Nikola Tesla left behind a great legacy and a few gifted descendants. One of whom was Nikola John Trbojevich that was also a brilliant inventor. Only a few know of him and his long and dignified career but here he is.
NIKOLA JOHN TRBOJEVICH (NICHOLAS J. TERBO) 1886-1973
Mathematician, inventor and possibly the best-known gear expert of the modern age of the automobile, Nikola Trbojevich died December 2, 1973 within the age of 87 in California.? Mr. Trbojevich, also known socially as Nicholas J. Terbo, was the holder of 68 U.S. patents and also a similar or greater wide variety of foreign patents.? Surviving Mr. Trbojevich were his wife Alice Sinclair Hood (1891-1977) with the exceptional son William H. Terbo.
Mr. Trbojevich became a nephew of the great electrical genius Nikola Tesla \”The Father of Alternating electric current.\”? He was the very last survivor of a group of ten nephews and nieces borne by Tesla\’s three sisters.? The Tesla and Trbojevich families were of clerical backgrounds, priests within the Serbian Orthodox Church.? Tesla and Mr. Trbojevich were the one members of the extended family to pursue technological careers and the only ones to come to America.
Mr. Trbojevich\’s most notable work that brought him international recognition was the invention from the Hypoid gear.? First published in 1923, it absolutely was a new type of spiral bevel gear employing previously unexploited mathematical techniques.? The Hypoid gear is used on the great majority of all cars, trucks and military vehicles today.? Regarding his invention of the tools and machines required in its manufacture, the Hypoid gear became an important part of the final drive mechanism of automobiles by 1931.? Its effect was immediately apparent in this particular the overall height of rear-drive passenger automobiles was reduced by at least four inches.
Other inventions of Mr. Trbojevich will be in the fields of steering gears, worm gears, universal joints, positive displacement liquid pumps, gauges, and kit cutting and grinding machines.? Several of these inventions found important commercial and industrial use.? His Gleason gear shaping machinery, invented and stated in the late 1920s is being used to this day.? His reversible worm steering gear innovation was the initial of its type to allow a car\’s steering mechanism to revisit center after completing a turn maneuver.? His inventions for angular and linear differential gauge block systems are typically in common use as measurement masters in factories all over the world.? His final patent (1967), for the nuclear reactor, was held in application form for many years because of its defense sensitivity.
Nikola Trbojevich came to be on May 21, 1886, while in the town of Petrovoselo in the Austrian county of Lika while in the Austro-Hungarian province of Croatia (later Yugoslavia, the actual Republic of Croatia.)? His father was the particular Reverend (Prota) Jovo Trbojevich, at the time building a new Serbian Orthodox church in Petrovoselo, later to believe the post held by his father Very Reverend Danilo Trbojevich as Prota for the whole county of Lika based for the Trbojevich ancestral home at Medak.? His mother was Angelina Tesla, eldest sister (by six years) of Nikola Tesla and daughter of the very most Reverend Milutin Tesla of Smiljan and later at Gospic, the county seat of Lika.
Nikola was another of five children with two older brothers as well as two younger sisters.? As was expected, the eldest son, Pero (church name Petronius), became a Serbian Orthodox priest rising for the highest rank, Arhimandrit (Archbishop), without offspring and damaging the family clerical connection with Lika.? The other siblings also became professionals with careers out from the provincial county of Lika.? The second son, Uros, had been a lawyer and senator, representing Vojvodine closer to Belgrade, older sister, Mica, became a physician and director of the Woman\’s Hospital in Belgrade and younger sister, Marica, an educator at the upper school level.
After completing his primary schooling in Lika, Mr. Trbojevich was sent to Budapest for eight years of Gymnasium (middle and school) continuing to the Royal Technical University, graduating in 1911 together with the degree of Diploma Engineer.? By the time young Nikola had arrived in Budapest, Tesla was a world-known personality.? Whether by design or natural ability there was clearly strong parallels in the professional careers of Mr. Trbojevich and the uncle thirty years his senior.
After serving two years as an assistant to the Chief Engineer from the Royal Hungarian Post Office telephone department Mr. Trbojevich was offered an article as intern at the Western Utility company in Chicago with postgraduate courses at Northwestern University.? (His mother wrote significantly as an older sister to her younger brother, Nikola Tesla, \”Please work well and pay strict attention if you intend to do some good; help the boy in the firm.? I know this would be the most effective school for him.? Although be happy and at peace.\”)? He come to March 1914, but the position at Western Electric lasted an exceptionally short time as the war in Europe began.? His Austrian citizenship interfered using the national security aspect of the American telephone system and forced Mr. Trbojevich to switch direction toward the mathematics of gear design.
Mr. Trbojevich joined the Illinois Tool Works as being an engineer from 1915 through 1920 where he developed his specialty of drugs design and received his first U.S. Patent (issued in 1920).? When the principal consumer of gears could be the automobile industry, he chosen Detroit in 1921 and became an independent inventor and consultant.? Usual patents that define the radical form of the Hypoid gear (U.S. 1,647,157) as well as method of forming and performing (U.S. 1,465,149-1,465,151) were issued in 1923 and 1927.? The response was exceptional. Several years were focused on inventing the dozens of design details to your Gleason machinery necessary to cut the geometrical shapes within the gears.? Nearly a dozen patents were issued to Mr. Trbojevich to secure the Gleason equipment.
In 1921 Mr. Trbojevich married Alice Hood of Evanston Illinois, the daughter of William Hood a commodities dealer, investor and person the Chicago Board of Trade.? Miss Hood had already established a business career in Chicago right at that moment.? When they settled in Detroit they anglicized the difficult Trbojevich name to Terbo for social and her professional reasons.? Needless to say, Mr. Trbojevich\’s name was already established in his profession and was never changed.? He received his U.S. citizenship in Detroit on March 21, 1922.? Their first son John (Jackie) was given birth to in 1924 followed by William in 1930.? Tragically, Jackie died in a fall in 1937.? This was an unfortunate parallel on the Tesla family, who lost Nikola\’s older brother, Dane, inside of a fall at a similar age.
During the 1930s Mr. Trbojevich dedicated to improvements in automotive steering mechanisms, constant velocity universal joints as well as other implements to aid in their manufacture, areas intimately associated with American car and truck companies.? Lots of his improvements appeared on vehicles a number of of the major marques.? He was issued about two-dozen patents while in the decade for novel equipment and concepts.
Mr. Trbojevich\’s success and wide reputation changed his relationship with Nikola Tesla from that relating to uncle and nephew exchanging information of family matters to that of colleagues.? They wrote and visited regularly and commented and assisted on some of the complicated technical problems they each faced.? (After Tesla\’s death in 1943, Mr. Trbojevich cooperated together with cousin, S.N. Kosanovich, another nephew of Tesla after the war Yugoslavia\’s first ambassador to your United Nations, in directing Tesla\’s a large number of pieces of memorabilia to be positioned in a new museum in Belgrade.)
Although Mr. Trbojevich helped a number of major firms in those days, he retained his independent status until World war 2 became imminent.? His understanding of automotive drive systems along with the specialized machinery necessary to manufacture them made his talents good for the conversion to military vehicles.
After the war, he faced lots of the problems other inventors face: his own earlier patents were cited against his new patents in his areas of expertise.? This made a decision to donrrrt professor at the Lawrence Institute of Technology in Detroit a very practical path.? In 1960 Nicholas and Alice Trbojevich (Terbo) retired to New york where their son William was active in the missile and space industry.
For details contact:
William H. Terbo
21 Maddaket, Southwyck Village
Scotch Plains, Nj-new jersey 07076
Postscript:? The lack of progeny in the direct line following Nikola Tesla and his awesome three sisters is remarkable.? 10 nephews and nieces mentioned above produced only six within the next generation, five of which are descended via the Trbojevich line.? Of these six only William Terbo, son of Nikola, and Jovan Trboyevic, son of Uros, survive as of today.? I have often commented that while most family trees are in the shape of a Christmas tree, Tesla\’s family tree most resembles a telephone pole!