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06.12.2014
They'll hear you before they see you with this detailed fire truck from the earliest history of vehicles. I [Miessner] am almost certain that the reader who reviewed the book for Van Nostrand was none other than Nikola Tesla. I am naturally greatly absorbed in this field of invention which has been barely touched and which I look upon as extremely promising.
I would call your attention to the fact that while my specification, above mentioned, shows the automatic mechanism as controlled through a simple tuned circuit, I have used individualized control; that is, one based on the co-operation of several circuits of different periods of vibration, a principle which I had already developed at that time and which was subsequently described in my patents #723,188 and 723,189 of March, 1903. In my experiments and investigations in Colorado from 1899 to 1900, I developed, among other things, two important discoveries which will be essential in the future development of telautomatics.
A machine having all the bodily or translatory movements and the operations of the interior mechanism controlled from a distance without wires. With these experiences it was only natural that, long ago, I conceived the idea of constructing an automaton which would mechanically represent me, and which would respond, as I do myself, but, of course, in a much more primitive manner, to external influences. Although I evolved this invention many years ago and explained it to my visitors very frequently in my laboratory demonstrations, it was not until much later, long after I had perfected it, that it became known, when, naturally enough, it gave rise to much discussion and to sensational reports. TESLA developed his inventions to the point at which they were spectacular performers before they were demonstrated to the public.
Tesla staged his demonstration in the great auditorium of Madison Square Garden, then on the north side of Madison Square, in September, 1898, as part of the first annual Electrical Exhibition. Extending upward from the center of the roof of the boat was a slender metal rod a few feet high which served as an antenna, or aerial, for receiving the wireless wave.
Anyone attending the exhibition could call the maneuver for the boat, and Tesla, with a few touches on a telegraph key, would cause the boat to respond.
Waldemar Kaempffert, then a student in City College and now Science Editor of the New York Times, discussed its use as a weapon with Tesla. Tesla was patriotic, and was proud of his status, which he had acquired in 1889, as a citizen of the United States. I have by every thought and act of mine, demonstrated, and do so daily, to my absolute satisfaction that I am an automaton endowed with power of movement, which merely responds to external stimuli beating upon my sense organs, and thinks and moves accordingly.
This machine would, I reasoned, perform its movements in the manner of a living being, for it would have all of the chief elements of the same. Whether the automaton be of flesh and bone, or of wood and steel, mattered little, provided it could perform all the duties required of it like an intelligent being. In order to give the automaton an individual identity it would be provided with a particular electrical tuning, Tesla explained, to which it alone would respond when waves of that particular frequency were sent from a control transmitting station; and other automatons would remain inactive until their frequency was transmitted.
It will be able to follow a course laid out or to obey orders given far in advance; it will be capable of distinguishing between what it might and ought not to do, and of making experiences or, otherwise stated, of recording impressions which will definitely affect its subsequent actions.
But the true significance of this new art was not grasped by the majority, nor was the great force of the underlying principle recognized. 169 practicability of the invention saw in it merely an automobile torpedo, which was to be used for the purpose of blowing up battleships, with doubtful success.
But the art I have evolved does not contemplate merely the change of direction of a moving vessel; it affords means of absolutely controlling in every respect, all the innumerable translatory movements, as well as the operations of all the internal organs, no matter how many, of an individualized automaton. Tesla, in an unpublished statement, prepared fifteen years later, recorded his experience in developing automata, and his unsuccessful effort to interest the War Department, and likewise commercial concerns, in his wirelessly controlled devices.
The idea of constructing an automaton, to bear out my theory, presented itself to me early but I did not begin active work until 1893, when I started my wireless investigations. In 1896, however, I designed a complete machine capable of a multitude of operations, but the consummation of my labors was delayed until later in 1897. In November 1898, a basic patent on the novel art was granted to me, but only after the Examiner-in-Chief had come to New York and witnessed the performance, for what I claimed seemed unbelievable. It is unfortunate that in this patent, following the advice of my attorneys, I indicated the control as being effected through the medium of a single circuit and a well-known form of detector, for the reason that I had not yet secured protection on my methods and apparatus for individualization. Just to give an idea, I found, for instance, that a bulb 12" in diameter, highly exhausted, and with one single terminal to which a short wire was attached, would deliver well on to one thousand successive flashes before all charge of the air in the laboratory was neutralized. In demonstrating my invention before audiences, the visitors were requested to ask any questions, however involved, and the automaton would answer them by signs. These automata, controlled within the range of vision of the operator, were, however, the first and rather crude steps in the evolution of the Art of Telautomatics as I had conceived it. In an imperfect manner it is practicable, with the existing wireless plants, to launch an aeroplane, have it follow a certain approximate course, and perform some operation at a distance of many hundreds of miles. As stated on a previous occasion, when I was a student at college I conceived a flying machine quite unlike the present ones. This first public demonstration of wireless, the forerunner of modern radio, in the amazing stage of development to which Tesla carried it, at this early date, was too tremendous a project to be encompassed within a single dramatization. In presenting this superabundance of scientific discovery in a single demonstration, Tesla was manifesting the superman in an additional role that pleased him greatly—that of the man magnificent.
Again Tesla was faced with a financial problem — or, to state the matter simply, he was broke. A replica radio-controlled robot boat, in Tesla's native village of Smiljan, some 200 kilometers south of Zagreb, on 10 July 2006.
This diecast replica 1970 Plymouth Superbird from ERTL comes in used condition, sold as is.
Since I was planning to include descriptions and drawings of his pioneering efforts in the field of automatic control, I had written to him, only to find that he was already well acquainted with my project. In an article in the Century Magazine, copy of which I am forwarding to you, I have related the circumstances which led me to develop the idea of a self-propelled automaton. In '97 I began the construction of a complete automaton in the form of a boat, which is described in my original patent specification 013,809.
The machine was in this form when I made demonstrations with it in 1898 before the Chief Examiner, Seeley, prior to the grant of my basic patent on Method of and Apparatus for Controlling Mechanisms at a Distance.
They are described in my patents #685,953 and 119,732 which were taken out at a later date.


The crewless boat shown in the photograph contains its own motive power, propelling and steering machinery, and numerous other accessories, all of which are controlled by transmitting from a distance, without wires, electrical oscillations to a circuit carried by the boat and adjusted to respond only to these oscillations. Such an automaton evidently had to have motive power, organs for locomotion, directive organs, and one or more sensitive organs so adapted as to be excited by external stimuli.
Near the bow and stern were two small metal tubes about a foot high surmounted by small electric lamps. He had offered his invention to the Government as a naval weapon, but at heart he was opposed to war. It was one of the items of this colossal project for increasing human energy and improving the efficiency of its utilization.
There was still the capacity for growth, propagation, and, above all, the mind which would be wanting to make the model complete.
To do so it would have to have an element corresponding to the mind, which would effect the control of its movements and operations, and cause it to act, in any unforeseen case that might present itself, with knowledge, reason, judgement and experience. As nearly as I could judge from the numerous comments which then appeared, the results I had obtained were considered as entirely impossible. During the succeeding two or three years, a number of automatic mechanisms, actuated from a distance by wireless control, were constructed by me and exhibited to visitors in my laboratory. This machine was illustrated and described in my article in the Century Magazine of June 1900, and other periodicals of that time and, when first shown in the beginning of 1898, it created a sensation such as no other invention of mine has ever produced. I remember that when later I called on an official in Washington, with a view of offering the invention to the Government, he burst out in laughter upon my telling him what I had accomplished. Most generally I employed receiving circuits in the form of loops, including condensers, because the discharges of my high tension transmitter ionized the air in the hall so that even a very small aerial would draw electricity from the surrounding atmosphere for hours. The loop form of receiver was not sensitive to such a disturbance and it is curious to note that it is becoming popular at this late date. This was considered magic at that time but was extremely simple, for it was myself who gave the replies by means of the device. It was controlled by loops having several turns placed in the hull, which was made entirely water tight and capable of submergence. The next logical improvement was its application to automatic mechanisms beyond the limits of vision and at great distances from the center of control, and I have ever since advocated their employments as instruments of warfare in preference to guns. But there are, to my best knowledge, no instrumentalities in existence today with which such an object could be accomplished in a precise manner.
The underlying principle was sound but could not be carried into practice for want of a prime-mover of sufficiently great activity.
The rocket-type airship is a secret which probably died with Tesla, unless it is contained in his papers sealed by the Government at the time of his death. In the hands of a competent public-relations councillor, or publicity man, as he was called in those days (but the employment of one was utterly abhorrent to Tesla), this demonstration would have been limited to the wireless aspect alone, and would have included just a simple two-way sending-and-receiving set for the transmission of messages by the Morse dots and dashes.
It rose from the ground, flew one hundred miles to a selected target, dropped its bombs, and returned to home airport, all by wireless control. Robots have been used, is well, to operate hydroelectric powerhouses and isolated substations of powerhouses. He would astound the world with a superlative demonstration not only of the profundity of the accomplishments of the superman, but, in addition, of the prolific nature of the mind of the man magnificent who could shower on the world a super-abundance of scientific discoveries. After pre- senting to the public his discoveries relating to wireless signaling or the transmission of intelligence, as he called it, Tesla was anxious to get busy on the power phase: his projected world-wide distribution of power by wireless methods. The $40,000 which was paid for the stock of the Nikola Tesla Company by Adams had been spent. With its sloping nose, concealed headlights, and high wing stabilizerm the car had a coefficient of drag low enough to soar at unheard-of speeds. This machine would, I reasoned, perform its movements in the manner of a living being, for it would have all the chief mechanical characteristics or elements of the same.
It will be able to follow a course laid out or to obey orders given far in advance; it will be capable of distinguishing between what it ought and what it ought not to do, and of making experiences or, otherwise stated, of recording impressions which will definitely affect its subsequent actions. As nearly as I could judge from the numerous comments which appeared, the results I had obtained were considered as entirely impossible. The interior of the hull was packed with a radio receiving set and a variety of motor-driven mechanisms which put into effect the operating orders sent to the boat by wireless waves.
Everyone knew the accomplishment was a wonderful one, but few grasped the significance of the event or the importance of the fundamental discovery which it demonstrated.
But growth was not necessary in this case since a machine could be manufactured full-grown, so to speak.
But this element I could easily embody in it by conveying to it my own intelligence, my own understanding. In reality it collects much less energy than the aerials or a long grounded wire, but it so happens that it does away with a number of defects inherent to the present wireless devices.
The apparatus was similar to that used in the first with the exception of certain special features I introduced as, for example, incandescent lamps which afforded a visible evidence of the proper functioning of the machine and served for other purposes. The importance of his now seems to be recognized, if I am to judge from casual announcements through the press of achievements which are said to be extraordinary but contain no merit of novelty whatever.
I have devoted years of study to this matter and have evolved means, making such and greater wonders easily realizable. In recent years I have successfully solved this problem and am now planning aerial machines devoid of sustaining planes, ailerons, propellers and other external attachments, which will be capable of immense speeds and are very likely to furnish powerful arguments for peace in the near future. This, however, is unlikely, as Tesla, in order to protect his secrets, did not commit his major inventions to paper, but depended on an almost infallible memory for their preservation.
It was motor operated and controlled by a light beam through selenium cells placed behind lenses used for eyes. It was also developed so that on a signal from a distant radio station the plane would rise into the air, choose the proper direction, fly to a city hundreds of miles away and set itself down in the airport at that city.
The company had no cash on hand; but it held patents worth many millions if they had been handled in a practical way.


This application was written during that year but the filing was delayed until July of the following year, long before which date the machine had been often exhibited to visitors who never ceased to wonder at the performances. Even the few who were disposed to admit the practicability of the invention saw in it merely an automobile torpedo, which was to be used for the purpose of blowing up battleships, with doubtful success. There was a motor for propelling the boat and another motor for operating the servo-mechanism, or mechanical brain, that interpreted the orders coming from the wireless receiving set and translated them into mechanical motions, which included steering the boat in any direction, making it stop, start, go forward or backward, or light either lamp. As to capacity for propagation, it could likewise be left out of consideration, for in the mechanical model it merely signified a process of manufacture.
Such a machine, sustained and propelled entirely by reaction, can be controlled either mechanically or by wireless energy.
At a subsequent show he could have brought in the tuning demonstration which would have shown the selective response of each of a series of coils, indicated by his strange-looking vacuum-tube lamps. He also operated a yacht, entirely without a crew, which was sent out to sea from Boston harbor and brought back to its wharf by wireless control. This Tesla-type robot was developed in the plant of the Sperry Gyroscope Company, where Elmer Sperry invented a host of amazing mechanical robots controlled by gyroscopes, such as the automatic pilots for airplanes and for ships. A gift of $10,000 from John Hays Hammond, the famous mining engineer, had financed the work leading up to the Madison Square Garden wireless and robot demonstration. But growth was not necessary in this case, since a machine could be manufactured full grown, so to speak.
The general impression was that I contemplated simply the steering of such a vessel by means of Hertzian or other rays. By installing proper plants it will be practicable to project a missile of this kind into the air and drop it almost on the very spot designated which may be thousands of miles away. The whole story of just the tuning of wireless circuits and stations to each other was too big for any one demonstration. In that year I also constructed a larger boat which I exhibited, among other things, in Chicago during a lecture before the Commercial Club. As to the capacity for propagation, it could likewise be left out of consideration, for in the mechanical model it merely signified a process of manufacture.
There are torpedoes steered electrically by wires, and there are means of communicating without wires, and the above was, of course an obvious inference.
Tesla's demonstration fired the imagination of everyone because of its possibilities as a weapon in naval warfare. In this lecture I treated the whole field broadly, not limiting myself to mechanisms controlled from distance but to machines possessed of their own intelligence.
Whether the automation be of flesh and bone, or of wood and steel, it mattered little, provided it could perform all the duties required of it like an intelligent being.
All left the factory with two things in common - a black vinyl roof, needed to cover the seams left behind when the top was modified to fit a flush-mounted rear window - and a shape that still turns heads to this day. Since that time I have advanced greatly in the evolution of the invention and think that the time is not distant when I shall show an automaton which, left to itself, will act as though possessed of reason and without any wilful control from the outside. To do so, it had to have an element corresponding to the mind, which would effect the control of all its movements and operations, and cause it to act, in any unforeseen case that might present itself, with knowledge, reason, judgment, and experience.
But the art I have evolved does not contemplate merely the change of direction of a moving vessel; it affords means of absolutely controlling, in every respect, all the innumerable translatory movements, as well as the operations of all the internal organs, no matter how many, of an individualized automaton. Whatever be the practical possibilities of such an achievement, it will mark the beginning of a new epoch in mechanics.
Criticisms to the effect that the control of the automaton could be interfered with were made by people who do not even dream of the wonderful results which can be accomplished by use of electrical vibrations. This principle evidently was applicable to any kind of machine that moves on land or in the water or in the air. Certainly, by the use of this principle, an arm for attack as well as defense may be provided, of a destructiveness all the greater as the principle is applicable to submarine and aerial vessels. There is virtually no restriction as to the amount of explosive it can carry, or as to the distance at which it can strike, and failure is almost impossible.
Its advent introduces into warfare an element which never existed before—a fighting-machine without men as a means of attack and defense. The continuous development in this direction must ultimately make war a mere contest of machines without men and without loss of life—a condition which would have been impossible without this new departure, and which, in my opinion, must be reached as preliminary to permanent peace.
The rudder, controlled by another motor likewise driven by the battery, took the place of the directive organs. As to the sensitive organ, obviously the first thought was to utilize a device responsive to rays of light, like a selenium cell, to represent the human eye.
But upon closer inquiry I found that, owing to experimental and other difficulties, no thoroughly satisfactory control of the automaton could be effected by light, radiant heat, hertzian radiations, or by rays in general, that is, disturbances which pass in straight lines through space.
One of the reasons was that any obstacle coming between the operator and the distant automaton would place it beyond his control. Another reason was that the sensitive device representing the eye would have to be in a definite position with respect to the distant controlling apparatus, and this necessity would impose great limitations in the control. Still another and very important reason was that, in using rays, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to give to the automaton individual features or characteristics distinguishing it from other machines of this kind.
Evidently the automaton should respond only to an individual call, as a person responds to a name.
Such considerations led me to conclude that the sensitive device of the machine should correspond to the ear rather than the eye of a human being, for in this case its actions could be controlled irrespective of intervening obstacles, regardless of its position relative to the distant controlling apparatus, and, last, but not least, it would remain deaf and unresponsive, like a faithful servant, to all calls but that of its master. These requirements made it imperative to use, in the control of the automaton, instead of light or other rays, waves or disturbances which propagate in all directions through space, like sound, or which follow a path of least resistance, however curved.



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