Early Influences

Early Influences
Higher Real Gymnasium in Carlstadt, Croatia
The Higher Real Gymnasium in Carlstadt, Croatia, where Nikola Tesla attended high school from the ages of 14 to 17.

When Nikola is about six years old his family moves to the city of Gospic where he attends school until 1870. Young Nikola is an excellent student who develops an interest in math, engineering and science. He shows an aptitude for applying what he learns, and explores concepts that influence his later work. A striking example of this is described in his autobiography:

“In the schoolroom there were a few mechanical models which interested me and turned my attention to water turbines. I constructed many of these and found great pleasure in operating them. How extraordinary was my life an incident may illustrate. My uncle had no use for this kind of pastime and more than once rebuked me. I was fascinated by a description of Niagara Falls I had perused, and pictured in my imagination a big wheel run by the Falls. I told my uncle that I would go to America and carry out this scheme. Thirty years later I saw my ideas carried out at Niagara and marveled at the unfathomable mystery of the mind.”

When Nikola is 14 years old, he goes to Carlstadt, Croatia, to live with his aunt and uncle, Colonel “Old Warhorse” Brankovic, so he can attend the Karlovac Higher Real Gymnasium. The school had a progressive physics program, and it is here that Nikola is first introduced to the science of electricity. He graduates the four-year program with honors after only three years, at the age of 17.

Tesla Childhood Influences
Young Tesla was greatly interested in water wheels and harnessing the power of waterfalls.

Pivotal Moments in Nikola Tesla’s Life

Explore the inventor's most influential moments and discoveries using our interactive Tesla Timeline.