This biography has received widespread acclaim for its depth and
Among the many well documented accounts provided by the author are found
descriptions of such remarkable events as Tesla's 1893 demonstration of the fundamental
principals of modern radio, two years prior to Marconi's showing. Tesla—Man Out of Time also
includes an informative section describing his spectacular work at Colorado Springs and
the Wardenclyffe installation.
Cheney's biography of one of the greatest inventors and scientists of the
modern age restores Tesla's precedence as the true inventor of radio, as
well as of other remarkable firsts such as the harnessing of alternating
current, remotely guided weapons, fluorescent
lighting, and the bladeless turbine.
The biography illuminates Tesla's
relationships with George Westinghouse, J. P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, Michael
Pupin, Guglielmo Marconi, and Mark Twain. Cheney also explains the
controversies surrounding Tesla's unusual methods of generating publicity
and his unfulfilled explorations into controlling weather and the wireless
transmission of electric power.
He moved scientific history forward again in the spring of 1893 when, addressing the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the National Electric Light Association at St. Louis, he described in detail the principles of radio broadcasting.
At St. Louis he made the first public demonstration ever of radio communication, although Marconi is generally credited with having achieved this feat in 1895.
Tesla's twenty-eight-year-old assistant at the St. Louis lecture was H. P. Broughton whose son, William G. Broughton, is licensee of the Schenectady Museum memorial amateur radio station W21R.
At the station's dedication speech in 1976 William Broughton touched upon highlights of Tesla's historic demonstration at St. Louis after a week's preparation-as personally told to him by his father.
"Eighty-three years ago, in St. Louis, the National Electric Light Association sponsored a public lecture on high-voltage high-frequency phenomena," said the younger Broughton.
"On the auditorium stage a demonstration was set up by using two groups of equipment
"In the transmitter group on one side of the stage was a 5-kva high-voltage pole-type oil-filled distribution transformer connected to a condenser bank of leyden jars, a spark gap, a coil, and a wire running up to the ceiling.
"In the receiver group at the other side of the stage was an identical wire hanging from the ceiling, a duplicate condenser bank of Leyden jars and
coil—but instead of the spark gap, there was a Geissler tube that would light up like a modern fluorescent lamp bulb when voltage was applied.
There were no interconnecting wires between transmitter and receiver.
"The transformer in the transmitter group," Broughton continued, "was energized from a special electric power line through an exposed two-blade knife switch.
When this switch was closed, the transformer grunted and groaned the Leyden jars showed corona sizzled around their foil edges, the spark gap crackled with a noisy spark discharge, and an invisible electromagnetic field radiated energy into space from the transmitter antenna wire.
"Simultaneously, in the receiver group, the Geissler tube lighted up from radio-frequency excitation picked up by the receiver antenna wire.
"Thus wireless was born. A wireless message had been transmitted by the 5 kilowatt spark transmitter, and instantly received by the
Geissler-tube receiver thirty feet away. . . . (p. 68)
"What a subject! At any level the story is on par with flamboyantly
contrived fiction. The record of discovery, innovation, and speculation
reflects a visionary genius as fertile as any in the history of modern
"Fascinating...an irresistible subject."
"Cheney's excellent biography of one of the most idiosyncratic and
truly enigmatic 'scientists' is both comprehensive and
well-written....Very warmly recommended."
"Excellent...a significant contribution to the recent history of
science. This well-documented and exhaustive biography explores the
unusual life and creative genius of this remarkable discoverer, benevolent
eccentric, and solitary humanist....The author sheds new light on Tesla's
relationships with Edison, Westinghouse, Marconi, and Pupin....Informative
and delightful to read."