Patents

Nikola Tesla's patents for aircraft, ships, railways, autos, and more

Apparatus for Aerial Transportation

When people hear the name Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), they think of Tesla cars, Tesla coils, or electricity (assuming they have heard of him at all). Most of Tesla's inventions and patents (of which there are hundreds) are related to electricity, but several of his creations are not. In this gallery, we look at 30 of Tesla's patents. All patent images are courtesy of Tesla Universe.

This is one of the few non-electric patents by Tesla. Later in his life, he was very interested in aerial flight, especially helicopters. He went so far as to file a patent for an Apparatus for Aerial Transportation, which he termed a "helicopter-plane." In the application, he goes through all of the math on how a helicopter alights itself and attains flight and then dismisses the traditional helicopter as a waste of energy. He then proposes his device, which lifts like a helicopter and then rotates itself so the helicopter blades then become like the propeller of an airplane. During this time, the "wings" of the device (which were vertical when lifting off) become like the wings of an airplane (horizontal). His main proposition for this device was to do away with the need for runways, especially in areas where they are not as feasible.

Image courtesy of Tesla Universe

48 comments
goran.bulut
goran.bulut

Unfortunately, even today day he is not recognized in North America

rtillotson
rtillotson

Why do the American people sometimes elect Presidents who become unable to provide effecteive leadership and get the U. S. in trouble in many areas?

HKJK
HKJK

Thanks for the opportunity to learn more about a great mind!

wbeaty
wbeaty

Patent 685,957 is a weird one. Tesla seems to have found that when you shine hard UV light or x-rays upon a metal plate, the plate becomes electrically charged. The patent demonstrates how to turn this beamed signal into a clicking relay or a beep in headphones ...without needing batteries. It's an ionization detector, precursor of the Geiger counter. It's also a light-beam Morse code communicator (well, radiation beam actually.) A way to measure nuke radiation in 1901? If instead of patenting, Tesla published this stuff in science journals where people would have read it, he'd now be a very famous name in physics.

wbeaty
wbeaty

Nobody seems to realize that 725,605 is actually a patent for spread spectrum radio. In 1903! (Instead, history articles say it's the first logic gate patent. feh.) In other docs Tesla says that this patent just shows the basic principle, but you're supposed to use many outputs, not just the two shown, so that secure transmission is possible, like a combination lock with many numbers.

marcdartist
marcdartist

Tesla was a visionary. Many of his ideas and concepts are hard at work today driving many of the systems and and processes we use daily.

rav190
rav190

Money does not represent such a value as men have placed upon it. All my money has been invested into experiments with which I have made discoveries enabling mankind to have a little easier life. - Nicola Tesla (the discoverer of Alternating Current and the concept of Radar, inventor of photo voltaic cells, florescent bulbs, remote control, X Ray, Particle Beam weapons, and other inventions. He died in debt.)

loopyloo305
loopyloo305

a man way ahead of his time and still not appreciated or remembered enough

dave
dave

And thank you for the very interesting web link.

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

Do you wonder why people that have done great things have vanished. To find the answer just look at how modern popularity runs today. You either need to have a person marketing your persona to the what was once called the Mass or Main Media. Or you need to keep making news to stay in their eyes. If you do not or buy publicity you become a person of 15 minutes of fame only. The main reason his name is remembered by fewer and fewer today is the old AC/DC current Electricity Wars. Much of what he innovated in science is now viewed as the fundamental basics of how things work, so few ever think of the innovative person that educated us of such elementary facts. This could change if people started to promote his ideas. And why most do not is part of the Edison's peoples promotions, that promoted fact is playing on his mental stability. If he is made to be crazy most live in fear that label will stick to them also.

jsargent
jsargent

What has this got to do with the topic of conversation? Perhaps you are baiting so that someone can throw in a few commie, socialist or liberal jipes as the some Americans like to do once in a while?

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

It could have been great if Tesla was president rather than Wilson. He most likely would have directed America down the path of Intelligent thoughts, not power, greed, and money. Why he could not have ever become President is stated in the US Constitution. This statement says that any President must be of US birth and of the age of 35 years or greater. Do you not recall this problem as The Governor became Governer of California. Just like what happens in the Movie Judge Dredd. Wonder if that idea will stay in the Remake they are starting to create and expected in the summer of 2011.

dldorrance
dldorrance

Anyone interested in learning more about Tesla might want to check out this biography: Tesla Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney http://www.amazon.com/Tesla-Man-Time-Margaret-Cheney/dp/0743215362/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1283831981&sr=8-1 Comparing Tesla to Edison actually belittles Tesla. Tesla was educated in mathematics and physics. Edison was an inventor and entrepreneur. Their only clash was over the so-called "Current Wars". Edison travelled around the US electrocuting large animals before large audiences with the dreaded Alternating Current. Tesla convinced Westinghouse to produce alternating current at the very first electricicy producing turbine site, Niagara Falls in New York. Tesla spent years building lightning machines with the idea in mind of transmitting electrical power without wires; knowledge of electromagnetic radiation was in its infancy at the time, and although Tesla designed and built a model remote controlled battle ship which he demonstrated in Madison Square Garden in New York City, he apparently did not understand the impracticality of transmitting power due to dispersion of electromagnetic fields.

jsargent
jsargent

He IS a very famous name in physics. He is one of the most famous physicists after Newton, Einstein and Volta (ala Volt). Electrical engineers use his work all the time.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

by his past reluctance to patent his inventions, perhaps that's why he began to take a "patent first, perfect later" stance as many researchers do now.

coldbrew
coldbrew

Unfortunately he isn't remembered for what he did. He was mad genious and ahead of his time.

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

While reading your comment, I recall viewing Star Trek: First Contact last night. As Picard from the 24th century to Lily from the last half of the 21st century. Humanity matured from the desire of wealth to the desire to better life for all things living. In the Star Trek saga this happens from a third world war that erupted because of Genetic Engineering. I have no idea how humanity will transform from the concept of greed & wealth. But Nikola Tesla might have been one of the first that desired the improvement or betterment and the ease of life for all. Also in this movie Mr. Cockren invented Warp drive for the 20th century desire for wealth and greed. If Tesla was around today I could see him speaking for the Betterment of life rather than wealth. But would he be at the side of the Federal Governments direct desires to make this true today and them being the Controllers of this power. Could this be a plot for Star Trek Movie #12 due to arive In the summer or fall of 2012, just before December 21st, 2012 and that Mayan Time Line vision of our future. It is also the date the Sol Solar System tranverces the top or bottom plane of the Milky Way Galaxy. The best I can say is only time will reveal the truth happening. My dreams and desires have no real control over our futures history. One indivigual mind may have no effect but billions of minds with a focused desire may.

max crowe
max crowe

Sadly enough most of his life he was living on a double edge sword... at one time he was considered a master of his field... but many times over he was taken advantage of and shunned by his peers... in his later life he attracted the interest of several power hungry nations and ultimatle paid the price... The common story is that he died of natural causes... Yes he was 87 years old but this man was in prefect health and had his wits about him... he died a poor man who had been ripped off by the likes of Edison and Marconi... Even our own Gov screwed him in the end by enacting the Alien Properties Act (which allows the Gov to take property of Non US citizens upon their death) through the FBI in order to confiscate his collection of his lifes work... The day after he died the FBI raided his hotel room at the New Yorker Hotel and took all his plans and papers... Keep in mind that Nikola Tesla had been a US citizen since the late 1890's... He was doomed from day one... by the way in 1944 the US Supreme Court over turned the Marconi claim to inventing the radio... and granted it to Tesla as Marconi design was based off teslas original work...

max crowe
max crowe

I am Max Crowe of Rockland Street Productions. I am have a film currently in production based on Tesla... It's not a story about his life, but more about the chaos that surrounded him in his later years... I welcome any and all input from anyone who has some to add... Feel free to contact me at: rocklandstreetpro@gmail.com

omesie
omesie

I wish I was a tenth of what Tesla was. I'd love to get my hands on all of his confiscated patents one day. (His wireless electric car would definitely come in handy these days)

wizardzip1
wizardzip1

I remember seeing on the History Channel, or such, that Tesla was advocating AC versus Edison pushing DC for city lights. Edison thought AC (in its stepped voltage) was too dangerous. Edison may have had more money from his inventions, but was not as bright as Tesla. It is a shame Tesla was not able to capitalize on his intellect. As far as discovery, most of what we use today, including silicon semi-conductor chips, as known to man by the 1930's, in some lab. But the stuff gets shelved, because it either has no investors, or someone with more money pushes a dead-end idea 1st, such as Edison was at 1st when it came to AC. Edison was a good guy too, but it's a shame the two could not have gone together on some of the ideas, instead of being rivals, or we'd be 50 years ahead of today when it comes to alternative energy production.

JCitizen
JCitizen

now that TV has a hero with OCD, people would be endeared to him, rather than reviled. There is a cop series with such a character, and Howie Mandel is already a well known sufferer of similar malady.

dldorrance
dldorrance

He was not born in the United States, but rather in Croatia which is one of the two parts of the former Yugoslavia.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

got off to a bad start when Edison refused to pay him for services rendered, implying that Tesla was less that competent it the ways of American business. Tesla never forgot that, but stayed with Edison for a while anyway. This to me indicated Tesla's disregard for money at t5he time, but the die was apparently cast. Edison still grossly underestimated Tesla's value.

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

I renumber back in my 9th grade Science class my science teacher started on teaching us about Edison. His points of view was there was no one Edison when dealing with electricity. I a year before found a book on Tesla and work done in the inductive transmitting of Electrical Energy. And most of this work was done only 30 miles or so from where I lived. Tnen one day as he lectured us about the wonders Edison gave us, I embarrassed the Teacher bringing up the fact that Tesla invented our Electrical system of AC power, and he only lived 30 miles to the south of our school in Denver by Red Rocks. The teacher later talked to me about making his teaching more complex by confusing the students that would do bad with their grades by not making science seem simple and not have their unfocused minds understand things they would never comprehend. This same teacher did not like me bringing up the concept of plate tectonics as the science was just in it's birth in the early to mid 70's. For the next 2 years I liked showing my teachers new technology's and ideas to teach them they needed to still learn after they started teaching. The only one I could not suprise was my physics teacher as I started to try holograms. At that time I started authoring software to simulate aspects of our projects, or do the project on paper. At the time we were still using TTY-33 teletypes that printed on paper. CRT's were still high price lab tools. So my graphics was limited to ASCII text. Even graphics at the time was text character on video screens, and the Atari Game only did 352x240 in 4 colors on TV. Tesla was as much a Electrical Idea creator as Edison. He mostly was losr in the innovative science ideas area because of the Cold War and he came from behind the Iron Curtain.

JCitizen
JCitizen

whether accurate information is even available for this person's life!? I saw one documentary that stated the country where his life ended broke into his safe and confiscated all his remaining papers; then I saw another one that claimed the US Army beat them to it during WWII?! I really wonder what the truth is! The wireless car is the most intriguing invention of them all. I wonder if any of his power towers were in operation where he drove the thing?

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

I remember once reading and hearing from a Discovery special on Tesla the Edison bought Tesla's Colorado Ranch and much of his papers at Tesla last years of life of after his death. And Edison's people gave the papers and property to the Federal Government or in today's terms the men in black, or for those non conspiracy believers the FBI. I wonder what the FBI still has hidden, all though they have stated they have released every thing they have. But that sounds as solid as their comments on UFO's.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

I would be very interested in what you turn out. Much has been said about Tesla, not the least of which he was perhaps a major inspiration for some of the "mad scientist" images used in so many classic Sci-Fi movies.

vic_curtis
vic_curtis

Great to hear you are making a film based on Tesla. Shame it's not about his life though. Ever since I read a biography I have thought such a film would make an excellent story. Clearly one of science's truely great exponents and visionaries. Notable that of two of his "rivals" Edison and Marconi, neither of them have a scientific measurement unit named after them! From this point of view he at least stands alongside true greats such as Ampere, Faraday, Maxwell etc.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

His early work was perhaps embarrassing Edison, whom I don't respect as much, but It seems to me that something happened later. Had tesla applied the math he specialized in, he would have realized that many of his later ideas were incredibly inefficient. The radial losses alone from his attempts at transmitting power are astounding. Any electrical engineer can tell you the basic problems with this concept. Tesla's early ideas about AC were very right, Edison was very wrong, and we have Tesla to thank for relatively efficient power transmission today. Well, that's assuming nobody else would have come up with this relatively simple idea later. Edison was as stubborn as a brick. He had, however, ten times the business acumen of Tesla. I should edit this note a lot better, but I'm just too confused about Nikola Tesla to think straight. He was and astounding man, for sure.

psmith
psmith

Perhaps. And perhaps not. It's just as likely we'd be 50 years further behind, too. It's all speculation and conjecture. Hindsight's not 20/20, we just think it is!

wizardzip1
wizardzip1

A lot of mystery still surrounds Tesla. What rumored technology I've read about, has either been lost or been suppressed, was talk of Tesla's research on Scalar Technology. Anyone heard more about it? I just mentioned the AC as a reminisce, but by far, the Scalar Technology where powerful electromagnetic waves conjunct at projected points, was something I've heard about that may have caused his work to be suppressed. Rumor has it, and I am sure most of you have heard it, that his work was escorted off at the time of his death. Nobody knows for sure. The only thing currently showing the rumor goes, are his actual patents, I suppose. Does anyone have more details, or a website? How's that for going past speed - as the dementor earlier expressed? I'm just trying to make it interesting.

santeewelding
santeewelding

You come up to speed. Check in again when you have something that exceeds your speed.

jsargent
jsargent

I guess in your brain the two parts of Yugoslavia are Croatia and the "Restofitia". Don't you know that Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Skopia (FYROM) were the original parts of the Federation of Yugoslavia. Kosova was a semi-autonomous region of Serbia that wanted to break free afterwards. I suppose you think Iraq is where Australia is on the map too?

JCitizen
JCitizen

I believe that means anyone that lived in the US BEFORE the constitution was ratified. In other words, that only applied to the founders of the country. You had to live in the colony 14 years before running for office soon after the Constitution or Declaration of Independence(I can't remember which). If you had been in country 14 years before the passage, then you were still golden, providing something else didn't make you ineligible. Snopes also has some history on this, and the many suits that have been filed over the years on this subject; even McCain was sued over something like this, because he was born in Panama before the US rental contract expired.

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

I remembered all the other parts from my 8th grade civics classes, but forgot about the need to have resided in America for the last 14 years. Bet that removes most of those whose moms just sneaked in the US to have their kid born here. That half way removes my desire to add to the Rules for Presidency. I still thoe desire the addition of the phrase, one of thy blood relative parents most have been a legal US citizen at birth. (bet my spam box will fill now from those from south of the border that think that being born in North or South America makes them a Valid US citizen.)

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

Are you talking about the U.S. Constitution? Or do you Article II Section 10 which includes: "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States." This is why Tesla could not be elected President, not to mention the fact that he was obviously not a politician.

psmith
psmith

Please refer to Article 5.

jsargent
jsargent

The Cold war was AFTER WWII and nowhere wil you see it written in any other way. The first US experimental jet was produced in 1946. You dad's friend ("the operative") was a BS'tter. But if you want to take him seriously he was probably shooting down British planes by mistake in a P51. Pilots in WWII lasted on average 30 minutes do you seriously expect a pilot to go out of his way to shoot down a few Ruskies just because he didn't like them when there are a couple jerries at 6 o'clock. I smell cow plop!

JCitizen
JCitizen

he died during WWII, and the Russians and US Army intelligence were competing with each other to find his apartment first. I have no idea how accurate the documentary I was watching was? There is no doubt that the bulk left of his fortune and papers were in the US, but the argument was that he kept the greatest secret close to his heart in Croatia, or wherever it was he lived at the time. The cold war started long before WWII was over. My Dad, who was a bomber pilot, knew an operative that flew US jets in secret tests, and shot down Russian pilots with them! He was an ace in three Armies. The German, Russian, and US Army air forces. He was supposed to be shooting Germans, but couldn't help himself, as he had learned to hate Uncle Joe immeasurably!

no1kilo
no1kilo

I need to correct you're statement that Tesla was the looser because of and Iron cutain and cold war. First off Tesla died during WW2 and the iron curtain didn't exist then nor was the cold war going on until after his death. Tesla's fame wasn't as great as Edison but both were very well known in their day. Edison's fame was greater only because he owned the companies and tesla was just another scientist working for Westinghouse.

JCitizen
JCitizen

for burial. Heck! I have too much brain damage myself to say any thing for sure! :p

DHOLYER
DHOLYER

I to have herd those rumors of him not dying in NY. But I always discounted them due to the fact that many state they know of or have proof of him hibernating in his Apartment in NY within the last 2 weeks of his death. I know in 1943 he could have used a plane to reach his birth home in a few days at the time. But did he not also suffer the same problem as Ed McMahon and John Madden, the fear of flying. And boat at the time and today that is a couple of weeks. I do not think they had a propeller version of a SR-71 Blackbird or high speed Sub, and we still do not have a train rail for a Steam or Diesel train to use. Is someone trying to make this another JFK one or two bullet problem?

JCitizen
JCitizen

I have just as many sources that claim he died in Croatia in 1943?! I watched a Science Channel documentary that quoted witnesses that saw him driving the car, and seeing him remove a mysterious box from the glove compartment, and re-locking it every time he left the vehicle. I assume it was electric - although that was actually quite common in that time period!

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

And never actually tried to build his car, it was strictly a concept. His "power tower" was built, however, but the electrical losses were stupendous. But at least he tried.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

The very mention of Marconi gets my blood pressure up...

JCitizen
JCitizen

I definitely second that motion!