25 Quirky Nikola Tesla Facts You’ll Want To Know

Posted by , Updated on November 12, 2022

Did you know that a lot of today’s technology was developed by an eccentric nerd? His name was Nikola Tesla and for a long time he didn’t get much recognition. His more entrepreneurial counterparts got rich off their inventions while Tesla remained poor. He was a fascinating character though. These are 25 Quirky Nikola Tesla Facts You’ll Want To Know.


He was born during a lightning storm. (July 9, 1856)

stormSource: pbs.org

Tesla was something of an environmentalist, which is why he studied ways to get natural energy from the ground and air.

windmillSource: nationalgeographic.com

Although he had quite famous friends, Tesla himself was never all that rich or famous. His more entrepreneurial colleagues experienced more success (like Thomas Edison).

TeslaSource: mentalfloss.com

Tesla was really good at playing pool and was even known to hustle people.

billiardsSource: pbs.org

Tesla initially worked for Thomas Edison on direct current generators. He later quit to pursue his own idea - an alternating current induction motor. This led to what some have dubbed the "Current Wars."

electricitySource: teslasociety.com

In spite of his lack of personal wealth, he had connections to places. In fact, he even lived in the Waldorf Astoria hotel during the height of the Gilded Age!

Waldorf AstoriaSource: teslasociety.com

Tesla claimed to only sleep for 2 hours every night (although he admitted to taking afternoon naps).

sleepingSource: history.com

Although the rivalry between Edison and Tesla has become something of a legend, historians point out that the two of them actually had a lot of mutual respect. Edison even provided Tesla with a lab when his burned down.

fireSource: pbs.org

Tesla was known for his photographic memory. In fact, he would memorize entire books!

booksSource: pbs.org

According to a family legend, upon being born, the midwife declared that Tesla would be a child of darkness (possibly because of the lightning bringing bad fortune). His mother, however, somewhat prophetically replied, "No, he will be a child of light."

lightsSource: history.com

According to legend, Tesla had an earthquake machine in his Manhattan laboratory. While it did shake a lot, it wasn't actually an earthquake machine. It was a high frequency oscillator.

new yorkSource: history.com

One of Tesla's more interesting quirks was that he hated touching hair.

hairSource: pbs.org

He was obsessed with the number 3.

dieSource: mentalfloss.com

One of Tesla's more interesting inventions was a 185 foot tower that he built on Long Island. It was allegedly meant to "suck" electricity out of the air. In 1917, however, it was torn down to pay off his debtors.

lightningSource: earlyradiohistory.us

By now you may have realized that Tesla was a quirky guy. One of his strangest quirks though? A thorough distaste for round objects!

sphereSource: pbs.org

As a child, Tesla had intense nightmares, something historians believed helped him to visualize his inventions later in life.

reaperSource: mentalfloss.com

At some point or another, Tesla envisioned both the X-Ray and radar.

radarSource: all-that-is-interesting.com

Tesla believed that in order to be successful, one had to look successful. He even wore white gloves to dinner every night and prided himself on being a good dresser.

suitSource: pbs.org

Since Mark Twain was known for having digestive problems, Tesla allegedly told him to stand on his "earthquake machine" until it shook the poop out of him!

Mark TwainSource: mentalfloss.com

Tesla was known for his extreme hygiene habits which were allegedly due to a nearly fatal episode of cholera when he was younger.

detergentSource: history.com

In spite of his nerdiness, Tesla was known for his wit and sense of humor. He even famously referred to Rudyard Kipling as an "inkspiller."

penSource: mentalfloss.com

While seeking funding from J.P. Morgan in 1901, Tesla described the invention he was working on...a cell phone! Of course, he didn't call it that (he used more technical terminology), but he was well ahead of his time.

phoneSource: pbs.org

Tesla's hydroelectric power system relied on waterfalls, something Tesla called "the wheelwork of nature."

waterfallSource: teslauniverse.com

Tesla hated pearls and refused to talk to women who wore them.

pearlsSource: pbs.org

Just to make it clear...Tesla and Edison had a love/hate relationship. Although Edison was initially dismissive, he eventually came to respect Tesla.

EdisonSource: mentalfloss.com

Photos: Feature Image: shutterstock (cropped), 25-24. pixabay (public domain), 23. wikimedia commons (public domain), 22-21. pixabay (public domain), 20. User: (WT-shared) Onyo at wts wikivoyage, The Waldorf-AstoriaCC BY-SA 4.0, 19. GNOME icon artists, Face-sleep, CC BY-SA 3.0, 18-15. pixabay (public domain), 14. Daniel Christensen at English WikipediaBlonde hairCC BY 3.0, 13-8. pixabay (public domain), 7. wikimedia commons (public domain), 6. No machine-readable author provided. Kristian Ovaska assumed (based on copyright claims)., FairyBottlesCC BY-SA 2.5, 5-2. pixabay (public domain), 1. wikimedia commons (public domain)


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