Microwave Legends

I read your article about the legends of microwave research and development in the August 2006 issue of Microwaves & RF (“Microwave Legends,” p. 51). I recognized many of the names, especially Packard and Hewlett. It looks like a lot of time and effort went into the list as there was a lot of information presented.

One person who was missing, though, was Nicola Tesla. The reason I thought of him is that I was just reading a biography about Tesla when I read your article. Some information that you might not know is that Tesla has the first radio patent, he described a transmitter and receiver with tuned circuits, not Marconi. In fact, in 1947, the year of Tesla’s death, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Tesla’s favor in the case of Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. vs. the United States, thus invalidating this particular Marconi patent. One piece of trivia is that up to 1960, the US Supreme Court had ruled on 11 patent lawsuits. Two of them were regarding Tesla’s patents. He won both. Also, he didn’t initiate either of the lawsuits. The one thing he did that would be unheard of today is that he signed over the rights of his patents of the induction motor and polyphase AC distribution to Westinghouse so that the system could be placed into existence. He was owed millions of dollars back in the late 1800s and would have been considered one of the wealthiest men in the world, but this would have broken Westinghouse and his desire was that his invention be used. Tesla ended up dying as a pauper.

We, as engineers, seem to forget about Tesla as the great man/inventor that he was because of his idiosyncrasies. This is true, he was a strange person according to our standards today. But you should read about the lengths that Edison went to in order to show that AC was dangerous and that DC was the best method of power dissipation.
Richard Christensen

Editor’s Note: Thanks for writing, Richard. Please keep in mind that we will be adding to the Microwave Legends every year and that Nicola Tesla is a likely future candidate.

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