A Brief History of Electricity

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Monday October 16, 2017 - 16:58:48 in News & Events by Super Admin
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    A Brief History of Electricity

    In the history of electricity, no single defining moment exists. The way we produce, distribute, install, and use electricity and the devices it powers is the culmination of nearly 300 years of research and development.

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In the history of electricity, no single defining moment exists. The way we produce, distribute, install, and use electricity and the devices it powers is the culmination of nearly 300 years of research and development.
Efforts to understand, capture, and tame electricity began in the 18th century. For the next 150 years, dozens of "natural scientists" in England, Europe, colonial America, and later the United States analyzed electricity in nature, but producing it outside of nature was another matter.

That didn't happen on any large scale until the late 19th century. Setting the stage for widespread commercial use of electricity were international researchers engaged in pure scientific research, and entrepreneurial businessmen who made their own major discoveries or produced, marketed, and sold products based on others' ideas.


Prominent contributors to today's electrically energized world (listed in alphabetical order) include:

* Andrè-Maire Ampére (1775-1836), a French physicist who developed the Systéme International d'Unités (SI).

* Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), inventor of the telephone. A mostly home-taught member of a Scottish family interested in issues of speech and deafness, Bell followed his father, Alexander Melville Bell, as a teacher of the deaf. In the 1870s, funded by the fathers of two of his students, Bell studied how electricity could transmit sound.

* Ferdinand Braum (1850-1918), a German physicist who shared a Nobel Prize with Guglielmo Marconi for contributions to the development of radiotelegraphy.

* Henry Cavendish (1731-1810), a reclusive, unpublished English scientist whose work was replicated several decades later by Ohm.

* Thomas Doolittle, a Connecticut mill worker who, in 1876, devised a way to make the first hard-drawn copper wire strong enough for use by the telegraphy industry, in place of iron wire. The young commercial electric and telephone industry quickly took advantage of the new wire.

* Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931), the most productive electrical explorer. He invented the electric light bulb and many other products that electricians use or install.

*Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), an American diplomat and natural philosopher, he proved that lightning and electricity were the same.

* Luigi Galvani (1737-1798), an Italian physician and physicist, his early discoveries led to the invention of the voltaic pile.

* Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), an Italian physicist who won the Nobel Prize for his invention of a system of radiotelegraphy.

* Georg Simon Ohm (1789-1854), a German physicist and the discoverer of Ohm's Law, which states that resistance equals the ratio of the potential difference to current.

* Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), a Serbian-American inventor who discovered rotating magnetic fields. George Westinghouse purchased Tesla's patent rights.

* Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (1745-1827), an Italian physicist who invented the electric battery. The electrical unit "volt" is named for Volta.

* George Westinghouse (1846-1914), an able adapter of other people's research, purchased their patents and expanded on their work. His first patent was received for a train air brake. In 1869, he formed the Westinghouse Air Brake Company. Eventually, he held 360 patents and founded six companies. He lost control of his companies in the 1907 panic, but went on working for them for another three years. The experiences of electricity's founding fathers parallel in many ways the electronic technology breakthroughs of the past half-century that have brought us a whirlwind of innovation in computer hardware, software, and Internet communications. Just as a wave of electrical inventions dramatically changed the world as the 20th century progressed, so can we anticipate a steadily escalating rate of innovation in these emerging electronic disciplines beyond the dawn of the 21st century.


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