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  • Who Invented Electricity?


    No one person invented electricity, but its modern day use is the result of the work of inventors, scientists, and researchers who toiled over the subject for millennia. In order to fully understand electricity in our modern world, one has to first understand the pioneers who date back to as early as the ancient Greeks, and contemplate their work to harness the natural power of electricity and turn it into something useful to the average person.

    The Role of Thales of Miletus

    The history of electricity begins not with electricity as we know it today, but with a more rudimentary form of the power, static electricity. According to historical documents, the first known discovery of static electricity actually dates back to 6th century BC, where a man named Thales of Miletus realized rubbing a fur with some other object would cause the two objects to attract each other. Amazed by this phenomenon, he began to rub all kinds of objects together, but had the greatest success with amber, even to the point where he could get sparks to form.

    The Role of Gilbert, Cardno, and Von Guericke

    Unfortunately, the study of electricity never really took off until the 1550s. It was then that the Italian physicist, Girolamo Cardano, started doing work that involved electrical and magnetic forces. His follower, William Gilbert, began to expand on Cardano’s theories in the 1600s, although the actual word “electricity” was not coined until 1646.

    Otto von Guericke created the first modern applications of electricity in 1660. His invention of the first electrostatic generator paved the way for electricity to finally be recognized as an actual field of study. This invention was followed by a variety of tests, which culminated in the realization that electricity can travel freely across a vacuum, that there are materials that act as conductors and others that act as insulators, and that two types of electricity exist (positive and negative).

    The Turning Point for Electrical Theory

    Who Invented Electricity?

    Work done in the 1700s on electrical theory turned out to be a major turning point for the field and is wholly responsible for modern electrical applications. During this time, the first capacitor was invented and it was finally determined that static electricity could be transformed into an electric current. Also, during this time, Benjamin Franklin established the link between lightning and electricity during his famous kite in a thunderstorm experiment (which may or may not be totally correct).

    The work of Franklin and his contemporaries gave rise to some of the biggest names in the electrical field. These men included Michael Faraday, Andre Ampere, Georg Simon Ohm, Luigi Galvani, and (perhaps the most well known) Alessandro Volta, all of which have their names permanently attached to some measure of electricity. Together, their work allowed for the creation of anodes, cathodes, and batteries.

    The Electrical Theory Revolution

    The early nineteenth century produced even more amazing discoveries in the field of electricity, including work that individuals like Werner von Siemens and John Pender made famous. These men created some of the first companies that were created specifically to examine electricity and its potential to make life easier for humanity.

    Despite the major breakthroughs during the early nineteenth century, they were nothing compared to what was to come. Great minds like Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Samuel Morse, Antonio Meucci, George Westinghouse, and Alexander Graham Bell worked to create some of the most incredible inventions to ever come from the study of electricity. These inventions included the induction motor, the light bulb and a method of distributing electrical energy, the long range telegraph, the telephone, the first electrically powered locomotive, and the founding of the widely successful telephone industry respectively.

    All of the research and study in the field of electricity finally culminated in the early twentieth century in what is called the War of the Currents between Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla. The three men battled for public support for either direct current (DC) (power that Edison proposed) or alternating current (AC) (Westinghouse proposed this and Tesla supported it). Eventually, it was determined that both types of currents should be used, but in different sectors. Although AC currently dominates, they are both still in use today.

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    23 comments
    1. Ann McAlister

      10 February, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      I am looking for something about a man with the last name of Portman who helped somehow with the development of electricity in the very beginning?

      Reply
    2. PhysicsProf

      26 April, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      How could this article omit Maxwell? His 4 equations are the basis of most all electromagnetic theory and are even mostly consistent with Relativity and were published in the 1860’s. They are the starting point for every course in electricity and magnetism from undergraduate to graduate study.

      Reply
    3. poop

      12 April, 2012 at 2:15 am

      thank you for the great info!!!
      I hope i get an “A”

      Reply
    4. Yuvaraj.K

      9 April, 2012 at 9:14 am

      Thales miletus in the father of electricity.
      he is only invent the electricity in 624 BC – c. 546 BC.

      Reply
    5. ali

      8 March, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      the current was invented by alesstro volta……!! u can check on google …..!! thank you

      Reply
    6. vignesh

      5 March, 2012 at 9:39 am

      how the hybrid car works . i want to know more about the hybrid cars and the advanced techniques.

      Reply
    7. pradip t bhowate

      18 December, 2011 at 6:11 am

      sir,
      is it possible to store electricity i.e.not like battery

      Reply
      • Jacob

        15 January, 2012 at 12:19 am

        is there atoms in every living thing

        Reply
    8. Hurtownia elektryczna

      18 August, 2011 at 6:38 am

      should be bit more about Tesla right?

      Reply
      • zhbcjhn

        6 October, 2011 at 5:53 pm

        thomas edison

        Reply
        • assass1n57

          20 October, 2011 at 9:35 pm

          thomas edison only made a little bit of stuff with electricity.i dnt get y people think he invented electricity! tesla was the one who developed electricity and stuff!even though tesla worked for thomas edison tesla showed thomas edison his experiments and wich made thomas edison to copy him and make it further from wut tesla said!

          Reply
    9. maddsin

      29 June, 2011 at 4:00 am

      awesome facts,

      Reply
    10. kris

      22 March, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      Im sorry but i have to dispute the findings of this paper. AC was not purposed by westing house it was tesla who craeted the AC term and the way to make it. it was westinghouse who supported it.

      Reply
    11. LewyLewis

      1 March, 2011 at 11:51 am

      Electricity has a lot more to come for all of us STAY TUNE and see what happens….

      Reply
    12. KAISHA

      4 February, 2011 at 3:20 pm

      HI!
       I WHANT TO KNOW WHAT THINGS DID THE PERSON WHO INVENTED ELECTRICITY US?

      THANKE YOU!

      Reply
    13. tina

      4 February, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      hi do you know who invented electricity

      Reply
      • poop

        12 April, 2012 at 2:17 am

        it was the greeks who discovered it when rubbing fur on amber caused an attraction between the two. It was an electric charge

        Reply
    14. kaisha

      9 December, 2010 at 10:07 am

      thank you.

      Reply
    15. Lolzman

      2 December, 2010 at 12:26 am

      Alll of those are lies….the men who invented electrision is Nikola Tesla…a man born in Serbia but lived and worked as scientiest in Amerika (actualy i havent rode all of those..if its writen tht Nikola Tesla invented electrision….then sorry for posting this comment ^^ XD :DD). :)) 😀 😆 🙂 😉 8) :-* 😮 😕 😡 😮 😛 🙄

      Reply
    16. nadee

      20 October, 2010 at 2:14 am

      this is very fascinating 😛

      Reply
    17. SSn

      27 August, 2010 at 6:21 pm

      Please hug electricity 😆

      Reply
    18. Nneozor

      26 July, 2010 at 1:12 am

      Thank you so much for your most enlightening article on invention of electicity.I have gained a lot from it.I hope one day to be part of a team of inventors who would make mind-blowing inventions.
      Thanks again.

      Reply
    19. umesh kumar

      1 July, 2010 at 6:41 am

      HI,
      can we use electrolytic capacitor on DC. :sigh:

      Reply
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