“A mass in movement resists change of direction. So does the world oppose a new idea. It takes time to make up the minds to its value and importance. Ignorance, prejudice and inertia of the old retard its early progress. It is discredited by insincere exponents and selfish exploiters. It is attacked and condemned by its enemies. Eventually, though, all barriers are thrown down, and it spreads like fire. This will also prove true of the wireless art.
“The practical applications of this revolutionary principle have only begun. So far they have been confined to the use of oscillations which are quickly damped out in their passage through the medium. Still, even this has commanded universal attention. What will be achieved by waves which do not diminish with distance, baffles comprehension...”
FIRST EDITION of Tesla’s enormously prescient essay, “The Future of the Wireless Art”.
“The idea of transmitting power through the open air has fascinated people for decades. In fact, it was radio inventor Nikola Tesla who first saw it was possible to not only move voices and information through the atmosphere over vast distances, but also electricity. With an investment from financier J.P. Morgan, Tesla famously began building Wardenclyffe Tower -- known also as the Tesla Tower -- in 1901 in Long Island, about 100 kilometers from New York City. The wood-supported tower was nearly 200 feet tall and had a large metal transmitter on the top in a half-sphere shape. It was used by Tesla in those early days to experiment with wireless communications and power transmission. In 1908 [in ‘The Future of the Wireless Art’], he described how Wardenclyffe would usher in a future without wires:
As soon as completed, it will be possible for a business man in New York to dictate instructions, and have them instantly appear in type at his office in London or elsewhere. He will be able to call up, from his desk, and talk to any telephone subscriber on the globe, without any change whatever in the existing equipment. An inexpensive instrument, not bigger than a watch, will enable its bearer to hear anywhere, on sea or land, music or song, the speech of a political leader, the address of an eminent man of science, or the sermon of an eloquent clergyman, delivered in some other place, however distant. In the same manner any picture, character, drawing, or print can be transferred from one to another place. Millions of such instruments can be operated from but one plant of this kind. More important than all of this, however, will be the transmission of power, without wires, which will be shown on a scale large enough to carry conviction. These few indications will be sufficient to show that the wireless art offers greater possibilities than any invention or discovery heretofore made, and if the conditions are favorable, we can expect with certitude that in the next few years wonders will be wrought by its application. -from The Future of the Wireless Art
"Tesla’s description of a world without wires will sound familiar to BlackBerry-addicted executives and iPhone-toting consumers, who can today transfer pictures to each other and download movies from the Internet without any need to plug in. Few would have expected such advancements three decades ago, let alone in Tesla’s day...” (Tyler Hamilton, Mad Like Tesla).
Tesla’s article appears as the last chapter in Massie and Underhill’s book, Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony.
TESLA, NIKOLA. The Future of the Wireless Art. IN: MASSIE, WALTER W. and UNDERHILL, CHARLES R., Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony, pp. 67-71. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1908. Octavo, original green cloth; custom box. Light wear to cloth with loss of white lettering to spine. A rare copy in the original cloth of an important Tesla publication.