Carlson, W. Bernard

He lives inside himself. He takes a profound interest in his own work. He has that supply of self-love and self-confidence which usually goes with success. And he differs from most men who are written about and talked about in the fact that he has something to tell.

He told Brisbane that he valued hard work but that marriage and love interfered with success.

Throughout the book, I will seek to answer three basic questions: How did Tesla invent? How did his inventions work? And what happened as he introduced his inventions?

invention is not simply discovering how to make something; an inventor must also connect his or her invention with society. In some situations, needs are well-known and society readily takes up a new invention. Since railroads in the mid-nineteenth century needed stronger rails and armies wanted stronger cannon barrels, there was a ready demand for Henry Bessemer’s new steel-making process in 1856. In other situations, though, there is no preexisting need and an inventor must convince society of an invention’s value. For example, when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, he found few people willing to buy it; indeed, it took the Bell Telephone Company decades to convince Americans that every home should have a telephone. Bell and his successor companies had to invent not only the telephone but also a marketing strategy that reflected the interests of users. In this sense, inventors “negotiate” with society.

he was inspired by a saying from Sir Isaac Newton: “I simply hold the thought steadily in my mind’s eye until a clear light dawns upon me.”

The moment you construct a device to carry into practice a crude idea you will find yourself inevitably engrossed with the details and defects of the apparatus. As you go on improving and reconstructing, your force of concentration diminishes and you lose sight of the great underlying principle. You obtain results, but at the sacrifice of quality.

by responding to ideas that come from within.20 With objective rationality, the individual shapes ideas in response to the outside world (the market) whereas with subjective rationality, the individual reshapes the outside world to conform to his or her internal ideas.

Our first endeavors are purely instinctive, promptings of an imagination vivid and undisciplined. As we grow older reason asserts itself and we become more and more systematic and designing. But those early impulses, tho[ugh] not immediately productive, are of the greatest moment and may shape our very destinies. NIKOLA TESLA,

Like many a curious lad, Tesla took mechanical clocks apart only to discover how much more difficult it was to put them back together.

Tesla recalled: “While Prof. Pöschl was making demonstrations, running the machine as a motor, the brushes gave trouble, sparking badly, and I observed that it might be possible to operate a motor without these appliances. But he declared that it could not be done and did me the honor of delivering a lecture on the subject, the conclusion of which he remarked: ‘Mr. Tesla may accomplish great things, but he certainly never will do this. It would be equivalent to converting a steady pulling force, like that of gravity, into a rotary effort. It is a perpetual motion scheme, an impossible idea.’

Tesla’s decision to think in terms of systems meant that he was not locked into thinking about motors in any particular way since he could manipulate not just parts of the motor but components of the system in which it resided. Thinking about the motor as part of a system proved to be central to his eventual success.

One afternoon, when Tesla had lost all his money but was still craving a game, she gave him a roll of bills, saying, “Go and enjoy yourself. The sooner you lose all we possess the better it will be. I know that you will get over it.” In response to his mother, Tesla faced his gambling addiction: “I conquered my passion then and there.… I not only vanquished but tore it from my heart so as not to leave even a trace of desire.”

Menlo Park where he made quite an impression, arriving in a fancy

Menlo Park where he made quite an impression, arriving in a fancy