Tesla, Nikola tĕs´lə [key], 1856–1943, American electrician and inventor, b. Croatia (then an Austrian province). An ethnic Serb, he immigrated to the United States in 1884, worked for a short period for Edison, and became a naturalized American citizen (1891). A pioneer in the field of high-voltage electricity, he made many discoveries and inventions of great value to the development of radio transmission and to the field of electricity. These include a system of arc lighting, the Tesla induction motor and system of alternating-current transmission, the Tesla coil, generators of high-frequency currents, a transformer to increase oscillating currents to high potentials, a system of wireless communication, and a system of transmitting electric power without wires. He produced the first power system at Niagara Falls, N.Y. There is a museum dedicated to his work in Belgrade, Serbia.
See biographies by H. B. Walters (1961), J. J. O'Neill (1968, repr. 1986), I. Hunt and W. W. Draper (1986); J. J. O'Neil (1986), and B. H. Johnston (1989).
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