Born and raised in the Austrian Empire, Tesla received an advanced education in engineering and physics in the 1870s and gained practical experience in the early 1880s working in telephony and at Continental Edison in the new electric power industry.He immigrated to the United States in 1884, where he would become a naturalized citizen.He worked for a short time at the Edison Machine Works in New York City before he struck out on his own.
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In 1881, Tesla moved to Budapest, Hungary, to work under Tivadar Puskás at a telegraph company, the Budapest Telephone Exchange.
Upon arrival, Tesla realized that the company, then under construction, was not functional, so he worked as a draftsman in the Central Telegraph Office instead.
He arrived too late to enroll at Charles-Ferdinand University; he had never studied Greek, a required subject; and he was illiterate in Czech, another required subject.
Tesla did, however, attend lectures in philosophy at the university as an auditor and he did not receive grades for the courses.His alternating current (AC) induction motor and related polyphase AC patents, licensed by Westinghouse Electric in 1888, earned him a considerable amount of money and became the cornerstone of the polyphase system which that company would eventually market.Attempting to develop inventions he could patent and market, Tesla conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillators/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging.During his first year, Tesla never missed a lecture, earned the highest grades possible, passed nine exams During his second year, Tesla came into conflict with Professor Poeschl over the Gramme dynamo, when Tesla suggested that commutators were not necessary. At the end of his second year, Tesla lost his scholarship and became addicted to gambling.During his third year, Tesla gambled away his allowance and his tuition money, later gambling back his initial losses and returning the balance to his family. When examination time came, Tesla was unprepared and asked for an extension to study, but was denied.He also built a wireless-controlled boat, one of the first ever exhibited.