Tribute to Henry Primm Broughton K2AE
1865 - 1959

Henry was one of radio's pioneers. He participated in the world's first wireless contact with Nikola Tesla in 1893.

Wm. G. Broughton, Licensee Schenectady Museum Feb. 6, 1976

Eighty-three years ago, in St. Louis, the National Electric Light Association sponsored a public lecture on high-voltage high-frequency phenomena. On the auditorium stage a demonstration was set up using two groups of equipment.

In the transmitter group on one side of the stage was a 5-kva high-voltage pole-type oil-filled distribution transformer connected to a condenser bank of Leyden jars, a spark gap, a coil, and a wire running up to the ceiling. In the receiver group at the other side of the stage was an identical wire hanging from the ceiling, a duplicate condenser bank of Leyden jars and coil--but instead of the spark gap, there was a Geissler tube that would light up like a modern fluorescent lamp bulb when voltage was applied. There were no interconnecting wires between transmitter and receiver.

The transformer in the transmitter group was energized from a special electric power line through an exposed two-blade knife switch. When this switch was closed, the transformer grunted and groaned, the Leyden jars showed corona sizzling around their foil edges, the spark gap crackled with a noisy spark discharge, and an invisible electromagnetic field radiated energy into space from the transmitter antenna wire. Simultaneously, in the receiver group, the Geissler tube lighted up from radio-frequency excitation picked up by the receiver antenna wire.

Thus wireless was born. A wireless message had been transmitted by the 5-kilowatt spark transmitter, and instantly recieved [sic] by the Geissler-tube receiver thirty feet away. There was the first public radio communication ever. The world-famous genius who invented, conducted, and explained this lecture demonstration was Nikola Tesla. (Now here is the punch line.) Tesla's twenty-eight year old assistant on stage was my father (K2AE).

Photos from the estate of W2OZH
Dedication speach from

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