Newspaper and magazine articles related to Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla Articles

Newspaper and magazine articles related to Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla's 100th Birthday

July, 1956
Page number(s):
6, 29

...The Father of Wireless Ushered in the Radio Age...

Hundredth anniversary of the birth of Nikola Tesla is being celebrated July 9. Tesla, who was often so far ahead of his contemporaries that his patents had expired before they could be put to practical use, was probably the greatest inventive genius of his generation.

Our whole electric power system rests on Tesla's rotating-field multi-phase alternating-current concepts, and the Tesla coil, invented about 1890, was the first device to produce noticeable amounts of power at radio frequencies, even lighting electric bulbs miles from the coil. He described a wireless system - with elevated antenna at transmitter and receiver-in 1893, the year before Marconi is said to have become interested in the study of wireless. His radio-guided submarine of the 1890's is the ancestor of all guided missiles.

Because his later years were chiefly occupied with ideas considered fantastic, it is often overlooked that among his more than 900 patents are included some of the most practical of the age. These included mechanical inventions, and his Tesla turbine and clutch working on the viscosity principle introduced the fundamental ideas underlying the design of modern automobile clutches and transmissions.

Further details on the life and works of Tesla appear in the editorial, page 33. Our photo shows the actual death mask. of Tesla taken on the day of his death. As all such masks it was made of plaster of Paris. To preserve it for posterity, its owner, Hugo Gernsback, had it heavily copper-plated, a process that took 10 days.

The well-known sculptor Onorio Ruotolo made the handsome marble-stone base. The memorial mask assembly was unveiled publicly on June 25 in New York by His Excellency, Leo Mates, Ambassador of Yugoslavia, in the offices of RADIO-ELECTRONICS.

On July 9, 1856, at midnight, there was born at Smiljan, Croatia (now Yugoslavia), Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest, if not the greatest inventor history. He died on Jan. 7, 1943, at the age of 87. He was not only an inventor of note, but a scientist who discovered a number of important new principles as well. He is credited with over 1,000 inventions, 900 of which he patented! It is possible in this space to list only the more outstanding ones.

He was the first to conceive a practical method of utilizing alternating current, now used universally all over the world. In 1888 he patenteet. He discovered and demonstrated the the induction motor, using neither commutator nor principle of the rotary magnetic field, when he transmitted electrical power from Niagara Falls to run the street cars in Syracuse, 160 miles away.

In his eulogy of Tesla's genius, another outstanding inventor, the late Maj. Edwin H. Armstrong, inventor of the modern superheterodyne and our present system of frequency-modulation broadcasting, wrote these lines in the publiary, 1943, issue of this magazine: "In Tesla's book RADIOELECTRONICS Hugo Gernsback, Editor of the in 1904, titled Experiments With Alternating Current of High Potential and High Frequency, there is a remarkable chapter headed 'The Transmission of Electric Energy Without Wires.' Concealed perhaps by its too prophetic style (although a surprising number of the prophecies have come true), there is a complete appreciation of radio in the broadcasting of information, with full emphasis on its social implications."

It was Tesla indeed who antedated Marconi. Said Maj. Gen. T. O. Mauborgne, former head of the Signal Corps, Chief Signal Officer of the U. S. Army, in the February, 1943, issue of this magazine: "Tesla 'the wizard' tured the imagination of my generation with his flights of and use cap[saw] with astounding vision far beyond his contemporaries, very few of whom realized until many years after the work of Marconi that the great Tesla was the first to work out not only the principles of electric tuning or resonance, but actually designed a system of wireless transmission of intelligence in the year 1893."

It was Tesla, too, to whom full credit goes for the invention of the aerial in both transmission and reception of wireless intelligence. The documentation is complete in picture and in word, in the lecture which Tesla delivered before the Franklin Institute and Electric Light Association in February and March, 1893. Here we see the first modern radio diagram, at the left the transmitter with its electrical alternator. It is coupled to a "primary" and "high-potential adjustable resonant secondary circuit." The latter is grounded at one end, the other goes to an "elevated capacity. At the right we have a "resonant adjustable receiving circuit." Its inductance is grounded on one side, the other goes to an "elevated capacity." This circuit,* now 63 years old, is identical with all fundamental radio and television circuits today, thanks to the genius of Tesla.

But his giant intellect went much further. It was he also who was the first to transmit wireless power - not just signals, over a distance. This he did in his historic experiments in Colorado in the early 1890's, which caused a worldwide furor. In 1890 he also built a huge Tesla oscillator, which produced 12 million volts at a frequency of 100,000 alternations per second. The primary used over 300 kilowatts. Lightning in huge sparks thrown as far as 22 feet, created such powerful electrical disturbances in the surrounding earth that 1-inch sparks could be drawn from grounded metal parts 300 feet distant. A little later, Tesla was able to obtain lightning-like discharges over 100 feet long. This thus made him the first inventor of artificially created lightning. Then, in 1898, Tesla at Colorado Springs actually succeeded in lighting electrical lamps at a distance of over half a mile, without any intervening wires. These were his epoch-making electric high-frequency demonstrations in which most of the wireless energy was transmitted through the earth.

It was Tesla, too, who invented a great variety of filamentless lamps which operated over short distances without a wire connection, merely by being placed in a high-frequency electrical field. They were the first wireless lamps in existence.

The electrical student perhaps is best acquainted with that fascinating instrument, the Tesla coil. This was one of his earliest demonstrations of high-frequency currents. Here a special induction coil coupled with capacitors and special transformers steps up the voltage till it runs into the millions. Nevertheless, such currents are relatively harmless and do not hurt or kill as, due to their "skin effect," they travel over the outside of the body. Hundreds of astonishing and beautiful experiments can be performed with a simple Tesla coil.

In this age of guided missiles, we should never forget that again Tesla was first when he invented his radio-controlled ship in 1898 - note particularly this date. Not only did he invent it, but he constructed large-scale operating models. The radio-controlled vessel was really a submarine which could take the form of a guided torpedo for war purposes or of other mobile bodies, all steered and controlled by wireless. It was probably the earliest telemechanical radio-controlled model in existence. The U. S. patent was No. 613,809, granted in 1898.

The model, demonstrated in New York, worked surprisingly well when you consider that Tesla used a special coherer and decoherer at the receiving end.*

The present writer, who knew Tesla intimately for many years, induced him to write his autobiography for the Electrical Experimenter, a magazine published by the author of this article. It can be found in the following issues: February, March, April, May, June and October, 1919.

Said the New York Times editorially on the day after his death: "Tesla belongs to the passing age of heroic invention. of which Edison was the most distinguished exemplar . . . If that abused word 'genius' ever was applicable to any man, it was to him."

It may indeed be centuries before the world will see again. such a prolific inventor of the towering stature of Nikola Tesla.
- HG

* The diagrams will be found in the authoritative and historical work by T. C. Martin, published in 1894 and entitled Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla.
See also article "The True Wireless," written by Nikola Tesla and published by Hugo Gernsback in the Electrical Experimenter, May, 1919.

* See full account with photographs of the models, diagrams and technical details, in the Electrical Experimenter, June, 1916.


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