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Life of Nikola Tesla & His Place in the History of the Telephone

Nikola Tesla was Yugoslav-American inventor who helped develop various power systems and motors. Related to the history of the telephone, he patented a type of wireless telegraphy. Though regarded as extreme, his work was important for gains in early telephone developments.

When looking at the history of the modern day telephone, the work of Nikola Tesla cannot be ignored. Tesla was born on June 28, 1856 to Serbian parents. As the fourth of five children, Tesla lost his only brother at a very young age. He attended school at Higher Real Gymnasium and finished a year early. He studied electrical engineering at the Austrian Polytechnic but never earned his degree. In December 1878, Tesla lost all connection with family and friends. He got a job as an assistant engineer for a year, but suffered a nervous breakdown during his time there. Reconnecting with his father led him to attend the Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague. Right after his father died, he left the university and again received no degree. Tesla had become very sick many times in his life. While under the weather, he would visualize an invention in his mind. As soon as he became well, he could construct the invention he has visualized.

Tesla arrived in the United States in June of 1884. While in New York City, he was hired by Thomas Edison. He began with simple electrical engineering and then quickly moved onto solving some of the company’s most difficult problems. In 1886, Tesla formed his own company, Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing. Tesla had his own plan for alternating current motor, which none of his investors agreed with. That led to the destruction of his company. In 1887, Tesla constructed the initial brush less alternating current induction motor and the Tesla coil. He also had many ideas for poly phase systems which would allow transmission of alternating current electricity over long distances. The poly phase system ideas would have laid the groundwork for electronic telephone transmissions over long distances.

The modern day X-ray, then known as bremsstrahlung, was an invention of Tesla, operated by emitting electrons for the single electrode through field electric and thermionic emission. This invention also encompassed the Tesla Coil to generate the X rays. Tesla invented the Tesla generator in 1895 while experimenting with the liquefaction of air. Right before completing the project his laboratory burned down destroying everything.

The Tesla effect was the name given to the application of the transmission of electrical energy without wires. Tesla demonstrated the movement of energy through space and matter in 1891. Tesla started working with Edison again in promotion of direct current for electric power distribution. A few years later he filed the first radio patent and demonstrated a radio-controlled boat to the US military. He moved to Colorado Springs in order to have room for his high-voltage, high-frequency experiments. At that location, he was able to prove that the earth was a conductor and produced artificial lightning.

Tesla died of heart failure in New York on January 7, 1943. He will forever be known as one of the greatest inventors, mechanical engineers, and electrical engineers of all time. In regards to the history of the telephone and what we know of as the modern day telephone answering service, Tesla's work on electricity and conduction of current over long distances became absolutely instrumental to the telecommunications industry was one of the building blocks that gave birth to telephone answering service technology.

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