Tesla actually did receive quite a lot of recognition during his lifetime, but he's on this list because it was nowhere near the amount of love he deserved. The man ushered in the Technological Revolution, but he died deeply in debt and was almost immediately forgotten. But how could that be? I mean, Tesla invented modern electricity and wireless transmission, and pioneered countless new devices such as the Tesla coil and the induction motor. His notoriety as a captivating showman earned him friendships with luminaries like Mark Twain, and his quiet demeanor and ardent humanism endeared him to the public. What went wrong?
In short, Tesla was ripped off. A number of shrewd businessmen took advantage of his good nature, most famously Thomas Edison. Tesla helplessly looked on as others took credit for his genius. His immense legacy slipped into obscurity until the 1990s, when intrepid historians realized that this obscure Serbian inventor/engineer/physicist/wizard had been written out of the history books for all of the wrong reasons.This is why we soooo encourage all you lovely Masterminds to be the nerdiest history buffs you can be—there is so much uncharted territory in the past, and so many heroes are yet to be vindicated. Tesla is the ultimate historical comeback kid, a genius whose legacy has been resurrected thanks to grateful nerds everywhere. Who will be next?