Born in 1856, the Serbian-American futurist Nikola Tesla has a name synonymous with his passion for electricity. But many of his lesser known concepts have since become standard fixtures of modern society. Let’s take a closer look at some of the predictions this innovator made and consider his legacy, as well as the contribution he could have made to a more interconnected world.
Building Bridges and Connecting People
When we consider the fact that Tesla was born over 150 years ago, it may seem rather hard to believe that the man actually foresaw Wi-Fi. Tesla was obsessed with wireless communication, which was quite remarkable in a time when wired communication was still in its infancy. He predicted a time when audio, video, and documents would bounce around the world uninhibited by distance. The world still had to wait until the nineties, when, with the advent of the internet, his dream became our reality – where we use digitel wallets and crypto payments, without even noticing it.
Smartphones in the 1800s
Tesla spoke of ‘Vest-Pocket-Technology’ in a dialogue printed in Colliers magazine in 1926. He foresaw a time when we could share events in real time, as if we were there.
In fact, in 1901 Tesla went as far as erecting the world’s first wireless communications tower on Long Island, USA. The idea was to transmit messages across the Atlantic all the way to England. Yet the project was a step too far ahead of its time, and financier JP Morgan refused to provide the additional funding required to make transatlantic wireless communication a reality. By 1906 the project was abandoned, and the tower was demolished for scrap 11 years later.
One technology that until lately still seemed like the height of futurism is that of wireless electricity. Tesla is most famous for his love of all things electric, and he dreamed of a time when a free supply of electricity could alleviate poverty and bring development to every level of society. Only very recently has wireless charging become mainstream, once again showcasing the extent of Tesla’s vision.
Tesla created the world’s first remote controlled boat in 1898, which was so far ahead of its time that onlookers at New York’s Madison Square Garden assumed there must have been a monkey inside doing the steering. “The world moves slowly, and new truths are difficult to see”, said Tesla, reacting to their disbelief. Indeed, 100 years on, and drones, direct descendants of the inventor’s brainchild, have applications that span countless sectors.
Leaving His Mark on Humanity
In a time when communication was inaccessible, expensive, and cumbersome, Tesla dreamt of an interconnected world. He foresaw a time when distance could be overcome through innovation, and people brought together through technology. More remarkable still is that he undertook steps to make this a reality, and gave the world an insight into the opportunities that lay ahead. Today, over 145 billion text based messages are exchanged between users around the globe each day, all delivered within milliseconds. Video calling links us in much the way that Tesla predicted. It only seems right that Tesla be remembered as the genius he was.