Without a doubt, Elon Musk is a child prodigy and a polymath just like Nikola Tesla. At just 12, he wrote a game called Blaster and sold it for $500. He is known to have memorized the entire encyclopedia and some books.
For his part, Nikola Tesla was a person of absolute genius. He is known to have had a photographic memory, meaning he could design, build, and test all of his inventions using only the power of mental focus.
Without making a single sketch, Nikola Tesla could build precise working models of his electrifying inventions. At a very young age, his keen intelligence allowed him to find the solution to complex calculation problems, leaving teachers to suspect that he was cheating in one way or another.
Nikola Tesla has around 212 inventions under his name, when Elon Musk didn’t invent anything groundbreaking like him. Although people consider him an engineer, it would be more correct to say that he is also innovative and visionary. Some of his companies like Hyperloop, Tesla or even Neura link are not his inventions in themselves.
Such a concept invention had been around for a long time, but he sensed the potential and tried to make it a reality. He has a knack for turning big dreams into a daily reality.
Certainly they were way ahead of their time. Nikola Tesla believed that in the future there would be robots that could do the work of the people safely and efficiently. In 1898, he made a demonstration by developing a radio-controlled boat.
In 1930, he, as some claim, invented a particle ray weapon, known as the “death ray.” The device had to be able to generate an intense, directed beam of energy capable of destroying enemy aircraft, an army, etc. Tesla’s discoveries made it possible to transmit electricity long distances through the atmosphere, supplying remote areas with needed energy.
On the other hand, Elon Musk launched Neuralink, a company aimed at linking human brains to computers. He also announced that SpaceX will fly two tourists around the Moon, with an unmanned test that has already taken place.
A few years ago, during an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on Reddit, Musk revealed his plan to colonize Mars with a new carrier, with plans to come out by the end of this year 2021.
Business and entrepreneurship skills
Nikola Tesla’s approach
They are both very good engineers. Nikola Tesla seemed more theoretical in his approach to things. He pushed the frontiers of knowledge into areas that others did not see. He was more of a scientist than an engineer. He changed the world. A great man for sure. But… he died broke.
Indeed, Nikola Tesla is a forgotten legend, most of his ideas were misused by others. He did not achieve recognition for these inventions during his lifetime. It may be because he was not an entrepreneur and had to work for people like Edison, who, an extraordinary communicator and ruthless businessman, got the better of him.
The pragmatism of Elon Musk
On the contrary, Elon Musk knows exactly what to do: he launched companies like Tesla, SpaceX, … at first. Then he hired people to carry out his ideas. He is more of an engineer than a scientist. He is really good at applying existing technology. His vision for the future is clear, and he is determined to get there.
Its strengths are:
- a vision of the future,
- organizational engineering / management,
- production engineering (he says his factory is the product-not the car),
- materials engineering (battery and alloys).
Elon Musk will die rich, but he won’t care. Nothing he does would have been possible without Tesla.
Thus, Musk may not be a serial inventor, like Nikola Tesla. But he has an intuitive understanding of the big picture. His technical genius is unquestionable, and without his financial and marketing skills, he could never have turned the solid companies that make electric cars, solar panels and rockets into real products that people want to buy.
He is a successful man who has built two great companies in at least two different fields. It depends on how you count SpaceX/Starlink and Tesla the auto company vs Tesla the electric company.
To put it simply, Elon Musk is more the engineer/inventor/entrepreneur, whereas Nikola Tesla was a brilliant scientist. And if one didn’t care about money, the other is the richest man in the world. But both are visionaries of their time. In the 21st century, we definitely need more people like Elon Musk who can make seemingly impossible things a reality.