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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 Forest replied,

"Nikola Tesla".

Wherever you look in the early history of radio technology you run into the

name of Nikola Tesla. Tuning circuits, high-frequency alternators, and spark-gap

transmitters - name almost any device that became important in the early history

of radio, and you will find an anticipation by Tesla. Here was a man always trying

great things and startling leaps of the creative imagination, and yet somehow limited

in his ability to integrate his investments into commercially viable systems. We

remember Tesla today for the one case in which he unquestionably surmounted that

limitation - his invention of the polyphase system of alternating current - and for the

familiar device - The Tesla Coil - that replicates the spectacular demonstration of

high-voltage discharges that Tesla loved to engineer. His other achievements are

little known except to experts."

[This was written in 1985 before the internet and www made knowledge and discussion

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.

   Another quote:

"Tesla and de Forest were both inveterate romantics, always ready to identify what

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