History of electricity

Electricity has been in use for a very long time - Electric Fish and Eels were using it a long time before it was ever harnessed by humans.

Many ancient cultures around the Mediterranean had noted the property of static electricity, observing the characteristic when rubbing amber with fur.

Possibly the earliest and nearest approach to the discovery of the identity of lightning and electricity has been attributed to Arab scholars some time before the 15th century.

In 1600, the English physician William Gilbert made a careful study of electricity and magnetism, coining the word electricus, giving rise to the English words electric and electricity, which made their first appearance in print in the mid 1600s.

In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin conducted extensive research in electricity, including a dangerous experiment (not to be repeated!) in which he attached a metal key to the bottom of a dampened kite string and flew the kite in a thunderstorm.

Around the same time, Conte Alessandro Volta (1745 - 1827) discovered that electricity can be generated when moisture comes between two different metals. This discovery led to the invention of the world's first electric battery.

Volta also showed how electricity could be transported along wire.

Englishman Michael Faraday (1791 - 1867) made the generation of electricity a practical possibility. In 1831, Faraday created the world's first generator (or dynamo) by passing copper coils through a magnetic field.

The dynamo concept was further refined years later by famed American inventor Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931), who made the generator that first powered electric streetlights in New York City in 1881.

The work of Edison and many others in electrical engineering around the turn of the 20th century helped set the foundations for today, shaping electricity as an essential tool of modern life and a driving force for progress.