Nikola Tesla AWA Review Article
Website Editor's Note: Below is a summary as well as the complete article published in the 2019 AWA Review. The summary is included to provide perspective with respect to the contents of the complete article.
Nikola Tesla’s Priority in the Discovery of Radio
For much of the last century, it has been debated as to whether Nikola Tesla or Guglielmo Marconi should be credited with the discovery of radio—that is, the transmission of intelligence by electromagnetic waves. Many credit the invention of radio to Marconi because his practical signaling system was documented so well in 1896, and because he demonstrated, in the presence of observers, that his system was capable of transmitting intelligence to much longer distances than previous methods of wireless telegraphy (conduction, quasi-static electric field induction, and quasi-static magnetic field induction) during the period from April 1896 to April 1897.
However, many claim that Nikola Tesla had described a radio system as early as 1893 in a lecture given to both the Franklin Institute and National Electric Light Association, although he never demonstrated that this concept actually worked. In fact, the concept he described in his 1893 lecture has never been demonstrated to be capable of transmitting and receiving intelligence by propagating electromagnetic waves. It was not until September 1897 that Nikola Tesla began to describe and experiment with other types of wireless telegraph concepts, many of which are often cited to support his priority. By April 1897, the transmission of intelligence by electromagnetic waves had been discovered, documented, and demonstrated by Marconi.
In the 2019 issue of the Antique Wireless Association’s AWA Review, Eric Wenaas has published a paper entitled “An Examination of Nikola Tesla's Priority in Discovering Radio.” In this very detailed examination of Tesla's and Marconi's theories and experiments, the author focuses on the published evidence of the theories and experiments of both. Take the time to read this documented analysis and then form your own opinion about which of the two inventors has priority in the discovery of radio.