Nikola Tesla

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.*

Tesla’s Offices:
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.

Early Years

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.

Middle years

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).

Early Employment

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”.

Colorado Springs

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.

Laboratory construction

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.

Magnifying transmitter

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.

Tuned circuits

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.

Cosmic waves

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.

Colorado departure

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.”

Nobel rumors

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.

Later years

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.

Tesla stated,
“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


tesla wardenclyffe tower shot tesla wardenclyffe station tesla wardenclyffe station wide



8 thoughts on “Nikola Tesla

  1. Tesla’s “Magnifying Transmitter” Article: “The New York Times”…27 March, 1904 To gather in the latent electricity in the clouds and with the globe itself as a medium of transmission to convey telegraphic messages, power for commercial purposes, or even the sound of the human voice to the utmost confines of the earth is the latest dream of Nikola Tesla. In an article which appeared recently in The Electrical World Mr. Tesla explains the theories on which the world telegraphy system is founded and what he expects to accomplish by it. His plans involve the establishment of stations for the transmission of messages and power, “preferably near important centers of civilization.” Oddly enough, what Mr. Tesla proudly designates as the first of his commercial “world telegraphy” stations has been established at Wardenclyffe, Shoreham, Long Island, New York, which is not in any sense an important “centre of civilization,” but a place described by train hands of the Long Island Railroad as a way station where “a passenger alights occasionally.” Tesla’s “Magnifying Transmitter”, at Wardenclyffe, Shoreham, LI (New York). The transmitting station is an octagonal tower, pyramidal in shape, and some 187 feet in height. It consists of huge wooden stilts, heavily braced, and reinforced, and surmounted by a cupola of interlaced steel wires, bent so as to form an arc. In the cupola there is a wooden platform occupying its entire width. Mr. Tesla began work on his transmitting station about eighteen months ago. When he first came there, and it was understood that J. Pierpont Morgan had become interested in his odd enterprise and furnished him with financial assistance, a thrill of vague expectancy ran through the little settlement, The Wardenclyffe Land Company, which owns practically all the available ground in the vicinity, gave the inventor a free grant of some 175 acres of fine land, and then settled down to wait for the day when Wardenclyffe would become the centre of the universe. Some of the farmers who come to Wardenclyffe to send their products to this city look at Mr. Tesla’s tower, which is situated directly opposite the railroad station, and shake their heads sadly. They are inclined to take a skeptical view regarding the feasibility of the wireless “world telegraphy” idea, but yet Tesla’s transmitting tower as it stands in lonely grandeur and boldly silhouetted against the sky on a wide clearing on the concession is a source or great satisfaction and of some mystification to them all. “It is a mighty fine tower,” said one food farmer to a visitor last week. “The breeze up there is something grand on a Summer evening, and you can see the Sound and all the steamers that go by. We are tired, though, trying to figure out why he put it here instead of at Coney Island.” While the tower itself is very “stagy” and picturesque, it is the wonders that are supposed to be hidden in the earth underneath it that excite the curiosity of the population in the little settlement. In the centre of the wide concrete platform which serves as a base for the structure there is a wooden affair very much like the companionway on an ocean steamer. The tower and the enclosure in which it has been built are being carefully guarded these days, and no one except Mr. Tesla’s own men are allowed to approach it. Only they have been allowed as much as the briefest peep down the companionway. Mr. Scherff, the private secretary of the inventor, told an inquirer that the companionway led to a small drainage passage built for the purpose of keeping the ground about the tower dry. But such of the villagers as saw the tower constructed tell a different story. They declare that it leads to a well-like excavation as deep as the tower is high with walls of mason work and a circular stairway leading to the bottom. From there, they say, tunnels have been built in all directions, until the entire ground below the little plain on which the tower is raise d has been honeycombed with subterranean passages. They tell with awe how Mr. Tesla, on his weekly visits to Wardenclyffe, spends as much time in the underground passages as he does on the tower or in the handsome laboratory and workshop erected beside it, and where the power plant for the world telegraph has been installed. No instruments have been installed as yet in the transmitter, nor has Mr. Tesla given any description of what they will be like. But in his article he announces that he will transmit from the tower an electric wave of a total maximum activity of ten million horse power. This, he says, will be possible with a plant of but 100 horse power, by the use of a magnifying transmitter of his own invention and certain artifices which he promises to make known in due course. What he expects to accomplish is summed up in the closing paragraph as follows: “When the great truth, accidentally revealed and experimentally confirmed, is fully recognized, that this planet, with all its appalling immensity, is to electric currents virtually no more than a small metal ball and that by virtue of this fact many possibilities, each baffling imagination and of incalculable consequence, are rendered absolutely sure of accomplishment; when the first plant is inaugurated and it is shown that a telegraphic message, almost as secret and non-interferable as a thought, can be transmitted to any terrestrial distance, the sound of the human voice, with all its intonations and inflections faithfully and instantly reproduced at any other point of the globe, the energy of a waterfall made available for supplying light, heat or motive power, anywhere…on sea, or land, or high in the air…humanity will be like an ant heap stirred up with a stick. See the excitement coming!” “Cloud born Electric Wavelets To Encircle the Globe: This Is Nikola Tesla’s Latest Dream, and the Long Island Hamlet of Wardenclyffe Marvels Thereat,” New York Times, 27 March 1904. Let’s continue: As a young man, Nikola Tesla talked often of the possibility of interplanetary communication. Influenced by Buddhist philosophy and the thinking of Ernst Mach, Tesla began to develop a cosmology that tried to get at the heart of what life was and simultaneously discover electricity’s role in the process. He believed in the concept of an all-pervasive aether and also believed that machines could be developed that would have the capability of thinking for themselves. “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy”, which was published 100 years ago (as of June 2000) in Century Magazine spells out Tesla’s thoughts and visions for the future of mankind. This was written at the pinnacle of Tesla’s life, when he was full of vigor, fresh from his startling accomplishments with the complete victory of his alternating current system over Edison’s direct current system. In a radical departure from his previous writings which were of a technical nature, Tesla reveals his philosophy and hopes for humankind. In the article, Tesla expressed his belief that all of us are responsible for increasing the human mass, morally, intellectually, and physically. It was a radical article then… and in some circles… still be considered radical. Nonetheless it caught the eye of JP Morgan who financed Tesla’s biggest dream… and most devastating disappointment.. Wardenclyffe! With the tower he had planned for the site, Tesla was going to power the world and light the oceans…A Fascinating Vision…However, powerful economic roadblocks stood in the way that drove Tesla deep into bankruptcy and culminated in the mindless destruction of the tower at Wardenclyffe. CREDIT: The Electrical Experimenter, Dec. 1917. Tesla’s World Of Tomorrow Tesla’s life changed dramatically after Wardenclyffe. Initially his focus was on developing his bladeless turbine; but always his thoughts turned towards the revival of Wardenclyffe and his beloved Magnifying Transmitter. In 1925, his ideas on the wireless transmission of power were briefly entertained by the Bureau of Standards, but were abruptly rejected out of hand… due to the ignorance of how Tesla’s system worked. As an elderly man, Tesla discussed controversial topics such as free energy, particle beam weapons, cosmic rays that travel faster than light speed, a new magnifying transmitter which could harness these cosmic rays, interplanetary communication and also the claim that he could transmit energy at twice the speed of light. The identification of each separate invention became a somewhat confusing task for journalists and researchers because each of these ideas involve the transmission of energy to distant places: and the so called “death ray” apparently, in its final form, comprised features from some, if not all of the other inventions above. It is these exotic inventions that interest and fuels the free energy researchers imagination. It was Tesla’s claim that he could transmit energy at twice the speed of light that brought Tesla in direct conflict with Einstein’s suggestion that space was curved–the conventional mode of thought at the time. Tesla’s unique views on the nature of radioactivity also placed him out of the mainstream scientific world. Was Tesla simply delusional … or did he indeed have a keen insight into the wheel work of Nature? Time will tell. See ” Tesla’s Flying Machine ” for more information on this incredible artist rendition – left. Tesla’s World of Tomorrow : We are an the threshold of a gigantic revolution, based on the commercialization of the wireless transmission of power. Motion pictures will be flashed across limitless spaces. The same energy (wireless transmission of power) will drive airplanes and dirigibles from one central base. In rocket-propelled machines… it will be practicable to attain speeds of nearly a mile a second (3600 m.p.h.) through the rarefied medium above the stratosphere. I have fame and untold wealth, more than this, and yet, how many articles have been written in which I was declared to be an impractical unsuccessful man, and how many poor, struggling writers have called me a visionary. Such is the folly and shortsightedness of the world! Nikola Tesla We will be enabled to illuminate the whole sky at night…Eventually we will flash power in virtually unlimited amounts to planets… Nikola Tesla. CREDIT: The Electrical Experimenter, December, 1917 NIKOLA TESLA’S WIRELESS WORK Nikola Tesla’s Wireless Work; The Creation of Tesla’s Magnifying Transmitter Wardenclyffe, Shoreham, Long Island “The tower was destroyed two years ago but my projects are being developed and another one, improved in some features, will be constructed. . . . My project was retarded by laws of nature. The world was not prepared for it. It was too far ahead of time, but the same laws will prevail in the end and make it a triumphal success.” Nikola Tesla 1917 The Generation and Transmission of Electrical Energy The Dynamo-Electric Machine and Two-Wire Transmission 1886 patent illustration, showing elements of an electrical generator connected to a closed two-wire circuit. The above illustration taken from Nikola Tesla’s 1886 patent “Regulator for Dynamo-Electric Machines” shows portions of a closed two-wire circuit consisting of a generator and multiple loads wired in series. As described in the patent, M and M’ are “one core of the field magnets,” and “a and b are the positive and negative brushes of the main or working circuit, and c is the auxiliary brush. The working circuit D extends from the brushes a and b as usual, and contains electric lamps or other devices, D’, either in series or in multiple arc.” [Dr. Nikola Tesla Complete Patents, pp. 8-11] This is a direct current machine, such as might have been used as part of Edison’s DC power distribution system. Radio-Frequency Power Supplies The Radio Frequency Alternator Nikola Tesla ’s research in the area of wireless telecommunications and alternating current power transmission began in 1888. At the time he was involved in the design and manufacture of rotating machinery for the fledgling electric power industry. In the course of this work he occasionally had opportunity to run a particular alternator at high speeds (in the area of 10,000 RPM) developing currents around 2,000 cycles per second, or 2 kHz. The circuits also included, “transformers, etc., and condensers.” The phenomena he observed “were entirely new” and of a nature leading him to believe that a solution to the problem of wireless energy transmission might be found therein. [Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, 1894, pp. 152-155; Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, pp. 1-8] This machine was run up to 12,000 rpm, and had an output of about 8 kilowatts. It had an internal resistance of only 1/40 of an ohm and was used by Tesla “for all sorts of wireless demonstrations.” Tesla’s symbolic representation of an electrical alternator appears to the left. [Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, p. 16-17] The “Inductorium” or “Commercial Coil” “Inductorium” is an archaic term for the commercial iron-core induction coil transformer, common during Tesla’s time. Once again, the symbolic representation is to the left. [ EXPERIMENTS WITH ALTERNATE CURRENTS OF VERY HIGH FREQUENCY AND THEIR APPLICATION TO METHODS OF ARTIFICIAL ILLUMINATION, Delivered before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Columbia College, N.Y., May 20, 1891 (Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, pp. 145-197).] The high-tension induction coil or “Tesla coil” Tesla made improvements to the commercial coil resulting in the design shown above. In operation, the inner turns of the two secondary windings are held at a relatively low potential. This strengthening reduces the chance of arc-over to the coil’s primary windings. [ EXPERIMENTS WITH ALTERNATE CURRENTS OF HIGH POTENTIAL AND HIGH FREQUENCY , Delivered before the Institution of Electrical Engineers, London, February 1892 (Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, pp. 198-293).] The Transmission of Radio-Frequency Electrical Energy Initial Demonstrations Two striking results lead Tesla to the conclusion that the wireless transmission of electrical energy was feasible. Both involved the operation of the high frequency alternator paired up with an induction coil transformer. One-Wire Transmission The first to be demonstrated was the operation of light and motive devices connected by a single wire to only one terminal of the high frequency coil, presented in the 1891 lecture EXPERIMENTS WITH ALTERNATE CURRENTS OF VERY HIGH FREQUENCY AND THEIR APPLICATION TO METHODS OF ARTIFICIAL ILLUMINATION (Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, pp. 156-172; Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, p. 7). Apparatus for the demonstration of one-wire transmission I have stated above that a body enclosed there is no difficulty whatever in bringing a wire or filament to any degree of incandescence by simply connecting it to one terminal of a coil of the proper dimensions. Thus, if the well-known apparatus of Prof. Crookes, consisting of a bent platinum wire with vanes mounted over it (Fig. 18 / 114), be connected to one in an unexhausted bulb may be intensely heated by simply connecting it with a source of rapidly alternating potential. The heating in such a case is, in all probability, due mostly to the bombardment of the molecules of the gas contained in the bulb. When the bulb is exhausted, the heating of the body is much more rapid, and terminal of the coil—either one or both ends of the platinum wire being connected—the wire is rendered almost instantly incandescent, and the mica vanes are rotated as though a current from a battery were used: A thin carbon filament, or, preferably, a button of some refractory material (Fig. 19 / 115), even if it be a comparatively poor conductor, inclosed in an exhausted globe, may be rendered highly incandescent; and in this manner a simple lamp capable of giving any desired candle power is provided. While a single terminal lamp connected to one of an induction coil’s secondary terminals does not form a closed circuit, “in the ordinary acceptance of the term” the circuit is closed in the sense that a return path is established back to the secondary by what Tesla called “electrostatic induction” (or so called displacement currents). This is due to the fact that the lamp’s filament or refractory button has capacitance relative to the coil’s free terminal and environment and the secondary’s free terminal also has capacitance relative to the lamp and environment. More on One-Wire Transmission Tesla gave some additional thoughts on the concept of energy transmission through one wire without return in the lecture ON LIGHT AND OTHER HIGH FREQUENCY PHENOMENA delivered before the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, February 1893, and before the National Electric Light Association, St. Louis, March 1893 [Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, pp. 294-373]. In Fig. 20 I / 184 I. is shown a plan which has been followed in the study of the resonance effects by means of a high frequency alternator. C1 is a coil of many turns, which is divided into small separate sections for the purpose of adjustment. The final adjustment was made sometimes with a few thin iron wires (though this is not always advisable) or with a closed secondary. The coil C1 is connected with one of its ends to the line L from the alternator G and with the other end to one of the plates C of a condenser C C1, the plate (C1) of the latter being connected to a much larger plate P1. In this manner both capacity and self-induction were adjusted to suit the dynamo frequency. As regards the rise of potential through resonant action, of course, theoretically, it may amount to anything since it depends on self-induction and resistance and since these may have any value. But in practice one is limited in the selection of these values and besides these, there are other limiting causes. One may start with, say, 1,000 volts and raise the E. M. F. to 50 times that value, but one cannot start with 100,000 and raise it to ten times that value because of the losses in the media which are great, especially if the frequency is high. It should be possible to start with, for instance, two volts from a high or low frequency circuit of a dynamo and raise the E. M. F. to many hundred times that value. Thus coils of the proper dimensions might be connected each with only one of its ends to the mains from a machine of low E. M. F., and though the circuit of the machine would not be closed in the ordinary acceptance of the term, yet the machine might be burned out if a proper resonance effect would be obtained. I have not been able to produce, nor have I observed with currents from a dynamo machine, such great rises of potential. It is possible, if not probable, that with currents obtained from apparatus containing iron the disturbing influence of the latter is the cause that these theoretical possibilities cannot be realized. But if such is the case I attribute it solely to the hysteresis and Foucault current losses in the core. Generally it was necessary to transform upward, when the E. M. F. was very low, and usually an ordinary form of induction coil was employed, but sometimes the arrangement illustrated in Fig. 20 II., has been found to be convenient. In this case a coil C is made in a great many sections, a few of these being used as a primary. In this manner both primary and secondary are adjustable. One end of the coil is connected to the line L1 from the alternator, and the other line L is connected to the intermediate point of the coil. Such a coil with adjustable primary and secondary will be found also convenient in experiments with the disruptive discharge. When true resonance is obtained the top of the wave must of course be on the free end of the coil as, for instance, at the terminal of the phosphorescence bulb B. This is easily recognized by observing the potential of a point on the wire w near to the coil. Two additional examples of one-wire transmission Tesla shows two additional examples of one-wire transmission. In the arrangement labeled I above, his intention is to show the effect of resonance in promoting the movement of energy along conductor L. Arrangement II diagrams a self-induction coil with a tap near one end, effectively dividing the coil primary and secondary sections. It shows one-wire transmission from the transformer’s free terminal to a single terminal lamp. In both cases, conductor L1 constitutes a part of the return circuit. Also notice the two vertical lines to the extreme left and right in the illustration. These appear to represent the walls of an enclosed space, or, perhaps, nearby parts of the general environment. Wireless Transmission The second result demonstrated how energy could be made to go through space without any connecting wires. This was the first step towards a practical wireless system. The most striking result obtained – two vacuum tubes lighted in an alternating electrostatic field while held in the hand of the experimenter. The wireless energy transmission effect involved the creation of an electric field between two metal plates, each being connected to one terminal of the induction coil’s secondary winding. Once again, a light-producing device was used as a means of detecting the presence of the transmitted energy. The ideal way of lighting a hall or room would, however, be to produce such a condition in it that an illuminating device could be moved and put anywhere, and that it is lighted, no matter where it is put and without being electrically connected to anything. I have been able to produce such a condition by creating in the room a powerful, rapidly alternating electrostatic field. For this purpose I suspend a sheet of metal a distance from the ceiling on insulating cords and connect it to one terminal of the induction coil, the other terminal being preferably connected to the ground [type-one]. Or else I suspend two sheets as illustrated in Fig. 29 / 125, each sheet being connected with one of the terminals of the coil [type-two], and their size being carefully determined. An exhausted tube may then be carried in the hand anywhere between the sheets or placed anywhere, even a certain distance beyond them; it remains always luminous. [EXPERIMENTS WITH ALTERNATE CURRENTS OF VERY HIGH FREQUENCY AND THEIR APPLICATION TO METHODS OF ARTIFICIAL ILLUMINATION, Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, pp. 188-189; Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, pp. 7-8] . Transmitter type-one: a source consisting of a single metal sheet suspended a distance from the ceiling on insulating cords and connected to one terminal of an induction coil, the other terminal being connected to the ground. [NTAC] Transmitter type-two: a source consisting of two metal sheets suspended a distance from the ceiling on insulating cords, each sheet being connected with one of the terminals of an induction coil. Theory of Wireless Transmission In working to develop an explanation of the two observed effects mentioned above, Tesla recognized that electrical energy could be projected outward into space and detected by a receiving instrument in the general vicinity of the source without a requirement for any interconnecting wires. He went on to develop two theories related to these observations. 1) By using two type-one sources positioned at distant points on the earth’s surface, it is possible to induce a flow of electrical current between them. 2) By incorporating a portion of the earth as part of a powerful type-two oscillator the disturbance can be impressed upon the earth and detected “at great distance, or even all over the surface of the globe.” Tesla also made an assumption that Earth is a charged body floating in space. A point of great importance would be first to know what is the capacity of the earth? and what charge does it contain if electrified? Though we have no positive evidence of a charged body existing in space without other oppositely electrified bodies being near, there is a fair probability that the earth is such a body, for by whatever process it was separated from other bodies—and this is the accepted view of its origin—it must have retained a charge, as occurs in all processes of mechanical separation. Tesla was familiar with demonstrations that involved the charging of Leiden jar capacitors and isolated metal spheres with electrostatic influence machines. By bringing these elements into close proximity with each other, and also by making direct contact followed by their separation the charge can be manipulated. He surely had this in mind in the creation of his mental image, not being able to know that the model of Earth’s origin was inaccurate. The presently accepted model of planetary origin is one of accretion and collision. If it be a charged body insulated in space its capacity should be extremely small, less than one-thousandth of a farad. We now know that the earth is, in fact, a charged body, made so by processes—at least in part—related to an interaction of the continuous stream of charged particles called the solar wind that flows outward from the center of our solar system and Earth’s magnetosphere. But the upper strata of the air are conducting, and so, perhaps, is the medium in free space beyond the atmosphere, and these may contain an opposite charge. Then the capacity might be incomparably greater. We also know one of the upper strata of Earth’s atmosphere, the ionosphere, is conducting. In any case it is of the greatest importance to get an idea of what quantity of electricity the earth contains. An additional condition of which we are now aware is that the earth possesses a naturally existing negative charge with respect to the conducting region of the atmosphere beginning at an elevation of about 50 Km. The potential difference between the earth and this region is on the order of 400,000 volts. Near the earth’s surface there is a ubiquitous downward directed E-field of about 100 V/m. Tesla referred to this charge as the “electric niveau” or electric level [As noted by James Corum, et al in the paper “Concerning Cavity Q,” PROCEEDINGS OF THE 1988 INTERNATIONAL TESLA SYMPOSIUM, and others.] It is difficult to say whether we shall ever acquire this necessary knowledge, but there is hope that we may, and that is, by means of electrical resonance. If ever we can ascertain at what period the earth’s charge, when disturbed, oscillates with respect to an oppositely electrified system or known circuit, we shall know a fact possibly of the greatest importance to the welfare of the human race. I propose to seek for the period by means of an electrical oscillator, or a source of alternating electric currents. . . . Assume that a source of alternating currents be connected, as in Fig. 21 / 185, with one of its terminals to earth (conveniently to the water mains) and with the other to a body of large surface P. . . . I think that beyond doubt it is possible to operate electrical devices in a city through the ground or pipe system by resonance from an electrical oscillator located at a central point. But the practical solution of this problem would be of incomparably smaller benefit to man than the realization of the scheme of transmitting intelligence, or perhaps power, to any distance through the earth or environing medium. If this is at all possible, distance does not mean anything. Proper apparatus must first be produced by means of which the problem can be attacked and I have devoted much thought to this subject. I am firmly convinced that it can be done and hope that we shall live to see it done. [ ON LIGHT AND OTHER HIGH FREQUENCY PHENOMENA, delivered before the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, and the National Electric Light Association, St. Louis, 1893, (Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, 1894, pp. 294-373).] The High Tension Induction Coil The above described arrangements refer only to the use of commercial coils as ordinarily constructed. If it is desired to construct a coil for the express purpose of performing with it such experiments as I have described, or, generally, rendering it capable of withstanding the greatest possible difference of potential, then a construction as indicated in Fig. 17 / 113 will be found of advantage. The coil in this case is formed of two independent parts which are wound oppositely, the connection between both being made near the primary. The potential in the middle being zero, there is not much tendency to jump to the primary and not much insulation is required. In some cases the middle point may, however, be connected to the primary or to the ground. In such a coil the places of greatest difference of potential are far apart and the coil is capable of withstanding an enormous strain. The two parts may be movable so as to allow a slight adjustment of the capacity effect. [Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla, pp. 172-173] A Tesla high-tension induction coil The optimized type-two transmitter consists of two elevated metal plates, each plate being connected to one of the terminals of a Tesla high-tension induction coil. Modification of the optimized type-two transmitter. This circuit is the result of interpolation of the preceding and following diagrams, which are of historical record The modified type-two transmitter shown above consists of two elevated metal plates, each plate being connected to one of the induction coil’s high-voltage terminals. While the coil’s left-hand primary winding remains the same, i.e., it is still closely coupled to the left-hand secondary, the right-hand primary has been removed. This means the right-hand coil is no longer energized by induction. Using Tesla’s terminology, it is now an extra coil. [Some adjustment might be required to bring the extra coil back into resonance with left-hand secondary.] The extra coil is energized or receives energy by one-wire transmission through the interconnecting section of wire. A further modification of a type-two transmitter, this circuit represents the preferred prototype transmitter design developed in 1899 at the Colorado Springs experimental station. The transmitter circuit now consists of separate two elements, an alternator-driven oscillator and an adjacent free oscillatory system. In the further modified type-two transmitter shown above the two halves of the transformer have been physically separated. The transmitter now consists of two discrete units. The oscillator is on the left with its elevated plate still connected to the upper secondary terminal. The free system on the right consists of the original elevated plate connected to the upper terminal of the extra coil. Instead of a wire connecting the lower secondary and lower extra coil terminals, the two coils are now connected to individual earth grounds. These ground connections are constructed so as to introduce the least possible resistance to the earth. In operation a powerful current flows through the subsurface between the two ground terminals. An interaction also takes place between the two elevated terminals. Tesla believed the electrical disturbance would extend to a great distance from the transmitter, possibly across the globe. Colorado Springs Experimental Station In 1899 Tesla established the Colorado Springs experimental station. The apparatus he assembled there served as a test bed with which to evaluate the type-two and type-one transmitter configurations described above, along with variations of the same. Tesla settled upon the six arrangements shown in the Colorado Springs Notes on pages 190 and 191, and also on page 200. Tesla’s own sketches of the 6 transmitter configurations developed at the Colorado Spring’s experimental station [C/S #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6]. Tesla’s rendering the last of these at a slightly larger scale than the rest reflects his enthusiasm for the design. [CSN, pp. 190-191, 200] Figure 1 is a type-one transmitter and 2 through 4 are modifications thereof; 5 and 6 are type-two transmitters. Tesla felt arrangement #6 was the most promising. It shows up with slight variations at a number of places in the Colorado Springs Notes, most significantly on pages 191, 200, 197 and 170 (see also pages 161, 162, 174, 177 and 184). In the corresponding text on page 191 Tesla writes, “In Fig. 5. & 6. it is found best to make [the] extra coil 3/4 wave length and the secondary 1/4 for obvious reasons.” This two-coil/two-ground configuration was incorporated into the initial Wardenclyffe design. This is a basic rendering of the type-two transmitter configuration, the same design as that illustrated in the Colorado Springs Notes [type-two, C/S #6]. A receiving circuit is standing out to the right. This general configuration was to be incorporated into the initial Wardenclyffe design, but it was not implemented. [RARE NOTES FROM TESLA ON WARDENCLYFFE, Leland Anderson, Electric Spacecraft Journal, Apr./May/June, # 26, 1998; See also “ Wardenclyffe and the World System.”] The U.S. AND-logic gate patents Method of Signaling, No. 723,188 and System of Signaling, No. 725,605, show a similar arrangement; only the transmitter consists of two electrically driven oscillators tuned to different frequencies instead the single-frequency oscillator-plus-extra coil combination. Also, the transmitter has a common ground. The original application filing date is July 16, 1900 and it is probable that the Wardenclyffe installation, as initially proposed, would have taken on some attributes of this configuration, along with some modifications. For example, each transmitter secondary could be provided with a dedicated ground, and perhaps an independent high voltage power supply as well. Also, it has been suggested that if each transmitter was to be nearly in tune with its partner—say having only a 12 Hz difference in vibration rate—a low-frequency beat tone would be produced, thus introducing an ELF component to the wave complex. Drawings from the U.S. AND-logic gate patent METHOD OF SIGNALING, No. 723,188 [improved type-one, C/S #1]. [Dr. Nikola Complete Patents, p. 409] The Wardenclyffe Plant The initial conceptual plan for Wardenclyffe discussed above was tied in with the idea Tesla had that it might be possible to produce global displacements of the earth’s charge using a powerful type-two transmitter. In theory, the local electrical current flowing in the earth between the two ground terminals causes this widespread charge displacement. By using an appropriate resonant frequency, that is to say, one at which Earth itself would oscillate, the degree of charge displacement would increase over time. The initial Wardenclyffe design plan called for the installation of two 600-foot tall towers in relatively close proximity to each other. The two-tower idea could not be implemented due to financial constraints, which led to a series of modifications. The first of these led to the arrangement shown in a sketch dated May 29, 1901 (to the left in figure below). An electrical oscillator or discharging circuit, consisting of a resonance transformer and an extra coil, is coupled to the tower structure through an adjustable air gap. The tower cupola is supported on electrically conducting legs, which, in turn, are attached to a substantial grounding system. The capacitance of the cupola relative to the environment and the high-potential oscillator terminal, along with the inductance of the tower legs comprise a separate resonant LC circuit which Tesla designated the “free system.” Two design drawings, with variations, of the initial Wardenclyffe transmitter design of 1901 [modified type-two, C/S #5/6]. Notice the independent grounds. [Tesla calculated the legs would have to be at least 600 feet in length.] Notice also the alternator-driven oscillator and the adjoining free oscillatory system. . [RARE NOTES FROM TESLA ON WARDENCLYFFE, Leland Anderson, Electric Spacecraft Journal, Apr./May/June, # 26, 1998] The right-hand diagram above includes a low-frequency alternator and high-voltage power supply transformer connected to a disruptive-discharge type oscillator. The circuit incorporates a dual inductor-capacitor [LC] arrangement in the oscillatory transformer primary tank circuit along with dual secondary windings. Independent tuning the two sides of the circuit to different frequencies (n/4 lambda, n being an uneven number) would result in the development of a higher order wave complex beyond the fundamental resonant frequency of the extra coil. [“The transmitter was to emit a wave-complex of special characteristics. . . .” MY INVENTIONS; “. . . the transmitter was designed to emit a wave-complex exactly matching the [receiver] combination in the number and pitch of individual vibrations, their groupment and order of succession. . . .” TESLA’S TIDAL WAVE TO MAKE WAR IMPOSSIBLE, English Mechanic and World of Science, May 3, 1907, p. 296.] Modified Wardenclyffe transmitter design. [RARE NOTES FROM TESLA ON WARDENCLYFFE, Leland Anderson, Electric Spacecraft Journal, Apr./May/June, # 26, 1998] In the above figure the straight conducting legs have assumed a spiral form. An obvious advantage would be a reduction in the structure’s overall height above ground level. Also, notice that the number of turns varies from leg to leg. This would also result in the development of what might be called a higher order wave complex by the transmitter—allowing a form of spread-spectrum frequency-division multiplexing. Tesla began operational testing of the Wardenclyffe plant in July 1903 and it appears that he was not at all satisfied with its’ performance. While it is possible a type-two transmitter could be made to work properly, it can be seen that he experienced difficulty with the single-tower implementation of the design. His experiments with the 1899 through 1901 configuration led him to write his underwriter J.P. Morgan on November 5, 1903, Dear Mr. Morgan:- The enclosed bears out my statement made to you over a year and a half ago. The old plant has never worked beyond a few hundred miles. Apart of imperfections of the apparatus design there were four defects, each of which was fatal to success. It does not seem probable that the new plant will do much better, for these faults were of a widely different nature and difficult to discover. As to the remedies, I have protected myself in applications filed 1900-1902, still in the office. Yours faithfully, N. Tesla The “old plant” refers to the Colorado Springs Experimental Station or perhaps an initial Wardenclyffe installation bearing some resemblance to it. As for the “remedies” protected in applications filed between 1900 and 1902, and “still in the office,” the only patented invention meeting these criteria is APPARATUS FOR TRANSMITTING ELECTRICAL ENERGY, No. 1,119,732, issued Dec. 1, 1914. Comparing the two basic circuits the most obvious difference is the elimination of the stand-alone extra coil or free [oscillating] system and the plasma coupler [type-two, C/S #6]. The entire transmitter is now comprised solely of the discharging circuit—an oscillatory transformer with an extra coil connected directly to the elevated terminal [type-one, C/S #1]. The Magnifying Transmitter The 1902 transmitter constituted a departure from the earlier type-two transmitter planned for the Wardenclyffe facility. The new design was a type-one transmitter in which a second conducting path would be established in the upper half-space between plant’s elevated terminal and that of the distant receiving facility. [Type-one, C/S #1; APPARATUS FOR TRANSMITTING ELECTRICAL ENERGY, No. 1,119,732, Dr. Nikola Tesla Complete Patents. p. 435] Other defects of the Colorado apparatus could have been the antenna feed point (see CSN, pp. 170, 197) and also the slender mast in contrast to the large diameter elevated capacity—either an oblate spheroid or toroid shaped—used in the Wardenclyffe design), the 1:1 aspect ratio C/S extra coil verses the 9.1:1 aspect ratio extra coil shown in the 1914 patent, and the shallow Colorado ground plate verses the 300-foot long section of pipe at the bottom of a 120-foot deep shaft [see The Connection to Earth]. [Further differences between the Colorado Springs layout and the Long Island plant?] Also the considerable distance (about 350 feet) between the high-voltage power supply transformers and the tower-side components, including, at the very least, a helical resonator, could have been a problem on Long Island. Two other seemingly applicable patents filed for within the specified time period and patented in 1900 are “Means for Increasing the Intensity of Electrical Oscillations,” No. 787,412 and “Method of Insulating Electrical Conductors,” No. 655,838, reissued as No. 11,865. Both of these inventions might have been useful for improving the Wardenclyffe plant’s performance; the first for the magnifying transmitter itself, the second for improving high-voltage power transmission between the lab building and the tower structure. In any case, it can be seen that some major modifications were made to the design. He later said, I used the antenna. I used it right along up to 1907. I made my measurements and experiments, and I transmitted for the purpose of tests, energy and all that, but it never went further than is shown in the picture. [Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, Leland Anderson, Twenty First Century Books, p. 154 Functional Description of Tesla’s Magnifying Transmitter Earth’s Conductivity Based upon a series of experiments conducted between 1888 and 1907 Tesla concluded that the earth is an excellent electrical conductor. He believed an electric current c ould propagate to terrestrial distances of thousands of miles “without diminution of intention,” and made observations that, he felt, supported this supposition. He also found that Earth’s naturally existing electrical charge can be made to oscillate, and that “by impressing upon it current waves [i.e., surface waves] of certain lengths, definitely related to its diameter, the globe is thrown into resonant vibration like a wire, forming stationary waves.” Its singleness is only an apparent limitation, for by impressing upon it numerous non-interfering vibrations, the flow of energy may be directed through any number of paths which, though bodily connected, are yet perfectly distinct and separate like ever so many cables. Any apparatus, then, which can be operated through one or more wires, at distances obviously limited, can likewise be worked without artificial conductors, and with the same facility and precision, at distances without limit other than that imposed by the physical dimensions of the globe. It is intended to give practical demonstrations of these principles with the plant illustrated. . . . dictate instructions, and have them instantly appear in type elsewhere . . . talk to any telephone subscriber on the globe . . . hear anywhere music or song, speech . . . picture, character, drawing, or print transferred from one to another place . . . millions of instruments operated from one plant . . . transmission of power shown . . . [“ The Future of the Wireless Art” Wireless Telegraphy & Telephony, Walter W. Massie & Charles R. Underhill, 1908, pp. 67-71] Tesla felt the resistance of the Earth would be negligible due to its immense cross sectional area and relative shortness as compared to its diameter. (Corum & Corum) The key to good performance is a robust ground connection. A [conducting] sphere of the size of a little marble offers a greater impediment to the passage of a current than the whole earth. . . . This is not merely a theory, but a truth established in numerous and carefully conducted experiments. [ibid] . . . You must first understand certain things. Consider, for instance, the term “resistance.” When you think of resistance you imagine, naturally, that you have a long, thin conductor; but remember that while resistance is directly proportionate to length, it is inversely proportionate to the section. It is a quality that depends on a ratio. If you take a small sphere of the same size of a pea, and compare its length with its section, you would find a certain resistance. Now you extend this pea to the size of the earth, and what is going to happen? While the length increases, say a thousand times or a million times, the section increases with the square of the linear dimensions, so that the bigger this thing is the less resistance it has. Indeed, if the earth were as big as the sun we would still be better off than we are; we could readily telephone from one end of the sun to the other by the system, and the larger the planet the better it would be. . . . The resistance is only at the point where you get into the earth with your current. The rest is nothing. [Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, pp. 134-135] Surface Waves In 1916 Tesla stated in regards to the disposition of the “vibratory energy” of the oscillator, By proper design and choice of wavelengths, you can arrange it so that you get, for instance, 5 percent in these electromagnetic waves and 95 percent in the current that goes through the earth. That is what I am doing. [Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, p. 132] Tesla often spoke of the electrical disturbance being in the form of an electrical current flowing through the earth. As with any electrical current flowing through a conductor surrounded by an insulating medium, there is also an electrical disturbance in the material or space adjacent to that conductor. In the case of the World System, this is a surface wave traveling along the interface between the ground and the air. The wave energy is associated with the ground current. It does not radiate freely into space but tends to be concentrated near the surface of the conductor, i.e., the guiding surface. This is equivalent to the fields associated with an electrical current flowing in a wire. 126 x-Q. In this system, then, as you have described it, the current actually flows from the transmitter through the ground to the receiver; is that so? Yes, sir; it does, in accordance with my understanding. In my Patent No. 649,621, “Apparatus for Transmission of Electrical Energy,” [May 15, 1900] it is stated distinctly: “It is to be noted that the phenomenon here involved in the transmission of electrical energy is one of true conduction and is not to be confounded with the phenomena of electrical radiation, etc.” The attractive feature of this plan was that the intensity of the signals should diminish very little with the distance, and, in fact, should not diminish at all, if it were not for certain losses occurring, chiefly in the atmosphere. [Nikola Tesla: Guided Weapons & Computer technology, Leland Anderson, Twenty First Century Books, p. 82] Atmospheric Conductivity The point-to-point type-one “air-ground system” depends upon passage of electrical current through both the earth and the atmosphere. To accommodate this, the Wardenclyffe-type World System transmitter/receiver facility includes both an air and a ground connection, each being called a “terminal.” Tesla clearly specified the earth as being one of the conducting media involved in ground and air system technology. The other specified medium is the atmosphere above 5 miles elevation. While not an ohmic conductor, in this region of the troposphere and upwards, the density or pressure is sufficiently reduced to so that, according to Tesla’s theory, the atmosphere’s insulating properties can be easily impaired, allowing an electric current to flow. His theory further states that the conducting region is developed through the process of atmospheric ionization, in which the effected portions thereof are changed to plasma. The presence of the magnetic fields developed by each plant’s helical resonator suggests that an embedded magnetic field and flux linkage is also involved. Flux linkage with Earth’s natural magnetic field is also a possibility. The atmosphere below 5 miles is also viewed as a propagating medium for a portion of the aboveground circuit, and, being an insulating medium, electrostatic induction would be involved rather than true electrical conduction. Tesla felt that with a sufficiently high electrical potential on the elevated terminal the practical limitation imposed upon its height could be overcome. He anticipated that a highly energetic transmitter, as was intended at Wardenclyffe, would charge the elevated terminal to the point where the atmosphere around and above the facility would break down and become ionized, leading to a flow of true conduction currents between the two terminals by a path up to and through the troposphere, and back down to the other facility. The ionization of the atmosphere directly above the elevated terminals could be facilitated by the placement of a projection at the apex of the elevated terminal. Such projections are routinely used by Tesla coil builders to create a directed discharge. Alternatively, an ionizing beam of ultraviolet radiation could be used to form what might be called a high-voltage plasma transmission line. In 1935 Tesla spoke about the transmission of propulsive power to ships at sea “through the stratosphere” using this technique. The principles of this high tension power, generated by shore plants and transmitted through the upper reaches of the air, illuminating the sky, turning night into day and at the same time supplying power, have occupied Dr. Tesla’s attention on and off now for the past thirty-five years. . . . There is a method of conveying great power to ships at sea which would be able to propel them across oceans at high speed. . . . The principle is this. A ray of great ionizing power is used to give to the atmosphere great powers of conduction. A high tension current of 10,000,000 to 12,000,000 volts is then passed along the ray to the upper strata of the air, which strata can be broken down very readily and will conduct electricity very well. A ship would have to have equipment for producing a similar ionizing ray. The current which has passed through the stratosphere will strike this ray, travel down it and pass into the engines which propel the ship. [“Faster Liners is Tesla’s Dream,” New York Sun, June 5, 1935] A minimal type-one system would be composed of two identical type-one facilities. Each would be capable of acting as a transmitter or a receiver, i.e. each could serve as either an energy source or as a load. The net flow of energy between the two plants would be dictated by the phase relationship between them and the relative level of activity. There would be two elevated terminals, one at each facility. The atmospheric path passes high potential, low current electrical energy through a somewhat resistive plasma transmission line running the entire distance between the two elevated terminals. Conversely, the low-resistance ‘ground’ path passes electrical energy of low potential and high current, flowing through the body of the earth. It is well known, the higher the voltage that is passed across a conventional electrical power transmission line, the greater is its efficiency. This is due to the relationship between voltage and current as they pertain to power dissipation. For example, to power a hypothetical 100-watt load, the current can be one ampere at 100 volts, 10 amperes at 10 volts or 100 amperes at 1 volt, or any number of similar combinations. Every conductor, other than a superconductor, has a finite resistance. The voltage drop (E) across a resistance (R) is given by Ohm’s law, E = IR. For any given load, with a constant transmission-line resistance, by lowering the current (I) that flows through the transmission line, the voltage drop or loss is reduced. As can be seen by the inverse relationship between voltage and current, increasing the transmission-line voltage reduces the current. Conversely, the greater the current involved in powering a given load, the greater is the transmission-line loss, taken as a function of transmission-line resistance. The above statements about transmission-line loss are also true in regards to the plasma transmission line that runs between the two elevated terminals. Tesla designed his transmitter with the expressed purpose of developing the greatest possible potential on the elevated terminal in order to minimize the loss due to the plasma transmission-line resistance. Looking at the Tesla type-one wireless energy transmission system, each of the two transmitter-receiver facilities serve, in a sense, as a lever and a fulcrum for conversion of the electrical energy flowing across the two different conducting paths. [Corum & Corum] . . . by such means as have been described practically any potential that is desired may be obtained, the currents through the air strata may be rendered very small, whereby the loss in the transmission may be reduced. [ System of Transmission of Electrical Energy, U.S. Patent No. 645,576, Mar. 20, 1900] The influence of resistance on transmission line efficiency depends upon the impedance of the source and the load. For example, if a power supply puts out one watt, but puts it out at one volt and one amp, then the output impedance of the source is one ohm. (R = E/I) The transmission line had better have much less resistance than one ohm (say 0.1 ohm or smaller) otherwise a significant portion of the transmitted energy will go into heating of the wire. In other words, the one volt, one amp source thinks the division between conductor and insulator is centered at the value of one ohm. A 100-ohm leakage path is nearly an insulator, since it dissipates only 1% of the output wattage. Now suppose the power supply puts out one watt at one kilovolt and one milliamp. In that case the source impedance is one megaohm, and the connecting wires had better be 100K or less in resistance. In this case a 10K resistor is a conductor of negligible resistance, and a one-megaohm leakage path will eat up half of the power supply’s output. Applying this relationship to a type-one Tesla coil transmission system, if the transmitter puts out one megawatt at one megavolts and one amp, then 100K is a fairly good conductor, and insulators have to measure 10 megaohms or better. In this case, if you could create a vertical plasma transmission line, and if the plasma filament measured 10 kilo-ohm, it would only consume 1% of the transmitter’s power output. If the potential of transmitter’s elevated terminal is raised to 100 megavolts at 10 mA (this is still 1 megawatt), then the supply impedance is 10,000 megaohms, and the plasma transmission line will act as a negligible series resistance even if its resistance is 100 megaohms. [The two preceding paragraphs are based upon an original text by William Beaty] It was about 1896 when Tesla discovered that with a sufficiently high potential on the terminal plate (P1) he could modify the properties of the air in the vicinity of his apparatus, changing it from an insulator to a conductor Up to the end of 1896, I had been developing the wireless system along the lines set forth in my lecture which is in the Martin book, particularly in the chapter on Electrical Resonance, pages 340-349. . . . But in experimenting with these high potential discharges which I was always producing, I discovered a wonderful thing. I found, namely, that the air, which had been behaving before like an insulator, suddenly became like a conductor; that is, when subjected to these great electrical stresses, it broke down and I obtained discharges which were not accountable for by the theory that the air was an insulator. When I calculated the effects, I concluded that this must be due to the potential gradient at a distance from the electrified body, and subsequently I came to the conviction that it would be ultimately possible, without any elevated antenna—with very small elevation—to break down the upper stratum of the air and transmit the current by conduction. [Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, p. 125] Tesla described this effect as observed at the Colorado Springs Experimental Station in the patent “System of Transmission of Electrical Energy.” . . . In illustration of these facts a few observations, which I have made with apparatus devised for the purposes here contemplated, may be cited. For example, a conductor or terminal, to which impulses such as those here considered are supplied, but which is otherwise insulated in space and is remote from any conducting-bodies, is surrounded by a luminous flame-like brush or discharge often covering many hundreds or even as much as several thousands of square feet of surface, this striking phenomenon clearly attesting the high degree of conductivity which the atmosphere attains under the influence of the immense electrical stresses to which it is subjected. This influence is however, not confined to that portion of the atmosphere which is discernible by the eye as luminous and which, as has been the case in some instances actually observed, may fill the space within a spherical or cylindrical envelop of a diameter of sixty feet or more, but reaches out to far remote regions, the insulating qualities of the air being, as I have ascertained, still sensibly impaired at a distance many hundred times that through which the luminous discharge projects from the terminal and in all probability much farther. The distance extends with the increase of the electromotive force of the impulses, with the diminution of the density of the atmosphere, with the elevation of the active terminal above the ground, and also, apparently, in slight measure, with the degree of moisture contained in the air. I have likewise observed that this region of decidedly-noticeable influence continuously enlarges as time goes on, and the discharge is allowed to pass not unlike a conflagration which slowly spreads, this being possibly due to the gradual electrification or ionization of the air or to the formation of less insulating gaseous compounds. It is, furthermore, a fact that such discharges of extreme tensions, approximating those of lightning, manifest a marked tendency to pass upward away from the ground, which may be due to electrostatic repulsion, or possibly to slight heating and consequent rising of the electrified or ionized air. These latter observations make it appear probable that a discharge of this character allowed to escape into the atmosphere from a terminal maintained at a great height will gradually leak through and establish a good conducting-path to more elevated and better conducting air strata, a process which possibly takes place in silent lightning discharges frequently witnessed on hot and sultry days. It will be apparent to what an extent the conductivity imparted to the air is enhanced by the increase of the electromotive force of the impulses when it is stated that in some instances the area covered by the flame discharge mentioned was enlarged more than sixfold by an augmentation of the electrical pressure, amounting scarcely to more than fifty per cent. As to the influence of rarefaction upon the electric conductivity imparted to the gases it is noteworthy that, whereas the atmospheric or other gases begin ordinarily to manifest this quality at something like seventy-five millimeters barometric pressure with the impulses of excessive electromotive force to which I have referred, the conductivity, as already pointed out, begins even at normal pressure and continuously increases with the degree of tenuity of the gas, so that at, say, one hundred and thirty millimeters pressure, when the gases are known to be still nearly perfect insulators for ordinary electromotive forces, they behave toward electromotive impulses of several millions of volts, like excellent conductors, as though they were rarefied to a much higher degree. . . . [Dr. Nikola Tesla Complete Patents, U.S. Patent No. 645,576, “System of Transmission of Electrical Energy,” pp. 312-313] He was ionizing the air and creating plasma, which is electrically conductive. In light of this new understanding, he began to develop an alternative to the type-two-transmitter plan by which he might achieve wireless energy transmission. Having discovered that, I established conditions under which I might operate in putting up a practical commercial plant. When the matter came up in the patents before the Examiner, I arranged this experiment for him in my Houston Street laboratory. [Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, p. 126] Tesla’s diagram representing the arrangement of apparatus as demonstrated to G.D. Seeley. This is a diagram representing the arrangement of apparatus as in a practical experiment which I performed before G.D. Seeley, Examiner in Chief, U.S. Patent Office, on the 23rd of January, 1898. This experiment illustrates a great departure I had made a little prior to that date. [Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, p. 125] Tesla’s demonstration for the U.S. Patent Office, on January 23, 1898, at his Houston St. laboratory in New York City, was to show of the practicability of transmission of electrical energy in industrial amounts by the method and apparatus described in “System of Transmission of Electrical Energy,” U.S. Patent No. 645,576, dated March 20, 1900 and “Apparatus for Transmission of Electrical Energy,” U.S. Patent No. 649,621, dated May 15, 1900. The applications for both patents were filed September 2, 1897. [These are the initial patents specifically covering Tesla’s wireless system.] In 1898 I made certain demonstrations before the Examiner-in-Chief of the Patent Office, Mr. Seeley, and it was upon showing him the practicability of the transmission that patents were granted to me. [Nikola Tesla On His Work With Alternating Currents and Their Application to Wireless Telegraphy, Telephony, and Transmission of Power, p. 27] It might be argued the Colorado Springs experiments also served to demonstrate the technology in advance of patent issuance. The above-mentioned patents are dated March 20 and May 15, 1900, about 7 months after Tesla’s return to New York. The Wardenclyffe project served to further demonstrate and refine the method and apparatus, as described in the U.S. Patents “Art of Transmitting Electrical Energy Through the Natural Mediums,” No. 787,412, April 18, 1905 and “Apparatus for Transmitting Electrical Energy,” No. 1,119,732, December 1, 1914. Earth Resonance Tesla’s “World System” for wireless telegraphy, telephony and transmission of power was also to apply the principle of earth resonance. If ever we can ascertain at what period the earth’s charge, when disturbed, oscillates with respect to an oppositely electrified system or known circuit, we shall know a fact possibly of the greatest importance to the welfare of the human race. I propose to seek for the period by means of an electrical oscillator, or a source of alternating electric currents. One of the terminals of the source would be connected to earth as, for instance, to the city water mains, the other to an insulated body of lar
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