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Yet even with the fairly impressive build-out of over 3, supercharging stations, almost none of the regular trips I make from my home for business around the state, or to Denver or to ski areas in the region, would be practical with a Model 3. I'd either have to go far out of my way to follow an interstate route with Supercharging stations along the way, which still requires sitting around for minutes for a charge, or track down lower-power outlets along my route that require waiting hours for a charge.

But I wouldn't call that a mass-market car, I'd still call it a niche vehicle. This isn't to say that what Tesla is doing isn't worthwhile. It definitely is. The company has sold over 9, electric vehicles in the first quarter of , far more than any other automaker. But to truly ignite a revolution, Musk is going to need help and if he wants the support of consumers, he should be more transparent and realistic about managing expectations. In the United States, cars are about freedom and flexibility, but electric vehicles, even flashy ones like Tesla's remain more about being handcuffed to inadequate charging infrastructure.

For Musk's vision of getting us off fossil fuels to work, he's going to need to admit he can't do it on his own. The opinions expressed here by Inc. Hence she herself got no schooling. But either in spite or because of that, she had developed an amazing memory, being able to recite verbatim whole volumes of native and classic European poetry. After her marriage, her own five children arrived quickly The eldest was Daniel. Nikola was the fourth.

Since the Rev. Milutin Tesla wrote poetry in his spare time, the boy grew up in a household where cadence always permeated ordinary speech and where the quoting of passages from the Bible or poetry was as natural as roasting com over charcoal in summer In his youth Nikola also wrote poetry and would later take some to America with him. He would never permit his poems to be published, however, considering them too personal.

When he grew older, it would delight him to astonish new friends by reciting their native poetry in English, French, German, or Italian at impromptu meetings. He continued to write an occasional poem throughout his life. The child began when only a few years of age to make original inventions. When he was five, he built a small waterwheel quite unlike those he had seen in the countryside. It was smooth, without paddles, yet it spun evenly in the current Years later he was to recall this fact when designing his unique bladeless turbine.

But some of his other experiments were less successful. Once he perched on the roof of the bam, clutching the family umbrella and hyperventilating on the fresh mountain breeze until his body felt light and the dizziness in his head convinced him he could fly. Plunging to earth, he lay unconscious and was carried off to bed by his mother. His sixteen-bug-power motor was, likewise, not an unqualified success.

This was a light contrivance made of splinters forming a windmill, with a spindle and pulley attached to live June bugs. When the glued insects beat their wings, as they did desperately the bug- power engine prepared to take off. This line of research was forever abandoned however when a young friend dropped by who fancied the taste of June bugs. Noticing a jarful standing near, he began cramming them into his mouth. The youthful inventor threw up. He next endeavored to take apart and reassemble the clocks of his grandfather. Not all his youthful chagrins were scientific in nature.

One Sunday I had just finished ringing the bell in the belfry and rushed downstairs when this grand dame was sweeping out and I jumped on her train. It tore off with a ripping noise which sounded like a salvo of musketry fired by raw recruits. A new fire engine had been purchased, along with uniforms for a fire department, and this called for a celebration.

The community turned out for a parade, there were speeches, and then the command was given to pump water with the new equipment Not a drop came from the nozde. While the village fathers stood in puzzled dismay, the bright lad flung himself into the liver and found as he had suspected, that the hose had collapsed He corrected the problem, instantly drenching the delighted village fa- thers.

Just as in later years he would work with high voltages of electricity without serious harm, he then skated through extraordinary dangers. With telescopic memory and perhaps some exaggeration, he later wrote that he was given up by doctors as a hopeless physical wreck three times, that he was almost drowned on numerous occa- sions, was nearly boiled alive in a vat of hot milk, just missed being cremated, and was once entombed overnight in an old shrine. Hair- raising flights from mad dogs, enraged flocks of crows, and sharp- tusked hogs spiced this catalogue of near-catastrophes.

Sheep grazed in the pasture, pigeons cooed in a cote, and there were chickens for a small boy to tend. Darnel, brilliant and the idol of his parents, was killed at the age of twelve in a mysterious accident The immediate cause of the tragedy may have been a magnifi- cent Arabian horse which had been given to the family by a dear friend. It was petted by them and attributed with almost human intelligence. Of the incident itself, however, no details remain.

According to the second version, Daniel died from a fall down the cellar stairs. Some believe that the boy lost consciousness and in his delirium accused Nikola of pushing him. He died later horn the head injury probably a hematoma, so this account goes. Unfortunately at this date both versions are impossible to confirm.

Much later in his life, Tesla still suffered from nightmares and hallucinations related to the death of his brother. The details of the experience are never clarified, but the episode recurs and is recounted throughout his life as if from various time frames. One can theorize that a five-year-old child, unable to tolerate such a burden of assumed guilt, might have rewritten the facts in his mind. All we can say for certain is that some manifestations of his extreme eccentricity seem to have appeared at an early age.

For example, he had a violent aversion to earrings on women, especially pearls, although jewelry with the glitter of crystals or sharp- planed facets intrigued him. In research, if he dropped little squares of paper in a dish filled with liquid, it caused a peculiar and awful taste in his mouth. He counted steps when walking, calculated the cubic contents of soup plates, coffee cups, and pieces of food. If he failed to do so his meal was unenjoyable — hence his preference for dining alone. According to Tesla, hoping to console his parents for the loss of Daniel, he subjected himself at a very early age to iron discipline in order to excel.

He would be more spartan, more studious than other boys, more generous, and in every way superior. And it was while denying himself and repressing natural impulses, he later believed, that he began to develop his strange compulsions. The Rev. Milutin Tesla at one point forbade Nikola to have candles, fearing that he would ruin his eyes by reading all night The boy got some materials and made his own, stuffed rags in the keyhole and door cracks, and then read all night He did not stop reading until he heard his mother beginning her arduous rounds at dawn.

Although he longed to become an engineer, his father was inflexible. These daily lessons were intended to strengthen memory and reason and especially to develop the critical sense, and were undoubtedly very beneficial. She invented and constructed all kinds of tools and devices and wove the finest designs from thread which was spun by her. She even planted the seeds, raised the plants, and separated the fibers herself She worked indefatigable from break of day till late at night, and most of the wearing apparel and furnishings of the home was the product of her hands.

They were pictures of things and scenes which I had really seen, never of those I imagined. When a word was spoken to me the image of the object it designated would present itself vividly to my vision and sometimes I was quite unable to distinguish whether what I saw was tangible or not This caused me great discomfort and anxiety None of the students of psychology or physiology whom I have consulted could ever explain satisfactorily these phenomena.

He theorized that the images resulted from a reflex action from the brain upon the retina under great excitation. They were not hallucinations. In the stillness of night, the vivid picture of a funeral he had seen or some other disturbing scene would thrust itself before his eyes, so that even if he jabbed his hand through it, it would remain fixed in space. Such an advance would revolutionize all human relations. I am convinced that this wonder can and will be accomplished in time to come; I may add that I have devoted much thought to the solution of the problem.

The direct transmission of thought onto electronic printers also is the subject of recent research. Then, to his delight, he found that he could visualize with such facility that he needed no models, drawings, or experiments, but could picture them all as real in his mind. He recommended this method as far more expeditious and efficient than the purely experimental. Anyone who carries out a construct, Tesla held, runs the risk of becoming bogged down in the details and defects of the apparatus and, as the designer goes on improving, tends to lose sight of the underlying principle of the design.

When 1 get an idea I start at once building it up in my imagination. It is absolutely immaterial to me whether I run my turbine in my thought or test it in my shopi I even note if it is out of balance. Only when all the faults had been corrected in his brain, did he put the device into concrete form. Why should it be otherwise? Engineering, electrical and mechanical, is positive in results. There is scarcely a subject that cannot be mathematically treated and the effects calculated or the results determined beforehand from the available theoretical and practical data.

Yet the ability to memorize a page of type or the precise relationships and sizes of myriad patterns on a page in the wink of an eye — call it photographic, eidetic, or whatever— does seem to belong to the specially gifted. Such memory usually begins to wane in adolescence, indicating that it is affected by bodily chemical changes. The fact that he began to make trial-and-error adjustments of his research equipment in Colo- rado when he was middle-aged hints at a waning power He claimed that his method of visual invention had one defect that kept him poor in a monetary sense, though rich in the raptures of the mind: Potentially valuable inventions were often put aside without the final time-consuming perfection required for commercial success.

Edison would never have allowed this to happen and hired many assistants to make sure it did not In feet Edison was said to have a knack for picking up other inventors? With Tesla it was to be just the opposite. Ideas chased each other through his mind faster than he could nail them down. Once he understood exactly how an invention worked in his mind , he tended to lose interest for there were always exciting new challenges just over the horizon. His photographic memory explained in part the lifelong difficulty he would experience in working with other engineers. While they demanded blueprints, he worked in his mind.

In grade school he was almost kept back, despite brilliance in mathematics, because he so loathed the required drawing classes. He was twelve years old before he succeeded in banishing disturbing images from his mind by deliberate effort, but he was never able to control the inexplicable flashes of light that usually occurred when he was in a dangerous or distressing situation, or when he was greatly elated. Sometimes he saw all the air around him filled with tongues of living flame. Their intensity, instead of diminishing, in- creased with years and reached a peak when he was about twenty- five.

Then there appears, to the right, a beautiful pattern of two systems of parallel and closely spaced lines, at right angles to one another, in all sorts of colors with yellow- green and gold predominating. Immediately thereafter the lines grow brighter and the whole is thickly sprinkled with dots of twinkling light This picture moves slowly across the field of vision and in about ten seconds vanishes to the left, leaving behind a ground of rather unpleasant and inert grey which quickly gives way to a billowy sea of clouds, seemingly trying to mould themselves in living shapes.

It is curious that I cannot project a form into this grey until the second phase is reached. Every time, before falling asleep, images of persons or objects flit before my view When I see them I know that I am about to lose consciousness. He was that unnerving sort of student who lurks behind the instructor while problems are being written on the board, and quietly chalks down answers the moment the teacher has finished.

At first they suspected him of cheating. But soon it was realized that this was just another aspect of his abnormal ability to visualize and retain images. The optic screen in his mind stored entire logarithmic tables to be called on as needed. After he became an inventor, however, he would sometimes have to struggle for long periods to solve a single scientific problem. He reported another curious phenomenon that is familiar to many creative people, i. It is a fact that in later life the machines that Tesla built nearly always worked. He might err in his understanding of the scientific principle, or he might even mistake the quality of materials used in construction, but somehow the machines, as they evolved in his mind and were later translated into metal, usually did just what he intended.

He made a point of always trying to trace the external source. Everything he did that he had thought to be the result of free will he now decided was actually caused by real circumstances and events. And if this were true it followed that he himself must be merely a kind of automaton. Conversely, anything a human being could do, a machine could be made to do, including acting with judgment based upon experience.

From these meditations the young Tesla developed two con- cepts that — in rather different ways — were to be important to him in later life. There he entered school and had seen his first mechanical models, including water turbines. He built many of them and found great pleasure in operating them. He also became fasci- nated by a description he had read of Niagara Falls.

In his imagination a big wheel appeared, run by the cascading waters. He told his unde that one day he would go to America and carry out this vision. The demonstrations per- formed by his instructors fascinated him. In the second year he became obsessed with the idea of producing continuous motion through steady air pressure, and with the possibilities of a vacuum.

He grew frantic with his desire to harness these forces but for a long time groped in the dark. The open side of the trough was closed by a partition and the cylindrical segment divided into two compartments entirely separated horn each other by airtight sliding joints. Though this knowledge came gradually it gave me a painful shock. Finally he was asked to catalog the books at the local library, a task which, he later recalled, introduced him to the earliest works of Mark Twain.

To his delight in finding them he attributed a miraculous recovery.


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The boy continued his studies at a higher school in Karlstadt Karlovac , Croatia, where the land was low and marshy and where, in consequence, he suffered repeated bouts with malaria. Yet his illnesses did not prevent him from conceiving an intense interest in electricity under the stimulating influence of his physics professor. When next he returned home, a cholera epidemic was raging, and he immediately contracted the disease. He was in bed for nine months, scarcely able to move, and for the second time it was thought he was dying. What happened next is a little unclear.

Apparently Tesla was summoned to serve for three years in the army, a prospect even more repugnant to him than the clergy. But in later life he did not refer to this, saying only that his father insisted he spend a year camping and hiking in the mountains to regain his health. In the event, he did spend a year in the latter fashion and did not serve in the army.

One plan he conceived was to build a tube under the Atlantic Ocean through which to shoot mail between the con- tinents. He worked out mathematical details of a pumping plant to force water through the tube, which would push the spherical containers of mail. But he failed to gauge accurately the frictional resistance of the pipe to the flow of water.

It appeared to be so great that he was forced to abandon the plan. Even so, he gained knowledge from this that would be applied in a later invention. Never one to waste time on trifling schemes, he then con- ceived of building a gargantuan elevated ring around the equator. At first it would have scaffolding. Once this was knocked away the ring would rotate freely at the same speed as the Earth.

He proposed next to employ some reactionary force that would make the ring hold still with relationship to the Earth. Thus travelers could climb aboard it and be sped around Earth at a dizzying speed of 1, miles per hour— or rather, Earth would race beneath them, enabling them to circle the globe in a day while sitting still. At the end of this magnificent, if impractical, year of wandering and dreaming, he was enrolled in at the Austrian Polytechnic School in Graz.

During his first year he had a fellowship from the Military Frontier Authority and hence had no financial worries. Nevertheless, he crammed from three in the morning until eleven at night, determined to complete two years? Physics, mathematics, and mechanics were his main studies. He records that the compulsion to finish everything, once started, almost killed him when he began reading the works of Voltaire. But when he returned the following year his comfortable financial situation had evaporated. The Military Frontier was being abolished, there would be no fellowship, and the salary of a clergyman would be unable to cover the high tuition costs.

Tesla would thus be obliged to drop out before the school year ended. He made the most of the little time he had, however, and it was in this second year that he first began to toy with the idea of an alternative to direct-current electrical machines. The man responsible for introducing Tesla to the fascinations of electrical machinery was a German, one Professor Poeschl, who taught theoretical and experimental physics.

When one day there arrived from Paris a direct- current apparatus called a Gramme Machine that could be used both as a motor and a dynamo, Tesla examined the machine intently; feeling a strange excitement It had a wire-wound armature with a commutator. He knew that he would be unable to test until he had found the solution. Although he was not a very good card player, he became almost professionally skillful at billiards. Unfortunately his newfound skills did not save him.

In Prague, where he spent two years, he might have gone to the university unofficially but the search made by the Czechoslovak Government shows that he was not enrolled in any one of the four universities in Czechoslo- vakia Faraday also was a self- taught man. He was finally forced to return home. His father died that same year, and shortly thereafter he returned to Prague in the hope of being able to continue his studies. It is believed that until the age of twenty-four he remained there, auditing courses and studying in the library and so keeping abreast of progress in electrical engineering and physics.

I not only vanquished but tore it from my heart so as not to leave even a trace of desire. He even stopped drinking tea. Then he was stricken by a bizarre affliction which, for lack of a better name, his doctors called a nervous breakdown. He claimed that several times in boyhood he had saved neighbors from fires in their own homes when he was awakened by the crackling of flames. When he was past forty and carrying on his lightning research in Colorado, he would claim to hear thunderclaps at a distance of miles, although the limit for his young assistants was miles.

But what happened during his breakdown was astonishing even by Tesla standards.

Nikola Tesla: A Man Ahead of His Time

He could hear the ticking of a watch horn three rooms away A fly lighting on a table in his room caused a dull thud in his eat A carriage passing a few miles away seemed to shake his whole body A train whistle twenty miles distant made the chair on which he sat vibrate so strongly that the pain became unbearable. The ground under his feet was constantly trembling.

In order for him to rest, rubber cushions were placed under his bed. I had to summon all my willpower to pass under a bridge or other structure as I experienced a crushing pressure on the skull. In the dark I had the sense of a bat and could detect the presence of an object at a distance of twelve feet by a peculiar creepy sensation on the forehead.

The continuous twitching and trembling of his own flesh became, in itself, a nearly unbearable burden. Understandably the medical profession of Budapest was fasci- nated. A renowned doctor prescribed large doses of potassium while at the same time pronouncing the ailment unique and incurable. I clung desperately to life, but never expected to recover.

The friend was Anital Szigety, a master mechanic with whom Tesla often worked and an athlete. Szigety convinced him of the importance of exercise and, during this period, the two often went for long walks through the city. In the years since he had left the Polytechnic at Graz, Tesla had never ceased to struggle with the problem of the unsatisfactory direct- current machine. He later wrote, in his usual flamboyant way, that he did not undertake the problem with a simple resolve to succeed.

I knew that I would perish if I failed. The sinking sun reminded him of a glorious passage: The glow retreats, done in the day of toil; It yonder hastes, new fields of life exploring; Ah, that no wing can lift me from the soil, Upon its track to follow, follow soaring! Then he began to draw a diagram in the dust. The diagram that he drew would be shown six years later in his address before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, introduc- ing to the world a new scientific principle of stunning simplicity and utility The applications of it would literally revolutionize the technical world It was an entire new system that he had conceived, not just a new motor, for Tesla had hit upon the principle of the rotating magnetic field produced by two or mote alternating currents out of step with each other.

He had refuted Professor PoeschL Other scientists had been trying to invent AC motors but had used only a single circuit, just as in direct current, which either would not work or worked badly, churning up a great deal of useless, vibration. Alternating currents were being used to feed arc lights as early as by Elihu Thomson, who built a generator in the United States.

The Europeans, Gaulard and Gibbs, had produced the first alternating-current transformer, which was necessary for increas- ing and decreasing voltages in power transmission. George Westing- house, an early advocate of AC with great plans for the electrification of America, bought the American rights to the Gaulard and Gibbs patents. Yet with all this activity there had been no truly successful AC motor until Tesla invented his — an induction motor that was the heart of a new system and a quantum jump ahead of the times.

But of course it is one thing to create a significant invention and quite another to make people aware of it. Tesla had already begun to picture himself as rich and famous, a strong tribute to the power of imagination, since his paycheck barely sustained him. I admired the works of artists, but to my mind they were only shadows and semblances. The inventor, I thought, gives the world creations which are palpable, which live and work. I delighted in imagining the motors constantly run- ning. When natural inclination develops into a passionate desire, one advances toward his goal in seven-league boots.

In less than two months I evolved virtually all the types of motors and modifications of the system What it signified was vastly higher voltages than could be obtained through direct current and— with transmission possible over hundreds of miles — a new age of electric light and power everywhere. And Edison was less adaptable than his light bulb, being emotionally locked into DC.

Having neither the time nor the money for building prototypes, he turned his thoughts to the work of the telegraph office, where he was soon promoted to engineering. He made several improvements to the central-station apparatus including inventing a telephone amplifier which he forgot to patent and in return, the job gave him valuable practical experience. Of paramount interest to him was to sell the officers of the Continental Edison Company on the enormous potential benefits of alternating current.

He made new friends, both French and American, resumed his old proficiency at billiards, walked miles every day, and swam in the Seine. At work he was given the job of troubleshooter, to cute the ills of Edison power plants in France and Germany. In Strassburg, Tesla was asked to see what could be done with a railroad-station lighting plant that the client, the German govern- ment, had refused to accept And for good reason. A large chunk of wall had been blown out by a short circuit during the opening ceremony — in the presence Of old Emperor William I.

The French subsidiary being faced with a serious financial loss, promised Tesla a bonus if he could improve the dynamos and soothe the Germans. And in the end, not only was he able to correct the electrical problems, but he made friends with the mayor, one M. Bauzin, whom he then tried to recruit to support his invention. The mayor did in fact round up several wealthy potential investors to whom Tesla demonstrated his new motor. But although it functioned perfectly, the burghers simply could not see its practical advantages.

The disappointed young inventor was only partly consoled when the mayor produced some bottles of St. Estephe , left over from the last invasion of Alsace by the Germans. No one, he said kindly, was more worthy of the precious beverage than Tesla. Having successfully completed his job, the inventor returned to Paris, looking forward to collecting his bonus.

But to his dismay, it did not materialize. Of three administrators who were his superiors, each passed the buck to the next until Tesla, angered at being cheated, summarily resigned.


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He urged him to go to America where both grass and currency were greener. Columbia, and the ship had made a brilliant display as she sailed down Delaware Bay on her voyage around Cape Horn to California. Thus Batchelor had reason to think he knew Edison well, and he wrote Tesla a glowing letter of recommendation, introducing the one egocentric genius to the other. As events would prove, however, Batchelor understood Edison less well than he supposed. What to do? Hercules had plenty of time to deliberate, but I had to decide while running alongside the train with opposite feelings surging in my brain like condenser oscillations.

Resolve, helped by dexterity, won out in the nick of time Later he talked his way aboard the ship Satumia when no one showed up to claim his berth. To America, beside the few coins in his pocket, he brought some poems and articles he had written, a package of calculations relating to what he described without further elucidation as an insoluble problem, and drawings for a flying machine.

It was , the year the people of France gave America the Statue of Liberty As if in response to the words of Emma Lazarus, 16 million Europeans and Asians were to sweep into this country in a very few years, and they would keep coming. It was also the year of the Panic of Tesla did not go to the Immigration hiring hall, where new arrivals were signed up for labor gangs to slave thirteen-hour days on the railroads, in mines, factories, or stockyards.

Instead, with his letter of introduction to Edison and the address of an acquaintance in his pocket, he asked directions of a policeman and set out boldly onto the streets of New York. Passing a shop where the owner was cursing at a broken machine, he stopped and offered to fix it When he had done so, the man was so pleased that he gave Tesla twenty dollars. As he walked on, the young Serb smiled to himself, remem- bering the joke that he had heard on shipboard. A Montenegrin shepherd who had just arrived in America was walking down the street when he saw a ten-dollar bill.

Why should I work? At first glance his plain face might have seemed unremarkable, but it never took visitors long to be impressed by the light of fierce intelligence and relentless energy that shone in his eyes. And he had a big research laboratory at Menlo Park, New Jersey, where a large number of men were employed and where the most astonishing things could happen. She had politely remarked upon his resemblance to Napoleon I. The Pearl Street generating station served a few hundred individual mansions of wealthy New Yorkers with electric lights, but Edison also supplied direct current to isolated plants in mills, factories, and theaters all over the city.

Also he was getting more and more requests to put lighting plants on ships — a particular headache since the danger of a fire at sea was a persistent nightmare. But I know how to steal. And just so no one would miss the point, Edison liked to add that he could always tell the importance of one of his inventions by the number of dollars it brought and that nothing else concerned him. Edison would quit invent- ing and go in for fiction, he would make one of the greatest novelists The flames had been smothered but Mrs.

Vanderbilt, hysterical from the ordeal, had learned that the source of her problems was a steam engine and boiler in the cellar. Now the unreasonable woman was demanding that Edison remove the whole installation. Edison tilted the receiver to his good ear. The manager of the shipping company that owned the S.

Oregon sarcastically demanded to know if he had any plans for getting the dynamos repaired for his lighting plant The liner had been tied up for days past sailing time and was losing bundles of money. What could Edison say? He had no engineer to send. He thought enviously of Morgan. Pierpont Morgan employed a full-time engineer just to run the private boiler and steam engine that was set into a pit below the garden of his Murray Hill mansion. It was so noisy the neighbors were threatening to sue.

Morgan was the major financial backer of the Edison Electric Company, whose direct-current wires were festooned in localized, horse-frightening, malfunctioning webs above the streets of New York. Although electricity was still little understood by the average financier or industrialist, a few like Morgan could see that it was easily the most promising development to have come along since Archimedes in- vented the screw.

Electrical engineering was the field for a gifted person of scientific or inventive bent to enter, offering not only financial reward but the seductiveness and danger of an almost unexplored frontier. Cornell University and Columbia College were among the few schools in the country to boast fledgling departments of electrical engineering. America had only a handful of homegrown experts beyond such giants as Edison, Joseph Henry, and Elihu Thomson. Industrialists therefore would be glad to draw upon the foreign talent pool: Tesla, Michael Pupin, Charles Proteus Steinmetz, Batchelor, and Fritz Lowenstein, among others.

William K. Vanderbilt had staged the epic ball that signaled peace at last between the feuding Astors and the Vanderbilts, and Mrs. Yokels at county fairs were paying for the joy of getting a shock from a storage battery Edison had no sooner promised his nonexistent engineer to the shipping company and cradled the telephone receiver that June day than a breathless boy dashed into the shop to report trouble at Ann and Nassau streets. The boy vividly described how a ragman and his horse had been catapulted into the air and then had disappeared down the street at an unbelievable clip.

Cut off the current and fix that leak. Batchelor, sir. But he gave Tesla a penetrating look. What can you do? He himself had spent years digging away at books, but for what? What had he to show for it? What use was all his education? And then, before Edison could even respond, he moved smoothly into a description of his marvelous induction motor for alternating current, based upon his discovery of the rotating magnetic field. This was the wave of the future, he said.

But maybe I could give you a job. Oregon that same day with his instruments and began to make the necessary repairs. The dynamos were in bad condition, having several short circuits and breaks. With the aid of the crew he worked through the night At dawn the next morning the job was finished. Charles Proteus Steinmetz, the brilliant German dwarf, was almost deported as an indigent alien. The personality differences between the two men doomed their relationship from the start Edison disliked Tesla for being an egghead, a theoretician, and cultured.

I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety percent of his labor. Tesla must needs draw apart It was the old story of vested interest At the beginning Edison himself had met with violent resistance from the gas monopolies. He had beaten down the gas companies with his natural gift for propaganda, putting out regular bulletins in which he gleefully described the dangers of gas-main explosions. Now it looked as if he might have to lash out against an even newer technology than his own.

He already spoke English well and was even beginning to understand the American sense of humor. Or at least he thought he did. As events would prove, Edison still had a few things to teach him about that He enjoyed walking the streets of New York where the new, electrically powered trolleys brought congestion and not a little excite- ment to already jammed thoroughfares.

Best Tesla images in | Nicolas tesla, Electronics projects, Inventions

Half the time the central dynamos were broken down. When the trolleys ran, they scared pedestrians as much as the passengers. Edison swept his high black shoes from his desk and fell forward openmouthed. The country was still deep in the gloom of financial crises with jobs hard to find. While the inventor ached for full-speed- ahead, the banker insisted on a go-slow policy.

Still, such is the power of power, he was a Don Juan whose conquests were openly flaunted. More humble wheels were shunted from his path. Businessmen turned to the powerful House of Morgan, rather than to government, for salvation. It looked to the financier as if all his careful plans for the centralizing of control over the economic machine might be wrecked by labor troubles and the rate wars among the overly expanded railroads.

It was clear to anyone that far too many railroads had been built for speculative purposes and that many were facing bankruptcy There would have to be a merger. But Morgan was not a man to be pushed or to act rashly. Finally he consented to return and put his formidable brain to work for the sake of the Nation. This was no war of individuals but of competing oil, steel, and railroad interests locked in oligarchic struggle. This was the essence of the Morgan touch, a touch that would soon make itself felt in the promising new field of electrical utilities. Meanwhile, Tesla, whose engineering reputation was begin- ning to be favorably known, was approached by a group of investors and offered a chance to form a company under his own name.

He leaped at it At last his great alternating-current discovery could be presented to the world. Humanity, as he saw it, would be freed from its burdens. Unfortunately, his backers had something more modest and practical in mind. There was a big market for improved arc lights for streets and factories, and this would have to come first The Tesla Electric Light Company was formed, with headquar- ters at Rahway, New Jersey, and a branch office in New York.

He and Joseph H. Working in his first laboratory on Grand Street, the Serb developed a Tesla arc lamp which was more simple, reliable, safe, and economical than those in current use. Now, to his painful surprise at the ways of American commerce, he found himself being eased out of the company He wound up with a handsomely engraved stock certificate which, because of the new- ness of the firm and the recurring economic crises, had little redeem- able value.

Exit Tesla for the third time. The slump became a depression, and he was unable to find an engineering position. From the spring of until the following year he went through one of the more depressing periods of his life. Toiling as a laborer on New York street gangs, he barely managed to survive Tesla seldom referred to this painful experience afterward. Nevertheless he had made some progress: his arc-lighting innovations resulted in the granting of seven patents, and in addition he obtained other light-related patents, two of which are particularly interesting.

Four years had passed since he had discovered the rotating magnetic field and constructed his first alternating-current motor at Strassburg. He was beginning to wonder whether the green pastures and golden promise of America would continue to elude him. Humiliated by recent disappointments, he again brooded upon what seemed like his wasted years of education. But then his luck took another unexpected turn. Having heard of his induction motor, the foreman of the work crew on which the inventor was suffering so bitterly took him to meet A.

Where Edison had failed to see the revolution ahead or, more likely had seen in it the death knell of his own direct-current system of electrification, Brown correctly gauged the future. The Tesla Electric Company had the specific goal of at last developing the alternating- current system that the inventor had conceived in the park in Budapest in 14 The War of the Currents Begins The laboratory and shops that the ecstatic Tesla found for his new company were at South Fifth Street, only blocks from the Edison workshops. The Tesla Electric Company, capitalized with half a million dollars, opened for business in April To the inventor, who had waited so long for this moment, it was the fulfillment of a dream.

He began laboring like one of his own dynamos, day and night without rest Because it was all there in his mind he needed only a few months to start filing patent applications for the entire polyphase AC system. This was in fact three complete systems for single-phase, two- phase, and three-phase alternating currents. He experimented with other kinds too. And for each type he produced the necessary dynamos, motors, transformers, and automatic controls. Hundreds of central stations were operating in America at this time, using at least twenty different combinations of circuits and equipment Usually these were centered upon one invention or group of them.

Thus Elihu Thomson had installed a small alternator and transformers in the factory of the Thomson-Houston Company at Lynn, Massachusetts, in , supplying incandescent lamps in another factory But it was to be another year before he evolved a safe system for wiring houses. So, too, George Westinghouse, inventor of the railroad air brake, having acquired patents to the AC distribution system of Gaulard and Gibbs, set his chief engineer, William Stanley, to building a transformer system.

It was successfully tested in Westinghouse operated the first commercial AC system in America at Buffalo in November of that year and by had more than thirty plants in operation. In addition there was of course the direct-current system of the Edison Electric Company, one of the earliest contenders in the field. But still no satisfactory alternating-current motor existed. So orignal and sweeping were they that he met with no delay. William A. Anthony who had established a course in electrical engineering at Cornell University, saw the significance of the Tesla system at once and spoke out in its favor.

This was not just a new motor but quite possibly the foundation of a new technology. The essence of the system, as Anthony noted, was the beautifully simple induction motor, which had almost no wearing parts to break down. The news of such unheralded activity in the U. Patent Office rocked Wall Street as well as the industrial and academic worlds. Tesla, to his surprise, discovered himself to be a natural and brilliant lecturer; and his address became a classic. He left nothing to be done by those who followed him. His patents were the missing key that George Westinghouse had been waiting for.

The Pittsburgh magnate, a stocky blunt, dynamic fellow with a walrus mustache, had a taste for fashionable dress and for adventure. Like Morgan he would soon be commuting in his private railway car — at first from Pittsburgh to New York but finally to Niagara Falls. In his reputation as a plunger, Westinghouse somewhat resembled Edison.

And like Edison he was a fighter. The two men were to be well- matched in the battles ahead. What he did see, what he had appreciated from the very first, was the potential of a power system that could send currents of high voltage surging across the great spaces of America. Like Tesla he had even dreamed of harnessing the hydroelectric potential of Niagara Falls.

He called on the inventor in his laboratory. Westinghouse moved from ma- chine to machine, sometimes bent forward, hands on knees, peering, or sometimes with his head tilted, nodding with pleasure at the smooth hum of alternating current motors. He needed few explanations. For the present, however, since the monies received by Tesla had to be shared with Brown and other investors in his firm, he was far from having joined the super rich. Nevertheless his transition from threadbare to fashionable in the social circles of Manhattan was both agreeable and slightly dizzying. As might have been anticipated with a completely new system, difficulties lay ahead.

Once they had done so, the motor worked exactly as it had been designed to do. Sixty cycles has ever since been the standard for alternating current Tesla soon achieved another milestone as important to him as the development of his inventions. On July 30, , he became an American citizen. This, as he often told friends, he valued more than any of the scientific honors to come to him.

Honorary degrees he tossed into drawers, but his certificate of naturalization was always kept in his office safe. After several months he finished his duties in Pittsburgh and returned to New York, feeling physically and mentally exhausted. To a large extent he felt those months wasted since they had kept him from moving ahead with new research. In September he left for Paris to attend the International Exposition and, from there, in the company of his uncle Petar Mandic, departed for Croatia. Petar had once been a monk in the monastery of Gomirje near Ogulin, and here the exhausted inventor went to recover his health.

He then visited his sisters and mother. Of the circumstances in which his widowed mother then lived or whether he ever contributed to her support once he began to earn money in America, unfor- tunately no records have been found. That she often dominated his thoughts, however, future events were to disclose. At last the lines were clearly drawn. Soon his propaganda machine at Menlo Park began grinding out a barrage of alarmist material about the alleged dangers of alternating current 4 As Edison saw it, accidents caused by AC must, if they could not be found, be manufactured, and the public alerted to the hazards.

Not only were fortunes at stake in the War of the Currents but also the personal pride of an egocentric genius. By now the bad times had turned to boom. The country was expansion-minded. There were steelworks in Pittsburgh, a new Brooklyn Bridge, towers reaching toward the sky above Manhattan. Railroads, land, and gold were making fortunes for those who speculated in growth at the right time. Edison himself had become one of the leading industrialists in America, employing almost 3, workers at his various plants. But it disturbed Pupin that the captains of the electrical, industry were paying so little attention to highly trained electrical experts.

What others looked upon as only invincible barriers, impassable currents and contradictory forces he seized, and by harmonizing their directions utilized in practical motors in distant cities the power of Niagara. Soon they found out why Edison was paying schoolboys twenty-five cents a head for dogs and cats, which he then electrocuted in deliberately crude experiments with alternating current. He had written to E H. He has got a new thing and it will require a great deal of experimenting to get it working practically It will never be free from danger He is ubiquitous and will form numerous companies before we know anything about it.

He was, he told Tesla, determined to win for his company the right to harness Niagara Falls. He also had his eye on Chicago and the Columbian Exposi- tion to be held there in He could not have asked for a better showcase. As usual in these years of rapid growth, George Westinghouse had money problems. It had cost a great deal more than he had expected to convert his plants over to the Tesla polyphase system.

And now when he needed funds for expansion, the bankers were giving him mingy responses. His only consolation was knowing that Edison was in trouble too. The rumors on Wall Street were that, unless Edison consolidated, his problems were acute To take his mind off them, he blustered. Westinghouse, he said, should stick with his air brakes, for he knew nothing about the electricity business. That way he figured, AC would be stopped.

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He called them in to witness the frightened dogs and cats that schoolboys had snatched off the streets being shoved onto a sheet of metal to which were attached wires from an AC generator with a current of one thousand volts. Edison was in this fight literally to the death, although not his own. He, Samuel Insull, and a former laboratory assistant named Harold P. Brown worked out a scheme to finish Westinghouse once and for all, or so they thought— through the death of a third party. Brown managed by subterfuge to buy a license to use three of tiie Tesla AC patents without Westinghouse knowing of their intended purpose.

Brown then made a trip to Sing Sing Prison. Shortly afterward the prison authorities announced that the death house would carry out future executions not by hanging but by electrocution, and more specifically by alternating current, courtesy of the Westing- house patents. One William Kemmler would die on August 6, — Westinghoused. Kemmler was strapped into the electric chair and the switch thrown. The electric charge was too weak, and the condemned man was only half-killed. The dreadful procedure then had to be repeated. But stubbornness was one of his weaknesses, and he refused to see it It would be twenty years before he would admit that this had been his greatest blunder.

The Thomson-Houston Company provided an object lesson when it was taken over by the House of Morgan and placed under the direction of a professional manager named Charles A. An apt student of J. Pierpont Morgan, Coffin waged price wars against his competitors and then, once they were weak, wheedled them into lethal mergers. Along the way, Thomson and Houston lost control of their firm. As Westinghouse later described an interview with Coffin to Clarence W. Henceforth the new firm would be called General Electric Company, with Coffin as its president In the same article The Electrical Engineer has written: It seems quite reasonable to expect as many do, and as rumor has it that absorption of the Westinghouse Company into the proposed new corporation will soon follow.

George Westing- house First, there must be a consolidation of some sort Westing- house was indeed overextended in his drive to put the country on an alternating-current system. The financial advisers arranged a merger with several smaller companies including U. No one seemed to know exactly, least of all Tesla. As utilities expanded, royalties would be collected on powerhouse equipment and motors and on every application of the alternating-current system patents.

He himself was an inventor and believed in royalties. Besides, he argued, royalties were paid for by the customers and included in costs of production. But the bankers left him with no choice. Reluctantly he called on the inventor in what must have been one of the most embarrassing confrontations of his life. In the official biography of George Westinghouse the episode goes unmentioned. The contract between Tesla and Westinghouse had been made in good faith on the part of both men.

Tesla, had he chosen, undoubtedly could have gone to court and had it upheld But to what end if Westinghouse were to lose his firm? To him the value of money consisted in what one did with it rather than in any intrinsic worth. You will proceed with your plans to give my polyphase system to the world? But I intend to continue, no matter what happens, with my original plans to put the country on an alternating-current basis. You will save your company so that you can develop my inventions. Here is your contract and here is my contract— I will tear both of them to pieces, and you will no longer have any troubles from my royalties.

Is that sufficient? By destroying the contract, Tesla not only relinquished his claim to millions of dollars in already earned royalties but to all that would have accrued in the future. In the industrial milieu of that or any other time it was an act of unprecedented generosity if not foolhardi- ness. He was to live well for another decade but thereafter would be plagued by a chronic shortage of research and developmental capital How many discoveries were thus to be lost to society can only be surmised.

Westinghouse returned to Pittsburgh, where the mergers and refinancing were arranged. He apparently had given some thought to the problem in but had made no progress.

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Tesla, by comparison, had made his discovery of the rotating magnetic field in and within two months had evolved the complete system, which included all the apparatus he later patented. He had actually built his first induction motor. Ferraris, however, had concluded that the principle could never be used for making a practical motor. He nevertheless had been publicized by The Electrician in London as the man most likely to invent one. Because of the vicious rivalry between Edison and Westing- house, the former faction seized on any opportunity to smear Tesla.

The specious argument over Ferraris seemed as good an excuse as any. The two things seem to me radically different and ought to be pointed out and shown in their true lights. He was immersed in a whole new world of electrical phenomena. Westinghouse, meanwhile, when he was not testifying or speechifying, was aggressively extending the front lines of his industrial domain. Out in the little mining town of Telluride, Colorado, the first commercial use was made of Tesla motors and generators built by Westinghouse.

They were installed in to furnish electricity for the mining camps. A weird, storklike figure on the lecture platform in his white tie and tails, he was nearly seven feet tall for he wore thick cork soles during his dangerous demonstrations. As he warmed to his act, his high-pitched, almost falsetto voice would rise in excitement The audience, riveted by the cadenced flow of words, the play of lights and magic, would stare as in a trance. The language of science then being completely inadequate, Tesla described visual effects in the style of a poet in love with the sheer dance of flame and light Indeed it seemed as if these were as significant to him as tapping the energy within.

Yet no scientist could fault him on technical details.