There is a common theme among all the outsiders who faced adversity by breaking the mold of their field. I’d say that struggle, heartache, and triumph are the main factors that parallel each other, however, it’s betrayal by others, who lack the imagination and intelligence of these outsiders, that is MOST common. The story of Nikola Tesla is a prime example of that. He completely changed the world, and yet was betrayed by those around him, and died alone without receiving the credit he deserved.
Nikola Tesla was born on July 10th, 1856 in Smijlan, a town in the Austrian Empire (now known as Croatia). His father Milutin was an orthodox priest, and his mother Duka came from a family also involved with the orthodox priesthood. He was one of five children (Dane, Milka, Angelina, and Marica) and they lived in both Smijlan and Gospic, and Karlovac. It was in Karlovac where Tesla would find his passion for electricity through his physics professor. He mentioned that those lessons made him want “to know more about this wonderful force”.
Nikola was incredibly smart, to the point that he routinely annoyed his teachers. They always thought he was cheating, because he could solve calculus equations in his head. His high intelligence allowed him to continue his education at a university in Graz, Austria…. however the amount of work almost destroyed him. Tesla abandoned studies at school, due to exhaustion, and indeed never graduated.
Even without his degree, he received a job through Tivadar Pukás at the Budapest Telephone Exchange… where Nikola would eventually be promoted to Chief Electrician. He then went with Tivadar to Paris, where he worked at The Continental Edison Company, and eventually to the US with Edison Machine Works.