When most people nowadays hear the word Tesla they think of the electric car manufacturer. I mean when you google it the results show the electric car manufacturer and their eccentric CEO, Elon Musk. Another search result that comes up is their stock (TSLA) which has given investors very generous returns. However those who still remember their school days or who like dig deeper when it comes to history, would know that Tesla is the last name of Nikola Tesla an engineer, scientist and inventor who’s work and contributions helped develop the Alternating Current (AC) supply system used world wide. Read along to learn about Nikola Tesla the electrical engineer who is also found on banknotes.

Most Think of Tesla The Car Not The Inventor | Source: Pixabay

Tesla’s Early Life

He was born on July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, Croatia (part of former Austro-Hungarian Empire) to Serbian parents. It is said that he was born during a lightning storm, the midwife helping with his birth believed that lightning was bad luck and said the child would be a child of darkness. However Nikola Tesla’s mother instead claimed that he would be a child of light. This ray of light would come to be one of the worlds most brilliant minds. As a child he was described as being very bright and he took a very strong interest in math and physics. They say that during his time at University he came up with the first designs for an AC motor. They say that he could come up with designs and even piece them together in his head without having to document or write anything down on paper.

Nikola Tesla Worked For Edison Early In His Career | Source: Biography.com

He then moved to Paris, France to work at the Edison Electric company. His manager saw the was very intelligent and ascended in his role now fixing larger and more important equipment. He then moved to the US to work as an engineer in Edison’s electric company. However Tesla and Edison had conflicting view on AC vs DC current. Tesla believed that AC was more efficient and the future but, Edison had the market cornered with DC since he owned all the patents, so it would be a bad business move for him to move to AC. DC current only flows in 1 direction while AC the current changes direction periodically.

Comparison of AC vs DC / Edison vs Tesla | Source: Giroux Electric

AC vs DC Current

Tesla left the General Electric (Edison) company and decided to form his own electric company. However, the company would be a failure do to investors losing faith in the idea. After inventing the AC motor, Tesla eventually partnered up with George Westinghouse to invest in developing AC power. A rivalry would begin between Tesla and Edison. Edison would put on demonstrations perceiving AC as dangerous.

Early Tesla AC Motor Invention | Source: Nikola Tesla Museum \ Google Arts & Culture

The world would eventually start the move towards AC. However due to financial problems at Westinghouse; Tesla decided to give up his financial royalties from the company to help keep it going. He did however received a lump sum payment for his contributions. Eventually Tesla created his own laboratory for inventions for the sake of benefiting humanity. It would be visited by American socialites and people of power. Tesla came up with countless inventions however he would lose it all during a fire. He went into a legal battle over the invention of the radio and afterwards fell out of favor with his investors. Nikola Tesla eventually died in 1943 but, Tesla’s legacy will be remembered by many.

Nikola Tesla, Yugoslavia 1,000 Dinara Banknote | 1992 | Source: Banknote World

Tesla’s Legacy On Banknotes

You can even find his portraits on banknotes. The Yugoslavia 1,000 Dinara banknote was issued by Yugoslavia in 1990 to pay homage to Serbian engineer Nikola Tesla. Teslas portrait is featured on the obverse along with the coat of arms of Yugoslavia. The reverse of the banknote depicts a high-frequency transformer. You can also find him on the Serbia 100 Dinara. The blue and white banknote features a portrait of him along with a mathematical equation and an image of his AC electric plant. On the reverse is an image of Tesla’s induction engine along with a dove. His legacy still lives on in the science world but, in the numismatic world as well.

Serbia 100 Dinara Nikola Tesla Banknote | 2006 | P-49a | Source: Banknote World Educational





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