Tesla’s Obsessions

Nikola Tesla was born on 10 July 1856 to Serbian parents in what is now Croatia.
He was an engineer and a scientist whose inventions include the Tesla coil, still used in radio technology, the alternating-current (AC) electric system, which is the predominant electrical system used across the world today, and the discovery of the rotating magnetic field.
He pioneered many of the technologies that shaped the second half of the 20th century, most of which were officially patented by other inventors.
Though he was famous and respected, he was never able to translate his work into long-term financial success, unlike his early employer and chief rival, Thomas Edison.
They had briefly worked together, when Tesla went to the United States in 1884, but their relationship was conflicting, due to their incredibly different personalities: Edison focused on marketing and financial success, while Tesla was commercially vulnerable-.

Though Tesla holds 112 lifetime U.S. patents, he died penniless and in relative obscurity.

He spoke seven languages, had a photographic memory, and could memorize entire books. He was able to visualise complete diagrams of inventions, working only from memory, without drawing them.

His unusual habits and strange behaviour were often minimized by his fans, who thought they were the mere eccentricities of a creative genius, and ridiculed by his critics, who considered him to be completely insane. However, his eccentricities have become as legendary as his discoveries in the field of electricity.

For example, Tesla required little sleep, and is reported once to have worked 84 hours straight without stopping to eat or rest. He claimed never to sleep more than two hours per night, but admitted to dozing from time to time to recharge his batteries.

He compulsively squished his toes one hundred times for each foot every night, saying that it stimulated his brain cells.

He had an obsession with pigeons. Later in his life, Tesla went to parks in New York City, and rescued injured pigeons, nursing them back to health.
When he took up residence at the Hotel New Yorker, where he spent the last ten years of his life, he had the hotel chef prepare a special mix of seed (which he hoped to commercialize) for his pigeons-

Tesla was tall and thin, and calculated the volume of every meal he ate and often expressed disgust for overweight people: once he fired a secretary because of her weight.
He was a vegetarian and eventually developed strange theories about the best human diet. In his final years he dined on milk and honey, believing that this was the purest form of food. Therefore he lost an enormous amount of weight and looked quite ghastly by the early 1940s.

His obsessive compulsive disorder compelled him to count the steps as he walked, and to repeat some activities so that the repetitions were divisible by three, including only inhabiting a hotel room that was divisible by the number three. Tesla died in Room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel on 7 January1943.

Image Pixabay (Nikola Tesla – illustration on the Serbian Dinara)

103 thoughts on “Tesla’s Obsessions

  1. That was an interesting read. Thank you Luisa. I learnt a lot about Tesla in your article, and much more than other accounts of him. Fascinating! Sadly, it seems to be a common experience for geniuses to die penniless and relatively unknown for the unique gifts they once possessed. Hope your weekend is going well. Blessings always, Deborah.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. From February 1944 to the end of the war in Europe, Trump was the Director of the BBRL. In early 1943, two days after the death of Nikola Tesla, the Federal Bureau of Investigation ordered the Office of Alien Property Custodian to seize Tesla’s belongings.

    Liked by 5 people


        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing this fascinating life story. Tesla spent a little time in Colorado Springs (where I now live) in 1899, conducting experiments with electricity during lightning storms. Dangerous work! I often wonder how different his life would have been if he his theories had been accepted instead of Edison’s.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Se il suo genio fosse stato riconosciuto, non avremmo avuto motori a scoppio, con tutto quello ne consegue, e le automobili sarebbero state elettriche sin dall’inizio! Un mondo completamente diverso. O sbaglio?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sai sono un appassionato di automobilismo, anche se dopo l’emorragia cerebrale mi hanno tolto la patente. Per me è stata una pugnalata nella schiena! Mi rifaccio collezionando modellini in scala 1/43. ne ho più di 200!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very interesting! Right now, I have in my lap an open page of “Alternating current” for an upcoming exam. Love the serendipity there! Found this post very informative. Tesla will always be well respected!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Excellent post. I learned a lot here as I’m kind of ignorant to the history of Nikola. You touched on the subject of Thomas Edison monetizing Tesla’s ideas… Do you think there could be some kind of correlation between Elon Musk’s company and Nikola Tesla’s ideas? Or is that a shot in the dark

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Here’s what I found :
      Current CEO Elon Musk didn’t have a say in the name, as he joined the company after it had already been incorporated.

      Tesla’s name was actually thought up in Disneyland’s Blue Bayou restaurant, when Tesla cofounder Martin Eberhard pitched it to his then girlfriend, and now wife, Carolyn, according to Business Insider.
      Eberhard chose the name, after months of unsuccessful pitches, to honor Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor who created the AC electric motor that is used in Tesla’s cars.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow you’re good! That first paragraph is kind of alarming to me, especially where it says “as he joined the company after it had already been incorporated”. Thank you, you taught me a lot in a short amount of time

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  8. had even heard of some theories he devised for not getting married. To an extent he never wanted to waste his semen, and some others during his time with Edison.

    But a great conversational post Luisa. Thanks
    Nara x

    Liked by 1 person

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