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History of Electricity

Electrical science was established in the Elizabethan Age.


Otto von Guericke's generator

Otto von Guericke's static electricty generator - 1660

The foundation of modern electrical science was definitely established in the Elizabethan Age.

History of Electricity - William Gilbert

The history of electricity begins with William Gilbert, a physician who served Queen Elizabeth the first of England. Before William Gilbert, all that was known about electricity and magnetism was that the lodestone possessed magnetic properties, and that rubbing amber and jet would attract bits of stuff to start sticking.

In 1600, William Gilbert published his treatise De magnete, Magneticisique Corporibus (On the Magnet). Printed in scholarly Latin, the book explained years of Gilbert's research and experiments on electricity and magnetism. Gilbert raised the interest in the new science greatly. It was Gilbert who coined the expression "electrica" in his famous book.

History of Electricity - Early Inventors

Inspired and educated by William Gilbert several Europeans inventors, Otto von Guericke of Germany, Charles Francois Du Fay of France, and Stephen Gray of England, expanded the knowledge.

Otto von Guericke proved that a vacuum could exist. Creating a vacuum was essential for all kinds of further research into electronics. In 1660, Otto von Guericke invented a machine that produced static electricity, this was the first electric generator.

In 1729, Stephen Gray discovered the principle of the conduction of electricity.

In 1733, Charles Francois du Fay discovered that electricity comes in two forms which he called resinous (-) and vitreous (+), now called negative and positive.

History of Electricity - Leyden Jar

The leyden jar was the original capacitor, a device that stores and releases an electrical charge. (At that time electricity was considered the mysterious fluid or force.) The leyden jar was invented Holland in 1745 and in Germany almost simultaneously.

Both Dutch physicist Pieter van Musschenbroek and German clergyman and scientist, Ewald Christian Von Kleist invented a leyden jar. When Von Kleist first touched his leyden jar he received a powerful shock that knocked him to the floor.

The leyden jar was named after Musschenbroek's hometown and university Leyden, by Abbe Nolett, a French scientist, who first coined the term "Leyden jar". The jar was once called the Kleistian jar after Von Kleist, but this name did not stick.

History of Electricity - Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin's important discovery was that electricity and lightning were one and the same. Ben Franklin's lightning rod was the first practical application of electricity.

History of Electricity - Henry Cavendish & Luigi Galvani

Henry Cavendish of England, Coulomb of France, and Luigi Galvani of Italy made scientific contributions towards finding practical uses for electricity.

In 1747, Henry Cavendish started measuring the conductivity (the ability to carry an electrical current) of different materials and published his results.

In 1786, Italian physician Luigi Galvani demonstrated what we now understand to be the electrical basis of nerve impulses. Galvani made frog muscles twitch by jolting them with a spark from an electrostatic machine.

Following the work of Cavendish and Galvani came a group of important scientists and inventors, including: Alessandro Volta of Italy, Hans Oersted of Denmark, Andre Ampere of France, Georg Ohm of Germany, Michael Faraday of England, and Joseph Henry of America.

Continue > The Work of Joseph Henry

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