Mysteries of Tesla: Born at the Stroke of Midnight

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By Derek Olson

Man of Mystery

Nikola Tesla is a man absent from history books, but responsible for futuristic technologies we still enjoy today. One of the greatest minds of the modern era, his genius shaped the world we know today. Tesla pioneered the alternating current, the electrical system which powers almost everything around the globe today. His influence can be seen all around us; from remote control and radio to wireless communication.

Did you know that Nikola Tesla registered a fascinating patent in 1928. Patent number 1,655,144 which details a flying machine that strangely resembled a UFO? Before his death, Nikola Tesla developed what he called ‘Space Drive’ or the anti-electromagnetic field propulsion system.

Tesla during one of his electrical experiments

Tesla famously stated that “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

It seems that Nikola Tesla somehow re-discovered or tapped into some of the same lost ancient technologies that were used by the ancient architects to build the Great pyramids. Therefore I believe it is important to study the life of this man. So let’s explore the early years of Tesla’s life and look at some of the interesting moments and mysteries that shaped him…

Early Years

July 10 1856 – Tesla was born near the town of Gospic in present day Croatia. He was the fourth of five children. Tesla was born at the stroke of midnight while lightning was apparently striking during a summer storm. The midwife commented “He’ll be a child of the storm.” To which his mother replied “no, of light…”

Tesla’s boyhood home and church

Tesla was baptized in the old Slavonic church rite. His father, Milutin Tesla (1819–1879), was a priest of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Tesla’s mother, Đuka Mandić (1822–1892), had a talent for making home craft tools and mechanical appliances, and she had the ability to memorize Serbian epic poems. She had never received a formal education, but Tesla credited his photographic memory and total recall to his mother’s influence.

1863 Tesla’s older, and only brother Dane died at the age of twelve after falling off a horse. Some accounts indicate Tesla may have caused the accident by spooking the horse.

A Tesla family photo from the mid 1800s

1870 Tesla moved to a different city called Karlovac to attend high school where he lived with his aunt and uncle. Tesla later wrote that he became interested in demonstrations of electricity by his physics professor Martin Sekulic. Martin is said to have had a huge influence on him. Tesla noted that these demonstrations of this “mysterious phenomena” made him want “to know more of this wonderful force”. Tesla was able to perform integral calculus in his head, which prompted his other teachers to think that he was cheating. He finished a four-year term in three years.

1873 After graduating, Tesla returned to his hometown only to contract cholera and was bedridden for nine months and came near death multiple times. In a moment of despair, Tesla’s father, who had originally wanted him to enter the priesthood, promised to send him to the best engineering school if he recovered from the illness.

The town of Gospic in present day Croatia near where Tesla grew up

1874 Tesla became a fugitive and evaded being drafted into the Hungarian Army by running away to another city called Tomingaj where he explored the mountains and wore hunter’s garb… Tesla said that this contact with nature made him stronger, both physically and mentally. He read many books while living in the mountains and later said that Mark Twain’s works had helped him to miraculously recover from his earlier illness.

1875 Tesla enrolled at the Imperial-Royal Technical College in Graz. In his autobiography, he said he worked hard and earned the highest grades possible. In his first year he received a letter of commendation from the dean of the technical faculty to his father, which stated, “Your son is a star of first rank.” At Graz, Tesla noted his fascination with the detailed lectures on electricity presented by Professor Jakob Pöschl and described how he made suggestions on improving the design of an electric motor the professor was demonstrating. But in his second year, Tesla came into conflict with this professor regarding some ideas & suggestions regarding the machine. By the end of his 2nd year, Telsa lost his scholarship & apparently took up gambling instead… Near the end of his third year, he stopped attending lectures altogether and dropped out

The Mur River near the town of Maribor where Tesla worked

1878 Tesla’s family did not hear from him after he left school. There was a rumor amongst his classmates that he had drowned in the nearby Mur River, but in January one of them ran into Tesla in the town of Maribor across the border in Slovenia and reported that encounter to Tesla’s family. It turned out Tesla had been working there as a draftsman for an engineering firm and would spend his spare time in a pub called the “Happy Peasant” where he enjoyed playing chess & cards…

1879 Tesla’s father finally located his son and tried to convince him to return home and take up his education in Prague. Tesla returned home to Gospić later that month after he was deported for not having a residence permit. Tesla’s father died the next month in April 1879, at the age of sixty after an unspecified illness. During the rest of the year Tesla taught a large class of students in his old school in Gospić.

1880 Two of Tesla’s uncles, Peter and Pavel, put together enough money to help him leave Gospić for Prague, where he was to study at Charles-Ferdinand University, but unfortunately, he arrived too late to enroll. Tesla did, however, attend lectures in philosophy at the university as an auditor but he did not receive grades for the courses. During this time, he spent most of his time at the Klementinum library and he local cafe.

Charles-Ferdinand University

1881 Tesla’s uncle Pavel arranged for him to move to Budapest, Hungary, to work at a telegraph company, the Budapest Telephone Exchange, which was owned by Hungarian inventor Tivadar Puskás. Upon arrival, Tesla realized that the company, then under construction, was not functional, so he worked as a draftsman in the Central Telegraph Office instead. Within a few months, the Budapest Telephone Exchange became functional, and Tesla was allocated the chief electrician position. During his employment, Tesla made many improvements to the Central Station equipment and claimed to have perfected a telephone repeater or amplifier, which was never patented nor publicly described.

1882 Tesla’s employer Tivadar Puskás, owner of the Budapest Telephone Exchange got Tesla another job in Paris with the Continental Edison Company. Tesla began working in what was then a brand new industry, installing indoor incandescent lighting citywide in large scale electric power utility. The company had several subdivisions and Tesla worked at the division in a suburb of Paris in charge of installing the lighting system. There he gained a great deal of practical experience in electrical engineering. Management took notice of his advanced knowledge in engineering and physics and soon had him designing and building improved versions of generating dynamos and motors. They also sent him on to troubleshoot engineering problems at other Edison utilities being built around France and in Germany.

The Budapest Telephone Exchange where Tesla worked

Tesla, obsessed with solving the riddle of alternating current, suffered from an apparent mental breakdown to the point where he wasn’t expected to live much longer. However, a short time later, Tesla begins to recover, and during a walk in a Budapest city park, the solution comes to him in a vision. In his recollection of the event, Tesla stated that he looked at the setting sun and began to recite a passage from Goethe’s Faust – considered by many to be Goethe’s magnum opus and the greatest work of German literature. At that very moment the idea came to him in a flash of light and he drew a diagram of the motor in the sand with a stick.

Tesla’s AC Motor

Watch the video version below

In part two of this series, we will look at Tesla’s middle years which start in 1884 when he boards a boat to New York and will eventually go on to become one of the greatest inventors of all time.


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