Nikola Tesla briefly resided in Maribor, Slovenia, in 1878-1879. He was employed as a draftsman for a local engineering firm while also seeking opportunities for further education. His time in Maribor was relatively short, spanning only a few months before he moved to Graz, Austria, to attend the Graz University of Technology. Although Tesla’s stay in Maribor was fleeting, it represented a crucial time in his early life.

In a memoir, his old roommate and friend, Kosta Kulišić, shared a fascinating tale. He bumped into Tesla in the company of two gentlemen. Upon asking about his well-being, Tesla revealed he’d found employment with an engineer and was making a handsome salary. This job, likely as a technical draughtsman or engineer’s assistant, was his first regular gig.

Their meeting allegedly occurred in an inn, which would later be known as “Veseli kmet”. This was a favorite spot for Tesla, not for the drink or female company, but for his love of cards and billiards, games at which he excelled.

Despite the revelatory encounter, Tesla’s exact residence in Maribor remained a mystery. Likely, he stayed on what was then Tegetthoff Street. His time in Maribor came to an abrupt end on March 8, 1879, when local authorities arrested him for not having a registered residence. Tesla was deported to Gospić shortly after.

During his tenure in Maribor, Nikola Tesla functioned as a draftsman. Individuals in this role typically create technical drawings based on preliminary sketches, specifications, and calculations provided by engineers, surveyors, architects, or scientists. 

Tesla’s period in Maribor potentially contributed to his later career and discoveries in the following ways:

  • Work Experience: His role as a draftsman would have equipped Tesla with practical experience in technical drawing and fundamental engineering principles. This know-how would have been valuable when he later attended the Graz University of Technology and throughout his career inventing and developing new technologies.
  • Understanding Machinery: Tesla, as a draftsman, likely worked alongside engineers and potentially participated in the design and execution of various machines and systems. This experience could have provided him with a deeper comprehension of machinery, which would later inform his own inventions and innovations.
  • Interest in Electrical Engineering: Tesla’s stint in Maribor might have ignited or consolidated his interest in electrical engineering. While it is unclear if he worked directly with electrical systems during his time in Maribor, the technical work would likely have exposed him to a range of engineering problems and solutions.
  • Discipline and Hard Work: Holding a job at a young age, particularly in a technical field, could have instilled in Tesla a robust work ethic and discipline. These qualities would have been instrumental during his intensive research and experimentation later in life.

Living in Maribor may have influenced Tesla’s thoughts and ideas in the following ways:

  • Exposure to Engineering Practices: Tesla’s role as a draftsman in Maribor would have acquainted him with the practical aspects of engineering. This exposure could have stimulated or deepened his interest in this field.
  • Industrial Environment: Maribor was known for its industrial sector, and this backdrop might have kindled Tesla’s interest in machinery and technological advancement.
  • Cultural Influence: As a city of cultural and historical significance, Maribor may have shaped Tesla’s worldview, potentially fostering a global perspective evident in his later works.
  • Independence and Responsibility: Early employment likely nurtured a sense of responsibility, work ethic, and independence — traits that were integral to Tesla throughout his life.