History of Electricity

5 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2016

Date Written: November 10, 2016


This paper was written in order to examine the order of discovery of significant developments in the history of electricity. The history of electricity reveals a series of discoveries with the simplest discoveries being made first and more complex discoveries being made later. Some discoveries could not be made without certain prior discoveries having been made. The earliest forms of electricity to be experienced by people were those that occur naturally such as lightning and those resulting from simple activities like rubbing an object which causes electricity by means of friction. Systematic experimentation concerning electricity began after the scientific revolution with scientists constructing simple machines to create electricity and conducting simple experiments that showed electric charges could be positive or negative and that insulating material could stop an electric charge being lost from a charged object. Current electricity required the prior discovery of a battery such as the voltaic pile, and only when current electricity could be made, was it possible to discover the connection between electricity and magnetism. Once current electricity was produced, it was soon discovered that an electric current affected the behaviour of a compass needle, leading to the invention of the electromagnet and eventually to Faraday’s invention of the electric motor and the electric generator. When practical electric generators and motors were invented, and the generation of electricity became economic, helped considerably by the invention of the electric light, the use of electricity began to spread throughout the first world and eventually the rest of the world. The order in which these discoveries were made was inevitable and given how valuable electricity is to human beings, it was also inevitable, that sooner or later in some society open to new ideas and technology, that electricity would be used to meet human needs. The order of discovery was inevitable and is an example of how social and cultural history has to follow a particular course determined by the structure of the world around us.

Keywords: history of electricity, discovery of electricity generator, discovery of electric motor, discovery of current electricity, discovery of static electricity, Leyden jar, battle of the currents, direct current, alternating current, invention of the electric light, Michael Faraday

Suggested Citation

Forrester, Rochelle, History of Electricity (November 10, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2876929 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2876929

Rochelle Forrester (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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