Happy Birthday, Mr. Tesla


If you’re reading this, chances are you’re doing so on a computer or laptop that’s plugged into an electrical outlet (or in the case of the latter, running on energy stored in its battery), so you should take a moment to thank the guy some say made it all possible. Nikola Tesla, born (according to A Blog Around the Clock) on this date, 150 years ago.

I have to admit that, although I knew Tesla’s name, I couldn’t claim to know much about his involvement with much of what I (and lots of others, I’m sure) take for granted about modern life. I haven’t often given much thought to who’s being the reality that I wake up in the morning in an air-conditioned house, turn on the lights, retrieve breakfast from the fridge and consume it while either sitting in front of the television or the computer.

Yet all of that’s possible due to alternating current; something Tesla contributed to developing. I had to do a bit of googling to find this PBS site devoted to Tesla, to learn that in fact the AC motor was among his inventions and that he’d patented some 20 different types of AC motors. And that’s not to even mention the radio and remote control. (Channel surfers of the world, we now know whom to thank.)

There’s a bit of irony in remembering Tesla’s birthday, as Archy points out. Tesla is credited with bringing electricity to the United States, of which he became a naturalized citizen. Yet, today many of the villages around his hometown have no electricity. But the occasion of his 150th birthday is bringing people together in Tesla’s homeland, and thus his memory may yet get the lights turned on again.