Era of electricity

Different Era of Electricity discoveries

Electricity is a source of energy and it is not invented by anyone as it occurs in nature. Now people raise the question that who discovered it?. There are many misconceptions about Electricity discoveries. Many of them give credit to Benjamin Franklin for discovering electricity but his experiments just help us to establish a connection between lightning and electricity nothing more.

The truth about discovering electricity is a bit more complex. It actually goes more than a thousand years ago.

In about 600BC, Ancient greek discovered that by rubbing the fur on fossilized tree resin cause an attraction between them that’s the process by which Ancient Greeks discovered electricity


Different Era of Electricity discoveries

Use of Electricity in Ancient Time

Ancient Batteries

In 1930 archeologists discovered pots with copper sheets inside at archeological digs in Greek and they believed that this an ancient type of battery which is used to produce electricity. Homogeneous devices found at archeological digs in Baghdad means that Ancient Persian also use an early form of batteries.

Electricity discoveries in 17th Century

World First Electrostatic generator

17th century has an important role in the discovery of electricity. In this era, many electricity-related discoveries are made such as an invention of an electrostatic generator, the difference between the positive and negative currents, and classification of materials into two categories
1) Conductor
2) Insulator

Electricity discoveries in the year 1600

derivation of word electricus

In the Year 1600 English physician William Gilbert used the Latin word “electricus” to describe the force that some of the substances exert when they are rubbed to other substances. A few years later another scientist Thomas Browne, wrote several books and he used the word “electricity” to describe his analysis based on Gilbert’s work.

Electricity discoveries in the year in 1752

Ben Franklin Experiment
Benjamin’s Franklin kite in a dangerous electrical storm

In 1752, Ben Franklin conducted his experiment with a kite, a key, and a storm. This simply proved that lightning and tiny electric sparks were the same things.

Italian physicist Alessandro Volta discovered that particular chemical reactions could produce electricity, and in 1800 he constructed the voltaic pile (an early electric battery) that produced a steady electric current, and so he was the first person to create a steady flow of electrical charge. Volta also created the first transmission of electricity by linking positively-charged and negatively-charged connectors and driving an electrical charge, or voltage, through them.

Electricity discoveries in the year in the 1800s

Michael Faraday Bio

In 1831 electricity became viable for use in technology when Michael Faraday created the electric dynamo (a crude power generator), which solved the problem of generating an electric current in an ongoing and practical way. Faraday’s rather crude invention used a magnet that was moved inside a coil of copper wire, creating a tiny electric current that flowed through the wire. This opened the door to American Thomas Edison and British scientist Joseph Swan who each invented the incandescent filament light bulb in their respective countries in about 1878. Previously, light bulbs had been invented by others, but the incandescent bulb was the first practical bulb that would light for hours on end.

Swan and Edison later set up a joint company to produce the first practical filament lamp, and Edison used his direct-current system (DC) to provide power to illuminate the first New York electric street lamps in September 1882.

Later in the 1800’s and early 1900’s Serbian American engineer, inventor, and all-around electrical wizard Nikola Tesla became an important contributor to the birth of commercial electricity. He worked with Edison and later had many revolutionary developments in electromagnetism, and had to compete for patients with Marconi for the invention of the radio. He is well known for his work with alternating current (AC), AC motors, and the polyphase distribution system.

Later, American inventor and industrialist George Westinghouse purchased and developed Tesla’s patented motor for generating alternating current, and the work of Westinghouse, Tesla, and others gradually convinced American society that the future of electricity lay with AC rather than DC.

Others who worked to bring the use of electricity to where it is today include Scottish inventor James Watt, Andre Ampere, a French mathematician, and German mathematician and physicist George Ohm.

And so, it was not just one person who discovered electricity. While the concept of electricity was known for thousands of years, when it came time to develop it commercially and scientifically, there were several great minds working on the problem at the same time.

We have written many articles about electricity for Universe Today. Here’s a separate article about static electricity, and here’s an interesting story about how astronomy was part of how electricity was brought to the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933.


Wikipedia: Electricity, Electricity Forum, A Short History of Ancient Electricity, Wise Geek, Wikipedia: Alessandro Volta, Wikipedia: Michael Faraday, Wikipedia: Thomas Edison, Wikipedia: Nikola Tesla, Wikipedia: Guglielmo Marconi