A Tesla coil converts low-voltage alternating current electricity to very high voltage and increases the frequency. It is named after its inventor, eccentric genius Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), who displayed his first model in 1891. The main aim of the Tesla coil was transmission of electricity through the air, part of a great dream to provide electricity without using wires.
Tesla coils have a long and colorful history in science and technology sideshows. Before the Griffith Observatory Tesla coil went on display in 1937, it belonged to Dr. Frederick Finch Strong. He was a physician and instructor at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Dr. Strong used electricity in the healing process and relied heavily on Tesla coils as part of his work. Eventually, he donated the major components of this instrument to the City of Los Angeles.