Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

BlackBerry Predicted a Century Ago By Nikola Tesla

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the and-he-looks-like-david-bowie dept.

Communications 253

andylim writes "According to the Telegraph, the BlackBerry was first predicted more than a century ago, by Nikola Tesla, the electrical engineer. Seth Porges, Popular Mechanics' current technology editor, disclosed Tesla's prediction at a presentation, titled '108 Years of Futurism,' to industry figures recently in New York. Recombu.com has published the original Popular Mechanics article in which Tesla predicts a mobile phone revolution."

cancel ×

253 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Yet another example of why... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083720)

Tesla was a freakin genius.

Our entire modern world wouldnt exist without him. And he never got any credit while he was alive.

Hell, theres STILL stuff he came up with that we have no understanding of. Yet.

Re:Yet another example of why... (4, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083794)

Agreed [wikipedia.org] . Basically if it runs on electricity, Tesla has a hand in it.

Loser (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083804)

Where the fuck do retards like you come from?

Re:Loser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083900)

Where the fuck do retards like you come from?

Asked the slashtard AC who posted via a device that runs on electricity, over a network that runs on electricity, to a server running on electricity and being viewed by ... wait for it ... other people using devices that run on electricity.

Whoosh!

Re:Loser (2, Funny)

redJag (662818) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083948)

I have my secretary print out the slashdot comments and leave them on my desk every hour, you insensitive clod!

Re:Loser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32084112)

I make my secretary type them out on a typewriter and put a ditto in the filing cabinet.

Re:Loser (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084558)

Secretary? Typewriter? I have an army of monks with the finest parchment & goose feathers money can buy.

Re:Yet another example of why... (4, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083820)

... Stuff he completely refused to document or explain, making it perfectly indistinguishable from the rantings of once-great scientist who has slipped into mediocrity, or even insanity. It's strange how you think the 'stuff' he came up with, that you don't understand, is somehow noteworthy. Surely that is irrational, as you don't know what it is. It's as if you are worshipping at the altar of Tesla. You're not a conspiracy theorist, are you?

Re:Yet another example of why... (2, Interesting)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084612)

The tendency to worship someone, something is strong in humans, and the image of Nicola Tesla has the tendency to expand to super-human proportions in the mind of many a geek. Still, I'd rather have someone bow to the shrine of St. Nicola occasionally than to channel the irrational part we all carry into something less harmless. How about we declare a St. Tesla's Day, where everyone has to sacrifice 1 kWh of energy by doing pointless but spectacular HV experiments with lots of sparks, ozone and thunder?

Re:Yet another example of why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32084732)

No, but I think you might be..

Count the misses, not just the hits. (4, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084036)

Hell, theres STILL stuff he came up with that we have no understanding of. Yet.

That stuff is either genius or failed experiments. How would you know the difference?

Note that this article predicts both the Internet and wireless technology, but with no mention of the digital aspects. It also predicts wireless power, such that a ship could be sent across the Atlantic, powered by a single wireless power station on one side. It predicted all of this would happen in something like 5 years.

So he was wrong about how long it would take, and he threw out at least one other idea in that article that we haven't seen happen, and have no evidence can happen.

I like Tesla as much as anyone else, but I'm not sure how to call this one. Fuzzy, at best. I think Orwell had it closer.

Re:Count the misses, not just the hits. (4, Informative)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084196)

Note that this article predicts both the Internet and wireless technology, but with no mention of the digital aspects. It also predicts wireless power, such that a ship could be sent across the Atlantic, powered by a single wireless power station on one side. It predicted all of this would happen in something like 5 years.

Tesla was, for the greater part of his life, badly hampered by a severe lack of money to carry out his more expansive projects. Some of this was due to his overgenerous nature, as when he gave up entirely the royalties Westinghouse owed him on the power-generation devices Tesla had designed, some was due to his lifelong habit of chasing ideas off in odd directions without consideration for their economic utility, and some was due to his inability to obtain funding from others -- Westinghouse, for example, refused to fund Tesla's development of a broadcast-power system after Tesla admitted that there would be no way to determine how much power any given end-user consumed, so there would be no way to bill them for it.

Re:Count the misses, not just the hits. (4, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084358)

While this article quotes Tesla predicting wireless technology, it is not very similar to what we actualy have. His prediction was for central switching stations, not distributed cell towers. What Telsa was talking about is not what we have today. It bears a superficial resemblance, but it is a completely different technology.

Re:Count the misses, not just the hits. (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084582)

He predicted a small communication device that could communicate in voice via transmissions that allowed you to talk to other people thousands of miles away and would also interface with normal phone lines. At least that is what I got out of the article.

Sounds a lot like a cell phone to me, then again it also sounds a lot like HAM radio.

In his head what he was predicting probably in no way shape or form come close to what we think he was predicting.

Re:Count the misses, not just the hits. (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084450)

Any persons predictions will come to fruition if given enough time.

I predict the world will end in a fiery death. And I am right, simply wait around a few billion years to witness the sun eating our planet.

Predictions of flying cars will come to life the second that they can perfect the auto flying system. Because everyones worse nightmare is the current crop of idiots on our highways, piloting a "flying car" in 3 dimensions.

That's all fine and good (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083724)

But could he predict people associating "Blackberry" with "Phone that has a qwerty keyboard", the same way people associate "iPod" with "any MP3 player"?

Re:That's all fine and good (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083756)

Not even that. The submitter completely made up the "BlackBerry" part! It would be better to say Tesla predicted the early smart phone, although it appears at one point he's suggesting speech-to-text as well.

Re:That's all fine and good (5, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083824)

Actually, Tesla was talking about the Nokia N900, but the submitter never heard about that one.

Re:That's all fine and good (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32084614)

Came here for this, never got the Blackberry craze, my Treo did it all plus a touch screen half a decade ago...

Re:That's all fine and good (5, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083844)

Just wait until you read his letter on why the iPad sucks.

Nokia V apple (3, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084024)

SO does this invalidate the claims in Nokia V. Apple lawsuit. If wireless connectiviry was anticipated in 1909, are practical methods for carrying that out truly surprising 100 years later?

Re:Nokia V apple (2, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084502)

that's the funny thing. Blackberry is a late comer "mee too" copycat.

Motorola had the first QWERTY data phone.. the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X.

Nokia was next with their Mobira Senator.

Then IBM had the personal communicator.

I had the first real smartphone the QCP6035 from kyerocera. It predated the first blackberry by 2 years.

Blackberry did not invent anything. They simply copied others ideas and patented them as their own.

Re:That's all fine and good (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083918)

In fairness to the submitter, the article writer made it up too (as do quite a few others [google.com] )

I can't seem to find the original source (AP I assume) but here's [thehindu.com] a version substituting "SMS" for "Blackberry"

Re:That's all fine and good (3, Interesting)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083920)

Well, it makes a change from people round here talking about "Iphone-like device" to refer to "phone", and I'm surprised for once that the media have chosen Blackberry rather than Apple yet again.

Really though, looking at the article:

such a hand-held device would be simple to use and that, one day, everyone in the world would communicate to friends using it

There's nothing here that even implies a QWERTY keyboard, or even being so-called "smart" (which is ill-defined anyway, and simply means the high end at any given time). This description refers to mobile phones in general (whether it's communicating by speech, text, or Internet - almost all phones do all these things).

If anyone one company deserves the mention, it should be Nokia, who've shipped billions of these "hand-held devices" and have 40+% of the market. Other companies worthy of mention would be LG, Samsung, Motorola - in fact, RIM and Apple come rather low on the list.

(And I have to say, is predicting a device really that special? Communication devices already existed, and this just said, one day they'll be smaller and mobile. I'm going to predict that in the future we'll have faster computers, and they'll be smaller too.)

Re:That's all fine and good (3, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084088)

(And I have to say, is predicting a device really that special? Communication devices already existed, and this just said, one day they'll be smaller and mobile. I'm going to predict that in the future we'll have faster computers, and they'll be smaller too.)

You're forgetting that he said it in a day and age where most people simply didn't have a telephone line at all, and if they did have one, they usually had a party line that they shared with their neighbours. Not only did he predict that communications devices would be smaller and mobile, he also said that everybody would have one, and that they'd be networked globally. That's a fairly big leap, and while you can argue in hindsight that the writing was on the wall, it's akin to predicting netbooks in 1943.

And there's a few things that Tesla got wrong in his prediction... he said that it would be possible and easy for a single tower to control millions of devices from thousands of miles away. In reality there's millions of cell towers in the world, and each may have a few thousand phones on it at a maximum. There's a few orders of magnitude difference there.

Re:That's all fine and good (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084296)

Actually, he's kind of right. A single tower could control millions of some sort of devices from thousands of miles away, he perhaps just didn't consider signal quality and bandwidth requirements.

Re:That's all fine and good (2, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084362)

And there's a few things that Tesla got wrong in his prediction... he said that it would be possible and easy for a single tower to control millions of devices from thousands of miles away. In reality there's millions of cell towers in the world, and each may have a few thousand phones on it at a maximum. There's a few orders of magnitude difference there.

Can you really say he got it wrong though? Also note that he was talking about devices "no bigger than a wristwatch". My Palm Pre is significantly larger than a wristwatch, as are ALL mobile phones, smart or otherwise.

Perhaps it is more correct to say that his vision hasn't been fully fulfilled yet, but that we are, for the first time, able to fully comprehend what he was talking about.

Surely you understand the difference (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083910)

Blackberry is one word, whereas SMS is three, and therefor far more complex and difficult to use.

For example 'i just got a message on my blacberry ' vs 'i just received a short message service message'. You see just how complex it is?

Clearly RIM were the ones who opened up mobile messaging to the world and deserve full credit.

 

Re:Surely you understand the difference (1)

the_arrow (171557) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084514)

Clearly RIM were the ones who opened up mobile messaging to the world and deserve full credit.

Uhm, what?!? SMS had already been in popular use in Europe for years when the BlackBerry came. Or do you mean reading/sending email on the phone? Then say so.

Re:Surely you understand the difference (2, Informative)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084700)

Alternately it could be sarcasm.

Re:Surely you understand the difference (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084546)

Most normal people simply say, "just a sec, I got a message on my phone."

What wierdos call it a blackberry? is it the same ones that say, "I dont know, let me check my IPHONE. SEE IPHONE! LOOKIE!!!!! I'm trendy..... stop mocking me...."

disclaimer: I have an iphone. I like it because it's the best tool for a business person at the moment.

Re:That's all fine and good (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083934)

There are some who believe the iPad idea was stolen from Alan Kay [conceivablytech.com] , so I guess anything is possible.

Re:That's all fine and good (2, Informative)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084640)

Kay proposed his Dynabook in 1972... but before that Gene Roddenberry and company proposed the PADD in Star Trek circa 1966. The iPad looks (and sounds) a lot more like PADD than the Dynabook.

Hey, credit where credit is due!

Free advertising going too far (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083744)

So the guy predicted text messaging. Impressive. But why does everything have to be a product placement nowadays?

This case is especially stupid, since what really enables worldwide access to messaging are $20 phones.

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083786)

what really enables worldwide access to messaging are $20 phones.

And a messaging plan of how much per month?

Re:Free advertising going too far (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083848)

I think you must be in the wrong country.

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083854)

Mine is £free per month (or $free per month, if you only work in dollars). I don't get X free messages/minutes per month, but given the length of time that credit lasts then why get a contract? Computers do all I need, or I'm already at home with my family. Communication in those situations is already catered for.

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084038)

given the length of time that credit lasts then why get a contract?

When I bought my handset, the pay-as-you-go carriers didn't have smartphones, and U.S. residents can't buy a CDMA handset and plan separately because U.S. CDMA carriers don't use removable CSIM cards.

Computers do all I need

With exorbitant tethering charges.

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084330)

What's a tethering charge, and how is it different from any other data transfer?

Tethering charge explained (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084540)

What's a tethering charge, and how is it different from any other data transfer?

In mobile phone service plans offered to residents of the United States, a tethering charge is a surcharge for the privilege to use a handset associated with a plan as a modem for an external device, as opposed to using the handset as a terminal in itself. The rationale is that an external device with a 1680x1050 pixel display will be used to initiate the transfer of a larger quantity of data than a smartphone with a 320x480 pixel display.

Re:Free advertising going too far (0)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083884)

SMS is free...

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083986)

SMS is free...

Only if you have the unlimited plan. Otherwise, after you run out of the number of texts specified in your plan, the carrier charges the end user 0.20 USD to send each message and 0.20 USD to receive each message.

Re:Free advertising going too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32084210)

the carrier charges the end user 0.20 USD to send each message and 0.20 USD to receive each message.

That sounds weird to me . How can you be asked to pay to RECEIVE? Can you choose to not receive a message?
Here in Italy (and in Europe in general I guess) we pay something like 0.15 EUR for each SMS sent but receiving is free.

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084734)

Even if you don't have an unlimited plan, receiving is free. Reading the message will cost you. Until you do, you merely get to see who it was from.

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084454)

Only if you have the unlimited plan. Otherwise, after you run out of the number of texts specified in your plan, the carrier charges the end user 0.20 USD to send each message and 0.20 USD to receive each message.

I have a Tracfone, it only costs me $.03 per test message. Also, don't forget this: http://www.ehow.com/how_4448927_send-email-cell-phone.html [ehow.com] . My wife & I use this trick fairly often to make it even more affordable.

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084492)

should be "$.03 per TEXT message"

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084064)

In the US, SMS/messaging has always been an extra luxury charge. On most contracts, it's cheaper to just call (given that the daytime voice minutes are already paid for, and nighttime and weekend voice minutes are free. But SMS messages cost upwards (!) of 5cents each for send or receive, and an extra $10 per month for unlimited (which is separate from a "real" data plan (!!)).

All this for 160 char messages that have just about negligible impact on the phone network and are easily delayed if there is network congestion. Everywhere else in the world SMS is the poor man's comm channel. But I guess we have the US marketing geniuses here to blame for making something that takes more personal time and work to save money for the network an extra-cost luxury feature.

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084108)

Though to be fair, if SMS /was/ really free, we would have developed some kind of really really slow HTTP-over-SMS gateway by now to get free news and traffic updates for free over the network to avoid paying for the WAP plan :-P

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084280)

I actually did try using data over SMS. Yes, it's horribly slow. It's *perfect* for sending status updates from things like automatic remote machinery, and passing commands back.

These days, unlimited data solves a lot of those problems...

Re:Free advertising going too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32084378)

Yeah, let's invent such a marvellous thing and call it Twitter!

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083990)

Actually free as in beer!!
The SMS, as discussed elsewhere, is a surplus of the "alive" signal from/to the phones.

At least here in Chile, it took the companies a couple of years to follow the 1...2...3 Profit! road.

So it became massive while it was free, now it is a need, so you must pay for it!. (drug dealer dream come true).

Re:Free advertising going too far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083816)

It's just a lucky guess, I'd be impressed if he also predicted mobile phones using voice-communication and the internet. The blackberry/e-mail enabled smartphone is mostly just a combination of those 2 technologies.

Re:Free advertising going too far (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083974)

This is just another patent troll... This guy Tesla wants a piece of the cake. Then, he'll probably go after Apple.

Re:Free advertising going too far (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084424)

Videoconferencing was predicted way back in 1869 by cartoonist George du Maurier. [neverpedia.com]

Blackberry? (2, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083748)

Not sure why this article claims he predicted the Blackberry. Maybe he predicted the iPhone. Or the Droid. Or just the generic cellphone. Or the walkie-talkie. It's nice that Blackberry is getting some face time but I don't really see the necessity to focus the article on a specific brand rather than the entire product category...

Re:Blackberry? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083806)

It talks about the ability for the user of a portable device to send text message to an operator anywhere in the world.

Re:Blackberry? (1)

leomekenkamp (566309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083836)

For me that would mean Tesla talked about sms over gsm...

Re:Blackberry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083946)

So remind why it's brand specific again? Other phones, hell even old pagers, can do text messaging as well, and they crazy part is that they don't even have to be made by RIM. It looks like text messaging was first done in 1992, and now 18 years later, Tesla finally gets credit for inventing it!

-- gid

Re:Blackberry? (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083964)

A Blackberry is the only device capable of sending a text message to an operator anywhere in the world? News to me.

Re:Blackberry? (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084714)

Indeed, it is about text messages. I was merely pointing out why walkie talkies did not apply

Re:Blackberry? (1)

Ranma-sensei (800217) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083840)

I'll tell you once I find out. You could even go as far as claim he predicted the internet, for that matter.

Anyway; product placement aside, it really isn't that surprising he predicted wireless communication. I mean, look at his areas of scientific interest and research.

What I'm still waiting for is generation of energy from thin air, preferably cheaply available to anyone.

Re:Blackberry? (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083924)

What I'm still waiting for is generation of energy from thin air, preferably cheaply available to anyone.

Sorry, John Galt quit working and disappeared *years* ago.

Re:Blackberry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32084050)

Who?

Not Surprised (5, Funny)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083750)

I don't find it very surprising that someone obsessed with perfecting the wireless transmission of electricity would envision the wireless transmission of information. The fact that he predicted Apple would abandon flash though, was a bit of a shock.

Re:Not Surprised (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083882)

That whole article was such bunk. Especially that last line? Darth_Brooks needs to take ten steps back away from desk befo%^$#^%$#^% NO CARRIER

Re:Not Surprised (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084090)

If my drunk history is correct, he also predicted that Edison was a dick.

Blackberry Advert (3, Insightful)

tom17 (659054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083758)

Pure Blackberry advertising to increase usage in the UK. Why should they correlate "possible to transmit wireless messages all over the world." with the BB and not, say, any phone since the mid 90's?

Tom

Re:Blackberry Advert (3, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083846)

The real kicker is BlackBerry devices, and your aforementioned "any phone since the mid 90s", can't do that. Only satellite phones can do that, and I'm pretty sure RIM don't make those.

Re:Blackberry Advert (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083888)

Well that depends how you define 'transmit' I guess. Technically, you are right, and thinking about it I get the feeling that's what Tesla meant, based upon his transmitting electricity ideas...
Hmm... Well spotted :)

Tom...

Re:Blackberry Advert (4, Informative)

grumling (94709) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084040)

TECHNICALLY, a satphone only transmits up to the closest satellite. Single sideband (PSK31 if you want data) on the HF bands can transmit all over the world.

Re:Blackberry Advert (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084476)

Replace 'technically' with 'pedantically', and you're spot on :)

Re:Blackberry Advert (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084226)

*shrugs* it is possible for a normal cellular phone to transmit data world-wide. In 1998 I had an Ericcson PCS phone that was able to send and receive e-mail, which could go world wide by that point. The problem was that I could only do it in an area where I had cellular reception, and the cell tower was what relayed the message through the wire/fibre network world-wide.

So yeah, in a *literal* sense, only a sat phone can actually transmit world-wide, though even that's going through a sattelite or three as a relay. But in a *semantic* sense, any cell phone is able to transmit a message that can be received world-wide, and they have been able to do that since the '90s. If you accept SMS as the message, and not e-mail, then you can go back a few years earlier than the PCS phone that I had, but I took what Tesla said to be more like an e-mail than an SMS, since SMS messages are length capped.

Tesla Drunk History (1)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083772)

Quick, someone find a new link to the "Drunk History" episode about Nikola Tesla. Can't get enough of that.

Funny, I heard that one differently. (4, Insightful)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083780)

Way back in the day when I was in high school I heard Tesla predicted the Internet, using exactly that quote. There's no arguing that Tesla did a lot of amazing things but he's no technological Nostradamus, no matter how much people try to shoehorn him into the role.

Re:Funny, I heard that one differently. (1)

Dephex Twin (416238) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083886)

Well, considering the fact that when you read Popular Science articles from that era and that claim things like "in the future no-one will drink water unless it has been infused with the life-giving properties of radium", it's still a pretty good prediction, even if it is fairly general.

Re:Funny, I heard that one differently. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083906)

It seems he also predicted the mp3 and ebooks! Seriously, he understood some of the potential of being able to transmit data instantly all over the world. Not everybody at the time did. There is no doubt he was a smart guy. But he wasn't the only one that made valid predictions about new technologies.

Jules Verne? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083962)

Reading Paris in the Twentieth Century, on the other hand, makes one wonder if Jules Verne might have been a technological Nostradamus:
  • Automobiles
  • World-wide electronic communications network used daily by office workers
  • Execution by electricity
  • Television
  • High speed trains

And so forth. As I recall, Verne also prediction global electronic communications in another novel...

Re:Jules Verne? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084114)

If you squint a little bit, he also predicted nuclear power.

Re:Jules Verne? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084674)

Jules Verne read the equivalent of /. back in the day. Almost everything he "predicted" in his books was in theory at that time.

Not that that is a bad thing.

Please stop the needless sensationalism (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083810)

Tesla anticipating the advent of portable communication devices does not in any way equate to him having predicted the BlackBerry.

I've found that I'm making small scornful noises increasingly often while reading Slashdot and BetaNews headlines. I have yet to determine the threshold at which I will cease reading technology news altogether, but I feel it is rapidly approaching. I don't want to stop, so please, please, for the love of Christ please stop posting this frothy nonsense.

Sadly he was preoccupied with ... (2, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083832)

... Tesla was preoccupied with wireless transmission of power, not information. He devoted his entire later half of his life and millions of dollars from his investors on that elusive dream. Even today wireless transmission of power, without attenuation has not been achieved.

At the turn of the century, Marconi, Tesla and Jagdish Chandra Bose demonstrated wirelessly turning on a switch over a distance. Marconi could never get the resonance circuit working right (what he called coherer). Got the idea from Bose in a conference, (or stole Bose's notebook depending on where you hear it from). Bose was an idealist and never thought of commericializing his inventions, and was stuck in Calcutta, India anyway. Marconi went into wireless signal propagation and Tesla went into wireless power transmission.

Despite his visionary predictions about wireless communications, Tesla's dream of wireless transmission of power has not yet been realized.

Re:Sadly he was preoccupied with ... (2, Informative)

squinty_s (1738438) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084008)

Actually, his investors pulled out, bankrupting him when they realized it was impossible to meter such wireless power. I have no doubt that if they continued, the world would be much different today.

Re:Sadly he was preoccupied with ... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084198)

He may have been preoccupied with wireless power transmission, but he was funded for wireless data transmission. After Marconi transmitted across the atlantic, his funding dried up before he could achieve either to an appreciable degree.

Prior Art! (5, Funny)

rnturn (11092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083856)

It appears that Tesla thought of everything. So let's just toss out all those silly mobile patents and let the real innovation -- and competition -- begin.

What did he have to say about audio and video encoding?

Re:Prior Art! (1, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084466)

What did he have to say about audio and video encoding?

Yeah, he pretty much said to use Ogg formats. Further, to quote: "Verily, Real Audio is gash."

Re:Prior Art! (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084528)

He didn't mention Theora ONCE! The bastard!

Tesla in 1909? Try Francis Bacon in 1623 (5, Interesting)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 4 years ago | (#32083874)

From Francis Bacon's "New Atlantis" of 1623:

We represent also all multiplications of light, which we carry to great distance, and make so sharp as to discern small points and lines.
We find also diverse means, yet unknown to you, of producing of light, originally from diverse bodies.We have also houses of deceits of the senses, where were present all manner of feats of juggling, false apparitions, impostures and illusions, and their fallacies.

We have also sound-houses, where we practise and demonstrate all sounds and their generation. We have all means to convey sounds in trunks and pipes, in strange lines and distances.

Re:Tesla in 1909? Try Francis Bacon in 1623 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083936)

Ah, so the internet really is not a truck, it's a trunk!

Re:Tesla in 1909? Try Francis Bacon in 1623 (3, Funny)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084096)

Bacon got it totally wrong. Everybody knows the Internet is a series of tubes, not pipes. Pfffft!

He even predicted outsourcing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32083928)

"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"

It looks like he even predicted outsourcing...

Predicting future events is easy... (1)

macwhizkid (864124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084086)

It's predicting exactly WHEN future events will occur that's the real trick.

Tesla didn't predict this at all (4, Informative)

AndyS2 (1654687) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084134)

Nowhere does he say that we will use a complex network of machines to send and receive messages. He thought that you could easily transmit stuff directly to other devices even if they are hundreds of miles away and even if there are millions of them being used at the same time. This isn't true, just like the other things in the article are not possible with our current understanding of physics. I'm not very knowledgable about science, but I even doubt that this is at all possible in the way he described it.

Re:Tesla didn't predict this at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32084394)

True that, and worst part is nowhere does TFA make any references to BlackBerry phones in specific (good job editors), nor phones for that matter more like radio broadcasting, and merely voice transmission. This crackpot sure innovated stuff and put the ball in motion but he's way off (not really that 'soon' now was it?...).

Year after year these dead people get credited for inventions they wouldn't even have fathomed back in their days.

I wish I could get the credit for this prediction; 'flying cars in the future' without stating mechanism for propulsion/navigation or any other requirements for such technology.

Re:Tesla didn't predict this at all (1)

I'm not really here (1304615) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084636)

Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't Sat Phones exactly this? Also Walkie Talkies meet much of what he was talking about. Additionally, he predicted the transmission of pictures, music, speeches, etc. wirelessly from a central station. Isn't this what Television and Radio does, and don't we have wrist watch TVs and radios? Radio (AM) can reach the entire world with the proper frequency and proper weather conditions. While he may not have directly predicted the cell phone, and certainly didn't predict the blackberry in particular (slashvertisements are annoying), he absolutely predicted something very close to it (just like people say Jules Verne predicted rocketry, even though he talked about shooting the craft out of a barrel like a gun, which is not exactly like what we do, but close enough to say he predicted rocketry).
 
Some of the other parts, such as wireless power, were just part of his personal obsession with this idea, but some of what he talked about has been invented. He talked about remotely controlling a boat with wireless controls. RC boats anyone? Also, satellite navigated boats seem to fit this idea (though through a reflection of wireless signal off a satellite, not directly). He also talked about personal aircraft (ultralights, and vehicles like terragfugia's "roadable aircraft" certainly fit the bill - only laws keep these out of the sky at this point).

"What will be accomplished in the future will baffle one's comprehension. - Tesla [recombu.com]

 
The man was a visionary.

Old News guys (1)

barry_allen (1467825) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084324)

Anyone who researches Nikola Tesla would encountered this KNOWN fact.

Also predicted by Tesla... (1)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084400)

Freedom Fries! look it up if you don't believe me. It is filed under F in a card catalog in the Library of Congress in the special Tesla section.

Partially right (2, Insightful)

OneAhead (1495535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084484)

Reading the New York Times column as reproduced on recombu.com, it seems that Mr. Tesla was more interested in the wireless transmission of power, and that he saw the wireless transmission of speech, pictures and other data as a trivial side-effect. His article implicitly seem to address the question: how to give a handheld device enough power so that it can transmit radio signals that have a practical range, and his answer is wirelessly transmitted power. This is somewhat ironic because his obsession with wireless power transmission is what caused friction with his financiers and made him be in debt for most of his later life. His wireless power transmission plans were never realized in a practical way; nowadays, people would find them laughable because they would incur enormous transmission losses and there would be concerns about the health effect of having ultra-high-intensity radio waves all over the place. And even without the technical hurdles, it would be hard to force people to pay for the power they use... Powering handheld communication devices was ultimately made possible possible by advances in battery technology, energy-efficient electronics, and sensitive receiving stations placed at a very high geographic density (aka. cellular networks), reducing the powered needed to transmit signals. That said, there are some contemporary applications of wireless transmission of power, but most of them are low-power short-range, or use different technologies than the ones proposed by Tesla. The most interesting ones are devices that dissipate stray radio waves to prolong their own battery life; I believe Nokia has been toying with this technology. Tesla did predict something in those lines, although he envisaged using natural sources of radio waves.

Of course, the incorrect parts of Tesla's prediction doesn't make the correct part any less impressive.

So does this mean.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32084530)

..we can expect his descendants to file a lawsuit with all mobile carriers for a piece of the money of every mobile phone?

Nostradamus pales (1)

Anti Cheat (1749344) | more than 4 years ago | (#32084564)

Tesla certainly had far better powers of observation and prediction than did the fraud Nostradamus. Tesla also managed great accuracy in his words without all the bull shit and baffle gab of Nostradamus to separates fools from their money. That same Nostradamus spouted muck that so many people interpret as accurate predictions even in this time of supposed enlightened masses. The in reality is more about people trying to fit life to match prediction. The same people that live their life according the their horoscope. The same people that buy the books and films of present day frauds of Nostradamus. Tesla was a great man of his time and a great engineer, who could peek ahead in time using the facts of known physics. This is what separates genius from fraud.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?