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.