Tesla talks mobile phones in 1909

In 1909, Nikola Tesla talked to a New York Times reporter about, er, mobile telephony. Popular Mechanics republished the NYT interview in their October 2009 issue and you can read it all at Google Books. Here's what Tesla said, 100 years ago:
 Staff Culture Nikola-Tesla It will soon be possible, for instance, for a business man in New York To dictate instructions and have them appear instantly in type in London or elsewhere. He will be able to call up from his desk and talk with any telephone subscriber in the world. It will only be necessary to carry an inexpensive instrument not bigger than a watch, which will enable its bearer to hear anywhere on sea or land for distances of thousands of miles. One may listen or transmit speech or song to the uttermost parts of the world.
"Wireless of the Future" (via Daily Grail)

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  1. …in related news, Tesla sues Nokia, Apple, Microsoft and RIM for IP infringment…many more to come.

  2. In this case “soon” was only roughly 80 or so years…I like the way Tesla rolls.

    I’ll keep this in mind the next time the wife asked me when I plan to clean the garage…

    “soon honey…soon.”

    1. In this case “soon” was only roughly 80 or so years…

      He didn’t account for the stupidity of mankind. Big mistake.

  3. “It will only be necessary to carry an inexpensive instrument not bigger than a watch”

    Christ! What an asshole!

  4. I assume from the balls of fire in his hands that he did assume Flash would be supported on the devices as well. Hence, Tesla hates you too Steve Jobs.

  5. I am astonished with the ignorance of “agraham999” and “the Chemist”.
    First of all Tesla could have the technology working 80 years ago if they had let him… He was stopped because he wanted to provide free wireless POWER to all the world. And he could do it.

    If you dont know it already, let me inform you that Tesla was the greatest genius that ever lived towering over Einstein like a giant.

    As for the inexpensive devices, again if we used Tesla technolgy all the devices would be faaaarrr cheaper and smaller, you wouldnt even need a battery.
    For someone who is an electrical engineer and is wondering what Im talking about, look up SCALAR waves or Tesla waves.

    1. Um…excuse me…ignorance?

      So you are saying that barring all the technological advancements of the past 100 years…especially in modern computing, battery technology, microprocessors, etc…if we had all just listened to Tesla (who I’ll admit was a genius), we’d have had radio watches in the what…1920s?

      RIIIIIIIIGHT

      Where’s my rocket card Mr. Smarty Pants?

    2. Sorry to burst your bubble – but we today understand everything that Tesla did. Maxwell did explain the whole thing, and among the results is that “scalar waves” is nothing more than a myth. Boring maybe, but true.

    3. Um, we are more than capable of cellphone smaller than a watch. However by the nature of things I call “fingers” and “eyes”, such a cellphone would be impractical.

      Translation: Who the fuck wants a tiny cellphone? I have enough trouble fat fingering my relatively large touchscreen.

      Also, the remark was tongue in cheek, in keeping with an existing BB meme.

      Christ…

  6. agraham999, You see what we have today and you think its great. I say you have not seen anything. With Tesla technology fully implemented we would be living in a world that you see on star trek if the world had let the man continue his work. You would be living in a world that would seem to you thousands of years more advanced.

    We are living believe it or not in the dark ages of the modern time, if we lived in a tesla world, there would be no poverty, and we would have had not only unlimited energy but unlimited abundance. Space travel to stars would be possible, we would have no pollution… again… look at star trek. We could have all that now.

    PS. Im not a smarty pants, I just happen to have read and seen everything about Tesla, a study that has taken me years.

    1. Well… Tesla did say that he could split the Earth open like an apple, so maybe it’s not so bad that we missed out on the complete fulfillment of his vision eh?

    2. Maybe you should read something by someone else. Then you may discover that Tesla’s manic world doesn’t always match the real one.

    3. Dude, in a Tesla-world, we’d all be worshiping the number 3 and pigeons. Not to mention wiping out entire armies with death rays.

      Tesla was an amazing genius, but some of his ideas were based on the known science of the day (characteristics of the ionosphere, etc.) and his current (no pun intended) discoveries (resonance of the earth, , etc.) were groundbreaking but limited in scope due to limits in the technological instruments, etc. of the day.

      As scientific knowledge (fukken’ magnets!) has spread over time, we’ve found that some of his more utopian ideas won’t work as planned. Although, companies like Intel, etc. are putting some of his awesome ideas to work as we speak.

      All that said, I do agree that if there was less stupidity and greed in this world, we’d all be entirely better off than we are now.

      1. Cowicide. I hate to break it to you, but we are already living in a Tesla world. Everything electronic and electric you use, is based on Tesla technology. Yes even your computer. But you are using a subset of what he was capable of offering humanity. I wrote more in this reply, but deleted it before I pressed the submit button. Perhaps humanity is still not ready yet. :-)

        1. Cowicide. I hate to break it to you, but we are already living in a Tesla world.

          O RLY?

          But here’s how you described it earlier (and what I responded to):

          if we lived in a tesla world, there would be no poverty, and we would have had not only unlimited energy but unlimited abundance. Space travel to stars would be possible, we would have no pollution… again… look at star trek. We could have all that now.

          You changed your “Tesla-world” to fit your argument. That’s not an honest debate. I’ll just let your own quote speak for itself on that point.

    4. Unbreakable, if you’ve truly spent years studying Tesla’s work and ideas, then it’s not at all fair to say that you are “astonished with the ignorance of ‘agraham999’ and ‘the Chemist’.”

      If you’ve come by your knowledge of an esoteric subject through years of study, you’re taking the completely wrong attitude about this. Take this as a chance to spread the knowledge of your expertise, not to scream from on high that everything we think we know is wrong.

  7. Keep in mind how large pocket watches were back then, not much smaller than a modern cell phone. Yes, Tesla was a genius.

    Where did I read in a science fiction story the speculation that Tesla was a time traveler, can’t remember the source now. But stuff like this makes you wonder.

  8. In 1919, the British cartoonist, W.K. Hazeldean, drew a cartoon which was published in the DAILY MAIL of March 5, entitled “The Pocket Telephone: When it will ring!”

    He drew the “pocket telephone” ringing:
    * When you are running for a train.
    * When your hands are full.
    * When it is raining.
    * At a concert.
    * When you are given a baby to hold.
    * When you are being married.

    This cartoon may be seen in THE CARTOON CENTURY: MODERN BRITAIN THROUGH THE EYES OF ITS CARTOONISTS, by Timoth S. Benson. Random House Books, 2009. Page 61.

    I am totally amazed that Tesla beat the cartoonist by ten years. Usually it’s the other way round–the cartoonist beats the inventors.

  9. About 50 years after the first mobile phone cartoon and 60 years after the idea of the mobile phone, the television show GET SMART! was, in its B&W pilot episode, probably the first TV show to do a mobile telephone ringing during a concert gag.

    I’m amazed that TV comedy caught up with cartooning so fast.

  10. History does not give credit to the people who can imagine things like the cartoonist. But to those who can implement them and prove they could work. Take a look at the history of the NOBEL awards and you will see what I say is true.

  11. Unbreakable: The fact that this was posted on BB goes to show that the poster (David) and most readers appreciate the massive contribution and insight Telsa gave to science. However, like most revolutionary thinkers, some of his ideas were larger than life (as #17 pointed out; the whole scalar waves thing… lovely idea, but it doesn’t work).

    also please chill out. #2 & #3 were clearly lighthearted jokes.

    I wil say this though: Thank god we had Tesla, or Coffee & Cigarettes would have been missing its best scene.

  12. Tesla liked pigeons? How could any Tesla future be cool if it involved flying rats.

  13. this is simple telephony you already have today… use your brain people. most inventions did manifest in one way or the other already…

  14. No one should be bad-mouthing Tesla, he invented most of the things we use every day like the radio, radar, wireless induction charging, AC motors and generators, X-rays, fluorescent lamps and ion propulsion. He patented only some of the things he invented, and that list is still over 300 items long.

    Granted in his older years he somewhat went off the deep end, but that is no reason for him to have died penny-less and forgotten.

    The world would be a better place with more people like Nikola Tesla and less like Steve Jobs.

  15. Nicola’s stance reminds me of that Joseph Ducreux macro meme, only Nicola is a little more superheroic.

      1. I saw that! Oh my gosh wireless electricity is so cool. And it’s supposed to be coming soon. Which is perfect because now I have a reason to procrastinate organizing my wires behind my computer…

  16. “Thirds, sixths, and ninths, are extraordinarily powerful.”
    -John Keely

    “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 & 9;
    then you would have a key to the universe.”
    -Nikola Tesla

    “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 & 9;
    then you would have a key to the 333”
    –Biblical Prophet

    The biggest footprint of mankind
    September 3rd, 1899

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