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AITKEN ON TESLA
Original poster: Ed Phillips <evp@xxxxxxxxxxx>
I've mentioned Aitken's book on "The Continuous Wave" as being
particularly sympathetic to Tesla. Here are a couple of quotes which
in think reveal the essense of the man as I see him.
From "The Continuous Wave"
A couple of quotes from the section
on Lee de Forest, the inventor of the thermionic triode:
" When de Forest was ending his undergraduate years at
Yale, he completed a questionnaire for his class yearbook. One of
the questions was "Why did you come to
college?" and to that de Forest responded, "To direct and temper my genius."
Another was, "Next to yourself who would you prefer to be?". And de
Wherever you look in the early history of radio
technology you run into the
name of Nikola Tesla. Tuning circuits, high-frequency alternators,
transmitters - name almost any device that became important in the
of radio, and you will find an anticipation by Tesla. Here was a man
great things and startling leaps of the creative imagination, and yet
in his ability to integrate his investments into commercially viable
remember Tesla today for the one case in which he unquestionably
limitation - his invention of the polyphase system of alternating
current - and for the
familiar device - The Tesla Coil - that replicates the spectacular
high-voltage discharges that Tesla loved to engineer. His other
little known except to experts."
[This was written in 1985 before the internet and www made knowledge
of him much more available to the public.]
In giving Tesla references he indicates that he much prefers
O'Neill's "Prodigal Genius"
for technical accuracy but somewhat limited coverage and but
"devoted Tesla fans,
of which there are many, will also wish to be familiar with ...
Cheney..." He also
mentions Anderson's AWA monograph "Priority in the Invention of Radio", which
covers some of the same material as in his more complete works.
"Tesla and de Forest were both inveterate romantics, always ready to
was with what should be. Both, as soon as they could afford it,
revelled in the pleasure
of an affluent and elegant life-style. And both loved publicity."
As I've said before, I agree with the "what was and what should be"
part and think that, along with his obvious desire for publicity,
explains some of the extravagent things Tesla wrote and said. No one
can fail to recognize the romanticism or that they were both publicity hounds.
According to Richard Hull's book on CSN de Forest tried to get a
job with Tesla during his stay in Colorado Springs but that never
happened. It is really interesting to wonder what would have
happened if de Forest had become an associate of his. He was fresh
with a PhD in physics from Yale and undoubtedly a more solid
theoretical and mathematical background. I don't know whether their
two egos could have existed in the same organization but if they
could have who knows what might have happened? de Forest was much
more of an entrepeneur (sometimes to the point of close to dishonest
representation of what he was selling) and would probably have been
influential in bringing more of Tesla's inventions before the public
in the form of products and promotions