Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why being creative is not always the "Road to Riches."

Nikola Tesla

While I mainly focus on creativity as it relates to artwork, I sometimes forget about some of the numerous inventions that the mind of man has been inspired to create, and of course the people who invented them. One person that inspires me is Nikola Tesla. Nikola Tesla was born in a borderland of Austro-Hungary in what is now called Croatia in 1857 and was of the Serbian race.This gifted man apparently
“saw” his inventions within his mind before he began working on them.
His story is not only of a man with phenomenal ingenuity with over 700 patents attributed to him, and genius almost beyond human comprehension; but also one of tragedy, being left penniless after investors left him stranded. In old age, he had few friends and no one to look after him at the end of his life. The man who gave so much to humanity in the way of technological advances was found
alone in his apartments having subsisted on milk and crackers for many weeks. His only companion, it was said, were the pigeons that he fed. His diary stating that had had come to “love pigeon like a man loves a woman” which may be very telling of the deteriorated state of mind at the end. He died in New York City on January 7, 1943.

Tesla worked for a time with Thomas Edison.When Edison refused to pay him what he promised, Tesla left. Tesla sold several patent rights to George Westinghouse. The "Tesla coil," invented in 1891, is still used in today’s radio technology. It may be that Tesla's interest in electricity and machines were encouraged by his mother, Djuka Mandic, while his father, Milutin, was a priest. Tesla studied at the Realschule, Karlstadt, the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria; and the University of Prague. Soon after that he left for America.

Tesla’s inventions include the "Tesla coil," developed in 1891, which is an alternating-current electrical system of generators, motors and transformers; both of which are still in use today. Tesla held 40 U.S. patents, just for the AC electrical system. In addition to this, he pioneered the discovery of radar, x-rays and rotating magnetic field, which is the basis of most AC machinery we have today.

Whether or not we like the advances that these inventions created, there is no doubt that Tesla was one of the most visionary thinkers of the last century and possibly even this century. He had an amazing range of thinking and was not afraid to blaze a path into the unknown. But in the end, he was forgotten, and his inventions appropriated by others who profited by them. He felt betrayed, and was a man broken. Tesla was not interested in becoming wealthy. He could have, but he rejected it. He was an inventor.  He created because it was his passion to do so, and he created out of a love of humanity. Perhaps some would look at that as his downfall; that he didn't take that "road to riches." His focus was not on the outcome of his inventions, it was on the inventions themselves; their creation, their perfection. He left the financial aspect to others. This may be have been all the riches he needed. Still he left this generation a great technological legacy. For this we owe him our gratitude for the inventions that have made our lives so much easier. This may be naive of me, but I think he would have liked it if someone would have at least said "Thank You." 

Tesla's Bulb became symbolic of  the"Idea"
If you would like to research some of his inventions yourself, I would suggest The Inventions, Researches, andWritings of Nikola Tesla, Second Edition by Thomas Commerford Martin,Barnes and Noble Press available at 

For a more humorous take on him that still gives him the credit he deserves; try “Why Nikola Tesla was  the greatest geek who ever lived” found at which I have bookmarked I enjoyed it so much!

The 2000 PBS documentary titled Tesla:Master of Lightening, starring Stacy Keach and Elisabeth Noone, directed by Robert Uth, while a bit dated is well done and as far as I know, accurate and can be found on Netflix. Namaste-Marie Helena

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