Nikola Tesla is seldom thought of in the time in which his ideas belonged. Although Tesla invented the alternating current system of electricity in the late nineteenth century, he is truly an inventor of the late twentieth century. His ideas could have saved the U.S. millions of dollars during the Spanish American War, and World War I and II. If Mr. Tesla would have had more money, he quite possibly could be remembered today as one of the greatest inventors of all time. He may have been greater than Marconi, who used Tesla's patented inventions more than once to make himself famous. Or even greater than Edison, who hated Tesla with a passion, and is in part responsible for Tesla's anonymity. If Tesla would not have been plagued with jealous rivals or poverty we might know him for inventions such as RADAR, fluorescent lights, alternating current, transformers, submarines and many other great inventions. .
Born in Smiljan, Croatia, in 1856, Tesla would become an American inventor. As a child, Tesla spent most of his time reading. He read so much, in fact, that his father forbade him to read at night. In an attempt to enforce his decision, he hid all of the candles in the house. Tesla, thirsting for knowledge, made his own candles and continued to read at all hours. (Cheney, 1983).
Tesla engaged in his first inventive trials while still less than six years old. His first was a fishing hook. Though he tried, Tesla could not catch frogs in the pond. He made a hook and was able to catch more frogs than anyone. His second was an attempt to harness nature's energy by using Maybugs (Junebugs in America). He harnessed the Maybugs to a small water wheel and the bugs would fly for hours, causing the wheel to turn. The experiment was successful, Tesla recalls; that is until a strange boy came and ate the bugs (Tesla 1919). Tesla said that the experience discouraged him from ever touching another bug.