Today, we are able to "shine a spotlight" on Nikola Tesla because of his invention. From About.com:
During his lifetime, Tesla invented fluorescent lighting, the Tesla induction motor, the Tesla coil, and developed the alternating current (AC) electrical supply system that included a motor and transformer, and 3-phase electricity.
Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856 in Smiljan, Lika, which was then part of the Austo-Hungarian Empire, region of Croatia. His father was a Serbian Orthodox Priest and his mother was an inventor in her own right of household appliances. Tesla studied at the Realschule, Karlstadt in 1873, the Polytechnic Institute in Graz, Austria and the University of Prague. At first, he intended to specialize in physics and mathematics, but soon he became fascinated with electricity.
Before going to America, Tesla joined Continental Edison Company in Paris where he designed dynamos. While in Strassbourg in 1883, he privately built a prototype of the induction motor and ran it successfully. Unable to interest anyone in Europe in promoting this radical device, Tesla accepted an offer to work for Thomas Edison in New York. His childhood dream was to come to America to harness the power of Niagara Falls.
Young Nikola Tesla came to the United States in 1884. Tesla spent the next 59 years of his productive life living in New York. Tesla set about improving Edison’s line of dynamos while working in Edison’s lab in New Jersey. It was here that his divergence of opinion with Edison over direct current versus alternating current began. This disagreement climaxed in the war of the currents as Edison fought a losing battle to protect his investment in direct current equipment and facilities.
This information comes from the Tesla Memorial Society of New York and you can read more about Nikola Tesla on their website.