Electricity is a form of energy involving the flow of electrons. All matter is made up of atoms, and an atom has a center, called a nucleus. The nucleus contains positively charged particles called protons and uncharged particles called neutrons. The nucleus of an atom is surrounded by negatively charged particles called electrons. The negative charge of an electron is equal to the positive charge of a proton, and the number of electrons in an atom is usually equal to the number of protons. When the balancing force between protons and electrons is upset by an outside force, an atom may gain or lose an electron. When electrons are "lost" from an atom, the free movement of these electrons constitutes an electric current.
Electricity is a basic part of nature and it is one of our most widely used forms of energy. We get electricity, which is a secondary energy source, from the conversion of other sources of energy, like coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear power and other natural sources, which are called primary sources. Many cities and towns were built alongside waterfalls (a primary source of mechanical energy) that turned water wheels to perform work. Before electricity generation began slightly over 100 years ago, houses were lit with kerosene lamps, food was cooled in iceboxes, and rooms were warmed by wood-burning or coal-burning stoves. Beginning with Benjamin Franklin's experiment with a kite one stormy night in Philadelphia, the principles of electricity gradually became understood. In the mid-1800s, everyone's life changed with the invention of the electric light bulb. Prior to 1879, electricity had been used in arc lights for outdoor lighting. The lightbulb's invention used electricity to bring indoor lighting to our homes.
An electric generator (Long ago, a machine that generated electricity was named "dynamo" today's preferred term is "generator".) is a device for converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. The process is based on the relationship between magnetism and electricity. When a wire or any other electrically conductive material moves across a magnetic field, an electric current occurs in the wire. The large generators used by the electric utility industry have a stationary conductor. A magnet attached to the end of a rotating shaft is positioned inside a stationary conducting ring that is wrapped with a long, continuous piece of wire. When the magnet rotates, it induces a small electric current in each section of wire as it passes. Each section of wire constitutes a small, separate electric conductor. All the small currents of individual sections add up to one current of considerable size. This current is what is used for electric power.
An electric utility power station uses either a turbine, engine, water wheel, or other similar machine to drive an electric generator or a device that converts mechanical or chemical energy to electricity. Steam turbines, internal-combustion engines, gas combustion turbines, water turbines, and wind turbines are the most common methods to generate electricity. Continue...How Electricity is Generated
Timeline - Electronic Inventions
Timeline - important events in the history.
Understanding - Electric Generators
Electric generators - What it is - how is a transformer used - how it is generated - how are turbines used - how is it measured.
Long article on several inventors connected to the field and their inventions.
An electromagnet is a device in which magnetism is produced by an electric current.
Magnetic Fields : History of Electromagnetism
Until 1820, the only magnetism known was that of iron magnets and of "lodestones", natural magnets of iron-rich ore. It was believed that the inside of the Earth was magnetized in the same fashion, and scientists were greatly puzzled when they found that the direction of the compass needle at any place slowly shifted, decade by decade, suggesting a slow variation of the Earth's magnetic field.
Electric Generator or Dynamo
Michael Faraday of England and American Joseph Henry separately built the first laboratory models of electric generator in 1832. Frenchmen, Hippolyte Pixii, France built a hand-driven model of an electric generator in 1833. American, Nikola Tesla built the first alternating-current generator in 1892.
The history of electronics began to evolve separately from the history of electricity late in the 19th century. The English physicist J.J. Thomson identified the electron by and the American physicist Robert A. Millikan measured its electric charge in 1909.
Famous Inventors Involved in the History of Electricity and Electronics
"Static Electricity" Page
A resource page covering many unusual electrostatic devices and generators and a lengthy list of articles and companies.
The ESD Journal
An online ezine dedicated to the history and current events of Electrostatic devices.
Frederick G. Cottrell
Cottrell was the inventor of an electrostatic precipitator called the 'Cottrell' which removed particles/pollution smoke or gases (in smokestacks).
History of Piezoelectricity
Graphic NASA WHY PAGES