Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, May 7, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 520 pages

Nikola Tesla was a major contributor to the electrical revolution that transformed daily life at the turn of the twentieth century. His inventions, patents, and theoretical work formed the basis of modern AC electricity, and contributed to the development of radio and television. Like his competitor Thomas Edison, Tesla was one of America's first celebrity scientists, enjoying the company of New York high society and dazzling the likes of Mark Twain with his electrical demonstrations. An astute self-promoter and gifted showman, he cultivated a public image of the eccentric genius. Even at the end of his life when he was living in poverty, Tesla still attracted reporters to his annual birthday interview, regaling them with claims that he had invented a particle-beam weapon capable of bringing down enemy aircraft.


Plenty of biographies glamorize Tesla and his eccentricities, but until now none has carefully examined what, how, and why he invented. In this groundbreaking book, W. Bernard Carlson demystifies the legendary inventor, placing him within the cultural and technological context of his time, and focusing on his inventions themselves as well as the creation and maintenance of his celebrity. Drawing on original documents from Tesla's private and public life, Carlson shows how he was an "idealist" inventor who sought the perfect experimental realization of a great idea or principle, and who skillfully sold his inventions to the public through mythmaking and illusion.


This major biography sheds new light on Tesla's visionary approach to invention and the business strategies behind his most important technological breakthroughs.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

Biography of Tesla that attempts to chart a middle path between treating him as a crank and treating him as the inventor of everything modern whose contributions were ignored/suppressed. Carlson ... Read full review

TESLA: Inventor of the Electrical Age

User Review  - Kirkus

A scholarly, critical, mostly illuminating study of the life and work of the great Serbian inventor.Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) is so central a figure in the annals of modern science, writes Carlson ... Read full review

Contents

Dinner at Delmonicos
1
An Ideal Childhood 18561878
12
Dreaming of Motors 18781882
34
Learning by Doing 18821886
60
Mastering Alternating Current 18861888
76
Selling the Motor 18881889
100
Searching for a New Ideal 18891891
117
A Veritable Magician 1891
129
Looking for Alternatives 18951898
214
Stationary Waves 18991900
262
Wardenclyffe 19001901
302
The Dark Tower 19011905
331
Visionary to the End 19051943
368
EPILOGUE
396
Note on Sources
415
Abbreviations and Sources
421

Taking the Show to Europe 18911892
143
Pushing Alternating Current in America 18921893
158
Wireless Lighting and the Oscillator 18931894
176
Efforts at Promotion 18941895
193
Notes
423
Acknowledgments
473
Index
477
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2013)

W. Bernard Carlson is professor of science, technology, and society in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and professor of history at the University of Virginia. His books include Technology in World History and Innovation as a Social Process: Elihu Thomson and the Rise of General Electric, 1870-1900.

Bibliographic information