Vol. I, No. 1
Ten years ago, on the 7th of January, 1943, Dr. Nikola Tesla died in New York City. The report of his death echoed with expressions of tribute from those associated with the fields of science and engineering. This year, on the tenth anniversary of his death, the world or science honors this man who has been hailed as the “Benefactor of the Modern Age.” To the younger generation of engineers, and to the general public as well, the name of Tesla lacks of wide-spread familiarity. His achievements were relatively intangible because of the fact that they were very technical and did not catch the popular imagination. An examination of the impressive and diversive listing of several hundred patent inventions in the name of Tesla, and the almost incredible number at other discoveries which have not reached that lawful state of commercial existence, reveals a phenomenal talent, insight and technical genius. That commonly misunderstood attribute of genius is a rare gift, and those so gifted often find themselves alone in a world which cannot easily comprehend the fleeting impressions of brilliance. For his monumentous achievements, the name of Tesla might well resound with prominent international recognition were it not for the fact that an inventor who is misunderstood is usually unrewarded. However, with passing years, the fame of Tesla is certain to grow as his work becomes technically understood and appreciated according to its true intrinsic value.
Tesla came to America in 1884 and made New York City his home for nearly sixty years. He lived during a period at technological and industrial development when the world was transformed from a conception of fantasy to modern reality. The profoundly changing conditions of the past years will show that Tesla was perhaps the last of the “great pioneers” in the scientific fields, for in these times, among the talented efforts being devoted to the advancement of science and industry, it is virtually impossible that we are able to single out one individual and accredit him with a particular achievement - so interwoven have become the processes of development with concerted efforts directed toward common goals. Before the turn of the century, Tesla had developed the entire system of alternating current power transmission and presented the revolutionary elements of telecommunication now reaching perfection these several decades later. During the latter years of his life, Tesla went into deep seclusion and rarely confided to anyone regarding his discoveries. The results of these years of intensive study and labor were rich in achievement, and from time to time, he announced several startling findings in the sciences. The research studies which Tesla left behind have yet to be thoroughly examined for the unestimable wealth of information that they have been reported to contain. Tesla's predictions of future scientific developments have materialized in a way that give full reason for this inquiry.
It is befitting that a country honor its great men, and for his contributions to science, industry, and to this country, the significance of the tribute which is due Tesla becomes apparent on the occasion of the present decennial anniversary.
The Tesla International Organization
The title “TESLA-INTERNATIONAL” was adopted to assert the name of Tesla as having world-wide significance. His name stands without rival as the genius who created the “Age of Electric Power” which provided the world with its tremendous industrial systems. Tesla was one of America's greatest scientists and inventors - his achievements have reached out to every shore and country of the world.
The TESLA-INTERNATIONAL organization has as its objective the promulgation of the truth about Nikola Tesla; that a full recognition be made for his unparalleled research work on the effects of current of high frequency and high potential, and for his achievements in the realms of polyphase power transmission and telecommunication.
A journal of the organization will be issued beginning with the present issue. In addition to items of recent and historical interest related to Tesla, the Journal will include a comprehensive bibliographical listing of all available items concerning Tesla and a cataloging of the various collections of Tesliana not generally known. Such listings will be of particular importance to scholars in the research field. The Journal will provide a medium of editorial exchange by members of the organization, and presentation of unpublished writings and analyses of Tesla's work as they become available.
In memoriam and with sadness the following article from the September 3, 1953 edition of “The Leader”, official newspaper of Freeport, Long Island, New York, is reprinted with permission:
John J. O'Neill Dies; Was Science Editor
Freeport Newspaperman Won Pulitzer Prize; - Received Other Awards
John J. O'Neill, science editor of the New York Herald-Tribune, since June, 1934, and a resident of Freeport since 1920, died unexpectedly at his home, 209 North Long Beach Avenue, on Sunday (August 30). Funeral services were conducted in the Chester A. Fulton & Son parlors, 49 West Merrick Road, Tuesday night. Burial yesterday was in Greenfield Cemetery. The Rev. John L. Latshaw, pastor of the Freeport Methodist Church officiated.
Mr. O'Neill was especially interested in the development of atomic energy, early seeing its possibilities, and spoke on the subject many times before local service clubs long before the public in general heard much about A-bombs.
Born in New York 64 years ago, Mr. O'Neill attended public school and night school and took correspondence courses. Starting out his career as a printer, after a couple years in 1905 he became an electrician. He worked in the New York Public Library for a year and the succeeding year in the New York Herald library.
Mr. O'Neill was associated with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1908 until he joined the Herald-Tribune staff, serving as a reporter, Long Island Editor, feature, radio, automobile, aviation and science editor.
Mr. O'Neill had little technical education of a formal nature but he was an omniverous student of science and a conscientious and lucid reporter. He wrote understandingly and understandably of the atom, rockets and guided missiles, disease and medicine, meteors and planets. He was among the early science reporters.
In 1937 he shared with four others the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for good reporting. The following year the University of Kansas gave him an award for “the best science story of the year.” He shared the Clement Cleveland Award of the New York Cancer Society in 1938 and in 1946 received the Westinghouse Distinguished Science Writing Medal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
An article written by Mr. O'Neill in 1940 was one of the first to inform the public of the successful release of atomic energy and of its potentialities.
Mr. O'Neill was a founding member of the American Newspaper Guild and was a member of numerous scientific organizations. He was a fellow of the American Geographic Society and the Arctic Institute of North America and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Amateur Astronomers' Association, the American Academy of Political Science, the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He was a charter member and a former president of the National Association of Scientific Writers.
Among his books were “Enter Atomic Energy,” “Almighty Atom. The Real Story of Atomic Energy,” “Prodigal Genius. The Life of Nikola Tesla,” “You and the Universe” and “Engineering the New Age.”
He was an organizer of the Suffolk County Home Defense Regiment in World War I and served also in the machine gun company of the 7th Regiment of the New York National Guard which was organized after the old 7th was mustered into Federal service as the 107th Infantry.
Surviving Mr. O'Neill are his wife, Marie, a son, Kenneth, a daughter, Mrs. Clyde T. Grayson and a granddaughter.
In the opinion of the writer, Mr. O'Neill's first book, “Prodigal Genius, The Life of Nikola Tesla,” was the greatest stride in bridging the gap of skepticism and ignorance concerning Tesla that has yet been taken. The manuscript of “Prodigal Genius” is in the Manuscript Division of the New York Public Library. It contains three unpublished chapters which Mr. O'Neill refused to change, one on the inglorious end of the great genius and the other two a story of the theft from Tesla for credit for invention of the “wireless.” The documentation of every statement in the book with references to original sources was intended, but was later ruled out because of the resulting length.
Nikola or Nicola?
In the course of examining many accounts of Tesla's work, the writer has encountered a considerable number of variations on the spelling of Tesla's first name. “Nikola” has appeared in such forms as Nicola, Nickola, Nicoli and Nicolas, a situation to which Tesla himself was brought to remark in a letter:
With what feelings must you read a criticism as the enclosed! I wish I could turn all the forked lightning discharge in my laboratory on the fellow. After all the work I have myself done - including the Servian translations - my name is still spelled with a “C.”
Let us have a profound contempt for the creature.
Upon reading these lines by Tesla, a friend of the writer mused that a thunder storm might be a hazardous venture for one who perpetrates the misspelling of Tesla's name. Who knows but what Thor resigned his throne to Tesla when abilities were matched in Colorado at the turn of the century?
The surname “Tesla” has received very little spelling abuse because its unfamiliarity has drawn closer attention to it. However “Tesla” has suffered somewhat from mispronunciation. The name Tesla is pronounced as it is spelled, with an equal emphasis on both syllables.
Dr. Nikola Tesla
Father of the Wireless
During his lectures in the early nineties, Tesla clearly described the principles of high frequency resonant circuits, and presented the system of wireless transmission as it is now recognized. The processes of Marconi, Slaby, Lodge, Popoff and others were essentially different from that described by Tesla early in the development, and the errors and insufficiencies that were characteristic of the dispositions employed by them soon recognized. Dr. Slaby, as well as many other authorities hailed Tesla as the “Father of the Wireless,” and in these years before 1900, Tesla was granted patents on the basic elements and apparatus of radio transmission. Many, quite wrongly, still consider Marconi to be the inventor of the wireless, and while not in any way detracting from the credit that is due Marconi for the results he obtained, he should be justly recognized as a successor who applied Tesla's basic techniques.
Tesla later brought suit against Marconi in an effort to prevent his attempt at establishing a sweeping claim to all basic wireless patents. The courts had difficulty understanding differences in the technical features or issues in dispute. The British courts favored Marconi which, led by this decision, was later concurred in by the courts here.
On the following pages appear facsimile copies of two letters by Tesla to his close friend Robert Underwood Johnson on the subject of the wireless. Particular attention should be given to the dates of these letters as they throw an interesting light on priority of the wireless art.
The first letter, written in Tesla's hand, is from the collection of Tesliana of the writer.
The second letter, typewritten, signed in Tesla's hand, is from the collection at Tesliana of Mrs. James W. McChesney and appears with her gracious permission.
Fifth Avenue 33rd and 34th Streets and Astor Court
Dec. 18, 1898
I was very sorry to learn that I missed you the other evening. From what you told me I infer that Mr. de Monvel was with you and I am keenly disappointed. I shall hope that fortune will give us a smile on the next occasion.
In connection with the subjects we discussed the other evening, the following quotation from a letter of Dr. Slaby may interest you: “I have been working recently” - he says - “on telegraphy without wires which you have so clearly and precisely described in your writings. It will interest you - as the father of this telegraphy to know” - - etc. He describes an improvement with which I have been long familiar in a general way though I do not know the specific manner in which he has carried it out. I see that he has only now recognized the errors and insufficiencies of the process as practiced by Marconi and a few others.
My “friends” have been very busy since I last saw you and a few performances which I have noted are not at all bad.
New York, Dec. 27th, 1898
#46 & 48 E. Houston Street
Mr. R. U. Johnson,
The Century Company,
Union Square, City.
My dear Luka:-
The inclosed notice which I find in the evening Telegram, may interest you in connection with Hobson's story of the sinking of the Merrimac, Mr. Gilder and yourself did not probably foresee this development, of which I predict there will be more than one repetition. It would be unfortunate if there should be any contradiction in the two accounts, and in order to avoid this it might not be a bad idea to see the author quoted and let him have Hobson's account.
Speaking of this subject and thinking of our conversation of the night before last, I have come to the conclusion that you cannot sell fifty thousand copies at one dollar and a half. Don't tell that to Hobson, I am afraid he will be offended. As far as he is concerned, I should say you ought to sell five million.
Referring now to the letter of Dr. Slaby. the passage which I quoted to you reads exactly like this in German, in which you are so well versed.
“Ich beschaeftige mich seit laengerer Zeit mit der Erforschung der Telegraphie ohne Draehte, welche Sie zuerst in lhren 'Inventions' .......................... in so klarer und zutreffender Weise begruendet haben. Es wird Sie als Vater dieser Telegraphie interessieren zu hoeren, dass es mir neuerdings gelungen ist, eine genaue Abstimmung der Empfangsapparate fuer bestimmte Wellenlaengen mit einfachen Mitteln zu erreichen, so dass sich fuer die Anwendung dieser Telegraphie eine wesentlich groessere Aussicht eroeffinet...” (I have been engaged since some time ago on investigations in telegraphy without wires, which in such clear and precise manner you have first founded in your “Inventions...” It will interest you, as the father of this telegraphy, to learn that I have lately succeeded in adjusting exactly the receiving instruments for certain wavelengths with simple means, so that there is a materially greater prospect opened up for this telegraphy....)
To make you feel entirely at ease, I might quote a French authority, E. Andreoli, who says in the “Electricien:”*
C'est a Tesla qu'il faut remonter pour l'affirmation de la possibilite de l'accomplicement de ce projet qui paraissait chimerique il y a quelques annees.... Il etait tres precis en definissant les condittions necessaires pour obtenir des periodes de variation convenable au moyen de grande frequence et de hauts potentiels.”**
Or an English authority, A.A.C. Swinton, who, in the “Electrical Review” and other journals calls attention to my description of the system and its essential features and says in conclusion:***“Without in any way desiring to detract from the credit that is due to Mr. Marconi for the results he has obtained, I think it is only fair to Mr. Tesla that attention should be called to the above.”
Now, to understand the situation, I must tell you that these statements are made always on the supposition that certain actions take place in the dispositions used by Marconi, Lodge, Popoff, Slaby and others which are essentially different of those described by me. This is an error and, as a matter of fact, I have found it impossible for the signals to penetrate at any great distance without having recourse to the method I have described. When this fact is recognized, then, as you will see, my work will also be fully appreciated.
* L'Electricien, July 3, 1897, p. 11.
** (translation: It is to Tesla that one must go back for the affirmation of the possibility of accomplishing this project which seemed visionary a few years ago.... He was very precise in defining conditions necessary to obtain suitable periods of variation by means of great frequency and high potential.)
*** Electrical Review of New York, Dec. 29, 1897, p. 308.
THE NEXT ISSUE: -
From time to time, the writer has received many requests for a bibliographical listing of information concerning Tesla, his life and works. In all cases such requests were regretfully denied, except when specific information was asked, because of the length of the file which necessitated reproduction. However with the next issue of this journal, the file acquired by the writer during several years of investigation will be presented.
Journal of the TESLA-INTERNATIONAL Organization
University Station Box 135
Minneapolis 14, Minnesota