On Saturday, under a crisp, blue, Silicon Valley sky, geeks of all sorts gathered to honor an inventor they believe should be the symbol of Silicon Valley. They believe Nikola Tesla is special not just for the countless advances he made in developing alternating current, wireless energy, wireless communications, and more, but because of his modesty, and the fact that he was far more interested in moving society forward than in accumulating wealth.
Earlier this year, one Tesla fan, Dorrian Porter, launched a Kickstarter campaign to create a tribute to Tesla to stand in Silicon Valley, in the belief that the inventor should be a symbol for the valley’s entrepreneurial spirit. The campaign sought US $123 000; and raised $127 260 from 722 supporters. The last chunk of that money, a $20 000 donation that put the campaign over its goal just hours before the Kickstarter deadline would have terminated the effort, came from an anonymous family. Said Porter, “It’s fitting for Tesla to have had this kind of anonymous support—because it’s what he would have done.”
The statue, designed by artist Terry Guyer, rests on land offered by local building owner Harold Hobach, at 260 Sheridan Ave. in Palo Alto. It contains a time capsule, to be opened in 30 years, and a free Wi-Fi hotspot. This isn’t the only monument to Tesla in the world—in September, a monument went up at the Tesla Science Center in Shoreham, N.Y., and monuments are also standing in Croatia and in Niagara Falls. It is, however, the first in Silicon Valley, so its unveiling brought out the local Tesla fans.
Greg Leando, a local banker, says he came because, he says, he found that, growing up in Silicon Valley, “Tesla is an inspiration to al ot of young entrepreneurs. We are at the epicenter of technology and innovation, so it is a fitting tribute.”
Engineering technician Konstantinos Georgiou came to honor a “little fellow with a big brain.” Georgiou is a big fan of Tesla, he says, “not only because of the things that he invented, but also because of the fact that he was humble, and that’s admirable as well.”
Aeronautical engineer Ana Rosic came because she feels a special connection to Tesla. She, like Tesla, is Serbian, and, she says, “We Serbians always had a lot of respect for Tesla. I was delighted that someone thought of this idea; he’s done so much for the world, this honor is overdue.”
At the Saturday’s unveiling, attendees crowded around to put their own special items in the time capsule—an iPhone, a 2013 penny, and cards on which they’d scrawled their predictions for the future. Scenes from the unveiling follow.
The wraps come off of a bronze statue of Nikola Tesla, in front of 260 Sheridan Ave. in Palo Alto. Tesla fan Dorrian Porter, standing with his daughter on his shoulders, used a Kickstarter campaign to fund the statue, created by artist Terry Guyer, standing to next to Porter.
A time capsule, inserted in the base of the statue, is slated to be opened in 30 years. Those attending the event contributed memoriabilia from the present—including a 2013 penny and an iPhone—and their predictions of technology's future.
Tesla fans crowded tables selling T-shirts and souveniers, like these magnetic miniatures of the monument.
Photos: Tekla Perry
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.