Nikola Tesla, the scientist and inventor, one of the greatest men in history. Nikola Tesla was born on July 10,1856 in Smiljan, Lika in what later became Yugoslavia. His father, Milutin Tesla was a Serbian orthodox priest and his mother Djuka Mandic was an inventor in her own right of household appliances. Tesla studied at the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria and the University of Prague. He began his career as an electrical engineer with a telephone company in Budapest in 1881.