Back in 1983 I happened to be watching when the television show Ripley's Believe It Or Not featured Nikola Tesla. The same year a Radio Electronics magazine article about Tesla was published. It was these two moments in history that sparked a lifelong fascination in one of the greatest inventors ever.
I began looking for more information related to Tesla and found two books at my local library. The first was Prodigal Genius and the other was a book of electrical experiments which included a Tesla coil. A few months later I was lucky enough to find pieces of a Tesla coil that had been donated to a thrift store after a science fair. I was making my own lightning just like Tesla!
In my childhood and teenage years I continued building coils and other high voltage projects from magazines like Radio Electronics, Popular Electronics, etc. I found the Tesla Book Company and ordered a few books from them. I also discovered the TCBA Newsletter (Tesla Coil Builders Association).
Throughout my life I've experimented with high voltage and read everything I could get my hands on about Tesla. When the Internet came around, I immediately considered a Tesla site and pondered on the idea for years. There were a lot of Tesla sites already, but none seemed to live up to the epic proportion I envisioned.
In 2007 I decided that the time had come. I would build the ultimate Tesla site. I reached out to Harry Goldman and inquired about bringing the TCBA Newsletter online, via my new Tesla website. In a few months, Harry and I came to an agreement and I got to work. But what would I call the site? What could be big enough to describe Tesla?
For over two years I worked on the first version of Tesla Universe. The primary design and styling was created by Dave Braden (The Engine Room). Marissa Berger (MBI) and Allan Ezial (Ezial Design Group) provided additional design elements and guidance on styling. I am grateful for the help from these talented people. Tesla Universe would not be a success without their efforts.
As for the programming, from day one I had extremely high expectations for this site. It is a testament to not only my lifelong dream, but also to my career as a web developer. Compromise on any level was not and will never be an option.
The initial version of the site included community features such as forums, chat rooms, the user account/profile system and an events calendar. The primary content elements were the TCBA Newsletter, a dynamic timeline of Tesla's life and achievements as well as a database of Tesla quotes. Most sections and content allowed for member participation through comments. Comments could also be replied to and voted upon. The goal was to allow the members a level of control in maintaining the content that makes up the site.
The site was originally built upon a heavily customized version of a forum package. At the time, most content management systems weren't designed for and/or weren't capable of supporting communities. A lot of the code that powered the first version of the site was written from scratch and it worked flawlessly for more than 5 years, but was difficult to expand and maintain.
Once Tesla Universe launched I continued adding new sections, photo and article databases being the largest. But because the site was largely custom, this wasn't a trivial thing. Luckily I became reacquainted with Drupal through work and discovered that huge progress had been made with it since I originally reviewed it for the site. Over the next 3 years I created the Drupal-powered Tesla Universe that you are now using and the advantages are clear. The site is now built upon a framework and an entire community of people maintains it. I am finally free to focus on the content for the site rather than its engine.
My current focus for the site is to continue adding the Tesla content I've been collecting over my life, as well as share the content I've been entrusted with by others. Tesla Universe will continue to be the number one Tesla resource on the internet and will continue to nurture the Tesla community.
It is my hope that this information has given you a glimpse into the dream that became Tesla Universe. Our goal is to carry on the legacy of Nikola Tesla and to bring additional recognition to him and his achievements.
Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy Tesla Universe.
Cameron B. Prince