Tesla Newspaper Articles III

Here is another Tesla article, this is the first part of a two part interview from the year 1905, I will post the second part in the next blog entry, again it is from Australia. Thanks to the National Archives in Canberra, regards Arto.


The Daily News (Perth, WA) Saturday 1 April 1905


(By, Frank G. Carpenter in the Los Angeles “Illustrated Weekly, Magazine.”)

I give you to-day the substance of two remarkable talks with Nikola Tesla. The first I had in his laboratory on East Houston Street, nine years ago last September. The second was held in the Waldorf tonight.

The first interview was most interesting, giving a wonderful insight into Tesla the inventor and Tesla the man, but it was never published, for Mr. Tesla, at its close, on the ground of business reasons, begged that I say nothing about him for months to come. I wrote out the notes, however, and laid them away, and when I met Mr. Tesla tonight I told him I now intended to use them. At the same time we had the most extraordinary conversation about his recent discoveries and inventions as to the transmission of force, which I reproduce in the latter part of this article.


First take a glance at Tesla the man. He looked more like an Italian savant than a hard working inventor when I saw him in the Waldorf tonight. He was in evening dress, and was the most striking figure of the score of public men who stood about the lobby. Mr. Tesla is now 47 years of age, and is in his physical and intellectual prime. He is tall and slender, his head is long, thin and intellectual, with a forehead high and full. He was born in Hungary and educated there, but he speaks English perfectly, and is one of the most charming conversationalists I have ever met. During my chat of some years ago he talked of his boyhood. His father was a clergyman of the Greek Church, and Nikola was intended for the priesthood. He had a brother older than himself, whom the rest of the family, considered much brighter. That brother died young, and this so crazed his father and mother that it took them long to realise the genius of Nikola. If he stood well in his studies his father’s eyes would fill as he thought how much better, perhaps, the other son might have done, and whatever Nikola did was always compared with the possible work of the boy who had passed away. His first education was in the public schools of Gospich, and after that he went to the Real Schule at Karlstadt. As he went on with his studies he liked mathematics so much that he intended to fit himself to be a professor of mathematics and physics, and with that view studied at the Polytechnic School at Gratz. He changed to the engineering course, and later on stud- ied philosophy and languages in the colleges at Prague and Budapest. He has since been made a doctor of laws by Yale and Columbia. Shortly after completing his studies Mr. Tesla was associated with the Government of Austria-Hungary in the telegraph engineering department, where he invented several improvements. From there he went to Paris, to be engineer of a large lighting company, and thence to the United States, where he was employed by Thomas Edison in his laboratory. His next position was that of electrician to the Tesla Electric Light Company, and at the same time he established the Tesla laboratory, from which his great inventions have come.


During my chat with Mr. Tesla I asked him when he first realised that he had the inventive faculty, and he told me he had always been inventing something or other. When he was quite a small boy he made toy guns, which would shoot birds, and as he was the only one who could make them he supplied the boys of his neighborhood. He made clocks at eight or nine years of age, and began to dabble in electricity before he was in his teens. His first determination to devote his life to invention came shortly after he went to London to deliver a lecture before a scientific society there. At this lecture he met Lord Rayleigh, the great physicist, and showed him some of his experiments. Rayleigh said that he had undoubtedly the faculty of discovery and that he would succeed as an inventor. “Shortly after this my mother died,” said Mr. Tesla, “and I concluded to exert this power. Lord Rayleigh had said I possessed it, and, upon examining myself, I believed him correct. I did not want to waste my powers on small things, and I decided to strive towards something that would benefit humanity. I am working on an invention for the transmission of force. This invention will, I believe, revolutionise the world of labor. I am also working on electricity, and I cannot remember when I was not working more or less in the direction of a successful flying machine. My idea as to that is along different lines than any yet proposed, and I expect to see it realised. Indeed, we shall eventually have flying machines that will be large enough to carry crowds through the air. They must be large in order to succeed”. These words were uttered by Mr.Tesla nine years ago. Today he says he has completed his force transmission invention, as will be seen, by my Waldorf conversation, which follows. He has also done other things which he proposed in that interview. Remember, it was before the time of the wireless telegraph, but he then said to me the following:—   “I tell, you, we are on the threshold of a new era. We have only begun to master the great forces of Nature, and the inventions of the next few decades will be far superior to any of the past. What would you think of standing on the shore and telephoning to your friend in midocean? What of being in the centre of a room and making your whole body blaze with light? What of sending power to and fro over tho earth at will and making it do its work anywhere, and almost anyhow?


Mr. Tesla told me that his greatest pleasure was in his work, and that he could conceive no moment so exciting and rapturous as that connected with the discovery of a new principle which, when put into use, would revolutionise the work of the world. Take, for instance, the invention which brought forth the apparatus used in the transmission of power at Niagara Falls. Said he, as he took me to a great coil of wire wound round a stationary magnet, which was connected with the dynamo, and held above it a little globe in which was a steel wheel moving on a pivot: “I had been working on that experiment for a long time, and this was the test. I know that if I were correct the wheel in this globe, would revolve as soon as I turned on the electricity. It did revolve, and I know. I had discovered  what would revolutionise the labor of tho world. You can run all sorts of power by that principle. You can take power from Niagara and bring it to New York. The cars can be pulled by it, factories run, houses heated and dinners cooked. I cannot describe my sensation when I saw the wheel revolve. I thought I should go crazy, and I went home, to my laboratory and took some bromide of potassium to quiet me. “It has been the same in some of my experiments with electric lights and other things. No 1 the greatest rapture one can have is to discover a new force or series of forces which will reduce man’s working necessities to the minimum. I do not believe in laziness, and I should like to see the loafer wiped from the face of the earth, but I want that those who are willing, to work should accomplish their results with the least labor and in the best way,”


As to Mr. Tesla himself, there is no harder worker known. He told me that he seldom slept more than four hours of a night, and during some periods not more than three. When in the thick of a new invention it was hard to sleep. His work in always with him, and he says that his mind sometimes works in his sleep. He awakes in the morning to find that the problem which had worried him when he went to bed has been practically solved overnight. He has always been a light sleeper. His mother died at 70 and she never took more than four hours sleep. His father also was a light sleeper. Tesla is a peculiar worker. Failures do not trouble him.  After he undertakes a thing and decides that it should come out a certain way, he keeps on experimenting and experimenting, believing in his success. He says that if he doubted his ability it would make him crazy. He seems to have a dual mind. He told me that he often found himself carrying on two trains of thought at the same time, and said that while he was talking to me he could see the figures of some of his calculations behind me and could carry them on at the same time. He is always figuring. His scrap basket is filled with the calculations which he has torn up and thrown away. He keeps a record of his experiments, and when his laboratory was burned some years ago he lost the work of years in ideas and suggestions which had thus been recorded. (To be continued on Monday)


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