Adolf Slaby

Adolf Slaby

Adolf Karl Heinrich Slaby (April 18 1849 — April 6 1913) was a German wireless pioneer and the first Professor of electro-technology at the Technical University of Berlin (1886).


Slaby was born in Berlin as the son of a bookbinder enrolled at the Berlin Trade Academy, the forerunner of Berlin-Charlottenburg Technical Academy (or Technical Hochschule (TH) Charlottenburg), in order to study mechanical engineering and mathematics under Franz Reuleaux. He was employed as an in-house instructor with the machine manufacturer Louis Schwartzkopff leading to an interest in mechanical engineering. Slaby continued his studies at the University of Jena, and received his doctorate in mathematics.

Early research

Slaby taught mathematics and mechanics at the vocational school at Potsdam, where he conducted experiments on steam engines and petrol engines. He wrote his book "Theorie der Gasmaschinen", which took an important place in the development of Internal combustion engines.


Berlin was at that time the center of electro-technology, with Werner von Siemens in a leading position. He supported Slaby personally in his private studies. Slaby performed his Habilitation at the Berlin Trade Academy in 1876, and lectured on electrical motors electrical telegraphy and Electromechanics. In 1883, he became an tenured professor of electro-technology.

In the meantime, the Charlottenburg Technical Academy had been renamed a university. There, Slaby developed a program of theoretical lectures connected with practical work. With the generous support of industry he established in 1844 an electro-technical laboratory (see: Chronicle of the Kgl. TH 1799 - 1899, S. 190ff), making Berlin the most important training center for the recently-developed field of electro-technology.


As a result of his personal acquaintance with the head of the English telegraph administration, Sir William Henry Preece (1834 - 1917), from 1897 Slaby participated with the help of his assistant Georg von Arco from 1897 in Marconi's experiments with wireless telegraphy at the English Channel. He recognized immediately the meaning of this invention, and repeated the experiments in Berlin, leading to development of essential physical and technical concepts. The Emperor and the military authorities appeared very interested.Fact|date=September 2007

The wireless telegraphy - trials took place first at the Technical University of Berlin, and then between Church of the Redeemer, Sacrow and the 1.6 kilometers distant Marine station Kongsnaes at the Potsdamer Platz. On 7 October 1897, he established a 21-kilometer radio link between Schöneberg and Rangsdorf, a world record. The following summer, he established a link between Berlin to Jüterbog with the end-points being over 60 km apart. Crucial improvements led to the success, not of spark gap transmission antennas as used by antenna (technology)| Marconi, but in inductive antennas induction (electro-technology). [source: Fassbender, 1965]


Radio communications were also investigated elsewhere, by Slaby at the AEG, by Marconi Wireless telegraph Co. and by Ferdinand Braun at Siemens & Halske. This led to the fact that Slaby's radiogram was rejected by a Marconi station, because the licensing forbade it. This untenable condition led to consolidation: in 1903 AEG and Siemens & Halske formed the "Gesellschaft für drahtlose Telegrafen m. b. H. System Telefunken, known as Telefunken.

Engagement for the Hochschule

He became both chairman of VDI and 1893 as the first chairmen of VDE, and had a personal audience with William II, German Emperor. He gave lectures about technology in the Berlin Palace,and organized experimental lectures for the emperor at the TH Berlin. This accomplished the social recognition of engineers and the complete equal rights of the technical universities with the universities. Adolf Slaby became 1898 the first representative of a TH to be a lifetime member in Prussian Herrenhaus. In 1906, Slaby retired top emeritus status. His successor was Ernst Orlich, a representative of the classical mathematical treatment of the problems of the theoretical electro-technology. Slaby was then named chairman of the board for the Akademischer Verein Hütte (Association of Students) a position he held until January 18, 1912.


*There is a City of Berlin Plaque to him at the technical University of Berlin, with the following inscription in blue writing on white KPM - porcelain reading "BERLINER GEDENKTAFEL In dem hier vormals stehenden Hause - Sophienstraße 4 - lebte von 1885 bis 1913 der Pionier der Funktechnik ADOLF SLABY18.4.1849 - 6.4.1913 Erster Professor der Elektrotechnik an der Technischen Hochschule Charlottenburg Mitbegründer der Telefunken AG" (Here lived from 1885 to 1913 Adolf Slaby (18.4.1849 - 6.4.1913) , the pioneer of radio engineering, first professor of electro-technology at the Technical University Charlottenburg , joint founder of Telefunken AG)
* to the memory of Slaby was published A stamp was published in his memory, at the Federal Post Office Berlin (first day of issue his 125th Birthday on 14 April 1974).
* In two districts of Berlin (Treptow Köpenick and Marzahn Hellersdorf) there are roads named after Adolf Slaby.


* Slaby, Adolphus, " [ The New Telegraphy] , Recent experiments in telegraphy with sparks.". The Century Magazine. April, 1898. (

External links

* [ Gedenktafel of the district Charlottenburg Wilmersdorf of Berlin]
* [ 100 years of radio attempts. Article of Professor Dr. - engineer Peter Noll]
* [ information on the web page of the academic association HUT registered association]

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