The Original Tesla

Tesla lab

You may now associate Tesla with Elon Musk’s electric car company. The company’s namesake, Nikola Tesla (1856–1943) was an inventor and pioneer in electricity.

Born in what is now Croatia, Tesla moved to New York City to work for Thomas Edison. Eventually he struck out on his own and moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado to set up his own lab with enough space for his ambitious experiments. Wealthy financier John Jacob Astor IV invested $100,000 to help Tesla develop a new lighting system.

In this photo from around 1899, Tesla is in his laboratory reading casually while his giant “magnifying transmitter” machine produced huge bolts of electricity.

Tesla was somewhat of a hustler as he ditched the lab in 1900 without ever really delivering to Astor. It was torn down in 1904 to pay off debts. By that time, Tesla had found a new financier in J. Pierpont Morgan.