'Legend' is a word often used too much, but in the case of our element14 Legend Award, it is entirely appropriate. This award goes to the engineer our members see as the biggest legend in the electronics world.

Born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in what is now modern day Croatia, Tesla is most famous for his influence in introducing AC power, and by extension his famous clashes with Edison, the leading exponent of DC  power.

Tesla moved to Paris in 1892 to work for the Continental Edison Company. When Tesla moved to New York two years later, was recruited to work for Edison. A dispute over alleged promises of payment in return for redesigning Edison’s DC motor drove Tesla to quit. After about a year, he founded his first company, Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing. Over the next few years he embarked on an inventing spree, from a brushless AC induction motor, to X-ray imaging, to wireless energy transmission in 1891. Eventually Tesla proved the superiority of AC power transfer, which is used throughout the world today.

Although an outstanding inventor, Tesla exhibited patterns of eratic behaviour throughout his life. His troubled mental state was accompanied by brilliant ideas, which he described as coming to him in a flash. He dropped out of both Austrian Polytechnic and Charles-Ferdinand University. At one point he severed contact with friends and family, leading some to believe he had drowned, although he was working in Marburg. Later in life, Tesla became more eccentric, and with extreme obsessive compulsive disorder began to be regarded as a “mad scientist” in the press. Tesla died at the age of 86, leaving behind vast swathes of research that were quickly declared to be top secret by the FBI.

Learn more about Nikola Tesla