When was electricity discovered and by who?

When was electricity discovered and by who?

One person did not discover electricity. In ancient Greece, people discovered that amber, when rubbed with silk, attracted feathers and other light objects, which is static electricity.

Hundreds of years passed until the year 1600. In 1600, William Gilbert, a scientist to Queen Elizabeth I, invented the term ‘electricity’. He was the first person to recognize the connection between magnetism and electricity.

During the 17th and early 18th centuries many scientists were conducting various research on electricity:

  • 1752 – Benjamin Franklin discovered that flashes of lightning are electric by flying a kite with a metal tip into a thunderstorm.
  • 1780 – Luigi Galvani discovered that a dead frog’s leg touched with a knife prompted movement. Later, Alessandro Volta explained this happened because of the electricity created when moisture contacts two different types of metal (fork and plate).
  • 1800 – Pile Volta created the first battery using silver and zinc discs placed between cloth soaked with a salt solution. The unit of voltage was named after him.
  • 1820 – Hans Christian Oersted discovered a magnetic field that is generated when electricity flows through a wire. This field affects a compass needle.
  • 1821 – Michael Faraday discovered that moving a magnet inside a coil of copper wire generates a tiny current. This led to the invention of electric motors.
  • 1826 – André Ampère printed his theory about electricity and magnetism. He was the first one to explain the electro-dynamic theory. The unit of electrical current is named after him – Amperes
  • 1827 – George Ohm summed up all previous knowledge and published his complete mathematical theory of electricity.

At this point, we can say electricity was fully discovered.


What do we know about electricity now?

A few years later, Thomas Edison created the first DC (for direct current) electricity generator. In the 1880s, his creation was what provided all electricity in New York.

At a similar time, Nikola Tesla developed the AC (for alternating current) electricity generator. When Thomas Edison heard about Tesla’s discovery, he started spreading stories that AC electricity was not safe to use. In 1893, Tesla’s system was used to run 100,000 electric lights at Chicago’s World Fair, and AC was established to be a power supply in the USA.

Thomas Edison

thomas edison

Nikola Tesla

nikolas tesla