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Nikola Tesla


Nikola Tesla

(10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943)

Was a Serbian inventor, physicist, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer. Born in Smiljan, Croatian Krajina, Military Frontier, he was an ethnic Serb subject of the Austrian Empire and later became an American citizen.

According to legend, Tesla was born precisely at midnight during an electrical storm, to a Serbian family in the village of Smiljan near Gospic, in the Lika region of the Croatian Krajina in Military Frontier (part of the Austrian Empire), in the present-day Croatia.

His baptism certificate reports that he was born on June 28 (N.S. July 10), 1856, and christened by the Serbian Orthodox priest Toma Oklobdzija. His father was Rev. Milutin Tesla, a priest in the Serbian Orthodox Church Metropolitanate of Sremski Karlovci. Milutin was born on 19 February 1819 in the village of Meduc, county Medak in Lika, Austrian Empire, as son of Nikola Tesla (b. 1789 in the military frontier, settled after his service in the Napoleonic Wars in Gospic in 1815) and Ana Kalinic, from the famous frontier Kalinic family. Tesla's family asserted its last name as such in Lika. His paternal origin is thought to be of the Draganic family from the Tara valley area below the geographical entity known as Old Vlach, from one of the local Serb clans; however genealogical research shows that Nikola is from the Herzegovinian noble Komnenovic (modern-day Old Herzegovina in Montenegro), from its Orlovic subgroup that traces its origin from the semi-mythic Pavle Orlovic that bore Prince Lazar's banner at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. His mother was Djuka Mandic, herself a daughter of a Serbian Orthodox Church priest. She came from a family domiciled in Lika and Banija, but with deeper origins to Kosovo. She was talented in making home craft tools. She memorized many Serbian epic poems, but never learned to read. His godfather, Jovan Drenovac, was a captain in the army protecting the Military Frontier.

Tesla is best known for his many revolutionary contributions to the discipline of electricity and magnetism in the late 19th and early 20th century. Tesla's patents and theoretical work formed the basis of modern alternating current electric power (AC) systems, including the polyphase power distribution systems and the AC motor, with which he helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution. Contemporary biographers of Tesla have deemed him "the man who invented the twentieth century" and "the patron saint of modern electricity.


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