Exploring Electrical Technology. Nikola Tesla: Extraordinary Inventor 1856-1943. Nikola Tesla*: Early Life. Intense discipline Subjected himself to it voluntarily Explained as an effort to console his parents for the loss of his brother Daniel Intended for the clergy by his father
*Biographical notes & quotes from Maragaret Cheney’s Tesla:Man Out Of Time. Dorset Press: New York. 1981.
“ ‘My method is different,’ he wrote. ‘I do not rush into actual work. When I get an idea I start at once building it up in my imagination. I change the construction, make improvements and operate the device in my mind. It is absolutely immaterial to me whether I run my turbine in my thought or test it in my shop. I even note if it is out of balance’ ” (qtd. In Cheney 12).
“Thus he claimed he was able to perfect a conception without touching anything. Only when all the faults had been corrected in his brain, did he put the device into concrete form….Despite such claims, Tesla did in fact often make small sketches of inventions in whole or in part. Later in life his methods of research came to resemble more closely the empirical approach of Edison” (Cheney 12).
“The man responsible for introducing Tesla to the fascinations of electrical machinery was a German, one Professor Poeschl, who taught theoretical and experimental physics. Although he had ‘enormous feet and hands like the paws of a bear,’ Tesla found his experiments inspiring. 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. While operating, it sparked badly, and Tesla brashly suggested to Professor Poeschl that the design might be improved by dispensing with the commutator and by switching to alternating current” (Cheney 18).
“ ‘Mr. Tesla may accomplish great things,’ the German scholar retorted heavily, ‘both he will never do this. It would be equivalent to converting a steadily pulling force, like that of gravity, into a rotary effort. It is a perpetual motion machine, an impossible idea’ ” (qtd. in Cheney 18, 19).
“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. A junction box that had been wired by one of the inventor’s inexperienced electricians was leaking . 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.
Edison bellowed for his foreman: ‘Get a gang of men, if you can find any. Cut off the current and fix that leak.’
He glanced up and became aware of a tall dark presence hovering just inside his office.
‘Help you, mister?’
Tesla introduced himself, speaking in careful accented English and a little louder than usual, for he knew of Edison’s hearing problem” (Cheney 30).
“ ‘I have this letter from Mr. Batchelor, sir.’
‘Batchelor, eh? What’s wrong in Paris?’
‘Nothing that I know of, sir.’
‘Nonsense, there’s always something wrong in Paris.’
Edison read Batchelor’s brief note of recommendation and snorted. But he gave Tesla a penetrating look.
‘ ‘I know tow great men and you are one of them; the other is this young man!’ Hmph! That’s some recommendation. What can you do?’ ….
Quickly he began to describe the work he had done for Continental Edison in France and Germany. 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. A smart developer could make a thousand fortunes with it” (Cheney 30, 31).
‘Hold up!’ said Edison angrily. ‘Spare me that nonsense. It’s dangerous. We’re set up for direct current in America. People like it, and it’s all I’ll ever fool with. But maybe I could give you a job. Can you fix a ship’s lighting plant?’
Tesla boarded the S. S. 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.
As he walked back along Fifth Avenue toward the Edison shop, he met his new employer and a few of his top man just going home to rest.
‘Here is our Parisian running around at night,’ commented Edison.
When Tesla said that he had just finished repairing both machines, Edison looked at him in silence, then walked away without another word. But the Serb with his acute hearing heard him remark at a little distance, ‘That is a damn good man.’….
Tesla’s skills were quickly appreciated by Edison, who gave him almost complete freedom in working on the design and operating problems of the shop. He regularly worked from 10:30 in the morning until 5:00 the following morning, a regimen that won from his new boss the grudging comment, ‘I have had many hardworking assistants, but you take the cake’ (Cheney 31).