Nikola Tesla Slide Show

Feature articles |
By eeNews Europe

The following slideshow composed of old newspaper clips on Nikola Tesla are from Iwona Rudinska, Editor of The Tesla Collection.

On March 18, 1885 a group of investors approached Nikola Tesla and asked him to develop an improved arc lighting system. They would in turn finance the Tesla Electric Light Company in Rahway, NJ. Tesla developed a unique design that was aesthetically pleasing as well as efficient. After he did this he eventually was forced out of the company holding some worthless stock. This was, in Tesla’s words, the hardest blow he had ever received. Unfortunately, unlike Thomas Edison, Tesla was not a good businessman.

A view of the Tesla arc lamp. (Image courtesy of the Tesla Collection)

The article states:

The main objects desired to be secured by the inventor, were first of all, simple and reliable apparatus; preventing the vibrations of the movable carbon in consequence of the fluctuations of the current; then to obtain a perfect feed and a steady light. The lamp cuts itself out and in without the aid of any auxiliary apparatus. The action of the magnets of the lamp is so delicate that the feeding is imperceptible. The design of the lamp frame is neat, and the lamp is substantial and reliable.

This system is now in daily use on the streets of Rahway, N.J., where all visitors are privileged to see it at work. The company is now constructing a number of large machines, and is ready to go before the general public with an arc light system that will, no doubt, meet with great favor.

Next: The dynamic Mr. Tesla.

A dynamo from Tesla Electric Light Company. (Image courtesy of the Tesla Collection)

The article states:

The magnetic frame of the machine is so constructed as to concentrate the greatest amount of developed magnetism upon the armature. To this end the cores of the field magnets are made tapering, and the magnetic frame is the smallest in section at the middle. The magnetism is in this way, the inventor states, concentrated upon the middle; the central line is sharply defined, and a better working of the armature is obtained. The main improvements claimed are, however, embodied in the construction and winding of the armature, which is supported on a separately cast-base piece, fastened to the lower core by means of fusible dia-magnetic material. The object of the construction is to reduce to the minimum development of Foucault’s currents in the armature core; and also to reduce to a minimum the resistance of the inactive wire on both sides of the armature, and to balance both parts of the armature. The shape of the armature is so calculated that these objects are obtained.

Mr. Tesla, the inventor, has obtained broad patents on the regulation of a dynamo machine on entirely novel principles. This method of regulation secures advantages in the way of economy and safety that he is confident are peculiar to this system alone. No auxiliary resistances, or opposing coils, are used, and the regulation is effected without waste of power.

Iwona Rudinska, Editor The Tesla Collection "The Tesla Electric Light Company", Elmer Willyoung/H. Lyman Sayen, August 14, 1886: Front page, Volume 8, No. 24. Publisher: Electrical Review (NY).

Next: Tesla the self-starter

Tesla self-starting alternating motor (Image courtesy of the Tesla Collection)

The article states:

As is well known, certain forms of alternating current machines have the property, when connected in circuit with an alternating current generator, of running as a motor in synchronism therewith; but, while the alternating current will run the motor after it has attained a rate of speed synchronous with that of the generator, it will not start it; hence, where these “synchronizing motors,” as they are termed, have been run, some means have been employed to bring the motors up to synchronism with the generator before the alternating current of the generator is applied to drive them. In some instances mechanical appliances have been utilized for this purpose. In others, special forms of motor have been constructed.

With the object of effecting the starting of the alternating motor and bringing it to synchronism without external aid, Mr. Nikola Tesla has devised a simple system in which he employs an earth return during the period of starting only. For this purpose he constructs a generator with two coils or sets of coils and a motor with corresponding energizing coils or sets of coils. By means of two line-wires, one terminal of each generator coil is connected to one terminal of its corresponding motor coil while the opposite terminals of the generator coils are joined together, and likewise those of the motor.

To start the motor an electrical connection is temporarily established between the points of connection between the coils in the generator and those in the motor, so that the system becomes an ordinary double-circuit system. When by this plan of connection the motor has attained the desired speed, the earth connection is severed, by which means the system becomes an ordinary single-circuit synchronizing system. The accompanying diagram shows the manner in which this is accomplished, G representing an ordinary alternating current generator having four field poles A; magnetized by a continuous current, and an armature wound with two coils C connected together in series. M represents an alternating-current motor with, say, four poles D, the coils on which are connected in pairs and the pairs connected in series. The motor-armature should have polar projections and closed coils E.

From the common joint or union between the two coils of both the generator and the motor an earth connection F is established, while the terminals or ends of the coils which they form are connected to the line-conductors.

Assuming that the motor is a synchronizing motor, or one that has the capability of running in synchronism with the generators, but not of starting, it may be started by the above-described plan by closing the ground connection from both generator and motor. The system thus becomes one with a two-circuit generator and motor, the ground forming a common return for the currents in the two line wires. When by this arrangement of circuits the motor is brought to speed, the ground connection is broken between the generator or motor, or both, and ground switches KK being employed for this purpose. The motor then runs as a synchronizing motor.

Iwona Rudinska, Editor The Tesla Collection "A New System Of Alternate Current Motors And Transformers", Nikola Tesla, June 15, 1888: Publisher: Electrical Review (Lon).

Next: the electrolytic clock.

Tesla’s Electrolytic Clock (Image courtesy of the Tesla Collection). It’s not the Apple Watch, but for 1891 technology pretty neat.

The article states:

If delicately pivoted and well-balanced metal disc or cylinder be placed in a proper plating solution midway between the anode and cathode, one half of the disc becomes electro positive and the other half electro negative. Owing to this fact metal is deposited on one, and taken off from the other half, and the disc is caused to rotate under the action of gravity. As the amount of metal deposited and taken off is proportionate to the current strength, the speed of rotation, if it be small, is proportionate to the current

The first device of this kind was operated by me early in 1888, in the endeavor to construct an electric meter. Upon learning, however, that I had been anticipated by others, as far as the principle is concerned,1 I devised the apparatus illustrated in the accompanying engraving. Here F is a rectangular frame of hard rubber which is fastened upon a wooden base. This frame is about ½ inch thick, 6 inches long and 5 inches high. On both of its upright sides are fastened thick metal plates which serve as the electrodes. These plates are held firmly against the rubber frame by the binding posts TT and T1 T1 . On the lateral sides of the frame are fastened the brass plates B and B1, respectively, of the same shape as the rubber frame F. These brass plates serve to keep in place two plates of polished glass, and the vessel is hermetically sealed by placing a soft rubber washer under and above each of the glass plates. In this manner the plates may be screwed on tight without fear of breaking them.

The plating solution, which in this case is a concentrated solution of sulphate of copper, is poured in through an opening on top of the rubber frame, which is closed by a plug R.

In the center of the vessel is placed a light and delicately balanced copper disc D, the axis of which is supported by a capillary glass tube which is fixed to one of the glass plates by means of sealing wax, or other material not attacked by the liquid. To diminish the friction as much as possible, the capillary tube which serves as a bearing contains a drop of oil. The center of the disc should be equidistant from both the electrodes. To one side of the axis of the disc is fastened a very light indicator or pointer consisting preferably of a thin glass thread. The glass plate next to this pointer has a circle with the unusual hour divisions engraved upon it, as on a clock dial. This circle may be movable so that it can be put in any position relatively to the pointer. If the dial is not movable then a thin wire of annealed iron may be used as on a pointer, The wire should then be so placed that it is exactly in the centre of the solution. By means of a horse-shoe magnet the disc may then be rotated and set in proper position.

The copper solution being carefully poured in, and the plug R replaced, the terminals of a constant current battery are connected to the binding-posts T T1, and from time to time the rotation of the disc is observed. A shunt is connected to the other two binding posts T T1, and by varying the resistance of this shunt, or other disc, the speed of the rotation is regulated until it is made to correspond to the division of the dial; that is, for instance, one turn is made in 12 hours.

Obviously this instrument was not devised for a practical purpose. Neither will it be quite exact in its indications. There are certain errors, unavoidable from the principle; for instance, the friction, which cannot be completely overcome. But the device is interesting as a means of indicating time in a novel manner. It will, however, be found that by a careful construction, constant current, and a temperature compensator, it may be made to rotate with almost perfect uniformity. The current density should, of course, be very small to secure the best results, and the disc of about 3 inches diameter should turn once in 6 hours. It is probable that with a silver solution and a silver plate better results would be obtained.

It is very interesting to note the appearance of the solution and disc in such a narrow transparent vessel. The solution appears a clear blue, one side of the disc seems to be silver white in a certain position, and the other half is dark like tarnished silver. There is no line of demarcation, but the shades melt beautifully together.

1 The same invention is attributed to J.T. Sprague and T.A. Edison
Iwona Rudinska, Editor The Tesla Collection "An Electrolytic Clock ", Nicola Tesla, May 6, 1891: Publisher: Electrical Engineer (NY).

Next: Tesla and massage therapy

“Tesla Current” for massage therapy (Image courtesy of website)

High Frequency Current, also referred to as “Tesla Current”, is an alternating (or oscillating) current that can be adjusted to different voltages to produce heat. Here is an example of massage electrotherapy and it all started with Nikola Tesla. If only he could see what his ideas led to.

The article states:

I trust that the present brief communication will not be interpreted by the readers of The Electrical Engineer as an effort on my part to put myself on record as a “patent medicine” man, for a serious worker cannot despise anything more than the misuse and abuse of electricity which we have frequent occasion to witness.

My remarks are elicited by the lively interest which prominent medical practitioners evince at every real advance in electrical investigation. The progress in recent years has been so great that every electrician and electrical engineer is confident that electricity will become the means of accomplishing many things that have been heretofore, with our existing knowledge, deemed impossible. No wonder then that progressive physicians also should expect to find in it a powerful tool and help in new curative processes. Since I had the honor to bring before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers some results in utilizing alternating currents of high tension, I have received many letters from noted physicians inquiring as to the physical effects of such currents of high frequency. It may be remembered that I then demonstrated that a body perfectly well insulated in air can be heated by simply connecting it with a source of rapidly alternating high potential. The heating in this case is due in all probability to the bombardment of the body by air, or possible some other medium, which is molecular or atomic in construction, and the presence of which has so far escaped our analysis—for according to my ideas, the true ether radiation with such frequencies as even a few millions per second must be very small. This body may be a good conductor or it may be a very poor conductor of electricity with little change in the result. The human body is, in such a case, a fine conductor, and if a person insulated in a room, or no matter where, is brought into contact with such a source of rapidly alternating high potential, the skin is heated by bombardment. It is a mere question of the dimensions and character of the apparatus to produce any degree of heating desired.

It has occurred to me whether, with such apparatus properly prepared, it would not be possible for a skilled physician, to find I n it a means for the effective treatment of various types of disease. The heating will, of course, be superficial, that is, on the skin, and would result, whether the person operated on were in bed or walking around a room, whether dressed in thick clothes or whether reduced to nakedness. In fact, to put it broadly, it is conceivable that a person entirely nude at the North Pole might keep himself comfortably warm in this manner.

Without vouching for all the results, which must of course, be determined by experience and observation, I can at least warrant the fact that heating would occur by the use of this method of subjecting the human body to bombardment by alternating currents of high potential and frequency such as I have long worked with. It is only reasonable to expect that some of the novel effects will be wholly different from those obtainable with the old familiar therapeutic methods generally used. Whether they would all be beneficial of not remains to be proved.

Iwona Rudinska, Editor The Tesla Collection "Massage with currents of high frequency " Nikola Tesla, December 23, 1891: Publisher: Electrical Engineer (NY).

Next: Tesla waves for warfare.

Tesla’s proposed invention to blow up hostile warships by electric waves (Image courtesy of the Tesla Collection).

In 1900, Tesla began his Wardenclyffe Tower on Long Island (the lab was on the north shore of Long Island about 5 miles away from where I lived for 32 years. I visited the closed lab frequently and it has since gotten funding and will be turned into a museum). Below might be the rantings of the “mad scientist” version of Nikola Tesla, although he never did get the chance to test out his theory of energy transmission across the Atlantic to Europe. Could the following idea have worked? Well maybe not in time to make a difference in preventing/ending the Spanish-American War but I do think it may not be so crazy as it may seem. Or maybe it was a plan to scare Spain? But was it practical? Maybe not in 1898 with the estimate of power that it would need to generate the electric waves of great destruction that he describes, but now?

The article states:

I am perfecting an electrical engine of war which I am about to offer to the Government. It is to exert such a terrible force as to disable war ships and powerfully affect vast armies on land at great distances.

If this device acts as effectively on a large scale as it does in my laboratory, the results will be incalculable. When put into operation it will tend to bring war to a speedy end by reason of its unlimited power of extermination.

It is the application of the principle of oscillating waves. By this means electrical currents of high potentials can be sent out in all directions and aimed against the vulnerable part of a hostile army or war ship.

Five years ago I discovered that electrical vibrations produced by a novel kind of apparatus, which I have since considerably improved, may be propagated through the earth and through the air, and from experimental data I have calculated that such vibrations can be propelled a distance equal to the diameter of the earth. To effect this an expenditure of energy of about five hundred horse-power is needed, although this estimate may not be quite true, as there are a number of uncertain quantities in the calculation.

I intended to use the principle primarily for the transmission of signals over great distances, but soon I saw that something of greater importance could be accomplished by its use.

The only way to insure the action was to construct apparatus on novel principles which would make possible the production of waves of many hundred times greater intensity.

I foresaw long ago that, despite the strenuous efforts of the President to maintain peace, war would break out and I have concentrated my energies upon perfecting these devices and rendering them immediately available.

This, in fact, is the only reason why I have not, up to this time, offered my services as a volunteer, which I would certainly have done under other circumstances. In this respect, I may say, I have already formed definite plans.

Although the United States have taken energetic measures, and are determined to bring the difficulty to a speedy termination, I fear that the war will be prolonged, and it will become all the more important to apply improved electrical measures and contrivances.

Iwona Rudinska, Editor The Tesla Collection "The Terribly Destructive Electrical Engine of War ", Nikola Tesla, May 1, 1898: Publisher: New York Journal and Advertiser.

Next: electricity for ozone and water purification.

A Tesla ozonator is being offered by the Tesla Engine Builders Association as a premium for donations.

Maybe California and desert areas can benefit from this Nikola Tesla concept. The author may be a little too optimistic in his discussion, but the concept seems valid. The comment at the last sentence of the article is interesting.

The article states:

The latest great application of natural force to a useful purpose, in which it is announced that Nikola Tesla is especially interested, is an electrical process for purifying water, says the Baltimore “Herald”. The system contemplates, it must be understood, not the shaking of a few millions of unhealthy microbes out of a few gallons of water. Mr. Tesla deals in no such small schemes as that. The plan, when made to work, will be expected to purify the inflow of the open rivers that contribute that contribute to the supply of large cities. Instead of swallowing with every glassful of the murky beverage which flows from the faucet a large percentage of odorous protoplastic germs, the electrified water of Mr. Tesla may be expected to possess the sparkle and sweetness of the aqueous fluid that flows from the mountain rocks. He could confer no greater boon upon humanity. Let us hope this time for practical results.

Iwona Rudinska, Editor The Tesla Collection "Purifying Water ", Author unknown, April 17, 1901: Publisher: Electricity.

Related links and articles:

News articles:

Nikola Tesla’s lab could speak to future generations

Tesla, Panasonic sign Gigafactory agreement

A short history of spread spectrum

Newswatch: Tesla sketches out roadmap for the future?


Linked Articles
eeNews Europe