Nikola Tesla –
Tesla’s Timeline Chronograph
Tesla’s Early Years
1856, 9-10 July, Nikola Tesla is born (at lightning stroke of midnight)
1856-62, Tesla lives in Smiljan, Lika, western military district (Krajina), Austro-Hungarian Empire.
1861, death of his older and only brother Dane, 12.
1862, family moves to closest town, Gospic.
1862-66, Tesla attends elementary or ‘normal’ school in Gospic.
1866-70, Tesla attends Real Gymnasium in Gospic.
1870-73, lives at Rakovac 6 above his aunt & Col. “old war-horse”.
1873, Tesla graduates Gimnazija Karlovac, Rakovac, Croatia.
1874, recovers from Cholera, escapes life as priest, first occurrence of his visions.
1875, father sends him into hills to hide from army.
1875, accepted at k.k. (kaiserlich konigliche) Technischen Hochschule in Graz, Austria.
1875-78, attends “Joanneum” polytechnic (now Technische Universitat Graz (TUG)), Rechbauerstrasse 12.
1875, Sept, takes a room at Attemsgasse 8.**
1876, boards at Neugasse 10 (now Hans-Sachs-Gasse 10).
1877, boards at Attemsgasse 11 and Jahngasse 5.
1878, boards at Heinrichstrasse 11 (unbek.).
1878, spring, drops out of hochschule before 3rd year exams.
1878-79, lands first job, assistant engineer, Maribor, Slovenia.
1878, Sept-Nov, rooms on Tegetthofstrasse (Partisans Road since 1945), Maribor.**
1879, 24 March, police escort the “vagrant” Tesla from Maribor home to Gospic.**
1879, death of his father, Milutin.
1880, summer, audits classes at the Karl-Ferdinand University of Prague.
1880-81, rooms at Ve smeckach 13, Prague.**
1880-81, plays pool, spotting foes 48 of 100 points, at Narodni Kavarna (People’s Cafe) on Vodickova St.**
1881, January, arrives in Budapest too early for job with Puskas brothers.
1881, Budapest Austrian Telegraph Office, engineer
1881, Budapest Central Post Office, draftsman
1881, American Telephone Company, repairman
1881, Budapest power company, electrical engineer
1881, Budapest Central Telephone Exchange, designer
1881, Tesla’s first mental breakdown
1881, AC epiphany on walk with Antal Szigety in Budapest’s Varosliget city park.
1882, April, Tivadar Puskas hires Tesla at Continental Edison Co., Paris.
1882, Charles Batchelor oversees Tesla at Edison lightbulb factory, Irvy-sur-Seine.
1882, May, Belgrade newspapers report Tesla’s visit.
1883, works on DC generators for Electricit? de Strasbourg, Alsace.
Note: ** Dan Mrkich, “Nikola Tesla: The European Years, 1856-1884.”
Tesla Comes To the United States Of America
1884, spring, Tesla lands in New York City, NY, with 4 cents in his pocket.
1884, Thomas Edison hires Tesla to fix designs of DC dynamos.
1885, quits Edison’s Etna Iron Works, 104 Goerck St.
1885, founds the Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing Co, Rahway, NJ.
1886-87, winter, digs ditches for $2.00 per day.
1887, April, Peck and Brown fund the Tesla Electric Co.
1887, 30 April, Tesla files his first patent.
1887, 10 May, old friend Antal Szigeti lands in NY.
1887-88, Invents the AC induction motor, 89 Liberty St, NY.
1888, 15 May, speech to American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE).
1888, 7 July, sells AC patents for $25,000 to Westinghouse; receives 150 shares in Westinghouse, plus $2.50/horsepower.
1888-89, trains Westinghouse engineers in Pittsburgh, PA.
1889, Nikola Tesla becomes US citizen.
1889, opens his own lab on Grand Street.
1890, Aug 6, Prof. H. Brown “Westinghouses” ax-murderer Wm Kemmler at Auburn State Prison, NY.
1890, Nov, lights vacuum tube, wirelessly, with high-frequency coil.
1891, invents the Tesla coil.
1891, first Westinghouse-Tesla engine installed at a Colorado mine.
1891, 20 May, speaks to AIEE at Columbia U.
1892, London lecture to Royal Institution of Electrical Engineers.
1892, Feb, mother Djouka (Mandic) dies.
1893, AC plant powers Chicago’s Columbia Exposition.
1893, 1 May, President Grover Cleveland pushes button to light 100,000 lamps in Chicago’s “City of Light”.
1893, 24 Feb, lectures to the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia.
1893, 1 March, wireless remote-control boat in St. Louis.
1894, Tesla’s AC powers Telluride and Cripple Creek, CO.
1895, 13 March, suspicious fire burns lab, 35 S 5th Ave (now ~539 West Broadway).
1895, 20 May, lands in Pulitzer’s World after girl, 16, leaps from pie at JL Breese’s studio, 5 W 16th St.
1895, July, only recorded earthquake in Manhatten, at lab, 46 E Houston Street, NY City, NY. Tesla smashes his “Earthquake Machine” – the mechanical oscillator to pieces.
1895 Century editor R.U. Johnson runs Tesla article by T.C. Martin and “Pudd’nhead Wilson” by Mark Twain.
1896, 19 July, tours Niagara Power House with George Westinghouse.
1896, 16 Nov, transmits electricity 26 miles from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, NY, first 3-phase AC power plant.
1897, April 6, lectures NY Academy of Sciences, 2 E 63rd St.
1898, first efficient-magnifier Tesla coil.
1898, high-tension conductor produces pressures of 100 million volts.
1898, Madison Square Garden demos teleautomat boat with ‘borrowed mind” remote control.
1899, Lights 200 bulbs wirelessly 26 miles from Pike’s Peak with the prototype Magnifying Transmitter.
1899-1900, discovers terrestrial stationary waves, Colorado Springs.
1900, 100-foot discharge ‘flashed a current around the globe’.
1900, J.P. Morgan buys 51% of Tesla’s tele patents for $150,000.
1901, builds Magnifying Transmitter at Wardenclyffe (Shoreham, Long Island). The beginning of Tesla’s New World of Tomorrow.
1901, 12 Dec, Marconi beams a…Morse-code “S” across the Atlantic.
1903, 15 July, NY Sun reports on Wardenclyffe’s “blinding streaks of electricity.”
1905, opens office at 165 Broadway (Now 1 Liberty Plaza).
1906, builds speedometers for Waltham Watch Co.
1907, 3 May, NY World reports Tesla’s “magnifying transmitter” hits 25 Million horsepower.
1908, “Hugo Award” Gernsback meets Tesla, writes robot story “Ralph 124C 41+.”
1909, G. Marconi, C. Maxwell & H. Hertz share Physics Nobel for radio.
1911, Patents turbine and pump based on Bladeless Disk design.
1912, creditors reposes equipment from Wardenclyffe.
1914, opens office in tallest skyscraper: Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway.
1915, 6 Oct, NYT falsely reports Edison and Tesla to share Nobel.
1915, Waldorf-Astoria’s manager George Boldt demands back rent of $19,000.
1915, surrenders Wardenclyffe deed to George Boldt for back rent monies due.
1915, Tesla declares bankruptcy.
1917, 16 May, wins AIEE’s Edison medal, flees to feed pigeons.
1917, 4 July, Navy uses explosives to demolish the tower at Wardenclyffe.
1918, Chicago turbine project with W.W. Wilhelm.
1922, his beloved pigeon dies at Hotel St. Regis, 2 E 55th St (5th Ave) #1607.
1924, 25 May, Hotel St. Regis sues Tesla for $3,299 in back rent.
1924, Sheriff’s deputy serves debt liens on office, 8 W 40th St 20th floor.
1931, 20 July, “Tesla at 75” on cover of Time magazine.
1931, 18 Oct, Edison dies at 84.
1934, Scientific American pictures Tesla with “Colossus” a 2MV Van de Graaf generator Tesla Coil, now at Boston’s Museum of Science.
1934, 11 July, NYT A1: “Tesla, at 78, Bares New ‘Death Beam.'”
1935, Feb Tesla’s pro-eugenics Liberty article edited by friend G. S. Viereck, a Nazi.
1937, Nikola Tesla is hit by cab in Manhattan, but refuses care.
1937, honorary doctorate from Tesla’s former hochschule in Graz.
1938, experiments under 59th Street Bridge near 2nd Ave, NY.
1939, (Soviet) Amtorg Trading Corp pays Tesla $25,000.
1942, Governor Clinton Hotel, NY, “multi decade resistance box.”
1942, July 8, birthday meeting with exiled King Peter II Karadjordjevic of Serbia.
1943, Jan, tries to send cash via messenger-boy Kerrigan to “Mr. Samuel Clemens.” (Mark Twain) insisting the Twain was still alive.
1943, 5 Jan, admits last maid service, asks for no futher disturbances.
1943, 7 Jan, dies at 86 in New Yorker Hotel, #3327.
1943, 8 Jan, maid enters room and finds Tesla dead.
1943, 8 Jan, FBI seizes 80-trunk archive of Tesla’s papers.
1943, 8 Jan, Tesla’s nephew Sava Kosanovic finds Tesla’s room emptied.
1943, body sent to Campbell’s Funeral Parlors (Madison Ave & 81St).
1943, cremated at Ferncliff Cemetery, Ardsley, NY.
1943, 12 Jan, memorial at Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC.
1943, 13 Jan, service by Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, 20 W 26th St.
1943, 21 June, U.S. Supreme Court reverses itself, favors Tesla radio patents over Marconi.
1943, John J. O’Neill publishes “Prodigal Genius.”
1944, Bela Lugosi plays Romanian scientist/vampire “Armand Tesla” in “Return of the Vampire.”
1944-46, “Project Nick” Brig. Gen. L.C. Craigie at USAFB Patterson attempts “Peace Ray.”
1952, Tesla estate including shirts, suits, shoes & papers are sent to Belgrade.
1955, Tesla Museum opens in Belgrade, 51 Proleterskih brigada.
1956, 100th anniversary, memorial erected in Smiljan by Grgo Antuna.
1958, Tesla’s cremated remains sent to Belgrade.
1960, ‘Tesla’ declared unit of magnetic induction by Intl. Cmsn. for Electrical Engineering, T = Wb/m2.
19??, NYC declares 40th St & 6th Ave “Nikola Tesla Corner.”
1976, Tesla statue dedicated on Goat Island, Niagara Falls.
1976, Rev. Sun Myung Moon buys New Yorker Hotel for $5M as Unification Church HQ.
1978, Margaret Cheney publishes “Man Out of Time.”
1980, Croat biopic movie “Secrets of Nikola Tesla” (Tajna Nikole Tesle) features Orson Welles as J.P. Morgan.
1981, monument by F. Krsinic erected in Gospic town square.
1991-95, Croat troops occupy Smiljan house, Serbs bomb Gospic.
1997, Tesla bust installed in Becton engineering hall at Yale, 15 Prospect St.
2000, 12 Dec, PBS airs “Tesla: Master of Lightning.”
2001, 10 July, fans commemorate Tesla’s birth by rededicating plaque on 34th Street wall of New Yorker Hotel.
2006, 150th Anniversary of Tesla’s birth celebration planned.
“Nikola Tesla Corner” is located at 40th St & 6th Ave, SW corner of Bryant Park, behind the NY Public Library, where he fed pigeons.
Nikola Tesla’s Laboratory Locations: all in downtown Manhattan, New York City, NY
1887, 89 Liberty Street, (now 1 Liberty Plaza).
1889, 175 Grand St (now 179 Grand St, Wu Lim Back Rub)*
1890-1895, 35 S 5th Ave (now ~539 West Broadway, Washington Square Village: 3rd/Bleeker),13 March, 1895 destroyed by fire.
1895-1899, 46-48 E Houston St (now Soho Billiards), July 1895, where the earthquake caused by his mechanical oscillator took place.
1901-1912, Shoreham, Long Island. The location of Tesla’s Magnifying Transmitter, Wardenclyffe Station.
Later Periods, Queensbourough Bridge, 59th St near 2nd Ave.*
1905, 165 Broadway (now 1 Liberty Plaza)
1914, 233 Broadway, #1136, Woolworth Building.
1914, 1 Madison Ave, #202-203,*Metropolitan Life Tower (23rd St).
1915-1924, 8 West 40th St, #2006,* (5th Ave).
Later Periods, 350 Madison Ave*, old Conde Nast HQ (44/45th St.)
Hotels in New York City, where Tesla lived:
1889-92, Astor House Hotel, 140 Broadway (Barclay/Vecey Sts).
1892, Hotel Gerlach (Radio Wave Bldg), 49 W 27th St (Broadway/6th Ave).
1??? Metropolitan Hotel, 580 Broadway (op. Guggenheim SoHo).
1897-1920, Waldorf-Astoria, 5th Ave & 33rd St (now the Empire State Bldg).
1918-23, Hotel St. Regis, 2 E 55th St (5th Ave) #1607.
1923-25, Hotel Marguery, 270 Park Ave (48th St).
1925-30, Hotel Pennsylvania, 401 7 Ave (33rd St) #1522E,* muse for the 1938 Glen Miller hit “Pennsylvania 6-5000.”
1930-34, Governor Clinton Hotel, 535 W 31 St (now Southgate Tower)(7th Ave), 20th fl.
1934-43, Hotel New Yorker, 481 8th Ave (34th) #3327.
Campbell’s Funeral Parlors, Madison Ave & 81St.
Ferncliff Cemetery, 281 Secor Rd, Ardsley, NY.
Manhattan Storage & Warehouse Co., 52 St & 7th Ave.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 112th St & Amsterdam Ave.
Serb Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, 20 W 26th St.
Places where Tesla is honored, Greater New York areas:
Statue of Liberty Museum has photo of Tesla.
Jersery City, New Jersey, Liberty Science Center, daily demos of a Tesla Coil.
Wardenclyffe “Radio City” (Shoreham, Long Island), NY.
Niagara Falls, Goat Island features a large, purposely un-illuminated statue of Tesla.
* Leland I. Anderson, “Nikola Tesla’s Residences, Laboratories, and Offices,” (Denver: Boyle-Anderson Pub, 1990), the best source for Tesla’s addresses.
Tesla was born “at the stroke of midnight” with lightning striking during a summer storm. He was born in Croatia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The midwife commented, “He’ll be a child of the storm,” to which his mother replied, “No, of light.”
Tesla was baptized in the Old Slavonic Church rite. His Baptism Certificate reports that he was born on June 28 (Julian calendar), and christened by the Serbian priest, Toma Oklobdzija.
His Serb father, Reverend Milutin Tesla, was a priest in the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Karlovci which gathered to Serbs of the “Greek-rite” as they were legally referred to in Austria-Hungary at the time. His mother, Djuka Mandic, from a prominent Serb family of the Banija, made craft tools. He was one of five children, having one brother and three sisters. His godfather, Jovan Drenovac, was a Captain in the Krajina army. His family moved to Gospic in 1862.
Tesla studied in Karlovac, present day Croatia, then studied electrical engineering at the Austria Politechnic in Graz, Austria (1875). While there, he studied the uses of alternating current. He also developed a telephone repeater (or amplifier).
In 1881 he moved to Budapest to work for the telegraph company, American Telephone Company. For a while he stayed in Maribor, Slovenia. He was employed at his first job as an assistant engineer. Tesla suffered a nervous breakdown during this time.
In 1882 he moved to Paris, France, to work as an engineer for the Continental Edison Company. He worked designing improvements to electric equipment. In the same year, Tesla conceived of the induction motor and began developing various devices that use rotating magnetic fields (for which he received patents in 1888). Tesla visualized the rotating fields and thereby designed the induction motor.
Tesla hastened from Paris to his mother’s side as she lay dying, arriving hours before her death in 1882. Her last words were to him were, “You’ve arrived, Nidzo, my pride.” After her death, Tesla fell ill. He spent two to three weeks recuperating in Gospic and Tomingaj. All his life, Tesla kept a home-spun embroidered travel bag from his mother.
In 1884, leaving the warfare of his birthplace behind, Tesla moved to the United States of America to accept a job with the Edison Company in New York City. He arrived in the US with 4 cents to his name, a book of poetry, and a letter of recommendation (from Charles Batchelor, his manager in his previous job).
Telsa worked for Thomas Edison for a time. Edison offered him $50,000 for improvements in Edison’s DC dynamos. Tesla worked nearly a year to redesign the inferior construction. Upon returning to Edison and inquiring about the $50,000, Edison replied, “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.” Tesla resigned.
In 1886, Tesla formed his own company, Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing. The initial financial investors disagreed with Tesla on his plan for an alternating current motor and eventually relieved Tesla of his duties at the company. Tesla was unemployed for a time.
Tesla worked on a New York street gang, as a laborer, from 1886 to 1887 to raise capital to eat and for his next project. In 1887, he constructed the initial brushless alternate-current induction motor. He demonstrated the brushless two-phase one-fifth horsepower induction motor to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1888. Also in 1888, he developed the principles of his Tesla coil. In the same period, he began working with Westinghouse, Westinghouse’s Pittsburgh labs. Westinghouse listened to Tesla ‘s ideas for polyphase systems. These systems would allow alternating current [AC] electricity to be transmitted over large distances.
X-rays and friendships
In April 1887, Tesla began investigating what would later be called X-rays using his own devices as well as Crookes tubes. He did this by experimenting with high voltages and vacuum tubes. His technical publications indicate that he invented and developed a special single-electrode X-ray tube. Tesla’s tubes differed from other X-ray tubes in that they had no target electrode. He stated these facts in his 1897 X-ray lecture before the New York Academy of Sciences. The modern term for this is the bremsstrahlung process, in which a high-energy secondary X-ray emission is produced when charged particles (such as electrons) pass through matter.
Around 1889, Tesla became a USA citizen. When he was 36 years old, the first patents concerning the polyphase power system were granted. He continued researching rotating magnetic field principles and polyphase power distribution.
In 1891, Tesla established his Houston Street laboratory in New York. He lit vacuum tubes wirelessly in the lab, providing evidence for the potential of wireless power transmission.
Around this time, Tesla developed a close and lasting friendship with author and humorist Mark Twain. They spent quite a bit of time together in Tesla’s lab and other areas.
By 1892, Tesla became aware of certain characteristics later identified by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen as effects of X-rays. He performed several experiments (including taking photographs of the bones of his hand). Tesla did not make his findings widely known. Much of his research was lost in the 1895 Houston Street lab fire. He did obtain pictures of the human body with X-rays and subsequently sent the images to Röntgen. His later X-ray experimentation by vacuum high field emissions led him to alert the scientific community first to the biological hazards associated with X-ray exposure.
Wireless and the IEEE
Tesla served as the Vice-President of the IEEE from 1892 to 1894. From 1893 to 1895, Tesla investigated high frequency alternating currents. He generated one million volts of alternating currents using a conical Tesla Coil. He developed the skin effect in circuitry, designed tuned circuits, invented a machine for inducing sleep, cordless gas discharge lamps, and transmitted electromagnetic energy without wires, effectively building the first radio transmitter.
In St. Louis, Missouri, Tesla made the first public demonstration of radio communication in 1893. Addressing the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the National Electric Light Association, he described and demonstrated in detail the principles of radio communication. The apparatus he used contained all the elements that were incorporated into radio systems before the development of the vacuum tube.
World’s Fair Exposition
At the 1893 World’s Fair Exposition, in Chicago, Illinois, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to America, an international exposition was held, in which, for the first time, a building was devoted to electrical exhibits. It was a historic event and the beginning of a revolution as Tesla and Westinghouse introduced visitors to AC power by providing AC energy to illuminate Chicago’s Columbia Exposition. The public at large observed firsthand the qualities and abilities of AC power. All the exhibits were from commercial enterprises. Edison, Brush, Western Electric, and Westinghouse all had exhibits. General Electric Company (backed by Edison and J.P. Morgan) proposed to power the electric fair with direct current at the cost of one million dollars.
Westinghouse proposed, armed with Tesla’s AC system, to illuminate the exposition for half as much. Tesla’s high-frequency high-voltage lighting produced more efficient light with less heat. A two-phase induction motor was driven by current from the main generators to power the system. Edison tried to prevent the use of his light bulbs with Tesla’s system. GE banned the use of Edison’s lamps in Westinghouse’s exhibits. Still, Westinghouse’s proposal was chosen over the inferior DC system to power the fair.
Westinghouse displayed several polyphase systems. The exhibits included a switchboard, polyphase generators, step-up and step-down transformers, transmission line, commercial size induction motors, commercial size synchronous motors, and rotary direct current converters (one of which was operating a railway motor). The working-scale system allowed the public a view of a system of polyphase power which could transmit long distances. Meters and other auxiliary devices were also present.
Tesla displayed the first neon light tubes at the exposition, demonstrating his phosphorescent lighting powered without wires by high-frequency fields. Tesla’s lighting inventions exposed to high-frequency currents would bring the gases to incandescence. Tesla displayed the first practical phosphorescent lamps (a precursor to fluorescent lamps). His innovations in this type of light emission were not regularly patented.
Also in the exhibits were Tesla’s demonstrations, most notably the “Egg of Columbus”. This device explains the principles of the rotating magnetic field and his induction motor. The Egg consisted of a polyphase field coil underneath a plate with a copper egg positioned over the top. When the sequence of the coils were energized, the magnetic field arrangement inductively created a rotation on the egg and made it stand up on end (appearing to resist gravity).
On August 25, Elisha Gray introduced Tesla for the delivery of a lecture on mechanical and electrical oscillators. Tesla explained his work for efficiently increasing the work at high frequency of reciprocation. As Electrical Congress members listened, Tesla delineated mechanisms which could produce oscillations of constant periods irrespective of the pressure applied and irrespective of frictional losses and loads. He explained the working means of producing constant period electric currents (not resorting to spark gaps or breaks) and how to produce these with reliable mechanisms.
The Exposition’s illumination with electricity using Tesla’s and Westinghouse’s alternate current removed any doubt of the utility of the polyphase alternating current.
War of currents
During this time, direct current was the standard, and Edison was not disposed to lose all his patent royalties to a former employee. Adversaries due to Edison’s promotion of DC for electric power distribution over the more efficient alternating current advocated by Tesla, Edison (or, reportedly, one of his employees) employed the tactics of misusing Tesla’s patents to construct the first electric chair for the state of New York in order to promote the idea that alternating currents were deadly.
In his work with the rotary magnetic fields, Tesla devised the system for transmission of power over long distances. He partnered with George Westinghouse to commercialize this system. Westinghouse had previously bought the rights to Tesla’s polyphase patents and other patents for AC transformers. Experts announced proposals to harness the Niagara Falls for generating electricity. Against General Electric and Edison’s proposal, Tesla’s AC system won the international Niagara Falls Commission contract. The commission was lead by Lord Kelvin and backed by entrepreneurs (such as J.P. Morgan, Lord Rothschild, and John Jacob Astor). Work began in 1893 on the Niagara Falls generation project and Tesla’s technology was applied to generate electromagnetic energy from the falls.
Some doubted that the system would generate enough electricity to power industry in Buffalo. Tesla was sure it would work, saying that Niagara Falls had the ability to power the entire eastern U.S. On November 16, 1896, the first transmission of electrical power between two cities was sent from Niagara Falls to industries in Buffalo from the first commercial two-phase power plants (known as hydroelectric generators) at the Edward Dean Adams Station.
The hydroelectric generators were built by Westinghouse Electric Corporation from Tesla’s AC system patent designs. Tesla’s system designs alleviated the limitations of the previous DC methods. The nameplates on the generators bear Tesla’s name. He also set the 60 hertz standard for North America. It took five years to complete the whole facility.
With the financial backing of George Westinghouse, Tesla’s AC replaced DC, enormously extending the range and improving the safety and efficiency of power distribution. Tesla’s Niagara Falls system marked the end of Edison’s roadmap for electrical tansmission. Eventually, Edison’s GE company converted to the AC system.
Designs and Colorado
When Tesla was 41 years old, he filed the first basic radio patent (No. US645576). A year later, he demonstrated a remote controlled boat to the US military. Tesla believed that the military would want things such as radio-guided torpedoes. These devices had an innovative coherer and a series of logic gates. Mark Twain wrote Tesla over the demonstrations, though the military took little interest. Radio remote control remained a novelty until the Space Age.
At the age of 42, Tesla devised an electric igniter for gasoline engines. His designs are nearly identical to ideas which deal with the same process which modern internal combustion engines use.
Around 1899, Tesla began conducting research in Colorado Springs. He experimented with high-voltage electricity and the possibility of transmitting and distributing large amounts of electrical energy over long distances without using wires. He also conceived the science of telegeodynamics, now known as seismology, and explained that a long sequence of small explosions could be used to find ore underground and could create earthquakes large enough to destroy the Earth. He did not experiment with this as he felt there would not be “a desirable outcome”.
In 1899, Tesla decided to move his research to Colorado, where he could have room for his high-voltage high-frequency experiments. After searching the country for a new location, Tesla chose Colorado Springs for his next series of experiments, primarily because of the frequent electrical storms and the thinness of the air (reducing its dielectric level), making it more conductive. Also, the property was free and electric power was available from the El Paso Power Company. Today electromagnetic intensity charts from the geological survey also show that the ground around his lab possesses a denser field than most of the surrounding area. Tesla reached Colorado Springs on May 17, 1899. Upon his arrival he told reporters that he was conducting experiments transmitting signals from Pikes Peak to Paris.
Tesla kept a diary of his experiments in the Colorado Springs lab where he spent nearly nine months. The diary consists of handwritten notes and date between June 1, 1899 and January 7, 1900. There are explanations (as seen in the photographs taken during this time) of his experimental work. It consists of 500 pages and nearly 200 drawings and is recorded chronologically as the work occurred.
Tesla, a local contractor, and several assistants commenced the construction of the laboratory shortly after arriving in Colorado Springs. Tesla established his lab on Knob Hill in Colorado Springs, (east of the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind and one mile east of downtown). The primary purpose of the laboratory was to experiment with high frequency electricity and other phenomena. The Colorado Springs lab’s secondary purpose was to research wireless transmission of electrical power.
Tesla’s design for the lab consisted of a building fifty feet by sixty feet with eighty-foot ceilings. A one-hundred-forty-two foot conducting aerial with a thirty-inch copper-foil-covered wooden ball was erected on the roof of the lab. The design also implemented a roof that rolled back to prevent fire from sparks and other dangerous effects from the experiments. The laboratory possessed sensitive instruments and equipment.
The Colorado Springs lab possessed the largest Tesla Coil ever built, known as the “Magnifying Transmitter”. This was not identical to the classic Tesla Coil. According to accounts, Tesla managed to transmit tens of thousands of watts of power without wires using the magnifier. Tesla posted a large fence around the coil with a sign, “Keep Out – Great Danger”. Tesla’s Magnifying Transmitter, at fifty-two feet in diameter, generated millions of volts of electricity and produced lightning bolts one-hundred-thirty feet long (forty-one meters). It was a three-coil magnifying system requiring alternative forms of analysis than lumped-constant coupled resonant coils presently described to most. The Magnifying Transmitter resonated at a natural quarter wavelength frequency. Tesla also worked with the magnifying transmitter in a continuous-wave mode and in a damped-wave resonant mode.
The Magnifying Transmitter produced thunder which was heard as far away as Cripple Creek. He became the first man to create electrical effects on the scale of lightning. People near the lab would observe sparks emitting from the ground to their feet and through their shoes. Some people observed electrical sparks from the fire hydrants (Tesla for a time grounded out to the plumbing of the city). The area around the laboratory would glow with a blue corona (similar to St. Elmo’s Fire). One of Tesla’s experiments with the Magnifying Transmitter destroyed Colorado Springs Electric Company’s generator by backfeeding the city’s power generators, and blacked out the city. The city had a backup generator and company officials denied Tesla further access to their feed if he did not repair the city’s primary generator at his own expense. The generator was working again in a few days.
Tesla constructed many smaller resonance transformers in his lab and discovered the concept of tuned electrical circuits. Tesla also developed a number of coherers for separating and perceiving electromagnetic waves. In his Colorado experiments, he designed rotating coherers. These were used to detect the unique types of electromagnetic phenomenon observed by Tesla. Tesla’s rotating coherer had a mechanism of geared wheels that were driven by a coiled spring-drive mechanism, which was used to rotate small glass cylinders. These experiments were the final stage of years of work related to synchronized electrical tuned circuits.
These transceivers were constructed to demonstrate how signals could be “tuned in”. Tesla logged in the diary on July 3, 1899, that a separate resonance transformer tuned to the same high frequency as a larger high-voltage resonance transformer would receive energy from the larger coil, acting as a transmitter of wireless energy. This data was used to confirm Tesla’s patent for radio during later disputes in the courts. These air core high-frequency resonate coils were the predecessors of systems from radio to radar and medical magnetic resonance imaging devices.
Propagation and resonance
On July 3, 1899, Tesla discovered terrestrial stationary waves within the earth. He demonstrated that the Earth behaves as a smooth polished conductor and possesses electrical vibrations. He experimented with waves characterized by a lack of vibration at points, between which areas of maximum vibration occur periodically. These standing waves were produced by confining waves within constructed conductive boundaries. Tesla demonstrated that the Earth could respond at predescribed frequencies of electrical vibrations. At this time, Tesla realized that it was possible to transmit power around the globe. He also produced the effects that are now referred to as “free electron lasers.”
Tesla conducted experiments contributing to the understanding of electromagnetic propagation and the Earth’s resonance. He lit hundreds of lamps wirelessly at a distance of up to twenty-five miles (forty kilometers). He transmitted signals several miles and lit neon tubes conducting through the ground. He researched ways to utilize the ionosphere to transmit energy wirelessly over long distances. He transmitted extremely low frequencies through the earth and portions of the ionosphere, called the Kennelly-Heaviside Layer, in his experiments. Tesla made mathematical calculations and computations based on his experiments and discovered that the resonant frequency of this area was approximately eight hertz. In the 1950s, researchers confirmed the resonant frequency was in this range.
Tesla in the Colorado Springs lab recorded cosmic waves emitting from interstellar clouds and red giant stars. He observed repeating signals conducted by his transmitter. He announced that he received extraterrestrial radio signals. Tesla stated that he received signals from planets in some of the scientific journals of the time. He believed he was receiving signals from outer space. The scientific community did not believe him, primarily because research of cosmic signals did not exist (what is known today as radio astronomy), and the community of science rejected Tesla’s data. Tesla spent the latter part of his life trying to signal Mars.
Tesla left Colorado Springs on January 7, 1900. The lab was torn down, broken up, and its contents sold to pay debts. The Colorado experiments prepared Tesla for his next project, the establishment of a wireless power transmission facility that would be known as Wardenclyffe.
In 1900, Tesla began planning the Wardenclyffe Tower facility. In 1901, the construction began on land near Long Island Sound. The architect Stanford White designed the Wardenclyffe facility main building. Tesla’s project was funded by influential industrialists and other venture capitalists. In June 1902, Tesla’s lab operations were moved to Wardenclyffe from Houston Street. In 1903, the tower structure neared completion, although it was not yet functional due to a design error. In Electrical World and Engineer (March 5, 1904), Tesla reportedly determined the mode of ball lightning formation and produced them artificially.
In 1904, the United States Patent Office awarded the patent for radio to Guglielmo Marconi, though his work is based on Tesla’s widely-discussed demonstration years prior. In May 1905, some of Tesla’s patents expired, stopping the royalty payments and causing severe reduction to the funding of the Wardenclyffe Tower. Tesla advertised services of the Wardenclyffe facility to find alternative funding to little success.
Around 1910, Tesla designed the Tesla turbine at Wardenclyffe and produced Tesla coils for sale to various businesses to generate funding. He developed a two-hundred horsepower sixteen-thousand revolutions-per-minute bladeless turbine. It was shown to an audience on his fiftieth birthday.
Of the 700-plus patents accumulated by Tesla, the most controversial today is his Wardenclyffe Tower. The tower was meant to be the start of a national (and later global) system of towers broadcasting power to users as radio waves. Instead of supplying electricity through a current grid system, users would simply “receive” power through antennas on their roofs. At the time the power grid was quite limited in terms of who it reached and the Tower represented a way of significantly reducing the cost of “electrifying” the countryside.
Though never completed successfully in Tesla’s lifetime due to lack of funding, and finally dismantled for scrap during wartime, its principles are currently being implemented by a U.S. military project in Alaska, spanning several hundred acres. However, Project HAARP, as it is called, targets a different objective. While Tesla’s tower was to be his supreme test of the applicability of transmitted power, HAARP is being used to study ionospheric effects on radio communication. Wardenclyffe also provides a basis for a current search for practical applications for focused wave and particle beams, such as the laser and maser.
In the financial panic of 1907, Tesla set Westinghouse free from payments on his patents over the induction motor for a nominal sum of money. Diminished in strength by the “War of the Currents,” the Westinghouse Company survived due to Tesla’s act of generosity. Between 1912 and 1915, Tesla’s finances unraveled. Newspapers of the time labeled Wardenclyffe “Tesla’s million-dollar folly.”
Due to the fact that the Nobel Prize was awarded to Marconi for radio in 1909, it was believed that Tesla and Edison were to share the Nobel Prize of 1912 (or 1915; some accounts differ). Tesla’s rumored nomination for the Nobel Prize in Physics was primarily for his experiments with tuned circuits using high voltage high frequency resonant transformers. It was possible that Tesla was told of the plans of the physics award committee and let it be known that he would not share the award with Edison.
Prior to the First World War, Tesla looked overseas for investors to fund his research. When the war started, Tesla lost funding he was receiving from his European patents. Wardenclyffe Tower was also demolished towards the end of WWI. Tesla had predicted the relevant issues of the post-World War I environment (a war which theoretically ended) in a printed article (December 20, 1914). Tesla believed that the League of Nations was not a remedy for the times and issues. In 1915, Tesla filed a lawsuit against Marconi attempting, unsuccessfully, to obtain a court injunction against the claims of Marconi. Around 1916, Tesla filed for bankruptcy because he owed so much in back taxes. He was living in poverty.
Tesla started to exhibit pronounced symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder in the years following. He became obsessed with the number three. He often felt compelled to walk around a block three times before entering a building, demanded a stack of three folded cloth napkins beside his plate at every meal, etc. The nature of OCD was little understood at the time and no treatments were available, so his symptoms were considered by some to be evidence of partial insanity and this probably hurt what was left of his reputation. This obsessive-compulsive behavior may have originated from the observations over repeated polyphase systems in nature that Tesla researched.
At this time, he was staying at the Waldorf-Astoria, renting in an arrangement for deferred payments. In 1917, around the time that the Wardenclyffe Tower was demolished, Tesla received the highest and most significant honor the IEEE can award to any person who uses scientific knowledge to solve practical problem, the Edison Medal. The incongruities between what might have been and the situation at hand probably did not pass without notice by Tesla.
Nikola Tesla, in August 1917, first established principals regarding frequency and power level for the first primitive RADAR units in 1934. In the 1917 The Electrical Experimenter, Tesla stated the principals of modern military radar in detail. Tesla’s study of high voltage, high frequency alternating currents lead to this development. Tesla had formed the concept of using radio waves to detect objects at a distance.
“For instance, by their [standing electromagnetic waves] use we may produce at will, from a sending station, an electrical effect in any particular region of the globe; [with which] we may determine the relative position or course of a moving object, such as a vessel at sea, the distance traversed by the same, or its speed.”
Tesla proposed to use electromagnetic waves to determine the relative position, speed, and course of a moving object and other modern concepts of radar. Tesla had proposed it may help find submarines (which it isn’t well-suited for), though it was first applied successfully to find aircraft (after their later proliferation) and surface ships during World War II. Emil Girardeau, working with the first French radar systems, stated he was building radar systems “conceived according to the principles stated by Tesla”.
By the twenties, Tesla reportedly negotiates with Great Britain’s Prime Minister Chamberlin government over a ray system. Tesla also had stated efforts had been made to steal the “death ray” (though they had failed). The Chamberlin government was removed though before any final negotiations occurred. The incoming Baldwin government found no use of Tesla’s suggestions and ended negotiations.
On Tesla’s seventy-fifth birthday in 1931, Time magazine put Tesla on the cover.
The cover caption noted his contribution to electrical power generation.
In 1935, many of Marconi’s patents relating to the radio were declared invalid by the United States Court of Claims. The Court of Claims decided that the prior work of Tesla (specifically US645576 and US649621) had anticipated Marconi’s later works. Tesla got his last patent in 1928 on January 3, an apparatus for aerial transportation which was the first instance of VTOL aircraft.
Dynamic theory of gravity
When he was eighty-one, Tesla challenged Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, announcing he was working on a dynamic theory of gravity and argued that a field of force was a better concept and did away with the curvature of space. Unfortunately the theory was never published, but Tesla may have been developing a theory about gravity waves. This theory provides a basis for plasma cosmology.
Nikola Tesla Memorial at Niagara Falls
Tesla was the first to successfully convert mechanical energy of flowing water to electrical energy.
Tesla died alone in the hotel New Yorker of heart failure, some time between the evening of January 5 and the morning of January 8, 1943. Despite selling his AC electricity patents, Tesla was essentially destitute and died with significant debts. At the time of his death, Tesla had been working on some form of teleforce weapon, or Death Ray, the secrets of which he had offered to the United States War Department on the morning of January 5.
Immediately after his death became known, the Federal Bureau of Investigation instructed the Office of Alien Property to take possession of Tesla’s papers and property, despite his US citizenship. All of Tesla’s personal effects were seized on the advice of presidential advisors. J. Edgar Hoover declared the case “most secret,” because of the nature of Tesla’s inventions and patents. Tesla’s Serbian-Orthodox family and the Yugoslav embassy struggled with American authorities to gain these items after Tesla’s death due to the potential significance of some of Tesla’s research. Eventually, Tesla’s nephew, Sava Kosanovich, got possession some of his personal effects (which are now housed in the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Yugoslavia).
Tesla’s funeral took place on January 12, 1943 at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan, New York City.
Tesla always disputed the claim that Marconi invented radio. An ongoing lawsuit regarding this was finally resolved in his favor after his death. This decision was based on the fact that there was prior work existing before the establishment of Marconi’s patent. At the time, the United States Army was involved in a patent infringement lawsuit with Marconi regarding radio, leading some to posit that the government granted Tesla the patent on order to nullify any claims Marconi would have to compensation.
In 1976, a bronze statue of Tesla was placed at Niagara Falls.
Perhaps because of Tesla’s personal eccentricity and the dramatic nature of his demonstrations, conspiracy theories about applications of his work persist. The common Hollywood stereotype of the “mad scientist” mirrors Tesla’s real-life persona, or at least a caricature of it-which may be no accident considering that many of the earliest such movies (including the first movie version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) were produced by Tesla’s old rival, Thomas Edison.
There are at least two films describing Tesla’s life. In the first, arranged for TV, Tesla was portrayed by Serb actor Rade Serbedzija. In 1980, Orson Welles produced a Yugoslavian film named Tajna Nikole Tesle (The Secret of Nikola Tesla).
View on war
Tesla was opposed to wars in general. Tesla did devise protective measures that would prevent wars. Tesla found exceptions in some wars and some justifiable situations. Tesla envisioned that more terrible weapons were going to be developed in the future. These weapons’ destructive actions and ranges would have virtually no limit.
Tesla’s solution was to developed expedients for preventing any conflict. Tesla developed plans for known as “teleforce” [or, commonly, a “death ray”] (primarily a defensive weapon, but with characteristics of a weapon of offense). The “teleforce” weapon was a type of defensive particle-beam weapon. This would allow protection against invasion. The device would provide complete protection against enemies approaching by sea or air.
Tesla could not find financing for demonstration of the “death ray” discoveries. It could be used as an offensive weapon. Tesla also advocated developing airplanes and wireless energy transmission