Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was an inventor and a mechanical and electrical engineer. He was one of the most important contributors to the birth of commercial electricity and is best known for his many revolutionary developments in the field of electromagnetism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tesla's patents and theoretical work formed the basis of modern alternating current (AC) electric power systems, including the polyphase system of electrical distribution and the AC motor, with which he helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution.
Tesla was born an ethnic Serb in the village of Smiljan, Croatian Military Frontier, Austrian Empire (today's Croatia). He was a subject of the Austrian Empire by birth and later became an American citizen. After his demonstration of wireless communication through radio in 1894 and after being the victor in the "War of Currents", he was widely respected as one of the greatest electrical engineers who worked in America. Much of his early work pioneered modern electrical engineering and many of his discoveries were of groundbreaking importance. During this period, in the United States, Tesla's fame rivaled that of any other inventor or scientist in history or popular culture, but because of his eccentric personality and his seemingly unbelievable and sometimes bizarre claims about possible scientific and technological developments, Tesla was ultimately ostracized and regarded as a mad scientist. Tesla never put much focus on his finances. It is said he died impoverished, at the age of 86.
The International System of Units unit measuring magnetic field B (also referred to as the magnetic flux density and magnetic induction), the tesla, was named in his honor (at the Conférence Générale des Poids et Mesures, Paris, 1960), as well as the Tesla effect of wireless energy transfer to wirelessly power electronic devices (which Tesla demonstrated on a low scale with incandescent light bulbs as early as 1893 and aspired to use for the intercontinental transmission of industrial power levels in his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project).
Aside from his work on electromagnetism and electromechanical engineering, Tesla contributed in varying degrees to the establishment of robotics, remote control, radar, and computer science, and to the expansion of ballistics, nuclear physics, and theoretical physics. In 1943, the Supreme Court of the United States credited him as being the inventor of the radio.