Tesla

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U■ S iM ■" ■ m TOP P# " ■ ■ Mj® WffiP ■ : " ■■■" ' ■■ fiS i; ■ .= - ■■■:■:■"■ S " ffl W' -c^::::-^' S The year was 1900 and following 9 productive months of wireless propagation research in Colorado, Nikola Tesla was anxious to put a mass of new found knowledge to work. His vision focused on the development of a prototype wireless communications station and research facility and he needed a site on which to build. In 1901 he cast his eyes some 60 miles eastward to the north shore village of Woodville Landing. Only six years before the north branch of the Long Island Railroad had opened, reducing travel time to the locality from a horse drawn five hours to less than two. Seeing an opportunity in land development a western lawyer and banker by the name of James S. Warden had purchased 1400 acres in the area and started building an exclusive summer resort community known as Wardenclyffe-On-Sound. With an opportunity for further development in mind, Warden offered Tesla a 200 acre section of this parcel lying directly to the south of the newly laid track. It was anticipated that implementation of Tesla's system would eventually lead to the establishment of a "Radio City" to house the thousands of employees needed for operation of the facility. The proximity to Manhattan and the fairly short travel time between the two, along with the site's closeness to a railway line must surely have been attractive features and Tesla accepted the offer.

The Wardenclyffe World Wireless facility as envisioned by Tesla was to have been quite different from present day radio broadcasting stations. While there was to be a great similarity in the apparatus employed, the method in which it was to be utilized would have been radically different. Conventional transmitters are designed so as to maximize the amount of power radiated from the antenna structure. Such equipment must process tremendous amounts of power in order to counteract the loss in field strength encountered as the signal radiates out from its point of origin. The transmitter at Wardenclyffe was being configured so as to minimize the radiated power. The energy of Tesla's steam driven Westinghouse 200 kW alternator was to be channeled instead into an extensive underground radial structure of iron pipe installed 120 feet beneath the tower's base. This was to be accomplished by superposing a low frequency base-band signal on the higher frequency signal coursing through the transmitter's helical resonator. The low frequency current in the presence of an enveloping corona-induced plasma of free charge carriers would have pumped the earth's charge. It is believed the resulting ground current and its associated wave complex would have allowed the propagation of wireless transmissions to any distance on the earth's surface with as little as 5% loss due to radiation. The terrestrial transmission line modes so excited would have supported a system with the following technical capabilities:

1. Establishment of a multi-channel global broadcasting system with programming including news, music, etc;

2. Interconnection of the world's telephone and telegraph exchanges, and stock tickers;

3. Transmission of written and printed matter, and data;

4. World wide reproduction of photographic images;

5. Establishment of a universal marine navigation and location system, including a means for the synchronization of precision timepieces;

6. Establishment of secure wireless communications services.

The plan was to build the first of many installations to be located near major population centers around the world. If the program had moved forward without interruption, the Long Island prototype would have been followed by additional units the first of which being built somewhere along the coast of England. By the Summer of 1902 Tesla had shifted his laboratory operations from the Houston Street Laboratory to the rural Long Island setting and work began in earnest on development of the station and furthering of the propagation research. Construction had been made possible largely through the backing of financier J. Pierpont Morgan who had offered Tesla $150,000 towards the end of 1900. By July 1904, however, this support had run out and with a subsequent major down turn in the financial markets Tesla was compelled to pursue alternative methods of financing. With funds raised through an unrecorded mortgage against the property, additional venture capital, and the sale of X-ray tube power supplies to the medical profession he was able to make ends meet for another couple of years. In spite of valiant efforts to maintain the operation, income dwindled and his employees were eventually dropped from the payroll. Still, Tesla was certain that his wireless system would yield handsome rewards if it could only be set into operation and so the work continued as he was able. A second mortgage in 1908 acquired again from the Waldorf-Astoria proprietor George C. Boldt allowed some additional bills to be paid, but debt continued to mount and between 1912 and 1915 Tesla's financial condition disintegrated. The loss of ability to make additional payments was accompanied by the collapse of his plan for high capacity trans-Atlantic wireless communications. The property was foreclosed, Nikola Tesla honored the agreement with his debtor and title on the property was signed over to Mr. Boldt. The plant's abandonment sometime around 1911-1912 followed by demolition and salvaging of the tower in 1917 essentially brought an end to this era. Tesla's April 20, 1922 loss on appeal of the judgment completely closed the door to any further chance of his developing the site.

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