A friend of mine is a local tour guide, and occasionally gets tapped for a Silicon Valley tech tour. She has lots to tell her groups about the history of Silicon Valley and the tech industry, but not so much to show them—people can only take so many pictures of the Hewlett-Packard garage.
In classic Silicon Valley fashion, an entrepreneur is coming to the rescue of Silicon Valley tour guides and tech history buffs; he’s planning to erect a statue of Nikola Tesla in Palo Alto. Tesla, best known for his contributions to AC power, radio communications, and X-ray technology, did most of his research in New York City. But Silicon Valley looks up to Tesla as the consummate geek—consider that current hot startup Tesla Motors was named in his honor (and that I can’t introduce myself to anyone in this valley without hearing a Tesla-related joke about my name). So clearly we need a statue here.
Porter has commissioned a 1.9-meter bronze statue from a local artist, Terry Guyer, and then convinced Harold Hohbach, who owns a building near California Avenue in Palo Alto, to put the statue up on his property. And he just successfully concluded his Kickstarter campaign, raising $127 260. The statue will show Tesla demonstrating wireless transmission of power more than a hundred years ago (a project described in "A Critical Look at Wireless Power," published in Spectrum in 2010).
Besides serving as a monument and photo opp, the statue will house a time capsule, to be opened on January 7, 2043, 100 years after Tesla’s death. And the statue will contain a free Wi-Fi hotspot.
As part of the Kickstarter campaign, Porter posted a video (below) that made fun of Silicon Valley investors for their short-term thinking, and hopes that the statue will encourage entrepreneurs and investors to think, like Tesla, bigger and longer term.
Photo: Model of Tesla statue. Credit: Terry Guyer
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.