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Inventor Nikola Tesla contributed to the development of the alternating-current electrical system that's widely used today and discovered the rotating magnetic field (the basis of most AC machinery). Nikola Tesla (July 10, 1856 to January 7, 1943) was an engineer known for designing the alternating-current (AC) electric system, which is still the predominant electrical system used across the world today. He also created the "Tesla coil," which is still used in radio technology. Born in what is now Croatia, Tesla came to the United States in 1884 and briefly worked with Thomas Edison before the two parted ways. He sold several patent rights, including those to his AC machinery, to George Westinghouse. Tesla's father, Milutin Tesla, was a Serbian orthodox priest and a writer, and he pushed for his son to join the priesthood. But Nikola's interests lay squarely in the sciences. Poor and reclusive, Nikola Tesla died on January 7, 1943, at the age of 86, in New York City, where he had lived for nearly 60 years. After suffering a nervous breakdown following the closure of his free energy project, Tesla eventually returned to work, primarily as a consultant. But as time went on, his ideas became progressively more outlandish and impractical. He grew increasingly eccentric, devoting much of his time to the care of wild pigeons in New York City's parks. He even drew the attention of the FBI with his talk of building a powerful "death beam," which had received some interest from the Soviet Union during World World II.
Tesla never married, claiming that his chastity was very helpful to his scientific abilities. However, towards the end of his life, he told a reporter, “Sometimes I feel that by not marrying, I made too great a sacrifice to my work….” There have been numerous accounts of women vying for Tesla’s affection, even some madly in love with him. Tesla, though polite and soft-spoken, did not have any known relationships. Tesla was a loner, even asocial as he was prone to seclude himself with his work. However, when he did engage in a social life, many people spoke very positively and admiringly of Tesla. Robert Underwood Johnson described him as attaining a “distinguished sweetness, sincerity, modesty, refinement, generosity, and force.” His loyal secretary, Dorothy Skerrit, wrote: “his genial smile and nobility of bearing always denoted the gentlemanly characteristics that were so ingrained in his soul.” Tesla’s friend, Julian Hawthorne, wrote, “seldom did one meet a scientist or engineer who was also a poet, a philosopher, an appreciator of fine music, a linguist, and a connoisseur of food and drink.” Tesla probably suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in his later years. He developed a hatred of jewelry and round objects, could not bear to touch hair, did not like to shake hands, and became obsessed with the number three. Tesla could be harsh at times, openly expressing disgust for overweight people, such as when he fired a secretary because of her weight. He was quick to criticize clothing. On several occasions, Tesla directed a subordinate to go home and change her dress.