Newspaper and magazine articles related to Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla Articles

Newspaper and magazine articles related to Nikola Tesla

John Ashton's Fascinating Memories

July, 2008
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Larry Babcock's excellent article, "Air/Ground Communications in World War I," (April, 2008) brought to mind a letter of communication received many years ago from John Oliver Ashton. Mr. Ashton worked as an engineer on J.P. Morgan's palatial steam yacht "Corsair" and later as test engineer on Senator Nelson W. Aldrich's yacht "Alvina." Ashton's father was a financial officer for Okonite Wire and Cable and signed the checks to support such pioneers as Marconi, Tesla, Edison, Fessenden, deForest, and so on. Ashton revealed that "Tesla was 'Nick' to us," and went on to tell of a close association with schoolmate Edwin H. Armstrong with whom he worked during the latter's experiments with feedback circuits and early radio patents.

Also of interest was Ashton's work in early wireless with Earle Ovington, the first airmail pilot. "I palled with men like Earle Ovington on whose Bleriot monoplane I installed my own original system, using the first counterpoise antenna, in 1910. And while Earle soared at some 1500 feet over Mineola/Hempstead we carried on the first two-way radio (communications) from plane to ground...

...My first wireless transmitter of any size was a 10 kW open core transformer and to that I added an open gap and a huge glass plate condenser. With my huge antennas over Yonkers I could get the distance that [other boys envied, allowing me to work] ships in the mid-Atlantic. Prior to 1912, no license was required. The air was 'free' and we pioneers did have fun that not one these days can quite understand or imagine."

Ashton went on to describe his participation in the Madison Square Garden electrical exhibitions with friend Earle Ovington. "He was a millionaire's son and close friend of Tesla. Earle would put on spectacular displays of fireworks using a huge Tesla coil mounted on a platform over the crowd...and would let me venture forth on the glass platform [to] take big sparks of terrifying. length off a wand that I held in my hand and which, in turn, jumped to the ball on top of the Tesla coil. Tesla would stand by with a paternal eye on us both and smile, as he was somewhat of a showman himself..."

Tesla Electrical Experimenters
Queensbury, NY


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