Updated 2-15-2011

March 2011 Column


The Mighty Purple Pajama No. 3

Henry P. Broughton, K2AE

Henry was born July 7, 1865, attended Cornell University and graduated in 1890 as an electrical engineer. He went to work for the Municipal Electric Light & Power Company in St Louis and was the assistant to Mr James I Ayer, General Manager. The company and Mr Ayre were members of the National Electric Light Association who were scheduled to have a meeting in St Louis. Mr Ayre persuaded Nicola Tesla to attend and put on a demonstration.

Tesla's London Lecture

Arriving on February 28, 1893, Henry Broughton was assigned as an aid to Nikola Tesla during this visit by his boss and to "render him all possible help in preparing for the lecture, as well as during the lecture itself." The lecture would become known as the "London Lecture." It was delivered on the night of March 1, 1893.

During the lecture experiments Tesla and Broughton demonstrated wireless communication using electromagnetic waves across the auditorium stage, a distance of several yards. Unfortunately those in the audience were unable to realize the significance of what they just witnessed. Later others would receive credit for accomplishing the same.

After the lecture Henry dined at the Southern Hotel with Nikola Tesla, Mr Ayer, Mr Porter Bragg and Miss Billings on March 4th, the day of Tesla's departure.


Henry P. Broughton, K2AE (SK), loved to claim he was the first ham, stating he started in ham radio in 1893. Known to his friends in later years as the "Dean of Amateur Radio," he truly was one of ham radios earliest pioneers.


Tesla's Letter

On April 10, 1893 Tesla wrote a letter to Henry from his residence at the Gerlach Hotel in New York:

Sharp-eyed reader Art  K9XJ and a couple of others identified the word [amuse] as 'assure'. I had trouble deciphering that word from Tesla's writing.

It has been corrected below.



"My dear Mr Broughton,

I need not assure you that I feel much indebted to you for your valuable help at the occasion of my lecture in St Louis.

I beg you to accept the photo which I enclose as a proof of my friendly feelings toward you.

Yours sincerely,
N Tesla"

Henry's earlier station
stationW2IR's Collins station at the Schenectady Museum Amateur Radio Association

Schenectady Museum Amateur Radio Association

The Schenectady Amateur Radio Association (SARA)

William G. Broughton: One Radio Ham - by Joseph ‘Jofish’ Kaye

Download William's Letter - 3+Mb PDF file  (Please save it to your drive)

Silent Keys

At the age of 93, Henry became a SK in 1959 and his call sign, K2AE, was transferred to the Schenectady Amateur Radio Association, SARA, per his wishes. www.k2ae.org/

William became a SK in 1994 and his call sign, W2IR, was donated to the Schenectady Museum Amateur Radio Association. His Collins radio equipment was also donated to the Schenectady Museum in memory of his father. The station is known as the Henry Primm Broughton Memorial Station and is manned by the members of SMARA and is located inside the Schenectady Museum & Planetarium.  The station can be visited by appointment. www.smara.com/



William also set up a trust fund for a scholarship administered by the ARRL: The Henry Broughton, K2AE, Memorial Scholarship, Award Amount: $1000.00; License Requirement: General Class; Regional Preference: Home residence within 70 miles of Schenectady, NY; Curricular Preference: Baccalaureate or higher course of study in engineering, sciences or similar field; Institution: Accredited four-year college or university. www.arrl.org/scholarship-descriptions

For those wishing more information on Tesla and his experiments, His son, William's, letter to the OOTC requesting proper recognition for his father. The letter is in great detail with exhibits and references to books written about Tesla. 

Download William's Letter - 3+Mb PDF file  (Please save it to your drive)

K2TQN's Speaking Tour for this Year


I hope to be making a few presentations about the 1923 Bowdoin expedition, titled the “Wireless North Pole and the Adventures of Don Mix” or Jack Irwin's excellent adventure on the "Airship America" with lots of the original photos. I regret not being able to go everywhere I have been invited.

Check back on the main page for the 2011 schedule. http://www.k2tqn.com/

John Dilks, K2TQN    125 Warf Road, Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234-8501   e-mail: K2TQN@arrl.net