IV. The Discovery of the Tesla Coil and Transformer
For a while I gave myself up entirely to the intense enjoyment of picturing machines and devising new forms. It was a mental state of happiness about as complete as I have ever known in life. Ideas came in an uninterrupted stream and the only difficulty I had was to hold them fast. The pieces of apparatus I conceived were to me absolutely real and tangible in every detail, even to the minute marks and signs of wear. I delighted in imagining the motors constantly running, for in this way they presented to mind's eye a more fascinating sight. When natural inclination develops into a passionate desire, one advances towards his goal in seven-league boots. In less than two months I evolved virtually all the types of motors and modifications of the system which are now identified with my name. It was, perhaps, providential that the necessities of existence commanded a temporary halt to this consuming activity of the mind.
I came to Budapest prompted by a premature report concerning the telephone enterprise and, as irony of fate willed it, I had to accept a position as draftsman in the Central Telegraph Office of the Hungarian Government at a salary which I deem it my privilege not to disclose! Fortunately, I soon won the interest of the Inspector-in-Chief and was thereafter employed on calculations, designs and estimates in connection with new installations, until the Telephone Exchange was started, when I took charge of the same. The knowledge and practical experience I gained in the course of this work was most valuable and the employment gave me ample opportunities for the exercise of my inventive faculties. I made several improvements in the Central Station apparatus and perfected a telephone repeater or amplifier which was never patented or publicly described but would be creditable to me even today. In recognition of my efficient assistance the organizer of the undertaking, Mr. Puskas, upon disposing of his business in Budapest, offered me a position in Paris which I gladly accepted.
I never can forget the deep impression that magic city produced on my mind. For several days after my arrival I roamed thru the streets in utter bewilderment of the new spectacle. The attractions were many and irresistible, but, alas, the income was spent as soon as received. When Mr. Puskas asked me how I was getting along in the new sphere, I described the situation accurately in the statement that "the last twenty-nine days of the month are the toughest!" I led a rather strenuous life in what would now be termed "Rooseveltian fashion." Every morning, regardless of weather, I would go from the Boulevard St. Marcel, where I resided, to a bathing house on the Seine, plunge into the water, loop the circuit twenty-seven times and then walk an hour to reach Ivry, where the Company's factory was located. There I would have a woodchopper's breakfast at half-past seven o'clock and then eagerly await the lunch hour, in the meanwhile cracking hard nuts for the Manager of the Works, Mr. Charles Batchellor, who was an intimate friend and assistant of Edison. Here I was thrown in contact with a few Americans who fairly fell in love with me because of my proficiency in billiards. To these men I explained my invention and one of them, Mr. D. Cunningham, Foreman of the Mechanical Department, offered to form a stock company. The proposal seemed to me comical in the extreme. I did not have the faintest conception of what that meant except that it was an American way of doing things. Nothing came of it, however, and during the next few months I had to travel from one to another place in France and Germany to cure the ills of the power plants.
我從未忘記巴黎這個浪漫城市給我留下的深刻印象。來到這裡之後，我全然被她的異國風情所陶醉，連續幾天都徜徉在美麗的街頭。這裡有很多引人人勝的地方，其魅力簡直難以抗拒。但是，可惜的是，往往薪水剛剛到手就很快被花光了。當普斯卡斯先生詢問我在這個新環境中感覺如何時，我很形象地說道：“每個月剩下的29天都是最難熬的。”我過著非常勤奮的生活，現在通常被稱為羅斯福式的生活方式。每天清晨，無論天氣如何，我都會從我居住的馬賽林蔭大道（Boulevard St. Marcel）前往塞納河（Seine）畔的游泳池館，跳進水中，遊27個來回，然後步行一小時到公司工廠所在地 — 伊夫里（Ivry）。七點半，我像伐木工人一樣在工廠吃早餐，之後便急切地盼望午餐時間的到來。在此期間，我要為公司經理査爾斯．巴徹勒（Charles Batcbellor）解決難題。查理斯先生是愛迪生的好朋友和助手。我在工廠結識了幾個美國人，他們很喜歡我，因為我檯球打得非常棒。我向這些人介紹了自己的發明，其中一位是機械部的工頭坎甯安先生（D. Cunningham），他提議我組建一家股份公司。對我來說，這樣的建議似乎太可笑了。除了知道這是美國人的做事方法之外，我絲毫不理解他的意思。不過，這件事再無下文，接下來的幾個月裡，我不斷游走於法國和德國之間，解決發電站出現的問題。
On my return to Paris I submitted to one of the administrators of the Company, Mr. Rau, a plan for improving their dynamos and was given an opportunity. My success was complete and the delighted directors accorded me the privilege of developing automatic regulators which were much desired. Shortly after there was some trouble with the lighting plant which had been installed at the new railroad station in Strassburg, Alsace. The wiring was defective and on the occasion of the opening ceremonies a large part of a wall was blown out thru a short-circuit right in the presence of old Emperor William I. The German Government refused to take the plant and the French Company was facing a serious loss. On account of my knowledge of the German language and past experience, I was entrusted with the difficult task of straightening out matters and early in 1883 I went to Strassburg on that mission.
返回巴黎之後，我向公司管理人之一勞（Rau）先生提出了一個改進發電機的計畫，他同意了。我獲得了圓滿成功，公司董事們高興之餘，授權我開發自動穩壓器，這正是我期待已久的。不久之後，位於阿爾薩斯地區斯特拉斯堡市的新火車站的照明設備出現了一些故障。就在老皇帝威廉一世（Emperor William I）親自出席火車站開幕儀式時，由於配線短路導致爆炸，一大片牆壁都被炸毀了。當時購進照明設備的德國政府拒絕收貨，而法國公司將面臨巨大損失。由於我會說德語，加上以前出色的表現，公司委託我去與德方溝通，解決問題。於是，1883年初，我趕往斯特拉斯堡去執行這個艱巨的任務。
Some of the incidents in that city have left an indelible record on my memory. By a curious coincidence, a number of men who subsequently achieved fame, lived there about that time. In later life I used to say, "There were bacteria of greatness in that old town. Others caught the disease but I escaped!" The practical work, correspondence, and conferences with officials kept me preoccupied day and night, but, as soon as I was able to manage I undertook the construction of a simple motor in a mechanical shop opposite the railroad station, having brought with me from Paris some material for that purpose. The consummation of the experiment was, however, delayed until the summer of that year when I finally had the satisfaction of seeing rotation effected by alternating currents of different phase, and without sliding contacts or commutator, as I had conceived a year before. It was an exquisite pleasure but not to compare with the delirium of joy following the first revelation.
Among my new friends was the former Mayor of the city, Mr. Bauzin, whom I had already in a measure acquainted with this and other inventions of mine and whose support I endeavored to enlist. He was sincerely devoted to me and put my project before several wealthy persons but, to my mortification, found no response. He wanted to help me in every possible way and the approach of the first of July, 1919, happens to remind me of a form of "assistance" I received from that charming man, which was not financial but none the less appreciated. In 1870, when the Germans invaded the country, Mr. Bauzin had buried a good sized allotment of St. Estephe of 1801 and he came to the conclusion that he knew no worthier person than myself to consume that precious beverage. This, I may say, is one of the unforgettable incidents to which I have referred. My friend urged me to return to Paris as soon as possible and seek support there. This I was anxious to do but my work and negotiations were protracted owing to all sorts of petty obstacles I encountered so that at times the situation seemed hopeless. Just to give an idea of German thoroness and "efficiency," I may mention here a rather funny experience.
An incandescent lamp of 16 c.p. was to be placed in a hallway and upon selecting the proper location I ordered the monteur to run the wires. After working for a while he concluded that the engineer had to be consulted and this was done. The latter made several objections but ultimately agreed that the lamp should be placed two inches from the spot I had assigned, whereupon the work proceeded. Then the engineer became worried and told me that Inspector Averdeck should be notified. That important person called, investigated, debated, and decided that the lamp should be shifted back two inches, which was the place I had marked. It was not long, however, before Averdeck got cold feet himself and advised me that he had informed Ober-Inspector Hieronimus of the matter and that I should await his decision. It was several days before the Ober-Inspector was able to free himself of other pressing duties but at last he arrived and a two-hour debate followed, when he decided to move the lamp two inches farther. My hopes that this was the final act were shattered when the Ober-Inspector returned and said to me: "Regierungsrath Funke is so particular that I would not dare to give an order for placing this lamp without his explicit approval." Accordingly arrangements for a visit from that great man were made. We started cleaning up and polishing early in the morning. Everybody brushed up, I put on my gloves and when Funke came with his retinue he was ceremoniously received. After two hours' deliberation he suddenly exclaimed: "I must be going," and pointing to a place on the ceiling, he ordered me to put the lamp there. It was the exact spot which I had originally chosen, So it went day after day with variations, but I was determined to achieve at whatever cost and in the end my efforts were rewarded.
By the spring of 1884 all the differences were adjusted, the plant formally accepted, and I returned to Paris with pleasing anticipations. One of the administrators had promised me a liberal compensation in case I succeeded, as well as a fair consideration of the improvements I had made in their dynamos and I hoped to realize a substantial sum. There were three administrators whom I shall designate as A, B and C for convenience. When I called on A he told me that B had the say. This gentleman thought that only C could decide and the latter was quite sure that A alone had the power to act. After several laps of this circulus vivios it dawned upon me that my reward was a castle in Spain.
The utter failure of my attempts to raise capital for development was another disappointment and when Mr. Batchellor prest me to go to America with a view of redesigning the Edison machines, I determined to try my fortunes in the Land of Golden Promise. But the chance was nearly mist. I liquefied my modest assets, secured accommodations and found myself at the railroad station as the train was pulling out. At that moment I discovered that my money and tickets were gone. What to do was the question. Hercules had plenty of time to deliberate but I had to decide while running alongside the train with opposite feelings surging in my brain like condenser oscillations. Resolve, helped by dexterity, won out in the nick of time and upon passing thru the usual experiences, as trivial as unpleasant, I managed to embark for New York with the remnants of my belongings, some poems and articles I had written, and a package of calculations relating to solutions of an unsolvable integral and to my flying machine. During the voyage I sat most of the time at the stern of the ship watching for an opportunity to save somebody from a watery grave, without the slightest thought of danger. Later when I had absorbed some of the practical American sense I shivered at the recollection and marvelled at my former folly.
I wish that I could put in words my first impressions of this country. In the Arabian Tales I read how genii transported people into a land of dreams to live thru delightful adventures. My case was just the reverse. The genii had carried me from a world of dreams into one of realities. What I had left was beautiful, artistic and fascinating in every way; what I saw here was machined, rough and unattractive. A burly policeman was twirling his stick which looked to me as big as a log. I approached him politely with the request to direct me. "Six blocks down, then to the left," he said, with murder in his eyes. "Is this America?" I asked myself in painful surprise. "It is a century behind Europe in civilization." When I went abroad in 1889 - five years having elapsed since my arrival here - I became convinced that it was more than one hundred years AHEAD of Europe and nothing has happened to this day to change my opinion.
我希望我能用文字表達我對這個國家（美國）的第一印象。在阿拉伯傳說中，我讀到精靈（genii）【編譯者註：Genii 又稱Genie中譯為鎮尼，也可音譯為精靈、巨靈、傑尼，是伊斯蘭教對於超自然存在的統稱；《一千零一夜》之《阿拉丁與神燈》就是其相關的作品。】是如何經由愉快的冒險生活，將人們帶入夢想之地。但我的情況正好相反，精靈把我從一個夢想的世界帶到了一個現實之中。我撇下的是美麗、藝術和各種迷人的生活方式；而我在這裡看到的是機械加工，粗俗和缺乏吸引力。一個魁梧的員警正在揮動著他那看起來像木頭一樣大的棍子。我禮貌地向他走去，請問如何前往我要找的地方。他用凶狠的眼神說到：“過六個街區後，然後向左。”。“這是美國嗎？”我在痛苦的驚訝中問自己。“這是一個落後歐洲文明一個世紀的地方。”當時是我剛來美國的時候。但在1889年—我來到這裡五年後 — 我開始相信，這裡比歐洲至少先進100年，到今天（本書書版於1919年）也沒有什麼事足以改變我的看法。
The meeting with Edison was a memorable event in my life. I was amazed at this wonderful man who, without early advantages and scientific training, had accomplished so much. I had studied a dozen languages, delved in literature and art, and had spent my best years in libraries reading all sorts of stuff that fell into my hands, from Newton's "Principia" to the novels of Paul de Kock, and felt that most of my life had been squandered. But it did not take long before I recognized that it was the best thing I could have done. Within a few weeks I had won Edison's confidence and it came about in this way.
與愛迪生會面是我一生中非常值得紀念的事情。我對這個出色的男人充滿了好奇與敬意，他沒有什麼先天優勢，也沒有受過良好的科學教育，卻取得了如此巨大的成就。我學習了十幾種語言，流覽過文學和藝術作品，並且利用最好的時光在圖書館閱讀各種資料，從牛頓（Newton）“定律”到保羅．德．科克（Paul de Kock）的小說，可以說無所不包。但是，我一直覺得自己浪費了大量寶貴的時間。不過，沒過多久，我開始認識到，那些經歷或許是自己做過的最好的事情，因為形成了豐厚的知識積澱。幾週之後，通過下面這次經歷，我贏得了愛迪生的信任。
The S.S. Oregon, the fastest passenger steamer at that time, had both of its lighting machines disabled and its sailing was delayed. As the superstructure had been built after their installation it was impossible to remove them from the hold. The predicament was a serious one and Edison was much annoyed. In the evening I took the necessary instruments with me and went aboard the vessel where I stayed for the night. The dynamos were in bad condition, having several short-circuits and breaks, but with the assistance of the crew I succeeded in putting them in good shape. At five o'clock in the morning, when passing along Fifth Avenue on my way to the shop, I met Edison with Batchellor and a few others as they were returning home to retire. "Here is our Parisian running around at night," he said. When I told him that I was coming from the Oregon and had repaired both machines, he looked at me in silence and walked away without another word. But when he had gone some distance I heard him remark: "Batchellor, this is a d-n good man," and from that time on I had full freedom in directing the work. For nearly a year my regular hours were from 10.30 A.M. until 5 o'clock the next morning without a day's exception. Edison said to me: "I have had many hard-working assistants but you take the cake." During this period I designed twenty-four different types of standard machines with short cores and of uniform pattern which replaced the old ones. The Manager had promised me fifty thousand dollars on the completion of this task but it turned out to be a practical joke. This gave me a painful shock and I resigned my position.
“S.S.俄勒岡”號（The S.S. Oregon）是當時最快的客輪，由於兩套照明發電機出現故障，遲遲不能啟航。客輪的上層建築是發電機系統安裝好之後才建造的，所以根本不可能把它從船艙上卸下來。故障非常嚴重，愛迪生感到十分苦惱。當天晚上，我帶著必要的工具登上了“俄勒岡”號，在那裡工作了一夜。發電機問題很嚴重，有好幾處短路和不通電的地方。在船員的幫助下，我成功地排除了所有故障。第二天清晨五點，當我沿著第五街（Fifth Avenue）走回愛迪生工作室時，遇到了正準備回家休息的愛迪生、巴徹勒（Batchellor）和其他一些人。“看哪，我們的巴黎人不知道去哪裡遊蕩了一夜。”愛迪生說道。當我告訴他我剛剛從“俄勒岡”號下來，並且已經把兩台機器修好的時候，他默默地看了看我，沒再說什麼便走開了。但是，當他走遠之後，我聽到他說：“巴徹勒，這可真他媽是一把好手。”從那之後，在處理工作時，我獲得了完全的自主權。差不多一年時間裡，我每天都從上午十點半工作到第二天淩晨五點，沒有一天例外。愛迪生對我說：“我以前的助手工作也都很努力，但你是最好的。”在此期間，我利用短磁芯和同樣的方案設計了24台不同規格的標準機型替代舊機型。公司經理許諾，完成這個任務後，我可以得到5萬美元的獎勵。但是，結果證明，他只是耍了我一把。為此，我非常痛苦和震驚，選擇了辭職。
Immediately thereafter some people approached me with the proposal of forming an arc light company under my name, to which I agreed. Here finally was an opportunity to develop the motor, but when I broached the subject to my new associates they said: "No, we want the arc lamp. We don't care for this alternating current of yours." In 1886 my system of arc lighting was perfected and adopted for factory and municipal lighting, and I was free, but with no other possession than a beautifully engraved certificate of stock of hypothetical value. Then followed a period of struggle in the new medium for which I was not fitted, but the reward came in the end and in April, 1887, the Tesla Electric Company was organized, providing a laboratory and facilities. The motors I built there were exactly as I had imagined them. I made no attempt to improve the design, but merely reproduced the pictures as they appeared to my vision and the operation was always as I expected.
此後不久，一些人找到我，提議以我的名義組建一家弧光燈（arc light）照明公司，我同意了。我認為，終於有機會開發自己的電機了。但是，當我向新同事提出這個建議的時候，他們說：“不行，我們只想要弧光燈。我們不關心你所謂的交流電設備。”1886年，我研製的弧光燈系統獲得了成功，被運用到工廠和市政照明上。但是，我卻離開了那家公司，除了一張印刷精美但毫無實際價值的股票權證以外，我什麼財產都沒有得到。此後，我在自己不太擅長的新領域奮鬥了一段時間，但是機會最終還是出現了。1887年4月，特斯拉電氣公司（TESLA Elect-ric Co.）正式成立，我擁有了自己的實驗室和試驗設備。在那裡，我設計的發電機與我原來想像的情況完全一致。我沒有刻意改進設計，只是腦海中出現一些新的思路時，我便原封不動地將它們移植到現實設備中，並且實際效果與我設想的完全一致。
In the early part of 1888 an arrangement was made with the Westinghouse Company for the manufacture of the motors on a large scale. But great difficulties had still to be overcome. My system was based on the use of low frequency currents and the Westinghouse experts had adopted 133 cycles with the object of securing advantages in the transformation. They did not want to depart from their standard forms of apparatus and my efforts had to be concentrated upon adapting the motor to these conditions. Another necessity was to produce a motor capable of running efficiently at this frequency on two wires which was not easy of accomplishment.
At the close of 1889, however, my services in Pittsburg being no longer essential, I returned to New York and resumed experimental work in a laboratory on Grand Street, where I began immediately the design of high frequency machines. The problems of construction in this unexplored field were novel and quite peculiar and I encountered many difficulties. I rejected the inductor type, fearing that it might not yield perfect sine waves which were so important to resonant action. Had it not been for this I could have saved myself a great deal of labor. Another discouraging feature of the high frequency alternator seemed to be the inconstancy of speed which threatened to impose serious limitations to its use. I had already noted in my demonstrations before the American Institution of Electrical Engineers that several times the tune was lost, necessitating readjustment, and did not yet foresee, what I discovered long afterwards, a means of operating a machine of this kind at a speed constant to such a degree as not to vary more than a small fraction of one revolution between the extremes of load. From many other considerations it appeared desirable to invent a simpler device for the production of electric oscillations.
不過，到了1889年底，我已經不必在匹茲堡（Pittsburg）工作了。我回到紐約，繼續在格蘭街（Grand Street）的實驗室進行實驗，馬上投入了髙頻機的設計。在這個無人涉足的領域中，設備構架是一個完全嶄新而又新奇的課題，所以我不可避免地遭遇了很多難題。我放棄了感應發電機方案，擔心它不會產生理想的正弦波，而正弦波對共振作用是極其重要的。要不是出於這一考慮，我的工作量會大大降低。高頻交流發電機的另一個缺點是速度不穩定，這可能對其實際應用造成極大限制。在我向美國電氣工程師學會進行展示時，我就注意到調諧有幾次出現問題，需要進一步調整。但是，很久之後我才找到了一種方法，使這種電機在恒定速度和極限負載條件下工作時，每一週期內的速度變化控制在極小範圍內。出於更多其他考慮，我認為應該設計一種簡單的裝置，來產生電流振盪（electric oscillations）。
In 1856 Lord Kelvin had exposed the theory of the condenser discharge, but no practical application of that important knowledge was made. I saw the possibilities and undertook the development of induction apparatus on this principle. My progress was so rapid as to enable me to exhibit at my lecture in 1891 a coil giving sparks of five inches. On that occasion I frankly told the engineers of a defect involved in the transformation by the new method, namely, the loss in the spark gap. Subsequent investigation showed that no matter what medium is employed, be it air, hydrogen, mercury vapor, oil or a stream of electrons, the efficiency is the same. It is a law very much like that governing the conversion of mechanical energy. We may drop a weight from a certain height vertically down or carry it to the lower level along any devious path, it is immaterial insofar as the amount of work is concerned. Fortunately however, this drawback is not fatal as by proper proportioning of the resonant circuits an efficiency of 85 per cent is attainable. Since my early announcement of the invention it has come into universal use and wrought a revolution in many departments. But a still greater future awaits it.
When in 1900 I obtained powerful discharges of 100 feet and flashed a current around the globe, I was reminded of the first tiny spark I observed in my Grand Street laboratory and was thrilled by sensations akin to those I felt when I discovered the rotating magnetic field.
1900年，我得到了1000英尺的強大放電，在全球製造了一次人工閃電效應。此時，我想起了第一次在格蘭街實驗室看到的微小火花，當時激動的心情不亞於我當初發現旋轉磁場（rotating magnetic field）時的感覺。