A study of the history of electricity makes it clear that no single scientist or inventor is responsible for its invention. No single person learned how to use it. Rather it was the culmination of the works of various researchers spanning several years.
Earliest Mention of Electrical Use
Historical records show that static electricity was already known to the ancient Greeks. In the 6th century BC a Greek named Thales of Miletus discovered that rubbing a fur would make a couple of objects attract one another.
According to the legend he experimented with various objects. It was with amber that he was able to produce electrical sparks.
Discoveries in the 15th Century
The next important chapter in the history of electricity took place at the onset of the Renaissance. The Italian physicist Girolamo Cardano discovered fundamental aspects of electrical power and magnetism. His associate William Gilbert expounded on Cardano’s theories.
In 1660 Otto von Guericke invented an electrostatic generator. This was the beginning of a new scientific field of study. This device, along with others that followed, revealed a number of things.
The first is that electricity can move across a vacuum. The second is that materials can be divided between insulators and conductors. Finally, it was learned that electricity can be either in positive or negative forms.
The 17th to 19th Centuries
This period was crucial in the history of electricity. First of all, the capacitor was invented. Just as important was the discovery that static electricity could be changed into a current.
It was also around this time that Benjamin Franklin performed his famous experiment with a kite. His experiments about lightning and electricity has been subject to debate, but his contribution to electricity theory cannot be denied.
This was followed by more innovations and inventions, including batteries, cathodes and anodes. Among the most prominent inventors who worked on these aspects were Alessandro Volta, Georg Ohm and Andre Ampere. Just a look at their names indicates the contributions they made to the field.
Towards the 20th Century
The history of electricity from this point on was marked by a rapid series of inventions. These would come from some of the most brilliant thinkers and inventors in the world. Not only did these researchers contribute to electrical theory but they developed practical applications for it.
Among these inventors were Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Nikolas Tesla, George Westinghouse and Samuel Morse. Their inventions would change civilization in ways unimaginable. Among their creations were the telephone, the motor and the light bulb.
During this period, energy distribution was discovered and the telegraph was invented. The highlight came during the War of the Currents. Edison wanted direct current (DC) to be used while Westinghouse preferred the alternating current (AC). Eventually both were utilized.
The history of electricity is a fine example of how the works of many could be combined into one. Although they never worked together, their efforts would pave the way for the discovery and management of one of the most vital aspects of nature.