Various Tesla book cover images

Nikola Tesla Books

Books written by or about Nikola Tesla

derived from the expression for an infinitely long coil, and yielding the same ratio as in the case of capacitance.

The numerical value for the capacitance of the old coil appears here for the first time, without explanation.

The receiver experiments were probably done in preparation for a patent application. Leonard E. Curtis appears a number of times as a witness to Tesla's patents (see for example refs. 8, 10), or as one of the attorneys (on many patents from 1896 on).

June 30

Description of electric circuits in terms of mechanical analogies was at one time very popular. The resonance of an electrical circuit was likened to the swinging of a pendulum, and coupled resonant circuits to two pendulums linked together(39). Maxwell and his followers even tried for a long time to describe the electromagnetic field in terms of a mechanical model(40). Tesla's comparison of his “additional coil” to a pendulum is not precisely formulated but rather intuitive. He correctly discriminates between the excitation (initial conditions) and the Q-factor. He does not fully explain how he imagined that the vibrations of the three systems, the primary, the secondary and the “combined system”, would be the same. By “freeing” the additional coil he means a weakening of the coupling between it and the secondary exciting it. He obviously had a clear understanding that a circuit can oscillate at its own resonant frequency if the coupling with an excitation circuit is loose.

July 2

Here Tesla gives the calculation of values for the spark gap oscillator in the fullest detail so far. However, the analysis does not include all the magnitudes relevant to the functioning of the oscillator, e.g. the primary/secondary coupling of the transformer and the distributed capacitance of the secondary. The power equation is also not fully explained and justified. However, by means of this approximate calculation Tesla did get a valuable rough guide relatively quickly and easily.

July 3

The distributed capacitance of the secondary windings is difficult to determine. It depends on the coil diameter, the dimensions of the wire and the insulation and the winding pattern. In a single-layer coil it is due mostly to the capacity between neigh boring turns, and this is the way Tesla calculated it. He considers a greatly simplified model in which it is taken that the parasitic capacity per turn is equal to A/4πd, where A = rπl, half the surface area of the wire in one turn, and d is the distance between turns. The capacitance is calculated as that of a plate condenser of area A and gap d with air between the plates. This model is open to a good many criticisms, but it must not be forgotten that Tesla had to find some solution, whatever its shortcomings. It is also not correct that the total inductance and capacitance of the secondary circuit with the “additional coil” are additive, but Tesla was himself aware that this was guesswork, and often mentions the words “roughly”, “estimate”, etc.

In an earlier calculation (see June 20th) he had started from the primary circuit and worked out the values for the secondary, whereas here he attacks it from the other end:



Fleming: p. 287.


Born. M. and Wolf E. PRINCIPLES OF OPTICS, Third ed. Pergamon Press, 1965, Oxford, p. XXVI.


Lowercase tau - an irrational constant defined as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its radius, equal to the radian measure of a full turn; approximately 6.283185307 (equal to 2π, or twice the value of π).
A natural rubber material obtained from Palaquium trees, native to South-east Asia. Gutta-percha made possible practical submarine telegraph cables because it was both waterproof and resistant to seawater as well as being thermoplastic. Gutta-percha's use as an electrical insulator was first suggested by Michael Faraday.
The Habirshaw Electric Cable Company, founded in 1886 by William M. Habirshaw in New York City, New York.
The Brown & Sharpe (B & S) Gauge, also known as the American Wire Gauge (AWG), is the American standard for making/ordering metal sheet and wire sizes.
A traditional general-purpose dry cell battery. Invented by the French engineer Georges Leclanché in 1866.
Refers to Manitou Springs, a small town just six miles west of Colorado Springs, and during Tesla's time there, producer of world-renown bottled water from its natural springs.
A French mineral water bottler.
Lowercase delta letter - used to denote: A change in the value of a variable in calculus. A functional derivative in functional calculus. An auxiliary function in calculus, used to rigorously define the limit or continuity of a given function.
America's oldest existing independent manufacturer of wire and cable, founded in 1878.
Lowercase lambda letter which, in physics and engineering, normally represents wavelength.
The lowercase omega letter, which represents angular velocity in physics.