Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Nikola Tesla's "Egg of Columbus" at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition.

Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a Serbian-American engineer and physicist who made dozens and dozens of breakthroughs in the production, transmission and application of electric power.

Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing Company was in Rahway, New Jersey, that operated from December 1884 through 1886. Tesla is forced out of the Tesla Electric Light Company with nothing but worthless stock.
Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)

He endured a brutal winter of 1886/87 working as a ditch digger. He persevered, determined to develop his concept of generating electricity through rotating magnetic fields. However, Tesla knew that he must find a way to help investors and supporters understand the potential of his invention.

The rotating magnetic field is one of Tesla's most far-reaching and revolutionary discoveries. This is a new and wonderful manifestation of force — a magnetic cyclone — producing striking phenomena that amazed the world when he first showed them. It results from the joint action of two or more alternating currents definitely related to one another and creating magnetic fluxes, which, by their periodic rise and fall according to a mathematical law, cause a continuous shifting of the lines of force.

Tesla invented the first alternating current (A/C) 'motor' and developed A/C electric  generation and transmission technology.

There is a vast difference between an ordinary electromagnet and the one invented by Tesla. In standard electromagnets, the lines are stationary, and in Tesla's invention, the lines are made to whirl around at a furious rate. The first attracts a piece of iron and holds it fast; the second causes it to spin in any direction and speed desired. 

Long ago, when Tesla was still a student, he conceived the idea of the rotating magnetic field. This remarkable principle is embodied in his famous induction motor and power transmission system, now universally used.
Tesla's exhibit at Chicago's 1893 World Columbian Exposition.

Tesla devises a machine to illustrate the concept: an electromagnetic motor that generates the force needed to spin a brass egg and stand it upright on its end.
Nikola Tesla's "Egg of Columbus" was exhibited
at Chicago's 1893 World Columbian Exposition.
Tesla named the device the "Egg of Columbus" after the famous story in which Christopher Columbus challenged the Spanish court and investors to stand an egg upright. When they failed, Columbus took an egg and crushed the bottom flat so it would remain upright. They accused him of playing a cheap trick. Still, Columbus overcame their objections by explaining that an idea can seem impossible until a clever solution is found, at which point it suddenly becomes easy.
How The "Egg of Columbus" Works.
Canadian Tesla Technical Museum.
Tesla Projects Laboratory Inc.
Tesla incorporates this logic in his Egg of Columbus to present his concept of alternating current A/C electricity to investors. It is a stroke of brilliance that results in funding from investors Alfred S. Brown, director of Western Union, and Charles F. Peck, a big-shot attorney from New York City. 

Tesla’s first laboratory opened in April 1887 and was located at 89 Liberty Street in New York’s Lower Manhattan Financial District. This is where Tesla began planning and developing his designs for the A/C induction motor.

Tesla wrote in his autobiography of this time in his life when he went from ditch digger to laboratory owner, where he finally built the first models of his induction motor concept: "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."
Nikola Tesla (year unknown).

In 1893, three years prior to the earliest attempts in Hertz wave telegraphy, Tesla first described his wireless system and took out patents on a number of novel devices which were then but imperfectly understood. Even the electrical world at large laughed at these patents. But large wireless interests had to pay him tribute in the form of real money, because his "fool" patents were recognized to be fundamental. He actually antedated every important wireless invention.

Nikola Tesla lived a century behind his time. He had often been denounced as a dreamer even by well-informed men. He has been called crazy by others who ought to have known better. Tesla talked in a language that most of us still do not understand. But as the years roll on, Science appreciates his greatness, and Tesla receives more tributes.
"Today, Nikola Tesla is considered to be the greatest inventor of all time. Tesla has more original inventions to his credit than any other man in history. He is considered greater than Archimedes, Faraday, or Edison. His basic, as well as revolutionary, discoveries for sheer audacity, have no equal in the annals of the world. His master mind is easily one of the seven wonders of the intellectual world."                                                                                        ─ Hugo Gernsback
There are a lot of assumptions made reguarding Tesla's private life. One of the few 
things that we know for sure is that Tesla never married. Tesla's seemingly indifference  in women {friends, like a sister}, made him the perfect target for whispers and gossip that he was homosexual, but, of course, there's no evidence. (Karl-Maria Kertbeny coined the term 'homosexual' in print 1868.) 

Tesla, unbeknownst to him, was the cynosure of all the lady's eyes. Despite being surrounded by beautiful, intelligent, women of substance, many who grew to love Nikola, yet nobody became Mrs. Nikola Telsa.

The issue wasn't the failure to meet his expectations. Instead, it turns out to be Tesla's 'no distractions' attitude allowing him to focus his energy on inventing (solutions to a problem), improvements, and , most importantly, the documentation.
"I don't think that you can name many great inventions that have been made by a married man." ─ Nikola Tesla.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. My brother in law built Tesla Coils. I remember visiting with my sister and he would be working on his newest coil in the kitchen and he'd call us into kitchen and he'd give each of us a light bulb of some sort (he had different types of bulbs) ,,,,the coil would start running. He'd keep it low lightning and heck if those bulbs we were just holding would light up. It was so neat. Just think... if Tesla would have had the backing that Edison did... our energy would be so different ...

    1. K, thank you so much for sharing that wonderful memory. Touche! It serves as a fantastic firsthand validation of Tesla's principles.


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