History of Electricity | Timeline of Multiple Inventions and Discoveries


What is Electricity?

history of electricityElectricity is known as the movement or flow of electrically powered or charged particles. In the most common form used daily, it is generated by other energy sources (primary) therefore it is considered a secondary energy source.

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Today electricity represents one of the most widely used forms of energy. Understanding the history helps us to understand why and how to conserve electricity.

When was electricity invented?

The invention of electricity as we know it today dates back to a series of innovations or discoveries mainly back into the 1800’s. There were several key observations starting with static electricity as of 600 BC. From there multiple discoveries took place which eventually led to the creation and distribution of electricity that we have all become accustomed to.

History of Electricity – Timeline Leading to Multiple Inventions and Key Discoveries

• Around 600 BC a Greek named Thales discovered static electricity, notion that objects can become electrically charged.
• In 1660 a machine was invented by Otto von Guericke that demonstrated static electricity.
• During 1745-46, Georg Von Kleist developed the first electric capacitator, which stored electricity.
• In 1752, Ben Franklin proved that static electricity and lightning were one of the same. This experiment is known as key tied to a kite string during a thunderstorm.
• In 1800, Alessandro Volta invented the first electric battery. His name was used in creation of the notion of voltage (volt).
• In 1821, the principle of electro-magnetic rotation was discovered by which later is essential for developing the electric motor.
• In 1826, the relationship between power, voltage, current and resistance was defined by Georg Ohm which is now known as Ohms Law.
• In 1831, Michael Faraday led experiments which proved that electricity can be induced by changes in an electromagnetic field. These experiments about how (electricity) current led to understanding of electrical transformers and motors.
• In 1837, the electric motor was invented by Thomas Davenport which s now common in many electrical appliances.
• In 1878-79, the Edison Electric Light Co. was founded by Thomas Edison, which after purchasing several patents, began experiments which led to the creation of a long lasting incandescent light bulb which originally lasted for about 40 hours. As of 1880, they were lasting for about 1200 hours.
• In 1879, the California Electric Light Company was founded which is known as the first company providing and selling electricity to households in San Francisco.
• In 1882, the Pearl Street Power Station in New York City was opened by Thomas Edison, which could power about 5,000 lights using direct current (DC). During the same period, the first hydroelectric station was opened in Wisconsin.
• In 1884, an electric alternator for producing alternating current (AC) was invented by Nikola Tesla. During the same period a steam turbine generator was invented by Sir Charles Algernon Parsons.
• In 1893, an alternating current (AC) system to light the Chicago World's Fair was put into place by The Westinghouse Electric Company.
• During 1895-1896, The Niagara Falls hydropower station opened in the US.
• In 1935, the Roosevelt Administration passed the “New Deal" legislation designed to regulate public utilities and bring electricity to rural America.

Who invented or discovered electricity?

Based on the above timelines surrounding the evolution and innovation that led to the electricity we have today, it is a bit difficult to place a precise timing in my opinion as to which year electricity was invented. The same can be said about who invented electricity since there were multiple innovations or key discoveries that lead to what we use and consider being electricity today.

How is electricity generated?

As mentioned previously, electricity is known as a secondary energy source derived by primary energy sources. The main sources used today are:

• Natural Gas
• Coal
• Petroleum
• Nuclear Power
• Geothermal Power
• Solar Power
• Wind Power
• Biomass

It is important to note that electricity itself is neither a renewable or non-renewable energy source.

In the US, during 2006 about 49% of the electricity generated came from burning coal, about 20% from natural gas, petroleum about 2%, nuclear about 19%, hydropower about 7%, geothermal, solar, wind and biomass being at or less than 1%.

Why should you consider ways to conserve or save electricity?

When reviewing the above, a majority of the electricity generated in the US today is from non-renewable sources. Although renewable sources are being developed more rapidly, this underscores the need to discover ways to conserve electricity in the home. There are many ways to save electricity around the house, I invite you to review the articles mentioned in the related posts below and start saving electricity today.

Sources: US Department of Energy

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