As a man who basically invented electricity, it's only fitting that Tesla was born during a lightning storm. It was a particularly chaotic one, and the midwife at the time thought it foreboded bad things for Tesla. But Tesla's mom fired back — she had enough adrenaline to push three trucks — and said, "He will be a child of light." And he was... metaphorically too.
Tesla's memory was unlike that of most people. He had what's called an eidetic memory, more or less a photographic one, which means he could summon up images and entire books in his mind. This meant that he didn't need models to investigate one of his inventions — he could do it in his old noggin.
Tesla kept many pigeons as dutiful pets, but one in particular captured his heart. He was staying at the St. Regis hotel when a pigeon flew in through the window, and looked up at him. Its eyes shone with a brilliance he had never seen, and Tesla thought the bird was the harbinger of death. The pigeon then died in front of Tesla, and he knew that his life work had come to a close.
Mark Twain and Tesla were tight. Mark Twain's bowels were also tight, in that he was constipated. Meanwhile, Tesla had thought he invented an earthquake machine, but it was actually just a piston-driven engine that would make the whole hotel rattle. One day, he had Twain stand on the thing, and flipped it on. Within 90 seconds, Twain was bounding for the bathroom.
When Tesla was just seven, he saw his older brother die in a riding accident. The event marred and marked Tesla's life from then on. The son of a long line of priests and religious folk, Tesla started seeing visions — "tongues of living fire", etc. — before him. He was able to use his supreme mind to conquer, to a degree, these visions, but they never left him.
After University, Tesla traveled to America in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison. Tesla impressed Edison, maybe even threatened him with his brilliance. Edison offered $50,000 to anyone who could make an improved direct current generator, and Tesla worked assiduously to do just that. But when he completed his invention, Edison refused to pony up the cash, and Tesla quit. To provide for himself, Tesla was reduced to digging ditches for two years before he was scouted by some investors.
In 1899, at his lab in Colorado Springs, CO, Tesla received transmission of a "bleeping" noise on one of his receivers. He thought it was coming from another planet, possibly from other life forms. A century later, the machine was replicated, and Tesla was vindicated: turns out, that bleeping was caused by Jupiter's moon Io passing by the planet itself.
Tesla had a number of quirks. It's believed he only slept two hours a night. He more or less always ate at the same table at the hotels he dined and stayed. He was a germaphobe, and required 18 napkins when he ate. And he also had over 100 pairs of gloves.
Tesla found himself in debt not a few times. At the Waldorf Astoria, he paid up in a most novel manner. He gave the clerk a box, in lieu of payment, he said contained a working model of his "death beam" (not death ray) which he believed would bring war to an end. He expressly told the clerks there not to open it. After his death, and some decades later, they pried open the box, and found nothing but innocuous electrical materials in it. Suckers!
Nikola Tesla was a geek, but he was not freak. Or maybe he was... in the boudoir. He was a slender man, tall, of darker complexion, and fit. It is said that he attracted the ladies, some of whom fell madly in love with him. And he was a bomb dresser. Again, 100 pairs of gloves.