Mark Twain Plays With Electricity in Nikola Tesla’s Lab (Photo, 1894)


You’ll get a charge out this pic­ture tak­en long ago. It cap­tures Mark Twain, a lit­er­ary giant of the 19th cen­tu­ry, tin­ker­ing in the lab­o­ra­to­ry of the great inven­tor, Niko­la Tes­la. Accord­ing to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia, the pho­to was tak­en in the spring of 1894, when Cen­tu­ry Mag­a­zine pub­lished an arti­cle called “Tes­la’s Oscil­la­tor and oth­er Inven­tions.” Still avail­able online, the arti­cle begins:

[Mr. Tes­la] invites atten­tion to-day, whether for pro­found inves­ti­ga­tions into the nature of elec­tric­i­ty, or for beau­ti­ful inven­tions in which is offered a con­crete embod­i­ment of the lat­est means for attain­ing the ends most sought after in the dis­tri­b­u­tion of light, heat, and pow­er, and in the dis­tant com­mu­ni­ca­tion of intel­li­gence.  Any one desirous of under­stand­ing the trend and scope of mod­ern elec­tri­cal advance will find many clues in the work of this inven­tor.  The present arti­cle dis­clos­es a few of the more impor­tant results which he has attained, some of the meth­ods and appa­ra­tus which he employs, and one or two of the the­o­ries to which he resorts for an expla­na­tion of what is accom­plished.

Below, we’ve got more vin­tage Twain (includ­ing Twain top­less), plus some choice Tes­la picks:

Mark Twain Shirt­less in 1883 Pho­to

Mark Twain Drafts the Ulti­mate Let­ter of Com­plaint (1905)

Mark Twain Cap­tured on Film by Thomas Edi­son in 1909. It’s the Only Known Footage of the Author

Thomas Edi­son and Niko­la Tes­la Face Off in “Epic Rap Bat­tles of His­to­ry”

“Sweet Home Alaba­ma” Played on Tes­la Coils

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