Born on this day 165 years ago, Nikola Tesla is the man that laid the groundwork for Chrysler’s automotive alternator by proving the applicability of alternating current. An ethnic Serbian who was born in Croatia during a time when Habsburg royals were still marrying between themselves, the quirky inventor has clearly managed to shape the world as we know it.
Let’s turn our attention back to AC for a moment. You’re well aware of “The Current War” about Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, but as fate would have it, electrical grids feature alternating current over two reasons. First of all, AC changes voltage by means of transformers, which makes it perfect for long-distance distribution across the electrical grid. Secondly, alternating current is required by induction motors such as the ones we find in useful items that include power tools, hairdryers, and vacuum cleaners.
At the Electrical Exhibition at Madison Square Garden in 1898, the so-called teleautomaton was presented to the world in the guise of a radio-controlled miniature boat. A trailblazing invention that has influenced countless military signaling devices, the teleautomaton is much more than the grandfather of the MQ-9 Reaper and your typical AliExpress toy drone.
Inspired by Victorian philosopher and biologist Herbert Spencer, the Serbian-American genius blessed the world with the electronic AND logic gate. "The what?" Let’s just say that it’s a critical element of every computer, including the infotainment system of my Hyundai i30. And my Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro phone. And the Lenovo Legion laptop I'm writing on now.
On what would’ve been his 165th birthday, I would like to end this piece with a quote from a very early version of the teslamotors.com website:
“Without Tesla’s vision and brilliance, our car wouldn’t be possible. We’re confident that if he were alive today, Nikola Tesla would look over our 100-percent electric car and nod his head with both understanding and approval.”