N. Tesla vs J.P. Morgan

in #tesla6 years ago

It is said that Tesla could not complete his Wardenclyffe project because Morgan killed it saying “if anyone can get electricity anywhere, then where do we put the meter?”.

tesla wardenclyffe station.jpg

The relationship between Morgan and Tesla was a complicated one. Morgan was a businessman with excellent business instincts and little care for people. Tesla was a scientist focussed on improving the lives of people. Morgan could not possibly grasp Tesla’s scientific insights and Tesla could not even remotely understand Morgan’s business mind.
But Morgan understood that improving the lives of people would imply less income for his businesses, so he wanted to gain control over what Tesla did.

Tesla’s great loss
In March 1895 much of Tesla's early research -hundreds of invention models, plans, notes, laboratory data, tools, photographs, valued at $50,000- was lost in the 5th Avenue laboratory fire. It is said that Morgan’s men immediately offered financial help in exchange for Tesla’s patent rights. Tesla refused as he had ample funds and income to restore his laboratory by himself. Some believe that it were also Morgan’s men who started this fire.

Since 1888 Tesla had been working tirelessly on what later became known as his Magnifying Transmitter (see these earlier posts 1 2 3 4 5), a machine to harvest and distribute atmospheric electricity, but he was very secretive about it. The fact that its main purpose was generating electricity (see these posts 1 2 3) was never said loud and clear. Though 1 year after the laboratory fire on March 8th, 1896 a strange article appears in “The World Sunday Magazine” titled “Earth electricity to kill monopoly”.
The article shows hints of Tesla’s plan but through the eyes of someone who hasn’t got a clue. The reporter clearly could not understand Tesla’s work and filled in the gaps with his own assumptions.
Here is a quote:

The World is on the eve of an astounding revelation. The conditions under which we exist will be changed. The end has come to telegraph and telephone monopolies with a crash. Incidentally, all the other monopolies that depend on power of any kind will come to a sudden stop. The earth currents of electricity are to be harnessed.
Nature supplies them free of charge. The cost of power and light and heat will be practically nothing. The scientist-electricians who have for years been trying to master the mystery of electrical earth currents with which the ground beneath your feet is filled, are on the threshold of success. The success of the experiments they have under way means much to them, but vastly more to the people. It means that if Nikola Tesla succeeds in harnessing the electrical earth currents and putting then to work for man there will be an end to oppressive, extortionate monopolies in steam, telephone, telegraphs and the other commercial uses of electricity, and that
the grasping millionaires who have for two decades milked the people's purse with electrical fingers will have to relinquish their monopoly.

What makes this article special is that it clearly shows that Tesla did tell someone about his plan.
Judging from their correspondence, I believe that Tesla did tell his faithful assistant George Scherff and his close friend Robert Underwood Johnson but those two would keep it secret. Someone else also knew…

Back up plan
Returning from Colorado Springs Tesla knew he had invented something that would change the world forever, and Johnson pressed him to publish his findings so they would not get lost in case something went wrong. Johnson clearly was a better judge of this situation. Tesla agreed and developed a way to embed his theories in ‘innocent looking articles’ (see this post). Johnson kept pressing him until finally in June 1900 the article was published in Century Illustrated Magazine titled “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy”. A true masterpiece. At the surface it is a little bit strange article but once you understand how to interpret it, a wealth of knowledge opens up.

Enter J.P.
Tesla could choose from several financiers but he goes to J.P. Morgan. My guess is that this choice is based on a complete misjudgement of his character which becomes clear in the many letters that are consequently exchanged between the two of them after Tesla found that the project would be much more expensive than he initially calculated (party because Morgan’s actions at the stock markets made prices go up very quickly).
That is, they are mostly letters from Tesla in which he stresses the fact that Wardenclyffe will make the world a better place for everyone (assuming that Morgan would care for that) and it would generate a thousand times the initial investment (assuming that Morgan would be blinded by such numbers).
Tesla’s letters are often very touching but are answered with a cold and to the point:

Dear Sir,
I have received your letter of 10th inst. And in reply would say that I should not feel disposed at present to make any further advances.
Yours truly
J.P. Morgan

Or later:

My dear Sir,
In reply to your note I regret to say that I should not be willing to advance any further amounts of money as I have already told you. Of course I wish you every success in your undertaking.
Yours very truly
J.P. Morgan

To which Tesla replied:

That was a nice letter to receive on my New Year! Had you at least waited till to-day, bad news travel fast enough. You wish me success! It is in your hands, how can you wish it?

…. (see letter #60 in this document) ....

Please do not write to refuse.
I am pained enough as it is.
Yours sorrowfully,
N. Tesla.

Now it becomes clear that Morgan does not want to invest anymore Tesla goes to find other investors and finds some who are interested. But… Tesla already sold the patent-rights to Morgan and so he has nothing to offer those new investors. Tesla tries to reason with Morgan about these rights but Morgan refuses.
This makes clear that Morgan does not want to see the project completed. It is not about the money that he doesn’t want to invest (which is pocket money to him) it is about the power he expects to lose when people have access to cheap electricity worldwide.

How about the meter?
At no point does Tesla tell about the fact that his tower would generate electricity but he does reveal that it could replace the power distribution networks. “Where do we put the meter?”, is exactly what we would expect from Morgan, but Tesla would have had an answer to that one.
In 1898, Tesla demonstrated a radio-controlled boat - which he dubbed "teleautomaton"- to the public during an electrical exhibition at Madison Square Garden. The real purpose of developing this machine was to demonstrate that he could send power to specific parts of the boat. In exactly the same manner Wardenclyffe could send specific amounts of power to specific receivers.
However, it was not 100% clear to him how this could be best implemented into the Wardenclyffe tower as becomes obvious from his notes during the time the tower was build.

Want to read more?
A few years ago I started a project on the energetic forum to transcribe the correspondence of Tesla that has been saved on microfilm. The number of people willing to help was much lower than I expected, but those who did help did much more than I expected and we managed to transcribe almost everything. I have collected the J.P. Morgan correspondence in this file. It is not yet complete, but the most interesting years are covered.



Thank you, @mage00000, for your outstanding studies of Tesla's work, and for your very clear and educational articles here on Steemit.

Unfortunately, you only come to mind occasionally and so I sometimes miss what you've written. I will try to fix that so I can better support you here.




Well, thank you for your support!!!

Excellent post on Nikola Tesla, he is such an interesting subject to write about. His work has long fascinated me.
Looking forward to more posts from you.

Well, in my mind its pretty similar to Tesla (the car manufacturer) today. They also provide energy at the superchargers for free for the customers. Driving with electricity that is available nearly anywhere is pretty much freedom compared with special fuel.
Fuel for combustion engines and also hydrogen is only available at the special stations, which can be controlled by the big ones like BP for example.
So maybe here we have a new Morgan and still the old tesla ;-)

I hope we can redo the Wardenclyffe project soon !

"A few years ago I started a project on the energetic forum to transcribe the correspondence of Tesla that has been saved on microfilm. The number of people willing to help was much lower than I expected, but those who did help did much more than I expected and we managed to transcribe almost everything."

First, I'm at complete disposal. This argument is my life subject for two years now and the fact that I'm reading all this now to get up to a speed on your work, is proof of this. Second, the file linked is unavailable.

Wow! reminds me of movies about the Mafia

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