Self Help

Tesla - Carlson, W. Bernard

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Matheus Puppe

· 101 min read

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This biography by W. Bernard Carlson focuses on Nikola Tesla, one of the major inventors of the late 19th/early 20th centuries. It aims to demystify Tesla and place him in proper historical context.

The book covers Tesla’s life from his childhood in what is now Croatia, through his education and early work with Edison. It examines his pivotal inventions and experiments with alternating current in the 1880s. Tesla moved to New York City and promoted AC power.

In the 1890s, Tesla conducted famous demonstrations of wireless electricity and developed improved induction motors. He obtained patents for a radio-controlled boat and aerial wireless transmission of power. At a lab in Colorado in the late 1890s, Tesla experimented with extremely high voltages and frequencies.

In the early 1900s, Tesla attempted to build a wireless power transmission facility called Wardenclyffe Tower on Long Island. However, he ran out of funding before completing it. Tesla spent his later life promoting futuristic ideas but struggling financially. He died in 1943, still holding to his visions of wireless energy.

The biography aims to provide historical accuracy about Tesla’s life and scientific work, countering some of the myths that grew up around his eccentric personality and unfulfilled dreams. It analyzes both Tesla’s inventions and his self-promotion as an “idealist” inventor selling his vision to the public.

Here is a summary of the key points about arged particles based on the context:

  • Arged particles refers to charged particles, which are subatomic particles that have an electric charge such as electrons and ions.

  • Charged particles play an important role in electrical phenomena as electricity deals with the interactions and flows of charged particles.

  • Tesla was a pioneering inventor and engineer in the development of alternating current power systems. Much of his work involved producing, transmitting and utilizing charged particles/electricity through novel devices and experiments.

  • The passage discusses Tesla demonstrating the safety of alternating current by subjecting his body to 250,000-volt shocks and “becoming a most radiant creature, with light flaming at every pore of his skin.” This was likely a reference to charged particles being emitted from his body during the high voltage demonstrations.

  • Tesla was developing theories about transmitting electrical power wirelessly through technologies that would manipulate charged particles and electricity in new ways. The reporter found Tesla’s explanations of these theories incomprehensible as they dealt with concepts at the subatomic level involving charged particles.

So in summary, arged particles in this context refers to Tesla’s work with electricity and charged subatomic particles like electrons as part of his innovations in alternating current and wireless power transmission.

  • Nikola Tesla invented AC electricity which he believed could replace Edison’s incandescent lamps system of using DC power. He pushed for using high-frequency alternating currents to power electric systems.

  • Tesla was very excited about his ideas for wirelessly transmitting power and messages through the earth without wires. He was confident he could achieve this, though others thought he was dreaming.

  • A reporter named Brisbane interviewed Tesla for hours and was fascinated by everything he had to say about electricity and his other ideas. This made Tesla very well known.

  • While Tesla succeeded in the 1890s with inventions like AC power, by the early 1900s he struggled to get funding for projects like wireless power transmission stations. He had a nervous breakdown in 1905 as his promises exceeded what he could deliver.

  • The book aims to provide a balanced view of Tesla - examining both his successes and failures to understand what led to his dramatic rise and fall as an inventor. It will analyze how he invented, how his inventions worked, and what happened when he introduced them. The goal is to piece together Tesla’s life story in a way that explains both his peak and decline.

  • Plato imagined people trapped in a cave, shackled so they could only see shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire. This represented ordinary people’s limited understanding of truth, which is based on illusions.

  • The philosopher, freed from shackles, could see the fire and objects directly, representing understanding of true forms/ideals. Only philosophers could grasp universal truths.

  • Tesla took a similar idealist approach as Plato’s philosopher. He sought to understand the fundamental principles/ideals behind inventions like the rotating magnetic field and electromagnetic resonance.

  • Tesla would mentally design inventions by improving the idea until seeing no faults, then building the final product. This was opposite of Edison’s experimental approach.

  • Tesla absorbed the Serbian Orthodox view that all creation has underlying principles from God. His approach was like Faraday, whose science was influenced by religious beliefs.

  • Tesla exhibited “subjective rationality” - responding to inner ideas to radically innovate, versus assessing needs like incremental innovators.

  • To realize his ideals, Tesla had to generate illusions through demonstrations to capture audiences’ imaginations and secure resources, not deceive. All inventors must do this to discuss unproven technologies.

  • Tesla struggled between ideal and illusion as he focused more on illusions than building machines from 1894-1904, the height of his creative powers. He had to develop both ideas and ways to connect them to society.

Here’s a summary of the key points:

  • The Serbs have a long history of migration across the Balkan Peninsula due to conflicts and invasions by other groups like the Ottoman Turks. Some Serbs migrated from Serbia to Croatia in the 15th-16th centuries when the Turks expanded their empire.

  • Tesla’s ancestors were among the Serbs who migrated from Western Serbia to the mountainous region of Lika in Croatia in the 1690s to escape the Turks. They struggled to farm the rocky land.

  • Tesla was born in 1856 in the village of Smiljan in Lika, Croatia. His father Milutin was an Orthodox Christian priest and writer who advocated for Serbian education and autonomy.

  • Tesla came from a family with a history of military service (grandfather and uncle) but his father left the military to become a priest. The family moved around Croatia as his father was assigned to different parishes.

  • Tesla was born during a thunderstorm, prompting speculation he would be unusual. He grew up in a hardworking household with his father’s library exposing him to literature, science and more.

So in summary, it provides background on Tesla’s Serbian ancestry and migration history, as well as details about his birthplace and family in the village of Smiljan in Croatia where he grew up.

  • As a young child in Smiljan, Tesla enjoyed playing with his siblings and the family’s black cat Macak. One night, as Tesla stroked Macak, sparks began emitting from the cat’s fur, fascinating Tesla and introducing him to electricity at a young age.

  • Tesla had an active imagination and began tinkering at a young age, inspired by his inventive mother. Some of his early projects included attempts to build a flying machine and taking clocks apart. However, he struggled with vivid visions that were difficult to distinguish from reality.

  • At age 7, Tesla witnessed the accidental death of his older brother Dane, who was killed by the family’s horse. His father took this loss extremely hard. The family then moved from their village of Smiljan to the nearby town of Gospić.

  • After the move, Tesla felt like a prisoner in the new home and missed his village. His relationship with his grieving father became strained as his father pushed him intensely with exercises and to follow in his brother’s footsteps to become a priest. Tesla found escape through reading but his father disapproved of this.

  • As a child, Tesla struggled to please his perfectionist father and developed strange habits and obsessions like always doing things divisible by three. These obsessions plagued him throughout his life.

  • At age 12, Tesla read a novel called Abafi that inspired him to develop his willpower. He learned to control his visions and imagination through concentration and channeling his mind in productive ways. This helped him gain discipline needed for invention.

  • Tesla developed a mechanistic view that people are like “meat machines” who are merely responding to external stimuli. This removed notions of free will.

  • Tesla gained recognition by solving a problem with a new fire engine, showing him that technical skill could lead to approval rather than just pleasing his father.

  • Tesla attended school in Gospić where he excelled in math but struggled in other areas like drawing. He was already fascinated by turbines and dreamed of harnessing Niagara Falls’ power.

  • Tesla struggled with drawing in school because he preferred undisturbed thought over assignments. As a left-handed student, the right-handed assignments also made it difficult for him. His poor drawing grades almost caused him to be removed from school until his father intervened.

  • As a teenager, Tesla became obsessed with creating a flying machine. He theorized that using a vacuum and atmospheric pressure, he could create a rotating cylinder attached to propellers that would lift a person into the air. He built a model that demonstrated slight rotation when a vacuum was applied, exciting Tesla. However, he later realized the design would not work as a perpetual motion machine.

  • Tesla fell ill after completing his studies, which some speculate was related to his intense imagination. While recovering, he was introduced to novels by Mark Twain that he greatly enjoyed. He then continued his studies where he became fascinated by physics demonstrations, especially the Crookes radiometer. However, his parents still wanted him to enter the priesthood.

  • When another illness nearly killed Tesla, his father promised he could study engineering if he recovered. After spending months recovering and hiding from military conscription, Tesla conceptualized some ambitious transcontinental and global transportation schemes using pressurized pipelines and an equatorial ring around Earth. This revealed his talent for grand, system-level inventions based solely on his powerful imagination and visualization skills.

  • Tesla arrived at the Joanneum Polytechnic School in Graz, Austria in 1875 to study mathematics and physics with the intention of becoming a professor.

  • His favorite lectures were in physics given by Professor Pöschl, who provided a systematic introduction to electricity.

  • The history outlined would have begun with ancient Greeks observing static electricity from amber and silk, and progressed up to modern dynamos and electric lighting.

  • Key early figures included Benjamin Franklin studying static charge and Luigi Galvani/Alessandro Volta developing the first battery using alternating layers of metal and acid-soaked paper.

  • Hans Christian Oersted discovered in 1820 that electricity and magnetism were related when a compass needle was deflected near a wire connected to a Voltaic pile.

  • André-Marie Ampere further established through experiments that the flow of current (not just static charge) interacted with magnetism to cause motion, but the exact relationship was still being explored.

So in summary, Tesla would have received a thorough grounding in the history and experimental foundations of electricity through Pöschl’s lectures, setting the stage for his own later electrical inventions.

Here is a summary of Faraday’s principle of electromagnetic induction:

  • In 1831, Michael Faraday demonstrated that a changing magnetic field can induce or generate a current in a conductor. He showed that moving a bar magnet in and out of a coil would induce a current in the coil.

  • This phenomenon of inducing current via a changing magnetic field is known as electromagnetic induction.

  • Faraday established that for induction to occur, the magnet and coil must be oriented perpendicular to each other, with the induced current flowing perpendicular to both.

  • He hypothesized that magnets and coils generate electromagnetic fields, and changing these fields (e.g. by moving the magnet or turning current on/off) induces current or causes motion in the other object.

  • This principle laid the foundation for electric generators and motors. Generators induce current by moving a conductor through a magnetic field, while motors use current to create a magnetic field that moves a magnet or conductor.

  • A key innovation was the commutator, which converts the alternating current induced in a generator or motor into direct current suitable for applications like batteries and telegraph systems.

Tesla was inspired to develop an AC motor while attending a lecture by Professor Pöschl, who was demonstrating a DC motor connected to a Gramme generator. The motor’s commutator was sparking badly during the demonstration.

Pöschl dismissed Tesla’s idea of designing a motor without a commutator, calling it an “impossible idea” akin to perpetual motion. However, this challenge spurred Tesla to take up the task mentally.

Rather than building physical prototypes, Tesla used careful mental visualization to imagine how motors and generators worked. He decided alternating current would be better than direct current to avoid commutator sparking.

Importantly, Tesla did not just envision motors, but whole systems comprising interconnected motors and generators. This systemic approach allowed him to freely manipulate motor design without being constrained by existing paradigms.

Tesla’s mental engineering through detailed visualization, his shift to considering AC power systems rather than individual machines, and conceptualizing motors as interlinked with generators set him on the path to successfully developing a practical motor without a commutator.

  • Tesla moved to Budapest in 1881 seeking work helping to build a new telephone exchange supervised by Ferenc Puskás. Tesla had a recommendation from his uncle Pavle, who had served with Ferenc in the military.

  • The exchange was being built by Tivadar Puskás, who had received permission from Thomas Edison. Tivadar had visited Edison in 1877 and impressed him, securing rights to build telephone exchanges abroad.

  • In Budapest, Tesla worked calculating resistances of the network and making improvements. One evening while walking with Puskás, he conceived of the rotating magnetic field principle that became the basis for AC power systems and polyphase motors. This was a breakthrough insight.

  • Tesla’s work on the telephone exchange project ended after a few months. However, the insight he gained about rotating magnetic fields would drive his further work on developing alternating current power systems and AC induction motors.

  • Tivadar Puskás proposed to Thomas Edison that he could establish telephone exchanges in major European cities, which was a new idea at the time as Edison had mainly been thinking about private telephone lines.

  • With Edison’s approval, Puskás set up the first telephone exchange in Paris in 1879. His brother Ferenc then helped in Paris and traveled to Budapest to establish an exchange there.

  • However, Ferenc was not immediately able to hire Nikola Tesla. It likely took time to arrange financing for the Budapest exchange.

  • Through connections with the Puskás brothers, Tesla was instead hired as a draftsman in the Hungarian telegraph office. But he found the work boring and quit to focus on invention.

  • With the help of his friend Anthony Szigeti, Tesla recovered from a nervous breakdown. While walking and discussing ideas with Szigeti, Tesla had a breakthrough idea for an alternating current motor based on creating a rotating magnetic field using AC. This was a key insight that solved problems with earlier motor designs.

  • Tesla’s breakthrough consisted of realizing an induced rotating magnetic field could cause rotor rotation without currents being delivered to the rotor, solving issues with commutators and sparking. This was an important departure from conventional motor designs at the time.

  • Tesla had an insight while walking in a park in Budapest that if a magnetic field wrapped around a copper disk rotor, it should cause the disk to rotate.

  • Unlike previous approaches, Tesla realized the magnetic field of the stator (outer part) could rotate instead of changing the poles in the rotor (inner part). This would induce an opposing magnetic field in the rotor, causing it to turn.

  • Tesla then had a third insight that somehow one or more alternating currents could be used to create a rotating magnetic field without mechanical movement, which was key for an effective electric motor.

  • Scientist Walter Baily had previously demonstrated using two electric currents through four electromagnets to rotate a copper disk called Arago’s wheel. However, there’s no evidence Tesla knew of this work.

  • Tesla likely came to understand the potential of alternating currents through mental reflection, though he may not have fully understood how to implement multiple alternating currents in practice at that early stage.

  • The walk was a turning point for Tesla both intellectually and emotionally - he realized his potential as an inventor and path to achieve wealth and fame by exploiting this rotating magnetic field insight for AC motor development.

  • Tesla learned a lot about alternating current (AC) while working at Ganz & Co in Budapest in 1882. There he noticed a broken ring transformer that intrigued him. When a metal ball was placed on it, the ball began to spin, confirming for Tesla that AC could create a rotating magnetic field.

  • Tesla then went to work for the Edison organization in Paris, gaining practical engineering knowledge about dynamos and motors through hands-on work. This positioned him to turn his ideal AC motor concept into a real machine.

  • While at the Edison works, Tesla continued developing his ideas for an AC motor using multiple alternating currents to produce a rotating magnetic field. He sketched diagrams of his ideas in the dirt for some Edison colleagues.

  • The key points are that Tesla’s insights grew out of ongoing mental experiments, but were shaped by real-world exposure to electrical technology through jobs at Ganz and with Edison. This combination of theoretical thinking and practical learning prepared Tesla to turn his AC motor concept into a workable invention.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • In 1882 in Strasbourg, Tesla built a small experimental AC motor powered by a Siemens AC generator. The stator consisted of coils wound around a brass ring, with an iron disk as the rotor.

  • The motor did not work at first because the brass core could not be magnetized. Tesla solved this by jamming a steel file into the coil, which could be magnetized and induce currents in the disk.

  • When Tesla positioned the file so its magnetic field and the induced currents in the disk were in the same direction, the disk slowly rotated - proving his concept of an induction motor worked without commutators.

  • This was an important learning experience for Tesla - it showed him that real materials matter, not just theoretical designs, and cores need to be made of iron/steel, not brass.

  • While in Strasbourg, Tesla tried unsuccessfully to secure financing from local businessmen to develop his motor invention further. He returned disappointed to Paris and then to the US.

So in summary, Tesla’s experimental motor in Strasbourg in 1882 validated his induction motor concept but also demonstrated the challenges of practical implementation versus theoretical designs. It did not lead to financing but was an important proving point for Tesla.

  • Tesla arrived in New York in 1884 at the invitation of Charles Batchelor to work for Thomas Edison improving dynamos. He secured a letter of introduction from Tivadar Puskás to Edison.

  • Tesla was initially shocked by the crudeness of New York compared to Europe, but soon began troubleshooting problems for Edison’s organization. He repaired dynamos on a ship, impressing Edison.

  • At Edison’s workshop, Tesla redesigned the dynamos to produce more output. He also developed an arc lighting system but it was never implemented.

  • Tesla left Edison in 1885, disappointed at not being rewarded. He was then approached by Benjamin Vail and Robert Lane to start the Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing Company to develop an arc lighting system in Rahway, NJ. This was a growing market at the time with many small startup companies.

So in summary, Tesla came to work for Edison but left disappointed, then started his own company with Vail and Lane focused on developing and commercializing arc lighting technology.

  • Tesla was working for Thomas Edison but left after a pay dispute. He then worked on developing an automatic system for arc lighting with partners Vail and Lane.

  • By 1886, Tesla’s arc lighting system was being used in Rahway, NJ to light streets and factories. However, once the system was completed, Vail and Lane abandoned Tesla and created a new company, leaving Tesla with only worthless stock.

  • Struggling financially, Tesla filed a patent in 1886 for a thermoelectric motor. This invention helped connect him to Alfred Brown and Charles Peck, who saw potential in turning it into a commercial product.

  • Brown was a senior Western Union manager familiar with telegraph and electrical innovations. Peck was a lawyer also interested in telegraphy who had previous business experience exploiting telegraph technologies.

  • Brown and Peck provided Tesla mentorship and business support as he worked to perfect his most important invention - the alternating current (AC) electric motor. This marked a turning point as Tesla began mastering AC with their guidance.

  • Jay Gould, owner of Western Union, saw Mutual Union Telegraph Company as a threat and tried to gain control of it through lawsuits and harassment tactics.

  • Peck and Brown were the founders of Mutual Union and had previous experience competing against Western Union. They expanded Mutual Union’s network aggressively.

  • Facing legal challenges from Gould, Mutual Union struggled until 1885 when Western Union agreed to lease its lines. Peck had outmaneuvered Gould.

  • This experience made Peck and Brown well-suited to mentor Tesla. They recognized opportunities in electricity and helped promote Tesla’s inventions.

  • In 1886, Peck and Brown funded Tesla’s lab in Manhattan and the development of his inventions, including a pyromagnetic generator to directly convert heat from coal to electricity. This had great potential to improve power generation efficiency.

  • Tesla’s pyromagnetic generator design used a magnet and coils placed around iron tubes that could be alternately heated and cooled using steam, inducing electricity in the coils through electromagnetic induction. Peck and Brown were excited by this innovative idea.

Here is a summary of the key points about the piping between the boiler and the core in Tesla’s pyromagnetic generator:

  • The generator had a boiler that produced steam. This boiler also housed a coal fire that would heat iron tubes in the core/coils until they were dull red, around 600°C.

  • At this high temperature, the iron tubes would become demagnetized and the changing magnetic field would induce an electric current in the coils wound around the tubes.

  • Then steam from the boiler at 100°C would circulate through the iron tubes and cool them down. This cooling process would allow the magnetic field in the iron tubes to be restored.

  • The changing magnetic field as the tubes heated up and cooled down would cause currents to flow back and forth in the coils, producing an alternating current.

  • The piping carried steam from the boiler to circulate through and cool the iron tubes after they were heated by the coal fire. This heating and cooling cycle generated the alternating current.

  • However, Tesla had problems getting a large enough temperature differential between the heating and cooling cycles to generate significant electricity. The design did not work well in practice.

  • George Westinghouse was an inventor and businessman who founded the Westinghouse Electric Company. He possessed both technical skills and business acumen.

  • Westinghouse initially got involved in electric lighting in 1884 to diversify his business. He hired William Stanley Jr. who had developed an incandescent lamp and dynamo.

  • In 1885, Westinghouse saw potential in alternating current (AC) power transmission after reading about Gaulard and Gibbs’ AC transformer system. He realized AC could serve more dispersed customer bases than direct current (DC) systems.

  • Westinghouse acquired an option on the Gaulard and Gibbs system. Stanley developed a practical AC transformer and lighting system under Westinghouse. Their first commercial AC system launched in Buffalo in 1886.

  • Tesla perfected his AC induction motor design in response to investor George Peck and Mathew Brown’s concerns about AC. He demonstrated the rotating magnetic field concept using an apparatus that spun an egg, impressing Peck and Brown.

  • With funding support, Tesla developed early polyphase induction motors using laminated rings and coils to create rotating magnetic fields and induce currents in rotors for self-powered rotation. This represented a key advance over prior AC motor designs.

  • Tesla invented a remarkable new AC motor in 1887 that used a rotating magnetic field to drive the rotor, unlike previous motors. This rotating magnetic field was created using multiple alternating currents out of phase with each other.

  • In experiments that fall, Tesla’s motor setup used a generator to produce two separate AC currents from its rotor slip rings. The motor stator coils were connected in pairs to these currents. When the currents were 90 degrees out of phase, they created a rotating magnetic field that spun the rotor.

  • Recognizing the importance of Tesla’s invention, his backers Peck and Brown urged him to patent it. Tesla consulted the law firm of Duncan, Curtis & Page, where he worked with patent attorney Parker Page.

  • Tesla and Page decided to file broad patent applications covering Tesla’s motor as a complete polyphase power system, not just individual components. This was a bold strategy. However, the patent office objected and required them to split the applications.

  • Brown questioned the practicality of Tesla’s polyphase system with its multiple wires. He asked Tesla if he could design a motor that would work on existing single-phase AC circuits with two wires. Tesla then developed split-phase motors that created a rotating field using two out-of-phase currents on a single circuit.

  • Tesla and his backers Peck and Brown considered different business strategies for commercializing Tesla’s AC motor inventions, including manufacturing themselves, licensing to others, or selling the patents outright.

  • Historically, inventors often followed the risky strategy of manufacturing themselves to build companies like GE, but licensing or selling patents was also common, avoiding manufacturing risks.

  • Peck and Brown decided on a “patent-promote-sell” strategy - patent Tesla’s inventions, promote them to attract interest, then sell or license the patents to established manufacturers or investors.

  • This posed challenges of finding interested parties, generating excitement, and negotiating deals that recovered development costs but also minimized risks for buyers unsure of commercial potential or costs.

  • The goal was profiting from their investment in Tesla not through long-term manufacturing, but through shorter-term patent sales or licensing deals with others better equipped to commercialize the inventions.

  • Peck and Brown chose to promote and sell Tesla’s patents as their strategy to make money. However, promoting patents was risky since there were many competing patents and inventors at the time.

  • They sought to promote Tesla’s inventions in a scientific and objective way to capture the interest of electrical manufacturers.

  • To overcome Tesla’s obscurity, they had Professor William Anthony evaluate and test Tesla’s AC motors. Anthony was impressed and felt they were very efficient.

  • Anthony then promoted Tesla’s inventions among other engineers and gave a lecture about them.

  • Peck and Brown invited electrical press to Tesla’s lab to see demonstrations. Positive articles were published.

  • The centerpiece was Tesla’s lecture to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) where he explained and demonstrated his AC motor and transformers.

  • At the lecture, Anthony confirmed the efficiency of Tesla’s motors. Elihu Thomson, who was also working on AC motors, questioned if Tesla’s was truly practical. But Tesla stood by his inventions.

In summary, Peck and Brown strategically promoted Tesla’s inventions through demonstrations, positive reviews, and his AIEE lecture to gain attention and credibility among electrical engineers and manufacturers. But competition existed.

  • Tesla gave a demonstration of his AC induction motor to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1888. During the discussion, Thomson downplayed Tesla’s invention, saying he had built a similar motor but did not pursue it. However, the meeting chair Upton affirmed that Tesla’s was the first good AC motor presented publicly.

  • Tesla’s presentation gained significant attention in engineering journals. His lawyers Peck and Brown sought to sell the motor patents to recoup Tesla’s investment. They first approached Mather Electric but also contacted other manufacturers like Thomson-Houston and Westinghouse.

  • Thomson advised against Thomson-Houston purchasing the patents, feeling they had little value. Meanwhile, Westinghouse was interested because developing an AC motor was critical to selling their AC systems to utilities.

  • Westinghouse learned that the Italian physicist Galileo Ferraris had also investigated rotating magnetic fields in 1885 but concluded a practical motor was not possible due to efficiency losses. Westinghouse purchased the rights to Ferraris’s work.

  • Concerned about potential patent issues, Westinghouse representatives tested Tesla’s motors and were impressed, though acknowledging the description was difficult to fully understand. Westinghouse moved forward with negotiations to acquire the Tesla patents.

  • Tesla developed AC induction motors and worked with investors Alfred Brown and Charles Peck to develop and demonstrate the motor designs.

  • Peck tried to get the best deal by bluffing that another company offered $200,000 for the patents.

  • Westinghouse engineers Stanley and Shallenberger inspected Tesla’s work to try and force Peck to accept a lower price.

  • Both Stanley and Shallenberger recognized Tesla had developed superior motor designs to anything Westinghouse had.

  • Westinghouse ultimately agreed to pay $200,000 over 10 years for the patents, guaranteeing minimum annual royalty payments.

  • Tesla moved to Pittsburgh to work with Westinghouse engineers on commercializing the motors. He improved motor designs and filed many new patents.

  • Westinghouse initially marketed Tesla’s split-phase motors for mining equipment but had issues with the graphite bearings Tesla warned against. Tesla left Westinghouse in 1889 disappointed.

  • Tesla had become restless after his success with the AC motor at Westinghouse and was looking for new fields to explore.

  • In 1889 he traveled to Europe and witnessed a demonstration by Bjerknes on vibrating diaphragms, which likely introduced Tesla to Hertz’s discovery of electromagnetic waves. Tesla found this idea stimulating.

  • Back in New York, Tesla set up a new laboratory on Grand Street with a small team including Szigeti, his long-time assistant.

  • Tesla continued consulting with Brown through the Tesla Electric Company, filing a few more motor patents, but Brown lacked the business savvy of the now deceased Peck.

  • Tesla decided the most promising new direction for electrical research was high-frequency phenomena, which had seen little investigation.

  • He began experimenting with alternators that could generate currents in the 10,000-20,000 cycles per second range, drawing on his experience designing dynamos and motors.

  • Tesla investigated potential applications of high-frequency currents related to arc lighting and power distribution.

  • While studying electromagnetic experiments by Hertz, Tesla developed a new device called the Tesla coil to generate high frequency alternating currents.

  • The Tesla coil consisted of a primary coil connected to Tesla’s high frequency generator and a secondary coil. It used resonance to greatly boost the voltage and frequency produced.

  • Key improvements Tesla made over existing induction coils were removing insulation between the coils to create an air gap, making the iron core adjustable, and placing a capacitor between the generator and primary coil.

  • By carefully adjusting the capacitor, coils, and frequency, Tesla was able to generate currents with frequencies up to 30,000 cycles per second, much higher than other machines at the time.

  • Tesla called this new invention the oscillating transformer but it became known as the Tesla coil. It allowed him to conduct further experiments on wireless power transfer.

  • In developing the Tesla coil, Tesla also discovered that high frequency currents could pass through the human body without harm due to their skin effect, opening possibilities for safety improvements to power distribution systems.

  • Tesla was investigating how to use his new oscillating transformer device after developing it. One option was to study Hertzian waves (radio waves), but Tesla focused more on electrostatic effects created by the device.

  • In initial experiments repeating standard demonstrations with induction coils, Tesla noticed Geissler tubes (evacuated glass tubes with electrodes) would glow when near the coil, depending on their orientation to the terminals. This suggested the glowing was caused by electric fields rather than Hertzian waves.

  • Tesla observed the tubes would glow in sync with sparks jumping between metal spheres attached to the coil terminals. When the spark extinguished at the top of the spheres, the field strength rose and illuminated the tubes.

  • Through these observations, Tesla concluded most energy from induction coils went into electrostatic “thrusts” rather than Hertzian waves, disagreeing with Hertz and other Maxwellians who saw waves as dominant.

  • In a dramatic demonstration, Tesla wirelessly illuminated glass tubes in his hands by manipulating electric fields from his oscillator, exciting observers and indicating potential applications like wireless lighting.

  • George Westinghouse invested $1.2 million of his own money in his company but also took on substantial debt. By 1890, the company had $3 million in short-term liabilities while its total assets were $11 million and current assets were $2.5 million.

  • In November 1890, the failure of a major London brokerage triggered a financial panic. Westinghouse’s creditors called in their loans, forcing the company into receivership. Westinghouse struggled for two years to save the company.

  • After failing to get support from local Pittsburgh banks, Westinghouse turned to Wall Street banker August Belmont for help reorganizing the company. Investors insisted Westinghouse terminate Tesla’s royalty contract to avoid potentially paying Tesla millions in future royalties from motor sales.

  • However, very few motors had actually been sold at that point so royalty payments were small. Investors likely wanted Westinghouse to reduce experimental spending and give them more control over company affairs. Tesla tore up the contract to remain loyal to Westinghouse.

  • Around this time, Tesla’s assistant Szigeti also left him, disappointing Tesla greatly. Tesla then increased his efforts to publicize and develop inventions using high frequency phenomena.

  • Tesla gave a lecture at Columbia College in New York on May 20, 1891 about his work on high-frequency alternating currents and their application to lighting.

  • The lecture was a success and impressed the audience with demonstrations of wireless lighting using gas-filled tubes and high voltages that could pass through his body without harm.

  • The press was excited about the potential for wireless electric lights and efficiency improvements over existing methods. Some questioned Tesla’s vague statements but most praised his ingenuity.

  • The lecture established Tesla as a leading electrical inventor in America after just a few years since immigrating from Austria-Hungary. He was admired for his progress from an unknown immigrant to achieving success through his talents and hard work.

  • In the summer of 1891 after the lecture, Tesla began experimenting with scaling up his wireless lighting demonstration by transmitting energy between a metal can on his lab roof and the ground, without wires.

  • In 1891, Tesla was conducting experiments using elevated capacitors, induction coils, and grounding circuits to transmit electricity wirelessly over short distances for purposes of power transmission and wireless lighting.

  • These early experiments showed that Tesla understood principles like grounding that were important for the development of radio, but his primary focus was not on communications, but rather wireless power and lighting using elevated capacitance and induction coils.

  • In early 1892, Tesla’s work was gaining recognition, but he also faced challenges from those claiming prior inventions of ideas like AC motors that Tesla felt he had patented first.

  • Developments in Europe also drew Tesla out of his lab, including questions being raised in Britain about credit for inventions like AC motors, as well as an electrical exhibition in Frankfurt highlighting AC technology where Tesla’s contributions were not fully recognized.

  • This combination of factors led Tesla to leave his experimental work and return to public lecturing in Europe to set the record straight on the invention of technologies like his rotating magnetic field AC motor.

  • In 1891, German engineer Otto von Miller built the world’s first long-distance high-voltage power transmission line from Lauffen to Frankfurt, a distance of 110 miles.

  • The system used three-phase AC power, which was more efficient for long-distance transmission than single-phase AC or DC. Charles Brown designed the generators and transformers, while Michael von Dolivo-Dobrowolsky designed the motors.

  • Dolivo-Dobrowolsky’s system used a “wye connection” that reduced the number of wires needed from Tesla’s six-wire system to three wires. It demonstrated the commercial potential of polyphase AC power transmission.

  • However, some did not recognize Tesla as the inventor of polyphase AC. To address this and promote his patents in Europe, Tesla decided to travel there in 1892 and give lectures on his research.

  • In London, Tesla met with engineers and the media to establish that his work on polyphase AC motors preceded others. He then gave brilliant demonstrations of his work with high-frequency currents to large audiences, impressing all and gaining recognition.

  • Tesla gave two highly successful lectures in London in 1892, impressing audiences with demonstrations of his experiments with high-frequency alternating currents. His modest demeanor and skill as an experimentalist captivated onlookers despite his imperfect English.

  • He showed how a “brush discharge” inside an evacuated bulb responded to magnetic fields, speculating it could enable wireless telegraphy. He also demonstrated single-wire motors and lamps, anticipating wireless power.

  • For his finale, Tesla debuted a tiny fan that spun from an electrostatic field, amazing scientists. The lectures lasted over two hours and audiences demanded more.

  • The lectures inspired significant press coverage and praise from scientists like Lord Rayleigh and J.A. Fleming. Tesla then traveled to Paris where he similarly impressed French scientific societies with his demonstrations.

  • While abroad, Tesla met with important figures, negotiated patents with companies, and licensed his motor designs to manufacturers in France and Germany. However, the activities exhausted Tesla, who was urged by friends to rest upon returning home.

  • Tesla returned to the US in August 1892 after traveling in Europe. He was exhausted from attending to his mother before she passed away in Serbia.

  • Upon returning, he enlarged his laboratory space in New York and moved hotels.

  • He was eager to continue developing his ideas about harnessing high-frequency electricity from his visions in Serbia, but also wanted to improve his polyphase motors to convince Westinghouse to promote them more.

  • Tesla started experimenting with high-frequency generators and transformers in his new lab. He believed this work could provide unlimited motive power by tapping into the earth’s natural electricity.

  • However, he was low on funds and Westinghouse was focusing on installing AC power systems, so Tesla had to balance continuing this visionary work with more practical improvements to his existing motors.

  • This period marked Tesla shifting between pursuing his grand ideas about wireless power transmission and focusing on commercializing his existing alternating current inventions to earn income. He was determined to find a way to develop the high-frequencies further.

  • When Tesla left Westinghouse in 1889, his assistant Charles Scott continued developing AC motors based on Tesla’s patents. However, Westinghouse’s financial troubles delayed this work.

  • In the early 1890s, Scott decided to focus on two-phase 60 Hz systems to distribute power and lighting loads. He planned to later develop three-phase 30 Hz systems for industry.

  • In 1892, Westinghouse was more focused on single-phase AC lighting than Tesla’s polyphase systems. Their Telluride power installation used single-phase AC.

  • Westinghouse won the contract to power the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, requiring new technology. This prevented efforts to promote Tesla’s motors at the fair.

  • Tesla was concerned about promoting his brushless polyphase induction motors. He discussed improvements with Westinghouse but they were not a priority.

  • Financier Henry Villard approached Tesla with a scheme, but Tesla could not convince Westinghouse to participate due to Westinghouse focusing on the World’s Fair contract.

  • Westinghouse became interested in pursuing the contract to develop power from Niagara Falls, which later proved pivotal for adopting Tesla’s polyphase systems.

  • Niagara Falls is located near major industrial cities like Buffalo in both the US and Canada. This made it well positioned to generate large amounts of hydroelectric power.

  • Early efforts in the 1880s tried harnessing power directly at the falls, but concerns over industrial development spoiling the scenic beauty led New York to declare much of the area a nature reserve.

  • In response, engineer Thomas Evershed proposed a plan in 1886 to divert water upstream and funnel it through tunnels and canals to power waterwheels located away from the reservation area.

  • Prominent investors like J.P. Morgan and Edward Dean Adams saw the potential in Evershed’s plan. Adams organized the Cataract Construction Company to develop the power.

  • Adams decided to transmit power to Buffalo rather than use it locally, as Buffalo had existing demand from steam engines. But transmitting power over long distances required new technology.

  • The International Niagara Commission was formed to evaluate options, but awarded no prizes. Adams moved ahead with building power infrastructure like tunnels.

  • Westinghouse initially doubted the project but then developed new polyphase motors and rotary converters, allowing efficient long-distance AC transmission. This gave Westinghouse the confidence to bid on providing the electrical systems for harnessing Niagara’s power.

  • Westinghouse could now fully utilize Tesla’s AC polyphase motor system after acquiring his patents. They began emphasizing their ownership of the Tesla patents in 1893.

  • Tesla met with Adams of Cataract Construction Company to persuade him that polyphase AC should be used to transmit power from Niagara Falls, arguing it was better than other proposals like DC.

  • Tesla corresponded with and provided information to Adams to sell him on polyphase AC. He dismissed other plans as inefficient and emphasized virtues of his motor.

  • Adams was concerned about patent disputes between Westinghouse/Tesla and GE. Tesla assured Adams that Westinghouse had a strong legal position over the patents.

  • Adams was considering DC transmission due to Kelvin’s advocacy, but Tesla argued strongly against it, saying alternating currents were fundamentally better for generation and transmission over long distances.

  • Ultimately Cataract decided on a two-phase AC system for local distribution and three-phase for long-distance transmission based on Tesla and Westinghouse’s recommendations and patent positions.

  • Operating direct current machines at very high voltages like 10,000 volts would be extremely difficult and impractical. It would require a huge amount of additional insulation to prevent breakdowns from the commutator.

  • It would also be difficult to avoid current variations at such high voltages. Direct current machines regulate poorly and produce variations of 20% or more at 20,000 volts, which is unsuitable for applications like electric lighting that require consistency within a few percentage points.

  • Extra equipment like motor-generator sets would be needed to adapt the high-voltage current to different lighting and power applications.

  • Connecting distribution points along the transmission route would be very challenging with direct current at these voltages. It would be difficult or impractical to have two separate windings in one machine to allow for bi-directional power flow.

  • The maintenance costs of such a direct current system operating at extremely high voltages would be a major issue.

  • The engineering challenges and costs involved in implementing such a direct current system safely would be at least double compared to an alternating current system. So it was deemed essentially impractical and infeasible based on the technology available at the time.

  • Tesla had recently returned from a trip to Europe where he received encouragement from Lord Rayleigh and Sir William Crookes about using electromagnetic waves to transmit messages and harnessing the forces of nature.

  • Drawing on these ideas, Tesla decided to experiment with using the Earth to transmit both messages and power wirelessly.

  • Before beginning new experiments, Tesla agreed to lecture at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the National Electric Light Association in St. Louis.

  • In his St. Louis lecture, Tesla gave sensational demonstrations including allowing 200,000 volts to pass through his body. He outlined his hopes for wireless transmission through the Earth.

  • In 1893, Tesla began experiments to determine the electrical capacity of the Earth and how high-frequency currents travel through the ground. He transmitted signals from his lab in Manhattan and detected them over a mile away using a receiver box.

  • However, Tesla was frustrated because his transmitter produced signals at multiple frequencies, making it difficult to tune the receiver precisely. He aimed to produce oscillations at a single frequency.

  • Tesla was working on developing a high-frequency wireless lighting system using an oscillator and spark gaps.

  • The initial spark gaps used two brass balls close together. This led to erratic electromagnetic waves due to arcing.

  • Tesla experimented with different designs for the spark gap to regulate the waves, including using permanent magnets, adjustable wheels, different gases, and a mechanical oscillator.

  • The mechanical oscillator was similar to Tesla’s oscillator generator design, using compressed air or steam to drive a piston connected to coils within an electromagnetic field.

  • While not well-suited for the wireless system, the mechanical oscillator fascinated Tesla. One day while testing it, he stood on the platform and felt unusual but pleasant vibrations transmitted to his body. He had assistants try and they agreed it felt strange.

So in summary, Tesla was working on a wireless lighting system and experimenting with different spark gap and oscillator designs to regulate the high-frequency waves produced, while also observing unusual body vibrations from one of his mechanical oscillator designs.

  • Tesla and his assistants had to suddenly use the bathroom while on the vibrating platform, as the oscillations were helping move food through their intestines faster.

  • Tesla realized this could have applications for treating digestive ailments. He and his assistants suffered from various stomach issues, but after using the vibrating platform for a week, all their issues disappeared.

  • Mark Twain visited Tesla’s lab and tried the mechanical therapy. According to Tesla, Twain was in bad health but regained his vigor after a couple months of treatment.

  • Tesla later experimented with increasing the vibrations of a smaller oscillator to match the vibration of a building. It caused heavy machinery to fly around until he broke the machine, fearing the building would collapse. They told police it must have been an earthquake.

  • This summarizes Tesla experimenting with using vibration to treat digestive issues, Mark Twain benefiting from the treatment, and Tesla accidentally almost bringing down a building with vibrations.

  • In 1894, Tesla began efforts to promote his new inventions in wireless lighting and a steam-powered oscillator that he had developed based on his high frequency research. He wanted to attract customers and funding for his patents.

  • Tesla knew he needed to establish himself as a leading electrical inventor to shape expectations and attract interest in his inventions. However, building a credible reputation as an inventor in late 19th century America was difficult with unclear rules and standards.

  • Tesla cultivated an image as a brilliant, even eccentric genius. He gave demonstrations of his wireless lamps and invited celebrities to his lab after dinners. Reporters covered his sensational discoveries.

  • Thomas Commerford Martin, the editor of Electrical Engineer magazine, was instrumental in helping Tesla promote himself. Martin had known Tesla since 1888 and acted as his publicist.

  • In 1893, Martin and Tesla started planning a book that would compile Tesla’s work and establish his reputation, though writing it in English was difficult for Tesla. The book was seen as essential for promotion.

  • Tesla’s book The Inventions, Researches, and Writings proved popular, with the first edition selling out within a month and second and third editions released soon after. It was favorably reviewed both in the US and Europe.

  • However, while it earned Tesla’s publisher Martin a tidy profit, Tesla convinced Martin to lend him the proceeds from sales but never repaid Martin, much to Martin’s later annoyance.

  • Martin’s most important contribution was introducing Tesla to Robert Underwood Johnson and his wife Katharine, who became Tesla’s closest friends. Robert was an influential editor at The Century Magazine.

  • They regularly socialized Tesla and introduced him to important figures. Tesla would recite Serbian poetry for Robert.

  • Robert suggested photographing Tesla and guests using his new fluorescent lighting invention, to publish as an exclusive in The Century. This was successfully done in January 1894 with portraits of Mark Twain and others.

  • While the book promoted Tesla’s fame, his failure to repay the loan to Martin showed some financial naivety on Tesla’s part that would continue. The Johnsons became very important personal and professional supporters.

  • Tesla, Katharine Johnson, and Robert Martin enjoyed a close friendship in the 1890s.

  • In 1894, Tesla attended a celebratory dinner at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York with Johnson and Martin before they left for their summer vacation home in East Hampton, Long Island. Tesla resisted invitations but couldn’t pass up their company.

  • Tesla began receiving more newspaper coverage due to the efforts of Johnson and Martin, who had press connections. Articles featured Tesla, his work, and personality.

  • Tesla received honors including the Elliott Cresson Gold Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1893 and honorary doctorates from Columbia University in 1894 and Yale University.

  • In 1895, Tesla and promoter Edward Dean Adams launched the Nikola Tesla Company to manufacture, sell, and license Tesla’s patents, including those previously assigned to others. However, the company failed to attract investors, likely due to the economic recession and Tesla’s need to demonstrate commercial feasibility.

  • Tesla had trouble shifting from divergent to convergent thinking - he enjoyed coming up with many new ideas rather than focusing on developing a marketable product.

  • After failing to attract investor interest in his wireless lighting system, Tesla began rethinking how to power the entire Earth with high-frequency AC.

  • He realized transmitting power wirelessly via electromagnetic waves was impractical due to tuning issues and most energy being lost.

  • Instead, Tesla decided to focus on transmitting power through ground currents sent from the transmitter into the Earth. He believed this would transfer more energy efficiently to the receiver.

  • This approach contrasted with other pioneers like Marconi who focused on transmitting power via electromagnetic waves through the air. Tesla inverted their approach by emphasizing ground currents for transmission and using electromagnetic waves only for the return path.

  • Tesla began experiments transmitting ground currents from a large coil into the Earth, producing “purple streamers of electricity” emerging from the ground - confirming his idea of tapping into the Earth’s electrical energy stores.

  • Tesla was pursuing four major research lines simultaneously - his oscillator machine, wireless lighting system, wireless transmission of power and information, and investigating the fundamental nature of electricity. This was overworking him to the point of exhaustion.

  • In March 1895, a devastating fire broke out and gutted Tesla’s lab, destroying over 10 years worth of work, research, notes, and equipment. He estimated losing $80,000-$100,000 and had no insurance.

  • Tesla fell into a deep depression after this loss. He took to his bed for days and was described as “half sleeping, half waking” and “completely prostrated.” Friends worried for his mental state.

  • The press portrayed the loss as not just a personal tragedy but a misfortune for humanity, as Tesla was considered one of the most important inventors alive at the time.

  • After briefly returning to salvage what he could from the wreckage, Tesla spent an evening being entertained by fellow members of his club to help cheer him up after this setback.

  • Tesla was depressed after his lab burned down but used electrotherapy/electric shocks on himself to treat his depression, which helped pull him out of it.

  • He rented a new lab and shifted his focus from promoting entire wireless systems to improving components like his oscillating transformer and developing new vacuum tube lamps.

  • He also got interested in investigating X-rays after Roentgen’s discovery. Tesla and a photographer had previously tried taking photos using different light sources in Tesla’s lab but the plates kept getting spoiled, which Tesla later realized was likely due to unseen X-rays.

  • When Hewitt told Tesla about Roentgen’s discovery, Tesla found an old photographic plate from their past experiments. Upon seeing the outline of the camera lens and metal screws on the broken plate, Tesla realized they had unintentionally captured X-rays before but failed to recognize it, having missed the chance to discover X-rays first. He was frustrated but quickly began his own experiments with X-rays.

  • Tesla experimented with electromagnetic waves in early 1896, repeating Roentgen’s X-ray experiments using a compact oscillating transformer to generate higher voltages and frequencies than other researchers.

  • He was able to produce clearer X-ray images, like a shadowgraph of a foot in a shoe showing every fold of leather and flesh/bones standing out sharply.

  • Over time he and his assistants experienced injuries from X-ray exposure like eyestrain, headaches and skin burns.

  • Tesla started developing radio-controlled automatons or “robots” as early ideas for controlling thoughts. In the 1890s he began building radio-controlled prototypes, first using induction and after the 1893 fire using electromagnetic signals.

  • In 1897 he built a radio-controlled boat model to demonstrate controlling naval vessels remotely, in response to increased naval armaments racing. The boat received signals to control propulsion and rudder motors to move and light signal bulbs.

  • Tesla developed a radio-controlled boat that could be operated remotely using wireless signals. On the transmitter end was a control box with a lever that could contact different positions, sending coded interruptions in the wireless signal.

  • Inside the boat, these signal interruptions would cause a rotating disk to engage different contacts, activating the rudder and propeller motor. Moving the lever to different contact positions allowed Tesla to remotely control the boat’s direction and speed.

  • Though not truly “remote controlled” by modern definitions, it was one of the first examples of using radio/wireless signals to control a device from a distance. Tesla drew inspiration from district telegraph systems that used signal codes to summon messengers, police, or firefighters.

  • Excited by the potential military applications, Tesla publicized the invention as a way to end war by making any nation’s coastlines defendable. However, some scientists were skeptical it could work reliably in real combat conditions due to noise and distractions.

  • Tesla secured patents in multiple countries with the help of his attorney. The invention gained publicity but also faced criticism from technical peers for its supposed impracticality.

  • Tesla’s friend T. Commerford Martin, the editor of the Electrical Engineer journal, openly criticized Tesla in a1898 editorial for failing to complete inventions like the steam-powered oscillator and for taking credit for ideas like radio-controlled boats that were not new.

  • Tesla was furious by this criticism and demanded that Martin publish proofs to support his claims or issue a public apology. Martin published Tesla’s letter but defended his own criticism as friendly and aimed at urging Tesla to complete promised inventions.

  • To address security issues, Tesla developed a way to tune his second radio-controlled boat so it would only respond to combination of two signals from his transmitter, allowing for individual control of multiple vessels.

  • Tesla demonstrated this improved boat to the Chicago Commercial Club in 1899, controlling it remotely and having it respond to questions, to the amazement of the audience.

  • While working on these projects, Tesla’s health declined and he expressed burnout and poor health to reporters on occasions, though he continued pushing forward with his work.

  • Tesla received a shock of 3.5 million volts from one of his machines. The spark jumped three feet through the air and struck him on the right shoulder, making him feel dizzy.

  • When asked if he often felt depressed, Tesla said every creative person has moments of melancholy but his life was generally very happy. He said the greatest thrill is seeing an invention succeed.

  • When asked about marriage, Tesla said it was suitable for artists, musicians and writers but not for inventors, as they give everything to their work.

  • Tesla’s views on women were complex - he respected them but was also shy and fearful around them. He tended to socialize more with men.

  • Tesla had close relationships with some male friends, including Anthony Szigeti and Emile Smith, and seemed attracted to them physically and emotionally.

  • Some evidence, like comments from an AIEE member, suggest Tesla may have had homosexual relationships or encounters, though documents do not prove this definitively due to language use at the time.

  • Tesla befriended war hero Richmond Pearson Hobson through their mutual friend Robert Johnson and seemed drawn to Hobson physically. But their relationship is not fully explained.

  • The passage describes a man with a physically powerful and muscular build, suggesting controlled strength. His face also communicated great intellect and gentle friendliness.

  • Tesla met and befriended naval officer Richmond Hobson through mutual friends. They grew close, frequently socializing and dining together. Letters between them indicate an intimate friendship.

  • Tesla helped promote Hobson’s career and inventions to the Navy. However, one attempt to introduce Tesla’s remote-controlled boat to the Navy was unsuccessful due to personal conflicts between officers.

  • Tesla never married and was likely more attracted to men romantically. However, marriage also did not suit Tesla’s intense and vivid approach to invention.

  • For Tesla, the creative process involved rigorous thinking as well as an active imagination. He would conceive ideas and then critically examine them over long periods before pursing their realization. His imagination played a key role in developing and processing ideas.

  • Tesla shared an example of how his imagination allowed him to vividly envision imaginary worlds and scenarios, which he suggested helped develop and refine his ideas.

Tesla believed invention required both rigorous analysis and imagination. An inventor must be able to analyze an idea through rigorous thinking to perfect the technical details, but they must also be able to imagine how the invention would work and its applications in the real world. This exercise of imagination was key to refining the ideal invention.

In 1895, Tesla had conceived of a basic scheme for wireless power transmission using ground currents. However, he was still puzzled by what completed the circuit from the receiver back to the transmitter through the atmosphere. Extensive experiments led him to formulas for ground transmission, but he remained “sticking” on solving this challenge of the return circuit for three years.

Through more experimentation in 1896-1897, Tesla focused on improving his oscillating circuits and transmission techniques. In a key insight, he reasoned that if he could reduce the air pressure between transmitter and receiver like in a Crookes tube, it may allow currents to conduct through the air to form a return path. Testing this in 1898 by placing a large glass pipe with reduced pressure between devices, he was able to transmit power wirelessly and solve the puzzle that had eluded him. This supported his view that power transmission worked through conduction in gases, not electromagnetic radiation as believed by others. The ability to conduct currents through rarefied air opened up possibilities for large-scale wireless power transmission in Tesla’s mind.

  • Tesla needed funding to build a pilot plant to further develop and test his wireless power transmission system at a larger scale beyond his lab.

  • His company with Adams was not generating interest or deals to support this work.

  • He approached wealthy heir John Jacob Astor IV, who had interests in science and technology, having experimented with various inventions himself.

  • Tesla praised Astor’s scientific mind and support for new technologies in hopes of gaining his patronage.

  • He promoted the commercial potential and profits that could be gained from developing and selling licenses for his wireless lighting system patents.

  • Tesla also highlighted the revolutionary potential of his oscillators and wireless power transmission system to transmit electricity without wires over long distances.

  • His goal was to convince Astor of the promising financial returns of supporting the further development and scaling up of his wireless technologies through funding a pilot plant project.

  • In 1899, Tesla decided to relocate his experiments to Colorado Springs to further investigate problems with developing a practical wireless power system and improving his wireless transmission methods.

  • Colorado Springs was seen as an ideal location due to its scenic beauty, high altitude, dry climate and mineral-rich waters. It had also attracted wealthy residents and visitors seeking to improve their health.

  • Tesla leased a laboratory from the Colorado Springs Electric Company and began extensive experiments transmitting wireless signals and attempting to communicate wirelessly around the world.

  • He set up a massive transmission tower and generated incredibly high voltages and frequencies with advanced Tesla coils and capacitors. However, he did not rigorously test and collect data to prove his ideas.

  • Enamored with his concepts for a global wireless power system, Tesla focused on initial successes and signs of resonance in the ground rather than address problems. His experiments in Colorado marked the peak of his creative experimentation but lacked proof for his grandest claims.

  • Tesla traveled to Colorado Springs in 1899 to conduct wireless power transmission experiments away from the press in New York. He set up an experimental station on the outskirts of Colorado Springs with a wooden barn, towers, and poles to hold aerials up to 142 feet high.

  • Tesla wanted to keep his experiments secret, so he had windows boarded up and fences erected with warning signs. He hired assistants Fritz Lowenstein and Richard Gregg to help build a large magnifying transmitter inside using a primary coil around a circular wooden wall and a secondary coil in the center.

  • They tapped into the local electrical grid and stepped up the voltage using a transformer to power the transmitter coils. Tesla began making observations of the earth’s electrical potential and how it varied at different distances, which he had not been able to reliably measure in New York due to interference.

  • Tesla was excited about the potential for his experiments in Colorado Springs due to the clear environment and his sharpened senses at high altitude, and he set out to study how currents were conducted through the earth’s crust and atmosphere.

  • Tesla was investigating the Earth’s natural electrical potential using a sensitive instrument called a coherer, which could detect electrical signals from lightning strikes.

  • He found that his instrument detected stronger signals from distant lightning strikes than nearby ones, which puzzled him.

  • While walking one evening, he had an insight that the lightning could be setting up stationary electromagnetic waves in the Earth’s crust.

  • Stationary waves occur when two waves traveling in opposite directions interfere constructively to create a standing wave.

  • To test his theory, Tesla carefully observed a large thunderstorm moving away from Colorado Springs. His instruments continued detecting signals from lightning even when the storm was over 200 miles away.

  • This showed the signals were coming periodically as stationary waves passed through the ground beneath his instruments. Tesla concluded he had detected real stationary electromagnetic waves set up by the lightning in the Earth.

  • This was an important discovery as it showed electromagnetic waves can travel long distances through the Earth via reflection, not just dissipate locally like ripples in water. It confirmed the Earth was electrically charged and influenced by external signals.

  • Tesla discovered that the Earth behaves like a conductor for electromagnetic waves, not as an ocean. This meant his system could transmit power and signals around the world, not just short distances like Marconi’s.

  • At his lab in Colorado Springs, Tesla built highly sensitive instruments to detect faint electrical signals from long distances. Tracking lightning storms, he could follow signals hundreds of miles away.

  • With his sensitive receiver, Tesla detected mysterious oscillations at night consisting of regular beeps - first one, then two, then three beeps. He ruled out known natural causes.

  • Over time, Tesla came to believe the signals were an “interplanetary message” from another planet, though reporters assumed he meant Mars due to theories of life there.

  • Some suggested Tesla picked up Marconi’s tests, but his receiver worked at a lower frequency. It’s proposed he actually detected radio signals from Jupiter’s moon Io, which were able to travel that distance.

  • Jupiter and Mars were positioned such that the Io signals would have stopped as Mars set, explaining why Tesla associated the signals with Mars. This provides a potential explanation for Tesla’s claimed extraterrestrial message.

  • Tesla was working with his assistant Lowenstein at his experimental station in Colorado Springs. They would conduct experiments in the afternoon when the power company generators were running.

  • Tesla’s teenage assistant Gregg recalled seeing sparks pouring between balls up high, sometimes 15-20 feet long like lightning.

  • To operate the magnifying transmitter, Tesla varied different components like the voltage input, speed of the breakwheel controlling capacitor discharge, size of capacitors, number of windings in the primary coil, secondary coil configuration, and extra coils. He aimed to generate high voltage and find the optimal frequency for ground transmission.

  • It took significant effort to modify components as each coil had to be carefully wound. Changing capacitors required building more tanks and adding glass bottles.

  • When sparks reached 2-4 meters, the transmitter was likely at 2 million volts. Tesla produced 16-foot streamers that nearly set the building on fire multiple times.

  • On one occasion, Tesla was engulfed in streamers inside the transmitter and had to crawl out while holding his breath in the strong nitrous acid.

  • Tesla generally avoided streamers because they wasted energy and transmission efficiency. The transmitter ideally produced a blue beam over the mast and sphere at night.

  • Tesla kept an eye out for funding and the Navy’s Lighthouse Board showed interest in using new technologies like Tesla’s for navigation aids.

  • The Board of Lighthouse Keepers asked Tesla if he could establish a wireless telegraph system between the Nantucket Lightship and the shore 60 miles away, to provide early information about arriving ships.

  • Tesla initially agreed to provide experimental equipment, but his relations with the Board soured when he learned his system would be compared to Marconi’s.

  • In 1899, Marconi was gaining attention in the US. The Board pressured Tesla to install his equipment more quickly. But Tesla did not respond promptly.

  • After brooding for two weeks, Tesla wrote an angry letter saying he should not get special treatment as the pioneer of wireless. But if his system would be compared to Marconi’s, he needed funding to build proper test equipment.

  • The Board declined Tesla’s request for a large order. Tesla and the navy parted ways, and in 1902 the navy purchased wireless equipment from European companies.

  • In Colorado Springs, Tesla worked on tuning techniques to provide “secrecy, immunity, and selectivity” for secure communication. He developed a system using two distinct frequencies sent and received simultaneously.

  • Tesla was working to develop a system for wireless transmission of energy and telegraphy without wires over long distances. His goal was speeds of 1500-2000 words per minute.

  • In Colorado Springs in 1899, he constructed a large “magnifying transmitter” coil system that could generate high voltage, high frequency oscillating currents.

  • Through a series of experiments, he demonstrated that the transmitter could induce currents in the ground that could be detected by receivers connected to earth over distances of up to 1000-2000 feet from the lab.

  • He had a photographer document experiments where lamps were lit from currents induced in wires placed 60 and 400 feet from the transmitter.

  • However, there were no independent witnesses to verify the results of Tesla’s distance experiments, as his assistant Lowenstein was always confined to operating the transmitter inside while Tesla himself conducted the receiver tests alone outside.

  • The lack of witnessed experiments is puzzling given Marconi was regularly demonstrating his wireless system to reporters and investors at the time. It leaves questions about how far Tesla was truly able to transmit power wirelessly.

  • Tesla did not feel extensive distance testing was necessary to prove his wireless system worked, as he was confident stationary waves propagated through the earth without loss of energy over any distance.

  • As an inventor, Tesla relied heavily on imagination and only needed small experimental confirmation to convince himself an idea was valid. After detecting signals a mile away, he was satisfied his system could work globally without further tests.

  • Not performing additional witnessed distance tests made it difficult for Tesla to convince others of the system’s value later on when defending patents or seeking investors. He had little hard data and results depended on taking his word.

  • Rather than public demonstrations, Tesla chose to document his work through photography with Alley. Over two weeks they took 68 photos capturing the transmitter in operation and transmitting power wirelessly to light bulbs.

  • The photos were meant to provide scientific documentation, but necessarily involved some staged elements and trick photography since the actual experiments were too dangerous. This Undermines their credibility as completely objective evidence.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

  • While photographing experiments with his magnifying transmitter in Colorado, Tesla encountered fireballs or ball lightning. Scientists still debate what causes these luminous spheres.

  • Tesla initially thought they were an optical illusion but developed a scientific explanation - that a powerful electrical discharge can heat air and create a partial vacuum, and if another discharge hits this vacuum it causes the air to become incandescent, glowing for several seconds as it reaches equilibrium.

  • Tesla was enthralled with the photographs he and his assistant took, finding they effectively represented the power he could generate and manipulate. He presented some photos to potential supporters.

  • However, Tesla did not systematically try to disprove his hypotheses or “torture test” his ideas and inventions while in Colorado. He eagerly seized on any confirmatory evidence for his ideas about wireless power and long-distance communication, without rigorously examining alternatives or where his ideas might fail. This confirmatory bias prevented him from truly knowing the limitations of his work.

  • Tesla was pleased with the wireless patent he had written during his experiments in Colorado Springs in 1899. He believed it was one of his best patents.

  • He then filed three more patent applications detailing his method of wireless signal tuning using two different frequencies.

  • Tesla boldly announced his goal of transmitting wireless messages across the Atlantic to Paris by 1900, which his rival Marconi was skeptical could be achieved.

  • Tesla knew he needed a larger commercial plant to achieve transatlantic transmission. He viewed his Colorado setup as a small prototype or model.

  • Based on the results in Colorado, Tesla was able to calculate the size of components needed for an actual transatlantic system.

  • He approached George Westinghouse for help, since the system would require large AC equipment from Westinghouse. Westinghouse agreed to loan Tesla $6,000 tied to future purchase of equipment.

  • Tesla also continued courting investor John Jacob Astor but Astor lost interest and invested only $30,000 total in Tesla’s wireless work.

  • Tesla decided to promote his wireless plans in popular magazines rather than scientific journals to attract investors. This led to his lengthy article in The Century magazine outlining his vision.

  • Tesla published an article in The Century Magazine outlining his visions for wireless transmission of energy and its potential applications. This generated interest but also skepticism from the scientific community.

  • T. Commerford Martin, Tesla’s former friend, criticized the trend of “newspaper science” and sensational claims in popular media that could create false reputations. He argued the views of engineering specialists should be trusted instead.

  • In 1900, Tesla was able to secure a $150,000 loan from influential financier J.P. Morgan to support his wireless work. Morgan had interests in wireless technology through his ownership of yachts and potential business opportunities.

  • This meeting with Morgan was a lucky break for Tesla that provided critically needed funding, even as his claims faced growing skepticism from the engineering establishment. It highlighted both the potential and challenges Tesla faced in commercializing his visions at this stage.

  • Tesla met with J.P. Morgan, introducing his wireless technology and suggesting they form companies to develop it. Tesla insisted Morgan take a controlling 51% stake.

  • Tesla found it difficult to deal with Morgan’s powerful personality and disfigured nose. He kept the meetings short.

  • Tesla followed up with letters outlining his plans and technologies, emphasizing how they could compete with transatlantic cables. He offered Morgan full control and compensation terms.

  • Morgan nominally agreed to support Tesla in December 1900 but they did not finalize an agreement until two months later, when Morgan was negotiating US Steel.

  • In the interim, Tesla announced he had received interplanetary messages, drawing criticism. He tried unsuccessfully to involve Astor as an investor instead of Morgan.

  • Growing impatient waiting for Morgan, Tesla began publicity campaigns in newspapers about his wireless technology projects in February 1901 to force Morgan’s hand. Morgan was unimpressed by the tabloids.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

  • Tesla secured $150,000 in funding from J.P. Morgan in return for 51% of Tesla’s wireless patents and inventions. For Morgan this was a simple business deal, while Tesla hoped it would lead to partnership and help realizing his visions.

  • Tesla used the funding to build a new laboratory called Wardenclyffe on land offered by James S. Warden on Long Island. The land was near New York City.

  • The Wardenclyffe laboratory building was designed by Stanford White and had four rooms - a machine shop, boiler room, engine/dynamo room, and electrical room. It was equipped with machine tools, boilers, engines, dynamos, transformers and other electrical equipment.

  • A key feature was a large tower 350 feet from the lab building. Tesla knew the range of the wireless system depended on the size of the tower and money available to build it. However, the project ran into financing issues before the tower was completed.

So in summary, the text provides details about Tesla securing funding from Morgan, choosing a site on Long Island for his new Wardenclyffe laboratory, and describing the facilities and partial construction of the lab including an unfinished tower, before ran into financial problems.

  • Tesla wanted to build a large tower at Wardenclyffe to transmit wireless power over long distances, even across the Pacific.

  • The size and design of the tower depended on how much energy could be stored in the elevated terminal at the top and the wavelength of the transmissions.

  • Tesla initially planned a 600-foot tall tower topped with a large metal terminal shaped like a mushroom to maximize the energy storage. But this design was too expensive.

  • The final built tower was 187 feet tall topped with a large hemispherical terminal made of steel girders and copper plates.

  • Below the tower, Tesla dug a deep well to make a strong ground connection through the water table, which was essential for transmitting power through the Earth.

  • Pipes were driven deep underground from the well to improve the ground connection. Tunnels were also dug from the bottom of the well.

  • Tesla planned to operate Wardenclyffe similarly to Colorado Springs, using a dynamo, transformers, capacitors and controls to generate high-frequency AC currents for wireless transmission.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

  • In late 1901, Tesla was confident that his Wardenclyffe laboratory and tower would be successful in broadcasting wireless energy worldwide.

  • However, Marconi was making progress with wireless technology and looking to achieve transatlantic wireless transmission. In early 1901, Marconi set up large antenna stations in Cornwall, England and Cape Cod, Massachusetts to attempt this goal.

  • Marconi’s company was running low on funds and in need of a dramatic demonstration. Transatlantic transmission could help them secure major contracts and compete with underwater cables.

  • Tesla was also hearing rumors about Marconi’s progress, which spurred Marconi to accelerate his plans for transatlantic transmission in hopes of staying ahead of Tesla technologically.

  • To achieve the long transmission range needed, Marconi scaled up his system with much larger antenna arrays and more powerful transmitters. He enlisted the help of his new consultant John Ambrose Fleming to develop more powerful transmitters.

  • This period from late 1901 to early 1902 set up a competition between Tesla and Marconi to be the first to achieve transatlantic or global wireless transmission, which had major financial and technological implications.

  • In 1901, Fleming installed a new 25-kilowatt AC transmitter at Poldhu, England with similar components to Tesla’s equipment, designed by Fleming who was familiar with Tesla’s work. This allowed much stronger signals to be generated.

  • Marconi and his team sailed to Newfoundland in late 1901 to try receiving signals from Poldhu. On December 12th and 13th, using an antenna suspended from a kite, Marconi and Kemp heard the “SSS” signals sent from Poldhu, achieving the first transatlantic wireless transmission.

  • This achievement was met with both acclaim and skepticism. Critics questioned whether the signals could travel over such a distance or if Marconi had imagined the signals. Marconi organized further demonstrations to provide stronger evidence.

  • At a 1902 dinner in Marconi’s honor organized by Martin, speakers like Pupin endorsed Marconi based on personal acquaintance but acknowledged the evidence was not fully scientific. Tesla did not attend.

  • Marconi provided stronger evidence in 1902 by receiving signals across the Atlantic aboard the ship Philadelphia, gaining wider acceptance of his success. However, Tesla continued developing his own wireless system.

  • Tesla believed Marconi’s wireless technology was using many of the same concepts and inventions that Tesla had patented earlier, such as tuned circuits and Tesla coils. However, Tesla chose not to directly confront Marconi and instead let fellow experts decide who was the true inventor.

  • Tesla wrote to Morgan explaining that Marconi’s company had adopted many of Tesla’s key inventions for wireless transmission and reception. Tesla remained optimistic that he would receive proper credit over time.

  • Tesla proposed a “World Telegraphy System” to Morgan, where a few large transmission stations could broadcast news and messages worldwide via inexpensive receivers. This vision anticipated key aspects of the modern Internet.

  • Tesla imagined several types of receivers, including printers to replace newspapers, speakers to broadcast voices, and small handheld devices like early cell phones or radios. This showed Tesla envisioning a nascent consumer culture driven by wireless technology.

  • Tesla still hoped to demonstrate wireless power transmission on a large scale. He proposed building a larger station near Niagara Falls’ hydroelectric power to broadcast power worldwide, though he would need more funding.

So in summary, Tesla outlined his vision for global wireless communications and power transmission to Morgan, while asserting his priority over Marconi’s technology, as he tried to convince Morgan to further fund his research.

  • Tesla was trying to raise funding from JP Morgan to build a wireless power transmission station at Wardenclyffe. However, Morgan was extremely busy in 1902 organizing various business ventures like shipping and agricultural equipment companies.

  • Morgan met with Tesla and said he did not want to personally invest in the Wardenclyffe project, but would help Tesla reorganize his company and issue new securities to raise money from other investors.

  • Over the summer of 1902, Tesla tested his equipment at Wardenclyffe and believed he could transmit over 10 million horsepower, more than Niagara Falls. He also tried to attract new individual investors but had little success.

  • In fall 1902, Tesla and Morgan mapped out a plan to create a new $10 million company to issue bonds and shares to fund a factory for Tesla’s inventions. But Tesla struggled to sell shares.

  • By 1903, Tesla was in deep financial trouble operating Wardenclyffe but still hoped Morgan would bail him out, believing he could transmit power wireless across long distances. However, Morgan was too busy with his own large business ventures.

  • Tesla was pitching his wireless technology system to J.P. Morgan, trying to get further funding. However, Morgan refused to provide any more money after their 1903 meeting.

  • One theory was that Morgan was concerned Tesla had no plan to make money from wireless power and wanted to give it away for free. However, Tesla’s letters show he intended to make money through wireless communications devices.

  • A more likely explanation is that the wireless industry had entered a phase of speculative stock promotion/jobbing in the early 1900s. Companies formed around the inventions of Lee de Forest were fueling this bubble through aggressive promotion and reorganizations.

  • Morgan, as a prudent businessman, likely grew concerned about investing further in wireless given this speculative environment. When testifying later, Tesla recalled Morgan said he “could not touch it with a 20-foot pole” due to the industry phase of stock jobbing. This skeptical view of the wireless speculation likely caused Morgan to withdraw support.

In 1903, de Forest Wireless promoted its technology by using automobiles equipped with wireless transmitters to cruise Wall Street. The vehicles would stop periodically to collect stock prices from brokers, which were then transmitted to brokerage houses and the Wall Street Journal office. Morgan could see these promotional vehicles from his office window.

Morgan withdrew his support for Tesla’s wireless projects, not because he doubted Tesla, but because he was disturbed by speculation in the wireless industry at the time. Promoters like Pike and White were raising more capital than needed without developing their businesses, putting investors at risk. With government scrutiny of Morgan’s companies as well, he could not afford any association with questionable wireless ventures.

Tesla then scrambled to find new funding sources over the next two years. He tried developing other inventions like improved Tesla coils and an ozone generator. But investors remained wary due to skepticism of Tesla in the press and scientific community following his unfulfilled promises. Tesla’s attempts to borrow from banks and cultivate new investors like Astor, Ryan and Rankine ultimately failed to provide sufficient funding to complete Wardenclyffe.

  • Tesla had been struggling to find new investors for his Wardenclyffe wireless project after J.P. Morgan’s initial $150,000 investment. He created an elaborate prospectus and gave interviews trying to drum up interest.

  • However, potential investors were wary because Morgan still owned 51% of the wireless patents under the original deal. A new company could not fully utilize the patents without Morgan’s cooperation.

  • Tesla bombarded Morgan with letters begging for more money or support, alternating between promises of huge profits and appeals to sympathy. But Morgan consistently refused to invest more.

  • As Tesla grew more desperate, his letters to Morgan became angrier and more unhinged, accusing Morgan of not being a true Christian and piling obstacles in Tesla’s way. Tesla’s pleas began incorporating superstitions about saint’s days.

  • But Morgan refused to budge, and Tesla’s efforts to find new backers for Wardenclyffe through aggressive marketing of the potential of wireless power continued failing without Morgan’s full backing and commitment.

  • Tesla was struggling to find investors to complete his Wardenclyffe wireless power transmission project on Long Island. Morgan had previously provided funding but refused more money.

  • Tesla blamed Morgan for violating their contract by delaying the final $50,000 payment, which Tesla said was fatal to the project. He urged Morgan to either provide more money to finish the project or make it a gift so Tesla could work independently.

  • As time passed and Tesla failed to attract new investors, he became increasingly delusional, claiming he had invented the “greatest invention of all time” for wireless transmission of power over long distances.

  • Meanwhile the Wardenclyffe facility was facing financial problems like demanding loan payments and legal action over unpaid bills and wages.

  • Tesla and his assistant Scherff struggled to install underground pipes to get a strong electrical connection with the Earth, which was key to transmitting power through the ground.

  • Tesla assumed the Earth behaved electrically like an incompressible fluid, but it actually behaves like a compressible fluid/ocean. This technical problem of the Earth not behaving as Tesla imagined led to his plans not working as intended.

  • Unable to accept either that he was wrong or that nature was wrong, Tesla suffered a nervous breakdown from the dilemma at Wardenclyffe not matching his theories and expectations.

  • After his nervous breakdown in 1905, Tesla hoped to resume work at Wardenclyffe to realize his wireless power system. To raise funds, he shifted to mechanical engineering projects.

  • He had long dreamed of flying and planned to use wireless power to transmit energy to aircraft. However, he paid little attention to the gasoline engine innovations that allowed the Wright brothers to achieve manned flight in 1903.

  • Instead, Tesla focused on developing bladeless turbines, drawing an analogy to the rotating magnetic field in his AC motor. He proposed a design using closely stacked disks at right angles to a fluid flow, like steam or compressed air, that would transfer energy from the flowing fluid’s viscosity and boundary layer to spin the disks and shaft.

  • By adjusting the gap between disks to match the fluid’s characteristics, and reversing the flow direction, Tesla hoped to create an efficient bladeless turbine engine for applications like aircraft and automobiles. However, he did not produce a workable prototype.

  • Tesla believed his bladeless turbine design, which used only disks instead of complex blades, could be cheaper to build and more efficient than existing turbine designs. It would deliver more horsepower per pound of machine.

  • Early prototypes developed significant power relative to their small size. However, speeds over 10,000 rpm placed huge stresses on the thin disks, causing deformation. Tesla was unable to find sufficiently strong materials to overcome this problem.

  • Tesla tested turbine designs at the Edison power station in 1911-1912 but engineers did not understand his test apparatus and concluded the tests failed.

  • Over the next decade, Tesla worked with various engineering firms to develop the turbine but was unable to solve the material strength issues with the disks.

  • While the turbine design worked well as a pump, Tesla was unsuccessful in finding investors to fully develop it. Financial troubles returned and his assets were placed in receivership in 1916 due to unpaid taxes.

  • Tesla accepted the Edison Medal from the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) in 1917, but did so reluctantly as he felt ostracized by the organization. He had a falling out with Edison years earlier.

  • In the 1910s, Tesla was in poor financial shape. He worked as a consultant for Atlantic Communication Company, a German subsidiary attempting to compete with Marconi in the US wireless market. He also sued Marconi for patent infringement.

  • To earn income, Tesla spun off inventions from his turbine research, including automobile speedometers and flow meters. He licensed these patents.

  • In the 1920s and 1930s, Tesla continued developing new ideas but lived in poverty. The Westinghouse Company gave him a small monthly pension in 1934.

  • Tesla spent his later years as a recluse, taking walks and feeding pigeons in New York City parks. He remained obsessed with developing wireless power transmission but his plans never materialized.

  • In 1931, on Tesla’s 75th birthday, a young science writer organized a celebration and collected congratulatory letters from prominent scientists like Einstein. This drew publicity to Tesla and led to the establishment of a Tesla institution in Belgrade.

  • At subsequent birthday press conferences, Tesla made unsubstantiated claims about inventions like a pocket oscillator that could destroy buildings and wiggling his toes to live to 135. Reporters grew skeptical of his mind.

  • In 1934, Tesla announced he had invented a particle beam weapon that could destroy armies and fleets from a distance, making countries impregnable.

  • A 1984 paper outlined Tesla’s design which used an electrostatic generator and projected charged mercury particles at high speeds. However, modern experts think the power required makes the claimed capabilities unfeasible.

  • The announcement drew publicity but serious scientists were skeptical it could work as claimed due to the immense power needed over long distances. It reflected concepts in particle accelerators but not a realistic weapon.

  • Tesla claimed to have developed a particle beam weapon that could destroy aircraft and ships from 100 miles away. He tried to sell this weapon to various governments in the 1930s including the US, UK, and Soviet Union.

  • The Soviets signed an agreement with Tesla in 1935 to study his plans for the particle beam weapon in exchange for $25,000. It’s unclear if they built a prototype.

  • Tesla also offered the weapon to the British for $30 million in the mid-1930s but they declined in 1938.

  • In 1940 on his 84th birthday, Tesla again tried to interest the US government in funding his “teleforce” particle beam weapon, claiming it could defend the country for just $2 million. But the government did not take him up on the offer.

  • Tesla’s health declined in his later years. He died quietly in his sleep in 1943 at age 86. His funeral was well-attended by scientific dignitaries.

  • After his death, the US government briefly worried about the contents of Tesla’s papers regarding the particle beam weapon, fueling later conspiracy theories about a government cover-up.

  • After Tesla’s death in 1943, his nephew Sava Kosanović took possession of Tesla’s papers and effects from his hotel room in New York.

  • Abraham Spanel, who knew Tesla did work on particle beam weapons, warned the FBI that Kosanović should not be trusted with the papers and they may end up in enemy hands.

  • The FBI contacted the Office of Alien Property Custodian (OAPC) to take over the case since Kosanović was a foreign national.

  • The OAPC seized the papers and had them examined by John Trump and Naval Intelligence to check for any value to the war effort. They found nothing of importance.

  • The papers were then released to Kosanović but remained in storage due to unpaid taxes. They were later sent to Yugoslavia in the 1950s to be housed in a new Tesla museum.

  • Throughout the Cold War, both the US and Soviet Union investigated particle beams as potential weapons, though the exact details from Tesla’s papers remain unknown as the plans went missing.

  • After the fall of the Soviet Union, American weapons experts visited the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan to investigate Soviet beam weapons. However, they discovered the Soviets had been working on nuclear-powered rockets, not particle beam weapons as believed.

  • This new information prompted claims that the idea of a Soviet particle beam weapon was one of the major intelligence failures of the Cold War.

  • While beam weapons are theoretically possible, actually building one would require enormous amounts of energy and overcoming technical challenges in keeping the beam focused over long distances.

  • The U.S. military may still be investigating beam weapons, but significant technological obstacles remain before any could become operational.

  • Tesla is seen as an inspirational figure because he blended the spiritual and material through his inventions. His ideas did not come from the marketplace but from within himself, through a blending of creative imagination and technological innovations.

  • Some view Tesla as representing a non-rational, artistic approach to invention compared to a purely rational, commercial approach. He revealed that the spiritual and material can be intertwined.

  • Tesla Motors recognized this appeal of Tesla and marketed their electric cars as being both environmentally friendly (spiritual) and high-tech/cool (material). Their cars appeal to both spiritual and materialistic customers.

  • Tesla introduced disruptive innovations like AC power that transformed entire industries like electricity. While others improved incrementally, Tesla thought more radically with inventions like wireless power.

  • Tesla’s ideas, like tuned circuits, influenced the development of radio by others even if he did not create radio himself. He excited interest in electromagnetic waves and his rivals had to consider his patents.

  • To develop disruptive innovations, one can learn from Tesla’s creative thinking process of imaginative flights of fancy and thinking of alternative solutions, not just incremental changes, to access new possibilities for invention.

  • Imagination and creativity are important for developing maverick ideas, but they must be balanced with rigorous analysis and refinement of ideas.

  • Tesla’s creative process involved both incubation/imagination and direct focused effort to analyze possible solutions. He would brainstorm ideas but then carefully examine them on a blackboard.

  • Inventors need both imagination and analysis working in tension. They also benefit from relationships where businesspeople provide feedback to balance dreams with practical considerations.

  • Inventors must convey their “ideals” or visions to others through “illusions” like images, stories and demonstrations. Tesla had to convert his motor into a compelling demonstration to gain investors’ interest.

  • Promoting inventions effectively requires generating excitement through illusion while still appearing feasible. Getting this balance right is key to attracting funding.

  • Inventors also need cultural understanding to link their ideas to societal needs and frame them in a way that captures public imagination. Tesla grew more ambitious in his illusions over time.

Here is a summary of key points about Nikola Tesla’s inventions in the mid-1890s:

  • Tesla was responding to the era of “yellow journalism” in the 1890s, where large New York tabloids sought sensational stories and exaggerated claims to boost circulation. Tesla’s bold claims about his inventions played into this culture.

  • In 1893, Tesla exhibited his induction motor and polyphase system of alternating current power transmission at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This helped establish AC power systems as viable.

  • In 1894, Tesla patented his Tesla coil, which enabled the transmission of electrical energy through atmospherics without wires. He believed this could provide wireless power transmission over long distances.

  • Tesla leased a lab space in Manhattan and began conducting experiments on wireless technology, lighting, and electricity. He delivered public lectures demonstrating wireless lighting and other applications.

  • Tesla’s oversized claims and illumination grew out of both his personality and the culture of popular journalism at the time, which sought exaggerated stories. His visions for technologies like wireless power transmission were ambitious responses to the era.

So in summary, the mid-1890s saw Tesla promote innovative AC power technologies and begin experimenting with wireless transmission, concepts that aligned with the sensational technological stories popular at the time through journalism. His visions were grand reactions both to his personality and cultural environment.

Tesla suffered a nervous breakdown when he was unable to reconcile how he thought his wireless power system should work in theory versus how it actually responded in practice on Earth.

For Tesla, his strengths were identifying ideals or visions for new technologies, and convincing others of those visions, but this also led to his weaknesses. With inventions like the AC motor, he balanced his ideal visions with practical considerations and implementation, but with wireless power he became too focused on the beauty of his ideal without addressing the practical difficulties, lacking that balance. As Tesla once said, our virtues and flaws are inseparable, like matter and force - when separated, we cease to function.

At the height of developing his wireless power system at Wardenclyffe, even Tesla’s enemies acknowledged he was more of a visionary or poet than practical problem-solver. While his critics may have been right about implementation issues, we shouldn’t discount Tesla’s teaching that radically new technologies stem from an inner creative idealism combined with understanding society’s needs - like poets, inventors must think deeply but also dream boldly to use technology to improve life.

Here are summaries of the relevant manuscript collections and archival materials related to Nikola Tesla:

  • George Clark Radioana Collection (National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution) - contains artifacts and documents related to the history of radio. May include materials related to Tesla’s work in wireless transmission of energy and radio.

  • Lloyd Espenshied Papers (National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution) - papers of an engineer who worked on early radio projects. Could potentially have information on Tesla.

  • Kenneth Swezey Papers (National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution) - papers of a scientific author and historian. Includes a 1917 speech Tesla gave upon receiving the Edison Medal.

  • Edward P. Mitchell Papers (New-York Historical Society, New York) - papers of a journalist who reported on scientific topics in the late 19th/early 20th century. May have articles about Tesla.

  • Naval History Collection (New-York Historical Society, New York) - includes manuscripts, letters, records related to naval history. Could mention Tesla’s work with wireless signals.

  • The Century Magazine Collection (New York Public Library) - magazine published in the late 19th/early 20th century covering science topics. May have featured articles on Tesla.

  • Library of Nikola Tesla (Nikola Tesla Museum, Belgrade) - includes Tesla’s scrapbooks, writings, drawings in his original collections. Primary source material.

  • Marconi Archives (University of Oxford) - contains materials from Guglielmo Marconi, a rival of Tesla. May discuss Tesla.

  • Tesla Motor (Science Museum, London) - early electric motor invented by Tesla, ca. 1888. Physical artifact of his work.

  • Clifton Barrett Library (University of Virginia) - contains materials assembled by a professor on the history of electricity. Likely includes sources on Tesla.

  • Leland Anderson Papers (Western Pennsylvania Historical Society) - papers of a researcher who studied Tesla’s guided weapons work. Includes first-hand accounts and analyses.

Here is a summary of the provided notes:

The notes discuss Nikola Tesla’s early life and education in Croatia and his development of ideas around electric motors. Some key points:

  • Tesla was born in 1856 in Smiljan, Lika province, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia). His father was an Orthodox Christian priest.

  • He studied engineering and physics at the Polytechnic School in Graz, Austria from 1875-1878. He was fascinated by electricity and began developing ideas about electric motors while in school.

  • After graduating, he struggled financially for a time before securing a position in 1881 at Budapest Telephone Exchange owned by Tivadar Puskás. There, he had a pivotal moment of inspiration in a park where he envisioned the principles of a rotating magnetic field that could power an electric motor.

  • In 1882, he shared his motor concept with colleagues in Strasbourg and Paris. He secured a position at Edison’s Paris office but Edison declined to back Tesla’s motor ideas.

  • Tesla continued developing his motor concept and filed his first patent applications in 1883 in Budapest. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1884 hoping to gain backing for his motors.

  • The notes discuss Tesla’s early life experiences and education that helped lay the intellectual foundations for his revolutionary work on electric power systems and motors. His time in Graz and Budapest were particularly formative in the development of his motor ideas.

  • In 1886, Nikola Tesla developed an induction motor that used alternating current and a rotating magnetic field. This was a breakthrough invention.

  • Tesla struggled to find investors to commercialize the motor. He partnered with Alfred Brown and founded the Tesla Electric Company in 1886. However, the company failed to gain traction.

  • In 1887, Tesla demonstrated his AC motor at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. The demonstration impressed Westinghouse, who saw the commercial potential of Tesla’s motor for power transmission over long distances using alternating current.

  • Westinghouse licensed Tesla’s AC polyphase system patents. This helped Westinghouse compete against Edison’s direct current systems and ultimately led to AC power transmission becoming the standard in the United States.

  • Tesla’s invention of the AC induction motor was a seminal development that transformed the electrical industry. It established the dominance of alternating current for power grids worldwide. This cemented Tesla’s fame and reputation as an electrical engineering genius.

Here is a summary of the key points from the sources provided:

  • Tesla developed several innovations related to electric motors and power transmission in the 1870s-1880s, including the induction motor, which he demonstrated in 1888.

  • In the early 1880s, Tesla worked for Thomas Edison and worked on improvements to Edison’s DC power systems. He also came up with the idea of an alternating current motor while at Edison’s lab.

  • In 1883, Tesla struck out on his own and set up a small lab in New York. There he continued experimenting with AC systems and developing his motor.

  • In 1887-88, Tesla filed several patents for polyphase systems and AC motors. He was supported in this work by two businessmen, Robert Lane and Benjamin Vail.

  • In early 1888, Tesla demonstrated a working AC motor to them and two other engineers, Charles Peck and Thomas Brown. They encouraged Tesla to focus on developing his motor and power transmission systems commercially.

  • Tesla continued refining his inventions and filed additional patents in 1888. He gave demonstrations of his motor. Peck and Brown helped introduce Tesla to investors at the Mutual Union Telegraph Company in an effort to commercialize Tesla’s work.

  • Tesla struggled to interest investors at first. In early 1889, George Westinghouse witnessed one of Tesla’s demonstrations and realized the commercial potential. Westinghouse licensed Tesla’s polyphase patents, allowing Tesla’s inventions to finally be developed on a wide scale.

  • This marked a major success for Tesla after years of work developing his motor and struggling to win backing. It established his induction motor as the standard that would transform the industry.

  • Tesla filed several patents related to AC induction motors in the late 1880s and early 1890s, improving on his original designs. This included work at his new lab in New York.

  • In the early 1890s, Tesla began experiments with high frequency alternating currents and discovered unusual phenomena related to their resonance effects. This led him to develop ideas about wireless transmission of energy without wires.

  • In early 1891 experiments, Tesla developed circuits using capacitors and inductors that allowed production of high frequency oscillating currents, laying the foundation for modern radio technology. He gave public lectures describing these phenomena.

  • Contemporaries like Hertz, Lodge and Branly were also exploring similar electrical resonance effects in the late 1880s-1890s, but Tesla’s work took it farther in discovering practical applications like wireless lighting and power transmission.

  • Through the early 1890s Tesla continued filing patents and refining his ideas about using high frequency currents for wireless communication and energy transmission without wires, which became a long-term focus of his research programs. This marked an important turning point as he searched for new ways to commercialize his inventions.

Here is a summary of Tesla’s explanation of the electromagnetic pendulum in his 1892 Royal Institution lecture to explain his oscillating transformer:

In the lecture, Tesla used the analogy of an electromagnetic pendulum to explain the operation of his oscillating transformer. He described how an iron rod suspended between the poles of a magnet will assume a stable position when deflected from equilibrium due to the rod’s tendency to align itself with the magnetic forces. This caused the rod to oscillate back and forth like a pendulum.

Tesla explained that in his oscillating transformer, an electromagnetic coil acts as the suspended rod and the magnetic field produced by another coil acts as the poles of the magnet. When the electromagnetic coil is deflected from its center position by bursting charges of electricity, it will oscillate back and forth at its resonant frequency due to the tendency to align with the magnetic field, in much the same way as the iron pendulum. This oscillating electromagnetic coil produces high frequency alternating currents from a low frequency power source.

Here are the summaries of the sources provided:

  1. Hughes, Networks of Power, 129–135 - Discusses the development of electrical networks in Europe and the role of companies like Siemens.

  2. C.E.L. Brown, “Reasons for the Use of the Three-Phase Current in the Lauffen-Frankfort Transmission,” Electrical World 18 (7 November 1891): 346 - Discusses the reasons for using three-phase current in an early power transmission line between Lauffen and Frankfurt.

  3. “Mr. Tesla and Rotary Currents,” Electrical Engineer (London), 29 January 1892, pp. 111–12 - A report on Tesla and his work with rotary currents.

  4. Hering, “Electrical Practice in Europe,” 194 - A source discussing electrical practice in Europe.

  5. Several sources from 1892 discussing Tesla’s high frequency experiments and work.

  6. NT, My Inventions, 94 - Tesla’s autobiography discussing his work.

  7. Seifer, Wizard, 84 - A biography of Tesla by Marc Seifer.

  8. See source 7.

  9. William Crookes, “Some Possibilities of Electricity,” Fortnightly Review 102, n.s. (1 February 1892): 173–81 - A paper by William Crookes on possibilities of electricity.

  10. Two sources from 1892 on Tesla’s experiments and work.

  11. NT, My Inventions, 82 - Tesla’s autobiography.

  12. Discussion of a photograph of Tesla’s apparatus from his 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  13. Reginald O. Kapp, “Tesla’s Lecture at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 1892,” in Tribute to Nikola Tesla, pp. A300–A305 - Discussion of Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  14. Details on Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture and those who attended.

  15. Quote from Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  16. Quote from Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  17. Discussion of reporting on Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  18. Quote from Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  19. Summary of Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  20. Summary of Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  21. Reminiscence about Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  22. Summary of reporting on Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  23. Summary of reporting on Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  24. Summary of reporting on Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  25. Summary of reporting on Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  26. Tesla’s autobiography discussing his 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  27. Reminiscence about Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  28. Letter from J. A. Fleming discussing Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  29. Discussion of William Crookes’ response to Tesla’s 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  30. Discussion of further reporting on Tesla’s high frequency experiments.

  31. Discussion of further reporting on Tesla’s high frequency experiments.

  32. Discussion of further reporting and responses to Tesla’s high frequency work.

  33. Letter from William Crookes discussing Tesla’s work.

  34. Tesla’s autobiography discussing developments after the 1892 Royal Institution lecture.

  35. Biographical works discussing Tesla’s developing practice and fame after 1892.

  36. Tesla’s autobiography on developments after 1892.

  37. Discussion of a dream Tesla had in 1892.

  38. Biographical work discussing Tesla in 1892.

  39. Letter from Tesla to a relative in 1892 discussing his mother’s death.

  40. Discussion of Tesla working in Europe in 1892.

  41. Discussion of Tesla working in Europe and being honored in Serbia in 1892-1893.

  42. Magazine article on Tesla from 1894 discussing his work in 1892-1893.

  43. Quote from Tesla discussing developments in 1892.

  44. Discussion of Tesla visiting Heinrich Hertz in 1892.

  45. Tesla’s autobiography on developments in 1892.


Push: Discusses Tesla moving to New York in late 1892 and setting up a new laboratory. Notes the competition between Edison’s DC and Westinghouse’s AC systems. Describes Tesla’s work with Westinghouse developing AC power.

  1. Article outlines Tesla’s work with Westinghouse developing AC power at Niagara Falls. Mentions collaborators like Rankine, Scott and Adams in developing the hydroelectric power system there.

Here is a summary of the information provided:

  • Thomas Commerford Martin (TCM) wrote a book called “The Inventions, Researches, and Writings of Nikola Tesla” in 1894 to help promote Tesla’s work.

  • Martin had experience as an author, having previously written a book on electric motors. He also held professional credentials as an engineer that helped establish his credibility.

  • Martin’s book received positive reviews when it was published and helped raise awareness of Tesla among the scientific community in the U.S.

  • Tesla appreciated Martin’s efforts to publicize his work. However, their relationship became strained later as Martin pushed Tesla to commercialize his inventions more aggressively.

  • A third edition of Martin’s book on Tesla was published in 1895, further helping to disseminate information about Tesla’s polyphase system and other developments.

  • In general, Martin played an important role in introducing Tesla and his technical contributions to American audiences through his writings in the 1890s, which helped boost Tesla’s reputation and profile during a key period.

Here is a summary of the key points from the sources provided:

  1. In 1895, Tesla’s laboratory in New York burned down, destroying many of his notes and experiments. This was a major setback for Tesla financially and experimentally.

  2. Around this time, Tesla began experimenting with X-rays, becoming one of the first scientists to research their medical applications. He worked with Edward Hewitt and believed X-rays had therapeutic properties.

  3. Tesla conceived of and developed technologies for remote control devices and robots in the 1890s. He saw potential military applications for controlling torpedoes and boats remotely.

  4. By 1897-1898, Tesla was looking to the Navy for funding, proposing inventions for remotedly controlling torpedo boats. This aligned with increasing naval arms races at the time. However, he had difficulties securing financial backing.

  5. In letters from the 1910s, Tesla further described his work on radio-controlled guided weapons and submersible boats, indicating he continued experimenting with military applications of his remote control technologies over the following decades.

  6. Sources also describe Tesla socializing with individuals like Stanford White and Thomas Edison during this period as he sought new professional opportunities and funding after the laboratory fire. His relationship with these figures was both personal and related to his work.

Here is a summary of the passage from “Will Abolish War,” New York Herald, 8 November 1898 in TC 13:138–40, on 139:

This passage is from an article in the New York Herald dated November 8, 1898 about Nikola Tesla and his claims that he could abolish war. The article notes that Tesla declared that with his recent improvements and discoveries in electricity, it would now be possible to transmit electrical forces to any distance without wires. Tesla claimed that a machine could be constructed that would put an end to all war by surrounding each country with an “electric fence” that would paralyze any invading army. The fence would consist of elevated plates that would throw off an electrical charge sufficient to kill any person who came within a certain distance. Thus, according to Tesla, countries would no longer need large standing armies or warships since any country attacked could defend itself simply by throwing a switch. The article presents Tesla’s views on how electricity and wireless transmission could revolutionize warfare and end war altogether.

Here is a summary of the key points from the specified section of io Began (Bristol, UK: Adam Hilger, 1975), 88:

  • Tesla experimented with stationary waves in 1899 while in Colorado Springs. He observed waves being reflected between the transmitter and various fixed objects like the laboratory wall and nearby Rocky Mountains.

  • This allowed him to detect the characteristic periodic increases in wave intensity that occur at natural resonance frequencies based on the distance between reflective objects.

  • Tesla claimed he detected periodic signals transmitted from other planets, which he thought might have come from Mars. However, most scientists now believe these were likely atmospheric or terrestrial wireless signals.

  • By 1900, Tesla was able to transmit wireless signals as far as one mile from his laboratory. He continued experimenting with improvements to his receivers and various resonant transmission techniques using different frequencies.

  • Tesla provided important testimony on his wireless inventions and refinements of selective circuits to the U.S. Navy and Patent Office during this period as wireless communication progressed.

Here is a summary of the references provided:

  • Reference 66 discusses Tesla giving few interviews in July-October 1899 and refusing to talk to one reporter.

  • Reference 67 provides Lowenstein testimony about Tesla’s work at Wardenclyffe.

  • Reference 68 discusses a letter from Scherff to Tesla in September 1899 and correspondence between them.

  • Reference 69 discusses Tesla’s ideas for wireless energy transmission from his 1899 article “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy.”

  • References 70-71 discuss additional correspondence between Tesla and Scherff in 1899.

  • Reference 72 is a letter from Tesla but it does not specify the recipient or date.

  • Reference 73 discusses Marincic’s introduction to Tesla’s article “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy.”

  • References 74-81 describe plates and experiments discussed in Tesla’s Colorado Springs Notes.

  • References 82-87 discuss Tesla’s experiments with fireballs and streamers.

  • References 88-89 discuss scientific methodology and principles of failure in design.

  • In 1901, Marconi successfully transmitted wireless signals across the Atlantic Ocean, gaining fame and financial support. This concerned Tesla, who felt Marconi had merely made incremental improvements to his own wireless innovations.

  • Tesla was in the process of building his wireless transmission tower called Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, NY. He hoped this tower would allow truly wireless transmission of energy and information worldwide.

  • However, Morgan began to doubt Wardenclyffe’s potential after Marconi’s success and stopped funding the project in 1902. Tesla tried appealing to Morgan over the next few years but construction was never completed due to lack of funds.

  • The name Wardenclyffe proved short-lived and was changed to Shoreham in 1906 after construction had halted. While Tesla’s unfinished tower remains shrouded in mystery, it appeared designed to fully demonstrate his innovations in wireless energy and global communication networks.

  • The passage references letters, articles, and records from Tesla’s papers at various archives like the Library of Congress, as well as books and interviews about Tesla’s life and work.

  • It describes Tesla’s ongoing efforts to secure funding from investors like J.P. Morgan for his wireless power and wireless transmission projects at Wardenclyffe in the early 1900s. Morgan eventually withdrew funding.

  • Tesla pursued other investors but also struggled financially. He continued developing new inventions like the Tesla turbine and disc engine.

  • In the 1910s, Tesla was recognized for his scientific achievements with the Edison Medal but lived in poverty. He resided at the New Yorker Hotel in his later life.

  • The passage discusses debates about some of Tesla’s more speculative ideas like scalar waves and his ambitions for wireless power transmission. It provides historical context on the development of radio and issues Tesla had with other pioneers like Marconi.

  • In sum, it outlines Tesla’s visionary wireless innovations but also his challenges commercializing his work and securing adequate financial support in the later phases of his career.

Here is a brief summary of the key points from the article “Tesion of the Tuckerton and Sayville Stations,”

  • Describes the development and operation of two pioneering wireless/radio stations - the Tuckerton station in New Jersey and the Sayville station in New York.

  • The Tuckerton station was built by the Wireless Specialty Apparatus Company (later absorbed by RCA) and began operation in 1907 as an experimental station. It transmitted news, weather reports and stock prices to ships at sea.

  • The Sayville station was built by the Federal Telegraph Company and began operating in 1908. It had a higher power than Tuckerton and could transmit over longer distances. It was an important transatlantic station for communication with ships and stations in Europe.

  • Both stations used spark-gap transmitters in their early years before upgrading to vacuum tube transmitters. The article provides some basic technical details about their equipment and operation.

  • Over time, both stations expanded their role and became important nodes in the wireless telegraph networks operated by their respective companies to link the US with domestic and international communication systems.

So in summary, it outlines the early development and operation of two pioneering wireless stations on the east coast of the US that helped advance the growth of commercial radio communication in the early 20th century.

The key problems discussed in the passage from The Dead Hand regarding laser beam weapons are:

  1. Accuracy issues - It would be very difficult to aim a laser weapon with enough precision to hit a small, moving target like a missile or airplane. Factors like turbulence in the atmosphere could deflect the laser beam off target.

  2. Power requirements - To do meaningful damage to hardened targets, a laser weapon would require an extremely powerful light source, far more powerful than what was realistically achievable at the time the book was written. It would require a lot of energy.

  3. Technological immaturity - The technologies required for an effective laser weapon system, like beam accuracy/pointing, atmospheric compensation, and high-power laser sources, were still immature and not adequately developed to produce a workable weapon.

  4. Practical challenges - Even if the technical problems could be solved, there were practical challenges around fielding an operational laser weapon system, such as the size/weight of the systems, cooling requirements, and mobility. It may not have been practical as a battlefield weapon.

So in summary, the key problems discussed were accuracy, power requirements, technological immaturity of the necessary components, and practical deployment challenges for laser beam weapons at that time.

Here is a summary of the acknowledgments section:

  • The author thanks his editor Ingrid Gnerlich and her assistant Eric Henney at Princeton University Press for their work on the book over many years.

  • Jennifer Backer is thanked for her superb copyediting work. Tobiah Waldron prepared the index.

  • Debbie Tegarden helped shepherd the manuscript through production to make it a pleasure to read.

  • Many friends and professional colleagues were consulted and provided advice on Tesla, including historians of technology and scientists.

  • Bernard Finn and Michael Schiffer reviewed the manuscript for the publisher and provided helpful comments.

  • The author’s daughters listened to discussions about Tesla growing up but still offered comments to keep the work balanced.

  • One of the author’s professors, Robert Kohler, reminded him not to pull any punches in developing a framework to understand Tesla.

  • The book is dedicated to mentor Tom Hughes, who recognized Tesla’s importance and pushed the author to complete the book, and to his wife Jane, who played many roles in supporting the research and writing.

Here is a summary of key points from the passage:

  • Tesla had a creative synergy with his business partner Alfred Brown regarding AC motors and other inventions. They had fruitful business dealings but also issues finding adequate lab space.

  • Several other inventors and engineers are mentioned who contributed to the development of AC power, including Dolivo-Dobrowolsky, Bláthy, Déri, and Ferraris.

  • Tesla’s demonstrations of his inventions, especially AC motors and wireless technology, were important for capturing the public imagination and gaining support. He demonstrated widely in the U.S., Europe, and at the Chicago World’s Fair.

  • Tesla conducted major experiments on wireless power and wireless communication at his Colorado Springs lab in 1899-1900. This involved testing his magnifying transmitter and investigating stationary waves and Earth’s resonant frequencies.

  • Financial support from investors like Astor was important but also complicated Tesla’s work. Commercial interests shaped how his inventions were developed.

  • Many other key figures of the time are mentioned briefly, showing the complex network of individuals and companies involved in early electricity development.

Here is a summary of key points about Tesla’s work and career related to funding, innovation, investors, licensing, manufacturing, patents, and wireless communication:

  • Tesla relied on funding from investors to support his research and development work. He received initial funding from investors like Alfred Brown and later large investments from JP Morgan.

  • He was an innovator in areas like alternating current, wireless communication, remote control, and wireless power transmission. His work laid the groundwork for disruptive innovations in these fields.

  • Investors like JP Morgan supported Tesla’s work with the hopes it could lead to profitable commercial applications and returns on their investments. However, not all of Tesla’s ideas were commercially viable.

  • Tesla used a patent-promote-sell strategy to license or sell his patents to generate revenue to fund further innovation work. This provided some returns to investors.

  • He struggled at times with manufacturing and commercializing some of his technical demonstrations and prototypes. This prevented full realization of opportunities.

  • His many patents covered innovative technologies in areas like AC motors and wireless that helped establish him as a pioneer but also caused disputes over rights.

  • Tesla made important contributions to the development of wireless communication through his work on wireless transmission of energy and development of radio technologies. However, he had ongoing disputes with Marconi over radio patents.

Here is a summary of the key points regarding Tesla’s research on oscillatory waves, Tesla coils, and wireless power transmission:

  • Tesla conducted extensive research on oscillatory waves and how they could be useful for wireless transmission of energy and communication starting in the late 1880s. This included his experiments with Tesla coils.

  • Tesla coils were instrumental in Tesla’s early research on high frequency AC currents and their ability to generate oscillatory electromagnetic waves. He experimented extensively with Tesla coils from the 1890s through the early 1900s.

  • Tesla believed oscillatory waves could be used to develop a practical wireless lighting system and wireless power transmission more broadly. He conducted demonstrations of wireless lighting using Tesla coils in the 1890s.

  • His research led to the development of his magnifying transmitter, which he used and experimented with at his Colorado Springs laboratory in 1899-1900. This furthered his investigations into wireless power transmission and communication using stationary waves.

  • The Wardenclyffe tower project in the early 1900s was intended to be a full-scale implementation of his wireless transmission system using oscillatory waves generated by a large Tesla coil and transmitted via the tower. However, the project was never completed due to a lack of funding.

  • Tesla’s research on oscillatory waves and development of technologies like the Tesla coil were foundational in the development of wireless power transmission and radio technology, though most of his ideas were not fully realized in his lifetime. He is considered a pioneer in these fields.

Here is a summary of the key points about Tesla’s publicist George Scherff from the provided text:

  • George Scherff served as Tesla’s publicist from 1895-1897, and also in 1900-1904, 1908, and 1911-1914.

  • He helped publicize Tesla’s work and demonstrate inventions like Tesla’s radio-controlled boat.

  • Scherff assisted with the writing of Tesla’s biography in the 1890s.

  • He was involved when Tesla had a nervous breakdown in 1895.

  • The text also notes that Scherff had opinions on women, but does not provide any details.

  • Overall, Scherff played a key role in promoting Tesla and his inventions as his publicist over multiple periods between the 1890s and 1910s. He helped with publicity, demonstrations, and Tesla’s biography during pivotal moments in Tesla’s career.

Here is a summary of the key points about Tesla from the provided text:

  • Tesla collaborated extensively with several partners, most notably Peck, Morgan, Page, and Westinghouse, on developing AC motors, dynamos, oscillators, polyphase systems and other inventions.

  • He obtained many patents through the U.S. Patent Office related to these inventions and technologies.

  • His work on developing efficient AC systems and polyphase motors was crucial to Westinghouse winning contracts to power the World’s Columbian Exposition and developing the AC power industry.

  • He experimented extensively with high frequency phenomena, wireless transmission, and developing technologies like Tesla coils. This work related to areas like wireless lighting and power transmission.

  • Later in his career he worked on ambitious wireless technologies and plans like Wardenclyffe, which he hoped could transmit power globally. He also speculated that his inventions could be adapted for particle beams and wireless weapons.

  • Throughout his career he emphasized the importance of his work for power transmission and increasing human productivity/development through access to wireless power and energy.

  • He had to continually promote and demonstrate his inventions to investors to secure further funding, as many of his projects like Wardenclyffe ultimately failed to secure long-term backing.

Here is a summary of key points about Nikola Tesla:

  • Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, engineer, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electric supply system. Some of his major inventions and contributions included AC induction motors and transformers.

  • He was born in 1856 in Smiljan, Austrian Empire (present-day Croatia). He showed an early interest and aptitude in mechanics and engineering. He studied engineering at the University of Prague and Graz.

  • Tesla worked for Thomas Edison for a short time in the 1880s. He later worked for several companies developing AC power including Edison Machine Works and Westinghouse Electric.

  • Tesla developed a prototype alternating current induction motor and helped develop an alternating polyphase current system of generators, motors and transformers to provide an alternative to the direct current (DC) system being promoted by Edison.

  • Tesla developed and demonstrated wireless lighting and wireless transmission of power in his experiments in Colorado Springs in the 1890s. He also conducted pioneering work in x-rays, high frequency alternating currents and motors.

  • Later in life, Tesla worked on projects such as the Tesla Coil, wireless power transmission, particle beam weapons and wireless communication. However, he struggled financially and some of his ideas were deemed impractical or lacked investor support.

  • Tesla received several patents and awards for his work but never gained the commercial success or profits from his inventions that he desired. He lived most of his life in New York City, dying in 1943 at the age of 86.

Here is a summary of key points about Nikola Tesla from the provided text:

  • Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

  • Some of Tesla’s most important inventions and contributions included the Tesla coil, AC polyphase system of electrical distribution, Tesla turbine, wireless communication, and wireless power. He pioneered work on neon and fluorescent lighting, remote control, oscillators, X-ray imaging, and particle beams.

  • Tesla worked for Thomas Edison but later had a falling out over financial issues. He then worked for George Westinghouse and helped develop Westinghouse’s AC power system, which helped Westinghouse win the “War of Currents” against Edison’s DC system.

  • Tesla conducted pioneering work in his lab in New York on wireless power transmission and wireless communication. This work led to the construction of his famous Wardenclyffe Tower facility on Long Island to conduct wireless power transmission experiments. However, financial issues prevented the project from being completed.

  • Tesla received around 300 patents worldwide for his inventions but died in relative obscurity and poverty in New York City in 1943. Many of his inventions and visions for wireless technology became realized after his death. He continues to be recognized as one of history’s most prolific inventors.

Here is a summary of the key events and concepts in the biography of Nikola Tesla:

  • Tesla’s early life and education in Croatia and his work improving dynamos in Europe in the 1880s.

  • His revolutionary ideas for improving AC power systems while working for Edison, which led to a falling out. He later patented his AC induction motor and polyphase system.

  • His work developing wireless lighting and power at his lab in New York in the 1890s, conducting demonstrations and gaining patents. This included developing high-frequency alternating currents and resonant transformers.

  • His famous lecture at the Columbia College Babdiner Hall in 1891 where he demonstrated wireless lighting for the first time and dazzled onlookers.

  • Experiments with wireless power transmission across distances, seeking to transmit electricity without wires to power devices. This culminated in his big vision and plan for a wireless power station at Wardenclyffe from 1901-1903.

  • His development of radio-controlled devices like boats in the late 1890s, seen as a precursor to modern remote control technology.

  • Financing struggles for Wardenclyffe led by J.P. Morgan, and challenges from rival inventor Marconi gaining prominence with radio.

  • Later career developing ideas like the Tesla coil, his theories on rotating magnetic fields, particles and cosmic rays, and ideas for novel energy and wireless weapons technologies.

  • Battles over patents with other inventors like Westinghouse and fight to gain proper credit for his inventions. Continued promotion of his wireless power ideas.

  • Later years living in hotels in New York, developing eccentric ideas and falling into debt and obscurity despite his revolutionary past achievements.

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