SLIDESHOW: Bizarre Habits of 9 Highly Obsessive CEOs
Before there were Abercrombie jets, before there was a Magic Kingdom, before The Donald…there was Tesla. An Austrian-born Serb who died penniless despite being one of the greatest scientists and inventors of all time, Tesla has become a sort of cult figure in pop culture.
Tesla’s long-standing feud with Thomas Edison and his tragic life story make him an easy figure to idealize, and there’s good reason to admire him; in his prime working years from about 1884 to 1930, he invented everything from the spark plug to the airplane turbine engine to the remote-control boat. His high-voltage and high-frequency experiments at Colorado Springs in 1899 were and still are some of the most ambitious and ingenious scientific projects ever performed.
In reality, though, Tesla was -- as an employer and as a person -- truly bizarre.
His obsessive-compulsive disorder, quite pronounced in his later years, gave him a hatred of round objects and of hair and an obsession with the number three. He was, at 6-feet 2-inches tall and 142 pounds, almost skeletally thin, and his dislike for overweight people caused him to fire a secretary who had put on a few extra pounds. Perhaps it’s just as well for the world that Tesla remained celibate his entire life.
Oh, and he never slept more than two hours at a time. And he sometimes saw blinding flashes of light accompanied by visions. And he fell in love with a pigeon. Nikola Tesla is that rare figure of such simultaneous brilliance and insanity -- think Michael Jackson -- that any really weird story about him is probably true.