My Inventions

ISBN: 1599869942
ISBN 13: 9781599869940
By: Nikola Tesla

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Reader's Thoughts

Paul Korir

This is the first book I've read that is incomplete-by-design: it refers to figures that are not present in the text. I wonder what the publisher had in mind.While I deeply admire Tesla, this book is eminently unreadable. I think it's a collector's item to be used more as a reference work than a book to be read from cover to cover. I say this because it reads like a personal diary; there's no continuity, no story.Nevertheless, it offers a wonderful insight into Tesla's mind, how he regarded his achievements and his eccentricities. It also shows how Tesla was way ahead of his time. I take it that deep understanding of a subject gives one powerful abilities of prediction. Some parts of the book read as 'familiar' because of how precise Tesla saw into our time and beyond.

Otis Chandler

Read this on Graham's recommendation, and it was *fascinating* to hear it from the man himself. Tesla was famous for inventing alternating current (AC), which is used in every house and electric motor today. He was a famous scientist of his time, and supposedly there was some rift with him and Edison. It appears actually that Tesla sold his patents and the company that bought them sued everyone else, causing his name to be associated with the suits, even though he wasn't really involved. Tesla is also known for being a little too eccentric later in his career, trying to invent things that were impossible like wireless power.I found this book a really good read, because Tesla is a character, and not a bad writer! He tells a lot of stories of his childhood, which were a very interesting glimpse into a great mind.One part I liked was when Tesla was expounding on his personal philosophy of health, or 'focusing on himself'. He was frequently ill and overworked, and had to spend a lot of time working on his health. At one point he says of coffee and tea "These delicious beverages superexcite and gradually exhaust the fine fibers of the brain. They also interfere seriously with arterial circulation and should be enjoyed all the more sparingly as their deleterious effects are slow and imperceptible." He then goes on to say "The truth about this is that we need stimulants to do our best work under present living conditions, and that we must exercise moderation and control our appetites and inclinations in every direction." I think this is my new philosophy.Tesla was also a believer that he who works harder will be successful. As someone who is starting a company (Goodreads), I'm starting to have a big appreciation for those who can believe in an idea against all odds, when everyone else believes it can't be done. It takes a special kind of person - one driven by passion in their ideas. Tesla's work schedule from college is also inspiring - he would work in the lab from 10am until 5am the next day. I've often heard lots of genius's haven't needed much sleep - I wish I could do that!

Jerry Travis

This has been very, very interesting. A book written by an undisputed genius in his very own words.I must say this book was a surprise. I was expecting lots of technical detail, but instead the book was filled with lots of interesting stories and insightful social comment. Some of the stories were even hilarious, causing me to laugh out loud a number of times.The book also gives some insight into what it's like to be a genius, and some of the abilities such a person possesses. For instance, drawing on a blackboard bored Nikola because he could draw things in his mind that were as real to him as if they were written down in the physical world. Indeed, later in life he used this ability to design a number of his inventions, and once constructed in the real world they worked the very first time since he had already tested them out - in his mind!Tesla also suffered from frail health most of his life, having several near death experiences. After one of these, he chronologically recalled in full detail his entire life from the time he was a baby in his mother's arms up to his present over a period of years - as if he was reliving everything.There are a number of social observations towards the end of the book that are still relevant to our time. Written during the Prohibition (1920-1933), Tesla foresaw a time when entire cities would be destroyed in an instant, and our only hope for peace was a global communication and transport system.My only disappointment in the man is that he was quite a determinist, to such an extent that he would have made B.F. Skinner proud. Still, for someone who single-handed invented our entire AC power grid and succeeded in promoting it over the objections of Edison, he was a genius of the sort that the world seldom sees.


The man doesn't age! There are photos of him from about 18 to 66 and he looks the exact same! He could also design, build and test machines inside his head -- if a single part was out of balance he would know before he ever put it together. Plus he masters the forces of the universe, created wireless electricity and speaks to you in that crazed early 20th century mad professor talk.

Matt Jarvis

A fascinating read. I found it best not to try and understand every detail, and he certainly makes some giant leaps of imagination but you can feel Tesla's passion in the colour of his anecdotes and explanations. His curiousity is infectious! I read this in a single sitting I was so engaged and I will visit it again.

Michelle Bishop

The man was brilliant.Reading his on words predicting drones, the Internet, and other items 100 years in advance amazed me. I would love to read some of the articles he wrote.

Philip Jordan

All one can say is AMAZING! I always get SO inspired when I read about figures like Nicola Tesla... I mean anyone who says - "My method is different. I do not rush into actual work. When I get a new idea, I start at once building it up in my imagination, and make improvements and operate the device in my mind. When I have gone so far as to embody everything in my invention, every possible improvement I can think of, and when I see no fault anywhere, I put into concrete form the final product of my brain.” - is worth researching & embracing! Cheers


Nikola Tesla was really a true genius with an unusual mind that could visualize things in great details, a condition he considered troubling at first but later used to his advantage in his inventions. He parents and brother were also highly intelligent people, which might influence him to be so intelligent and creative even as a child. He was an extremely hard worker. As a student he worked from 3am in the morning until 11pm everyday, with no weekends and holidays. His professors even wrote letters to his father that if he didn't take him away from the institution he would be killed from overwork. Later when he was working for Edison he worked continuously from 10am to 5am the next day without exception. He explained that he didn't need vacations unlike most people. When his energy was all used up, he only had to sleep for half an hour and wake up with a fresh mind. Tesla considered his best invention to be the Magnifying Transmitter. It all started with a lightning that followed by a deluge, which led him into thinking that if we could produce electric forces to that magnitude we could control and transform the forces and conditions of the nature on the whole planet. The magnifying transmitter that he built could generate up to 4 million volts (he also claimed that 100 million volts were also practicable). This invention would constitute his vision, the "World-System" of wireless transmission that can transmit information wirelessly to any part of the world. His visions of the world is almost the same as the world we live in now 100 years later from his time, where everyone is connected all over the earth, with closer distance and better understanding between individuals and communities. He believes that great inventions are not determined by the immediate commercial and industrial changes that they will bring about, but the humanitarian benefits that are valuable to the future generations.


MY INVENTIONS: The Autobiography of Nicola Tesla. (1919; this ed. 1982). Nicola Tesla. ***. Of the various accomplishments that Tesla could brag about, writing would certainly not be one of them. This “autobiography” is a collation of six articles that Tesla wrote for the magazine, “Electrical Experimenter” in 1919. He traces his life from his early days in Croatia, where he was born and raised, to his achievements in the world of electrical inventions. The things that he reveals in the early chapters give you the impression that he suffered from some form of mental illness or, perhaps, epilepsy. You’d have to read a true biography of his to find out. In this book, he simply documents the ‘spells’ that came over him while a child in Yugoslavia. He does highlight what he thought were his greatest achievements: 1) the invention of the Niagara power system that made Edison’s system obsolete; 2) his sale of forty patents to Westinghouse that broke a General Electric monopoly; 3) his discovery of the radio methods that Marconi later converted into a fortune; 4) the building of a radio-guided torpedo before Henry Ford ended the horse and buggy era; 5) his attempt to change the Earth’s electric charge; 6) became a name in the world of electricity and magnetism when his name Tesla, was used to name a new unit of magnetism. This edition comes with an introduction by Ben Johnson, a later biographer of Tesla.

Cassandra Kay Silva

Interesting man with a lot of contributions to modern technology and thought. I wish the book was more comprehensive, it was difficult to get into some of his discoveries when frankly I couldn't have enough of an explanation to really grasp all of them.

Rene Velocirapt0r

While by no means was this book as thorough as it could have been, both in terms of details about his life and experiments, its not often you get to read such a beautifully written retelling from behind the scenes of genius, especially by the person himself. Diagrams and further explanations might have completed this book if a proper understanding of who he was or what incredible leaps of thought and invention he bounded through and how they affected the world is what you were expecting. But personally what I enjoyed the most was realising the tenderness that comes from being so intensely creative and intelligent, without dehumanizing him into just a list of inventions and influences. Definitely worth a read, just for the unexpected whimsy and his honest concern for humanity. Also: incendiary arc! Hell yes

Matthewmartinmurray murray

This book was very well written. You get a pretty good idea of the curiosities of how Tesla was. He goes into interesting detail of how he invented things and his methodology concerning his creative process. He even describes with great detail how he first started training his imagination as a child and ended up visualizing things with remarkable accuracy. This book doesn't really go into equations and complicated engineering but is more about how Tesla came to be the timeless inventor of his age. He also describes the possible uses and future technologies that could eventually evolve from his ideas and ends up describing our modern world quite well. Some of the things that were not very strongly mentioned was detail about his rivalry with Edison. It seemed that he treated the whole situation with class by just mentioning it. I definitely recommend this book to anyone that has any interest in Tesla.

Jonathan Carlisle

If you want to discover all the ways that Nikola Tesla influenced our lives today, this is not that book. If you want a detailed historical account of his life, this is not that book. What it is, and it's everything I hoped it to be, is an intimate glimpse at how he ticked and his hypothesis on what made him tick that way. Other biographies would describe Tesla anywhere from a genius to an eccentric, from a man-out-of-time to a man disconnected from reality, from a man aware of his capabilities to a man of arrogance. Any one of those may be true, but there is no point of reference until you read it straight from the man himself. This should be the starting point of any research into the legacy of Nikola Tesla.


This collection of six autobiographical essays and three adorably misguided scientific papers offers a good deal of insight into the mad scientist who invented the twentieth century, but it can be rather difficult to get through. As it progresses, Tesla spends less time discussing his thrilling early exploits (the young prodigy was constantly in mortal peril) and more expounding upon his scientific discoveries and supposed breakthroughs. Not only are the technical details terribly dry (and frustratingly unaccompanied by his diagrams), but many of them are laughably erroneous. The more autobiographical portions are quite engaging, but they end too soon.

Alex Sarll

Nowadays, we're mostly familiar with the Tesla basics - archetypal mad scientist, ripped off by the charlatans Edison and Marconi, and A Bit Odd. But reading his own writings is still a revelation, in that however smart and however odd you think he is, you're barely halfway there. You know in a film or comic, where someone supersmart is shown accomplishing astonishing physical feats through lightning-quick calculation of the physics of a situation? Tesla could do that, and turn in mid-air like a cat at age 59. The concluding essay here, 'The Problem of Increasing Human Energy', is at once a massively ahead-of-its-time plea for renewable energy, and a bonkers tract of mechanical mysticism which wouldn't be out of place as a tract for the insane cult of Gordelpus in Stapledon's Last and First Men. At times (the obsolescence of copper in a world which has mastered aluminium), he's flat-out wrong, and he's one of the long line of techno-utopians who thought new inventions would bring world peace - yet you can't help wondering if, with Tesla at the helm, they might have done.Oh, and apparently his brother, who died when they were very young, was considered the smart one. Now there's an alternate reality I'd love to visit...

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