for $216,000 - they were worth over $12 Million at the time. The Westinghouse Company survives the crisis...
1909 Marconi wins Nobel Prize for Radio Tesla deeply resented the fact that Marconi got the prize, and not himself…
1910-11 Tesla's bladeless turbines are tested in New York Several turbines were tested, 100-5000 HP in Waterside Power Station, New York
1915 Tesla signs over Wardenclyffe deed to pay his debts The deed to Wardenclyffe is turned over to George Boldt, the proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria, to pay a $20,000 debt
1915 Tesla files lawsuit against Marconi This starts a patent fight that lasts for 29 years. Tesla vs. Marconi is ultimately resolved in Tesla's favor.
1916 Tesla declares bankruptcy Tesla owed back taxes, but was penniless, living in poverty, on credit, at the Waldorf-Astoria
1917 Wardenclyffe Tower is demolished  George Boldt destroys tower to make property more marketable. Although the tower was blown up, the main building still stands today.
1917 Tesla receives the Edison Medal  The Edison Medal is the most prestigious honor the AIEE can bestow upon an engineer. Tesla at first refused it, saying, "If I had the money to spend on such nonsense, I would award a Tesla Medal to Mr. Edison!". Tesla later relented and accepted the award.
1928 Tesla receives his last patent at age 72 "Apparatus for Aerial Transportation" - similar to a helicopter or VTOL aircraft (US Patent 1,655,114)
1931 Tesla turns 75 Tesla is honored by being on the cover of Time Magazine, and receives congratulations from more than 70 pioneers in science and engineering including Einstein..
1935 15 out of 16 of Marconi's Patent claims are invalidated by the Court of Claims Tesla is acknowledged to have been prior inventor on these portions of Marconi's patent. The case is eventually decided by the US Supreme Court in 1944.
1943 Tesla dies penniless in NY hotel on January 7, 1943  Tesla's dies a lonely man at age 87 in room 3327 in the Hotel New Yorker, his only remaining friends the pigeons he fed in the park. The FBI orders the Office of Alien Property to seize Tesla's papers and possessions although Tesla had been a US citizen since 1891. These were eventually inherited by Tesla's nephew, Sava Kosanovich, and are now housed in the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia
1943 Tesla awarded Patent for Radio, June 21, 1943
The US Supreme Court confirms that Marconi’s patents infringed Tesla's. Tesla finally wins, 6 months after his death…
1956 The "Tesla", a new unit of magnetic flux density in the metric system, is named in Nikola Tesla's honor The new unit is equivalent to 10,000 Gauss
Tesla Monument given to US by Yugoslavia
A monument to Nikola Tesla celebrating the first hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls was erected on the US side (Goat Island - between the American and Canadian falls).
New Tesla Monument unveiled in Niagara Falls park
A new monument was erected on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls (at Queen Victoria Park) celebrating Tesla's role in designing the first hydroelectric power plant at Niagara Falls (1895).
Matthew Inman, creator of "The Oatmeal", launches a Crowdfunding drive to buy the former Wardenclyffe property.
The former Wardenclyffe site became available for auction. A provate fundraising effort was launched to purchase the property of the former Wardenclyffe property in Shoreham, NY. Purchasing the historic site of Tesla's Wireless power transmitter would be the first step towards eventually building a US museum for Nikola Tesla on the site. Thanks to the popularity of The Oatmeal, over $1 million was raised within 9 days! The state of New York will provide a matching grant of $850,000.

Today, most school children are taught that Marconi is the Father of Radio.
This error is still perpetuated by the Smithsonian Institution even today…
However, it looks like the Smithsonian may finally rectify the situation...

Some Other Places to Visit:
Lictenberg Figures
Quarter Shrinker
Link to 345 kV Switch MPEG
10" Tesla Coil Deleware Quarter
Lichtenberg Figures
The "Quarter Shrinker"
BIG Arcs & Sparks
10" Tesla Coil
Shrunken Coins!

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