20 Facts About Nikola Tesla That Will Give You Shock Waves!

Facts about Nikola Tesla

You have probably heard a lot of facts about Nikola Tesla like he was one of the pioneers of electromagnetic induction, the inventor of the induction motor, the radio or even discovered cosmic rays but thanks to him we also have AC systems (alternating current) which we can use in our homes today. Apart from that Tesla was also well known for being eccentric, his photographic (eidetic) memory and the fact that he sometimes devised lies to avoid paying hotel bills. To tell you even more amazing stuff about Tesla we prepared 20 interesting facts about the genius you probably have never heard before.

1. In 1892 Nikola Tesla invented the radio and even the first remotely controllable toy boat in 1898.

Picture of Nikola Tesla in 1890.
Picture of Nikola Tesla in 1890.

Can you imagine a world without radio music? “It’s easy if you try” says the song “Imagine” by John Lennon but you would have probably never heard about that song if Nikola Tesla didn’t invent the first basic radio design in 1892. Six years later in 1898 he then invented the first remotely controllable toy boat which he controlled via radio waves. People were so excited about this invention that it was even exhibited in the Electrical Exhibition in the same year. As this was a first of its kind it even made its way to the front page of US newspapers.

2. Nikola Tesla suffered from severe OCD.

One of the lesser-known facts about Nikola Tesla is that he suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This is a mental disorder in which a person always feels the need to perform certain routines repeatedly. People close to Tesla said that whenever he was checking in into a hotel room he only did so if the room number was a multiple of 3. He was also particularly wary of pearls and didn’t talk to women wearing them. When his secretary was once wearing pearl jewelry he did send her home. However even while he was struggling with this mental disorder, Tesla used to work with some of the greatest geniuses of his time like Edison and Westinghouse. It is said that even Einstein was thinking that Tesla was smarter than him.

Tesla sitting in front of a spiral coil used in his wireless power experiments.
Tesla sitting in front of a spiral coil used in his wireless power experiments.

3. Nikola Tesla boasted to never sleep more than two hours a day.

Some people might think that the human body needs at least 8 hours of sleep per day but Tesla proofed you are all wrong. He claimed to have never slept for more than two hours a night (though he often took afternoon naps). This means that every day, he was awake and productive for 22 hours. It is even said that on one day, Tesla was so involved in his work that he couldn’t stop and continued working for 84 hours without any sleep.

4. Nikola Tesla had a photographic memory, the ability to visualize in three dimensions and spoke 8 different languages.

Nikola Tesla’s brain was amazing. He had a photographic (eidetic) memory and he used to memorize images with great detail, entire books, or even full journals in his head. He also had the ability to visualize in three dimensions allowing him to see all sides of an invention before it was created, he used to control his own dreams (so-called lucid dreams) and was able to speak 8 different languages: Serbian-Croatian, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian and Latin.

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Tesla statue at Niagara Falls.

The so-called “War of the Currents” was a fight between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison who both proposed their theories of alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). Tesla was supporting the AC technology whereas Thomas Edison was promoting his own DC theory. Unfortunately during that time, Edison was a very renowned scientist so people were supporting his proposal of the DC. As an outcome, Tesla was never really recognized for his AC invention although it’s now the state of the art technology. Edison even tried to malign Tesla’s invention by pushing the electric chair as a method of execution to show how dangerous AC was. Alternating current only started to get more famous throughout the world when the first hydroelectric power plant in the U.S. was installed at Niagara Falls. Of course, designed by Nikola Tesla.

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6. Nikola Tesla used to feed pigeons and nurse injured animals back to health.

There are a lot of strange facts about Nikola Tesla such as his need to always having dinner at 8:10 PM sharp or the fact that he was always squishing his toes exactly 100 times for each foot every night. But maybe the strangest fact about him is that he was also taking care of pigeons. During his daily walks in the park, he used to feed them and would even bring the injured ones to his apartment where he would care for them to good health. It’s even said that on one occasion Tesla had spent approximately USD 2,000 to fix the broken wing and leg of a pigeon.

7. Nikola Tesla wanted to do an experiment with children by lining their school room walls with a high frequency current. He assumed that electromagnetic waves would charge the room and the air in it, which eventually making the kids healthier.

Tesla was already a genius but he intended to make also other people smarter. In 1912 he therefore designed an experiment “to make dull students bright and smart with the help of electric waves.” Sounds a bit ridiculous but Nikola Tesla strongly believed that this would work. His assumption was that “saturating with infinitesimal electric waves vibrating at high frequency can stimulate electromagnet” and making people healthier and thereby smarter. Tesla shared the idea with the superintendent of New York City schools – William H. Maxwell – who strongly believed in that theory too. Fortunately, this idea was never realized. 

Picture of Nikola Tesla at age 40.
Picture of Nikola Tesla at age 40.

8. Tesla was supporting the idea of sterilizing criminals, people with mental disorders and even believed that by 2100 people who aren’t “desirable parents” shouldn’t be able to breed.

Tesla was strongly supporting the idea of eugenics, the “science” of improving a population by controlling the reproduction of mankind. He thought that at the latest in 2100 only so-called “desirable parents” should be allowed to breed children. All “undesirable parents” should get sterilized to prevent them from any form of reproduction. Even in his days, he wanted to already sterilized criminals and people with mental disorders. 

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9. Tesla was drinking whiskey every day as he thought that this would make him live up to 150 years.

The wish for immortality is probably as old as mankind and even Nikola Tesla was having the same thoughts. However, he found his fountain of youth in Whiskey which he was drinking daily. He thought that only Whiskey would make him live up to 150 years or even longer. Maybe it was the Whiskey or the fact that he was giving up on that when the prohibition came in during the First World War but with 86 years Tesla got pretty old for the time he was living. 

A multiple exposure picture of Tesla sitting next to his "magnifying transmitter" generating millions of volts.
Tesla in his laboratory in 1899.

10. Tesla transmitted over 100 million volts of electricity wirelessly and lit up a bank of 200 light bulbs in 1899.

The famous Pike’s Peak experiment from 1899 was an experiment wherein Tesla transmitted electricity without the use of wires but only through the air. For that, he transmitted 100 million volts over a distance of 26 miles to lit 200 light bulbs. He even was able to run an electric motor during the experiment. After the experiment, Tesla claimed that only 5% of the transmitted energy was lost.

11. Nikola Tesla was never married or even fell in love, although a lot of women fell “madly in love with him”.

Nikola Tesla is an exception because not behind every successful man there is a woman. Until his death in 1943 Tesla never married or even had any love affairs worth mentioning. He strongly believed that a marriage (or sex) would only restrict his scientific abilities. It’s reported that a lot of women fell in love with him but he never returned that love. However, it’s reported that on his death bed Tesla has said that “Sometimes I feel that by not marrying, I made too great a sacrifice to my work.”

12. There is a Nikola Tesla statue that radiates Free Wi-Fi.

In 2013, a statue of Nikola Tesla was erected in Silicon Valley and there is one gimmick that makes this statue special: free Wi-Fi. There is also a built-in time capsule that would be open in 2043. Tesla always dreamed about a system of wireless power in the world and this statue is just one small tribute to that amazing scientist. 

13. Nikola Tesla was born during a lightning storm.

It’s one of these coincidences that only happens once in a lifetime. Nikola Tesla – the inventor of the Tesla coil – was born during a fierce lightning storm in Serbia. In the night between July 9th and 10th 1856, Tesla’s mother was midway through birth as deep lightning struck. The midwife termed this as a bad omen and said to the mother that this will be a child of darkness but the answer of Tesla’s mother to that was “No. He will be a child of light”. Even Game of Thrones could not have better lines in its script.

14. Nikola Tesla almost predicted the internet by saying – “The household’s daily newspaper will be printed wirelessly in the home”.

Tesla demonstrating wireless lighting by "electrostatic induction" in 1891.
Tesla demonstrating wireless lighting by “electrostatic induction” in 1891.

Tesla strongly believed in a world of wireless power and communication and predicted a future where every household would have access to both. His vision was a world where music, news, stock market data, telephonic messages, and even pictures are shared across the world wirelessly. This means that the idea of wireless internet can be credited to Tesla.

15. Nikola Tesla believed in “a new sex order” with “the female as superior”.

Nikola Tesla was a scientist, a mechanical engineer, an electric engineer, a physicist but also a feminist. His view was that women are the true builders of our society and that sooner or later there will be “a new sex order, with the female as superior”. He once said that “This struggle of the human female toward sex equality will end in a new sex order, with the female as superior.”

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16. Tesla was a germaphobe.

After suffering from a near-fatal case of cholera in his early ages, Tesla became obsessive about germs and cleaning everything. He had a lot of extensive hygiene routine amplified by his obsessive compulsive disorder. Reports say that Tesla always used 18 napkins to wipe his dining room table every night and even wore white gloves to every dinner.

17. Tesla died as a poor man.

During his whole life, and especially towards the end, Nikola Tesla used to live in a long line of different Manhattan hotels. One of them was the Waldorf Astoria hotel, which is probably also the reason he had so many famous friends, including conservationist John Muir and bankers Henry Clay Frick as well as Thomas Fortune Ryan. However,  as Tesla was always focused more on his experiments than money, he was never rich. It’s one of the most amazing facts about Nikola Tesla that even though he invented so many things enriching our life he died as a poor man.

18. Nikola Tesla claimed to have nearly created an earthquake in Manhattan.

Tesla invented an electro-mechanical oscillator which was a steam-powered electrical generator. It was developed as a potential replacement for the inefficient steam engines used to turn generators in his days but unfortunately, it couldn’t compete with steam turbines. However, Tesla reportedly regaled friends and potential investors with a tale in which his experiment with the oscillator at his lab in Manhattan set off vibrations so strong that resonance in several buildings nearby was generated, shaking the ground and prompting calls to the police by thousands of people. When the engine began oscillating at the resonance frequency of his own building, Tesla assumed that he was in great danger of creating an earthquake, and therefore smashed the device with his hammer. For that reason the machine received the nickname  “Tesla’s Earthquake Machine”— however, the whole story was later debunked by Mythbusters.

19. Tesla and Edison were rivals, but not sworn enemies.

Picture of Thomas Edison in 1922.
Picture of Thomas Edison in 1922.

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison are often characterized as enemies but this relationship has been misrepresented in the past. In his early career, Tesla worked for Edison and even supported his direct current technology by designing DC generators, but famously quit to pursue his own project: the AC induction motor (see above). Sure, both were fighting on different sides of the “War of the Currents,” with Edison supporting direct current and Tesla fighting for alternating current but they were still respecting the work of each other. On one occasion, Edison even attended a conference where Tesla was speaking. Edison, not wanting to be spotted, moved into the back of the auditorium to listen to the lecture however Tesla spotted Edison and appreciated it by letting the audience giving him a standing ovation. It can therefore be more described as a love/hate relationship between both. At first, Edison hated Tesla but eventually respected him. One of the most interesting fun facts about Nikola Tesla and his relationship with Thomas Edison is that when there were fires at Tesla’s laboratory, Edison was so kind to provide him a lab to continue his work.

20. Tesla almost became a priest.

Tesla’s father, Milutin Tesla, was an eastern orthodox priest who originally had the idea for his son to follow in his footsteps and become a priest. However, during Nikola Tesla’s battle with cholera, his father conceded his son’s wish and send him to an engineering school after his recovery.

Picture of Nikola Tesla's father Milutin Tesla.
Picture of Nikola Tesla’s father Milutin Tesla.

How did you like our 20 amazing fun facts about Nikola Tesla? Was there a fact about Tesla you liked most and which interesting fact surprised you like nothing else? Tell us what you think in our comment section down below. If you are looking for more such facts or other trivial information just have a look for our category Fun Facts or follow us on PinterestTwitterFacebook or Instagram.


Who was Nikola Tesla?

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, pioneer of electromagnetic induction and best known for his contribution to the altering current technology.

What was Nikola Tesla’s most famous invention?

Tesla was a pioneer of electromagnetic induction, the inventor of the induction motor, the radio and even discovered cosmic rays but thanks to him we also have AC system (Altering Current) which we can use in our homes today.

How did Nikola Tesla die?

Tesla died on the 7th of January 1943 and even though he invented so many things enriching our life he died as a poor man.

Where did Tesla die?

Tesla died in the Wyndham Hotel in New York City, USA.

What is an interesting fun fact about Nikola Tesla?

There are a lot of amazing fun facts about Tesla but the most surprising one is that even though he invented so many things enriching our life he died as a poor man.

What is the “War of the Currents”?

Starting in the late 1880s the so called “War of the Currents” was a fight between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison who both proposed their theories of alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). Tesla was supporting the AC technology whereas Thomas Edison was promoting his own DC theory.


Hi I'm Robby and I started this website in 2019. My aim is to share with you all the amazing and unbelievable fun facts I found out during my daily life. I hope you enjoy these fun facts as much as I do and hope that you like my website the same way.

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