Tesla – Lecture at Columbia University

The disruptive discharge of a condenser is especially suited for operating such lamps—with no outward electrical connections—by means of electromagnetic induction, the electromagnetic inductive effects being excessively high; and I have been able to produce the desired incandescence with only a few short turns of wire. Incandescence may also be produced in this manner in a simple closed filament.
Leaving now out of consideration the practicability of such lamps, I would only say that they possess a beautiful and desirable feature, namely, that they can be rendered, at will, more or less brilliant simply by altering the relative position of the outside and inside condenser coatings, or inducing and induced circuits.
When a lamp is lighted by connecting it to one terminal only of the source, this may be facilitated by providing the globe with an outside condenser coating, which serves at the same time as a reflector, and connecting this to an insulated body of some size. Lamps of this kind are illustrated in Fig. 26 and Fig. 27. Fig. 28 shows the plan of connection. The brilliancy of the lamp may, in this case, be regulated within wide limits by varying the size of the insulated metal plate to which the coating is connected.
It is likewise practicable to light with one leading wire lamps such as illustrated in Fig. 20 and Fig. 21, by connecting one terminal of the lamp to one terminal of the source, and the other to an insulated body of the required size. In all cases the insulated body serves to give off the energy into the surrounding space, and is equivalent to a return wire. Obviously, in the two last-named cases, instead of connecting the wires to an insulated body, connections may be made to the ground.