Nikola Tesla was one of the most brilliant minds. His ability to speak 8 different languages, his four PhD degrees, his ability to solve complicated calculus problems in his head, his ability to memorize entire books, his creative approach to solving problems, along with his massive contributions to science and inventions that are still in use today, make him a prime candidate for having an extremely high intelligence quotient (IQ).

Some people have even gone so far as to say he could be among the smartest geniuses who ever lived. But what was Nikola Tesla IQ score?

Nicola Tesla never took any type of official IQ tests, but estimates of what his score would be have ranged anywhere from 160 to 300, depending on the type of IQ test being referenced. Most sources agree that his official IQ test score would be somewhere around 200, plus or minus 10 points.

However, this intelligence quotient (IQ) measurement is an estimate based on available data. Since intelligence quotients are not normally distributed, the median IQ score of a population is 100. So there’s no simple way of knowing for sure if Tesla was indeed more than two standard deviations above the norm and thus truly deserving of his intelligence reputation.

Regardless of what Tesla’s official IQ score would be, there is not doubt that he was a highly intelligent person, which allowed him to be one of the most successful inventors of all time. For instance, Tesla is responsible for the development of alternating-current (AC) power. This innovation made transmitting electricity over long distances possible, and it would go on to nearly replace direct-current (DC) power.

About IQ Tests

In psychometric terms, an IQ test score range is a range of numerical values that reflects the scores of individuals who have taken a particular type of IQ test. Most modern tests yield a range from approximately 70 to 130 points, while older types of tests may have scored results in the range from 60 to 160 points.

IQ score distribution is more important than range, because range only tells you that the lowest possible score is 60 and highest possible is 160. What we really want to know is what types of scores people typically get on an IQ test: 70-79: defect 72-81: Borderline 83-93: Dull 94-105: Normal 106-115: Bright 116-125: Very Bright 126-137: Highly Gifted 138-150: Genius

IQ scores obtained later in life can be compared to IQ scores obtained earlier in life, but only when the scores meet certain requirements (normality of distribution and equality of variance). There is much debate about whether or not to compare IQ test results obtained at different ages, while designers of various IQ tests ensure that they can be reliably compared.

IQ Score Uses

IQ tests are used widely in various settings. They are also seen as useful for determining if a person is intellectually disabled or gifted on an individual basis. These tests are also favored by courts to determine defendant competence and criminal responsibility.

These tests are most often administered individually where verbal or nonverbal behavior may interfere with the test, or when a person has a mental disability that prevents their interpretation of the test. The NIDRR also notes that these tests are used extensively in educational settings to help students identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as plan an appropriate course for academic skills acquisition. In addition, IQ scores might be used for placement in gifted education programs, or to determine if a student is eligible for special education services. IQ tests are also used extensively in clinical settings, where they might be used to identify intellectual disability, mental disability, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and even giftedness.

About Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

Tesla is considered as one of the most important contributors to the birth of commercial electricity. His many revolutionary developments in the field of electromagnetism in the late 19th and 20th centuries were based on the theoretical work of Italian physicist and fellow countryman, Galileo Ferraris.

Early Years

Nikola Tesla was born during mid-July 1856 as the fourth of five children to Serbian parents in the village of Smiljan, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia). His father, Milutin Tesla was a priest in the Serbian Orthodox Church. His mother Djuka Mandic was an inventor of household appliances. Tesla studied electricity for several years before he left for Graz, Austria to attend the Realschule, where he completed his secondary school studies in only two years instead of the usual four. Tesla then attended the Technical University of Graz, but left after two semesters due to the university’s lack of emphasis on experimentation.

Tesla continued his studies at the Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague, but he still felt it was lacking the experimental component that could stimulate his intellect. This led him to move to Paris where he attended the L’Ecole Electricite. Later in 1882 he moved to Strasbourg, where he enrolled at the University of Strasbourg in order to simultaneously attain three diplomas in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and physics.

Tesla obtained further education privately in the evenings since tuition was expensive. He often visited generators in Parisian factories for recreation, which sparked his interest in the way power was produced. He attempted to design a flying machine after studying aerodynamics and investigating what type of fuel would be best for an airplane’s engine, but he lacked the mathematics knowledge needed to design something capable of flight.

Tesla married his childhood sweetheart, but her younger sister tragically died soon afterward. That same year, Tesla decided to go to the United States and began his work in New York City.

New York

Nikola Tesla arrived in the city of New York when he was 27 years old and hardly had money or a job. He spent much of his time attending lectures at the library and engaging in conversations with engineers from Thomas Edison’s company. He talked his way into Thomas Edison’s lab and ran some of his experiments, but he wasn’t immediately hired. After a few months Tesla was finally brought on as an engineer at the Continental Edison Company in Paris.

It was in Paris that Tesla worked closely with Edison’s chief European engineer, Charles Batchelor. Once again, he fell into financial problems and couldn’t keep up his rent payments. He went back to New York City where he was promised six thousand dollars if he would be able to improve Edison’s DC dynamos.

Tesla succeeded in improving Edison’s existing designs and was promised the money, but Edison’s company didn’t pay it all to him. Tesla later took the company to court over this issue. He traveled back to Europe in 1884 after settling his case with Edison where he started giving lectures on electrical engineering.

National Success

Nikola Tesla returned to New York City in April 1885 to work with George Westinghouse, whose company began manufacturing Tesla’s alternating current induction motor together with a transformer and other components of his electrical power system. This allowed electricity to be transmitted over long distances before finally stepping it down to acceptable levels for usage.

This collaboration ended in 1889 after they had some disagreements about the distribution of profits. Westinghouse went on to try and solve the problem of sending electrical power over long distances, but he would later give up.

Nikola Tesla’s first brush with fame came in 1891 when he demonstrated a working model of his induction motor at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers meeting. The rotating magnetic field principle that Tesla used in his induction motor and generators later became the standard power delivery system of today.

Tesla figured out how to send alternating currents along high voltage wires to substations where they could be stepped down for consumer usage. He also built some of his electrical devices on a laboratory island he created called Wardenclyffe Tower, which was located on rural Long Island, New York.

One of the biggest issues Tesla was having during this period was that he couldn’t make money off his patents unless they were involved in industry. His inventions were too valuable for their time to be used only as demonstrations. He spent most of his remaining days trying to gather up enough funds to put his ideas into action, but his research was constantly being delayed by this.

Tesla later used his Wardenclyffe Tower to experiment with wireless power transmission, but it didn’t work as well as he had wanted. The US government ended up taking over the project and made a few changes to Tesla’s original design which only resulted in creating an early-warning system for incoming ships. It was never put into full operation.

The Wardenclyffe Tower experiment cost Tesla $150,000 dollars which he didn’t have. He went on to lose all of his money in the 1917 market crash and the structure was torn down later that year.

Tesla continued to try to get funds for other projects he had thought up, but he wasn’t able to do so before his death in 1943. Tesla died penniless and alone in the hotel New Yorker, but he still managed to inspire many other inventors for years after his passing.

Nikola Tesla’s Contributions

One of Nikola Tesla’s biggest contributions to history was the alternating current power system, which he had helped George Westinghouse develop. This device allowed electricity to be transmitted over long distances before it could be stepped down for usage.

The system of sending power this way had a huge impact on the world of energy and is still used all over the globe today. Tesla also helped invent some new devices such as an arc light, a bladeless turbine engine, and a steam turbine.

The Tesla induction motor also had some benefits for other inventors who were looking to make improvements of their own. The single-phase induction motor that Tesla came up with was something which people could use in order to create fractional horsepower motors. This allowed many devices, such as electric razors, drills, and fans, to be made and brought into the homes of everyday people.

Image credit:

Original author unknow; colored by Ivar van Wooning, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons