14-May-1888: A Geek Star is Born

Tesla Speaks to the IAEE

On this day in 1888, Serbian-Ameircan Nkola Tesla

presented his inventions in his first lecture on “A new system of motors and transformers of alternate currents” to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE). Immediately after that lecture, the Westinghouse Co. bought his 40 patents on polyphase currents. In Pittsburgh (1888-89), together with engineers of the Westinghouse Co., he was engaged on the practical realization of these patents. In this period the preparations for the construction of the first power plant at the Niagara Falls according to the Tesla’s system were made. The power plant was on January 12, 1895 put into operation and at that time it was reckoned as a wonder of the world.

On his 75th birthday, Time Magazine made him a cover story with the caption “All the world’s his power house” noted his contribution to electrical power generation. He received congratulatory letters from more than 70 pioneers in science and engineering, including Albert Einstein.”

Tesla’s died in 1943 but his legacy continues to grow.  Tributes include a minor planet, Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport and, of course, Tesla Motors.

Tesla monuments have been built in his hometown of Zagreb and Niagara Falls and most recently in Silicon Valley thanks to support through Kickstarter.

In 2012, Jane Alcorn, president of the nonprofit group The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, and Matthew Inman, creator of web cartoon The Oatmeal, raised a total of $2,220,511—$1,370,511 from a campaign and $850,000 from a New York State grant—to buy the property where Wardenclyffe Tower (Tesla’s lab in Long Island) once stood and eventually turn it into a museum.

On May 14th, 2014, Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk agreed to donate $8 million toward the construction of a museum on the Wardenclyffe property.