Book Review - Tesla, Inventor of the Electrical Age

April 02 2016

Nikola Tesla was of course a gigantic figure in the development of science, physics, and electricity. Bernard Carlson’s Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age is a good and functional biography of Tesla.

I’m writing this post much later than I finished the book, so I’ll keep this short. There were two things that struck me about Tesla, that came across so clearly in this book. First, if Tesla were here today, he’d be operating simultaneously in 4 different roles: researcher, engineer, and product manager, and business development. It really was remarkable to read about how Tesla would be conducting research on the Tesla coil, engineer prototypes, understand the competitive environment and how his product fit, and be the chief promoter of the product with lighting companies.

Second, Tesla had an entire second half of his life that was not productive or successful. He continually tried for new ideas and inventions but could not break through. Near the end of his life, he actually started having birthday press conferences, just to remind others that he was still alive. It’s truly a sad conclusion to a brilliant life. There’s something about genius and creativity that is really brittle - it certainly doesn’t last forever. Tesla’s latter half reminds me of Sibelius, who infamously worked on his last symphony for nearly two decades, and just couldn’t bring himself to complete it.

Topics: Book ReviewsTechnology

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