BEGINNING OF DOCTORAL RESEARCH Although the Hunt and Draper text filled in a number of gaps left by the O'Neill text, there were still key questions that remained such as why Tesla quit his job working for Edison in 1885, why he ripped up a royalty contract with George Westinghouse worth upwards of $12 million dollars after selling Westinghouse the entire 40 patent electrical system that was placed at Niagara Falls, why Marconi gets the credit for the invention of the radio when clearly Tesla's work preceded him, whether or not Tesla received signals from outerspace in 1899 when he moved operations to Colorado Springs to test his wireless devices, and most importantly, why J. Pierpont Morgan stopped funding Tesla after signing a $150,000 deal to construct a worldwide wireless telegraphy station, called Wardenclyffe, out on Long Island in 1901. This one operation, if it had been successfully completed, would have been equivalent to all of the mass media and power distribution companies, like ABC, CBS, NBC, AT&T, GE, RCA and Westinghouse, combined! The plan was at least 50 years ahead of its time.
I tracked down numerous original articles from the newspapers and turn of the century electrical journals, found additional fantastic photos such as Tesla's great Wardenclyffe tower being blown up by his creditors in 1917, and obtained Tesla's personal correspondence from the Library of Congress. I then spent two years, 1978-1979, analyzing them. A main goal was to go through the 60 odd letters between Tesla and Morgan for the years 1901-1906 while the tower was still a viable operation, to figure out exactly what went wrong. The content of the letters greatly touched me, and I began to design an historically accurate slide presentation and also a screenplay on his life at that time as well.
The laboratory, by architect, Stanford White, designer of the original Madison Square Garden, had been completed, but the tower, also a White design, remained unfinished. Nevertheless, it stood over 15 stories high, had a unique bulbous top which had been constructed to store and discharge electrical energy, and also had a well which dropped, via a spiral staircase, 12 stories into the earth.
"If this is a good thing, why doesn't Morgan see you through?" Tesla quotes another financier in a letter to Morgan. "Morgan is the last man to let a good thing go.' So it has been going for two years. I advance, but how? Like a man swimming against the stream that carries him down.
"Will you not listen to anything at all? Are you to let me perhaps succumb, lose an immortal crown. Will you let a property of immense value be depreciated, let it be said that your judgement was defective, simply because you once said no. Can now I make you a new proposition to overcome the difficulty? I tell you I shall return your money a hundred fold," Tesla ends the letter in one of his more poignant appeals.
One key point I discovered was that Tesla had constructed a larger tower than their contract called for. I also found out that the stock market crash of 1901, caused by Morgan himself, was a key reason why Tesla's costs went up and his credit disappeared. For other reasons including Morgan's fear that Tesla would indeed succeed in transmitting information and electrical power without wires -- how can you bill wireless power ? -- the mighty financier not only withdrew his support, he also did his best to insure Tesla's defeat. The inventor, however, continued to try and persuade his former benefactor, for he knew that this invention, which foresaw the onset of the FAX machine, the internet and cellular age, would dramatically alter the shape of the world.
""I knew you would refuse... What chance have I to land the biggest Wall Street monster with the soul's spider thread.... I came to you with the greatest invention of all times. I have more original creations named after me than any other man that has gone before not excepting Archimedes and Galileo -- the giants of invention. Six thousand million dollars are invested in enterprises based upon my discoveries in the United States alone [which Morgan mainly controlled]. I could draw on you on sight for a million dollars if you were the Pierpont Morgan of old...."
GRAPHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS As I am also a handwriting expert, I noticed in the letters two things in particular about Tesla's handwriting that stood out. The first was Tesla's constantly changing self-image, from one of inferiority, where the N in Nikola is minuscule, to one of superiority, where the N is large and broad. I also noticed that in 1906 his handwriting completely fell apart. By clocking Tesla's life, I was able to conclude that 1906 was the year that Morgan put the final dagger through the heart of Wardenclyffe, and so I hypothesized that Tesla suffered a heretofore unreported emotional collapse at that time.
In 1986, I completed my doctoral dissertation at Saybrook Institute on Tesla's life. This treatise attempted to ascertain the exact reasons why Tesla's name is generally unknown by the public at large. I came up with three important reasons. This, of course, was before the heavy metal band, "Tesla," adopted the inventor's name.
(1) Once Tesla had sold his patents of the induction motor and AC power distribution system to Westinghouse, the invention became known as the Westinghouse invention. Further, competitors, such as General Electric, promoted their own inventors instead of Tesla, and even sponsored textbooks on the AC polyphase system without even mentioning the inventor of the system's name!
It is predominantly for these reasons that Tesla's name dropped into obscurity. Tesla, himself, continued to espouse the extraterrestrial hypothesis all the way through the 1930's during the time he received a fan letter from a young electrician from Canada by the name of Arthur Matthews, discussed above.
Tesla's life is astonishingly complex, and thus, there are numerous other reasons why his name became little known. For instance, Tesla had a secret particle beam weapon which was sought by numerous governments including the U.S. War Department in the years slightly before and during WWII. After Tesla's death during the midst of WWII in January of 1943, all of his papers and inventions were impounded by the US government, and kept under lock and key for nearly a decade because his most powerful heir was ambassador from Yugoslavia, which was then a communist country. And when the ambassador finally succeeded in freeing Tesla's estate, it was shipped to Belgrade, which, for many years was, essentially (though not technically), behind the Iron Curtain. Some saw this move as a communist conspiracy to obtain Tesla's secret technology. Coupled with the McCarthy era, Tesla's contributions were further obscured. In fact, it is my belief, that had it not been for O'Neill's inspired biography very few individuals would have ever remembered him and his contributions would have essentially completely disappeared.