Adolf K. H. Slaby

Adolf K. H. Slaby
Adolf K. H. Slaby
Death date
Associated organizations
Technische Hochschule Berlin-Charlottenburg, Marconi Wireless Telegraphy, Telefunken
Fields of study
Wireless telegraphy


Adolf Slaby studied at the Royal Realschule in Berlin, and he passed the matriculation examination with honors and studied from 1868 to 1872 at the Royal Technical Academy of Berlin.

In 1873 he received his doctorate and has taught mathematics and mechanics at the Royal Provincial Trade School in Potsdam where he worked until 1882. In 1876 he had been a lecturer at the Technical Academy of Berlin. Here he began his studies on small engines, notably of hot air engines and gas engines, from which his fundamental work emerged on the theory of combustion in the gas engine. Inspired by the early work of Werner Siemens' practical successes in the development of dynamos, Slaby devoted himself closely to the study of electrical engineering, specifically arc lamps and the electrical Railway operations .

In 1882 he became a full professor at the Technische Hochschule Berlin-Charlottenburg with the establishment of the first local Department of Electrical Engineering. In 1884 he founded the electrotechnical laboratory. Slaby was a outstanding teacher and a brilliant experimentalist and made a large number of engineers familiar with the electrical engineering and its applications.

In 1897 he took part in the first practical experiments with the Marconi Wireless Telegraphy in England. He explored the physical basis of wireless telegraphy, where he repeated Marconi's experiments and with the help of his assistant, Georg Graf von Arco (qv), he improved on Marconi's performance. Slaby was the first to correctly describe the oscillations in the transmitting and receiving antennas, and was able to measure the wavelength, thus able to manufacture tuned resonant circuits. He also invented the technical development of new methods to transmit wireless. Together with Count von Arco, he created the first German system of wireless telegraphy.

For his work, Emil Rathenau of General Elektricitäts Geseilschaft (AEG) had invested in his company. At about the same time Ferdinand Braun had, in connection with Siemens & Halske AG, made strides in the field of wireless telegraphy. A rivalry formed between the two German groups, both with one another, and with the Marconi Company in England. Emperor Wilhelm II merged the two German groups, Slaby-Arco and Brown-Siemens in 1903, creating the German Society Wireless Telegraphy (Telefunken). Slaby, lectured for the the imperial court lectures since 1896, and gave a talk on the importance and responsibilities of electrical engineering in 1898. He was a member of the Patent Office and the Technical Deputation for Commercial, Chairman of the German Association Engineers (VDI) and the Association of German Electrical Engineers (VDE) and long time editor of the negotiations of the Association for the promotion of trade diligence.