Electricity is essential to life as we know it. It’s necessary to charge our phones, for our cars to run, to manufacture the goods we need, and to power our homes and businesses. Electricity is so vital that we use over 23,000 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity as a planet each year. One terawatt-hour is equivalent to one trillion watts per hour—that’s a lot of energy! And our electricity usage is still growing. But, when, where, and how did this all start? In this article, we’ll cover the main highlights of the history of electricity.
The History of Electricity Timeline
Electricity has been around for as long as our planet has. Even in ancient times, people knew of electricity, but they could never harness it themselves or fully understand it. Let’s look at how things changed:
600 BC - The ancient Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus describes static electricity by rubbing fur on different substances, such as amber
1 BC - Ancient Egyptian texts describe electric fish and how they were identified using thunder
800 AD - Arab physicians and naturalists describe electric fish and electrostatic wonders
1300 - Arab physicians and naturalists describe electric rays and how they were identified using lightning
1600 - William Gilbert—an English scientist—first coins the term “electricus” after performing experiments. Additionally, he explains the magnetism of Earth
1660 - Otto von Guericke—a German scientist—invents the first ever electric generator, a device that creates static electricity
1720 - Stephen Gray—an English scientist—makes the distinction between conductors and insulators
1745 - Pieter van Musschenbroek—a Dutch scientist— and Ewald Georg von Kleist—a German scientist—invent Leyden jars
1752 - Benjamin Franklin—an American scientist—confirms that lightning is electrical through an experiment where he flew a kite
1785 - Charles-Augustin de Coulomb—a French physicist—formulates and publishes Coulomb’s law
1800 - Alessandro Volta—an Italian physicist—invents the battery
1816 - Francis Ronalds—an English inventor—builds the first working electric telegraph
1820 - Hans Christian Ørsted—a Danish physicist—discovers that an electric field also creates a magnetic field
1821 - Thomas Johann Seebeck—a German scientist—discovers thermoelectricity
1825 - William Sturgeon—an English physicist—is the first person to develop an electromagnet
1827 - George Ohm—a German physicist—introduces the concept of electrical resistance
1831 - Michael Faraday—an English physicist—publishes the law of induction. Joseph Henry—an American scientist—develops the same law independently and invents a prototype DC motor
1832 - Hippolyte Pixii—a French instrument maker—develops a prototype DC generator
1836 - Nicholas Callan—an Irish priest turned scientist—invents the first transformer
1839 - Edmond Becquerel—a French physicist—discovers the photovoltaic effect
1844 - Samuel Morse—an American inventor—develops telegraphy and the Morse code. In the same year, the Woolrich Electrical Generator becomes the first electrical generator used for industrial purposes
1851 - Heinrich Daniel Ruhmkorff—a German instrument maker—invents and patents the first coil
1866 - A vastly improved Transatlantic cable successfully transmits eight words a minute between Europe and North America
1876 - Alexander Graham Bell—a Scottish inventor—patents the telephone
1877 - Thomas Edison—an American inventor—invents the phonograph
1878 - The first electric street lighting occurs in Paris, France, and the first hydroelectric plant starts in Cragside, England
1888 - Galileo Ferraris—an Italian physicist and electrical engineer—publishes a paper on the induction motor. Nikola Tesla—a Serbian-American engineer—obtains a US patent on the same device
1901 - Peter Cooper Hewitt—an American engineer—invents the fluorescent lamp
1901-Present Day - Many scientists and inventors contribute to the development of new electrical advancements and devices, including the radio, moving pictures, television, and more. Recently, scientists have shifted their focus to studying renewable energy sources that can create electricity in a cleaner way, such as solar power.
The Elumis Foundation believes that no child should be left in the dark. Our goal is to use solar kits to bring light to families and children around the world who don’t have access to electricity. With the renewable power of the sun, we can change the lives of people all around the world, give them opportunities they wouldn’t have without access to electricity, and help our planet in the process. Find out how you can get involved and help us make a difference today!
The Elumis Foundation is a certified non-profit organization that was created in 2018 by siblings Eva and Michael Sakellakis (ages 15 and 13), looking to make a difference. Their father, who has his own successful solar business Elumis, helped and inspired them to form the foundation. Together they formed a Non-Profit 501(c)3 organization. This allows all donations to be tax-deductible by the donors. 100% of all donations received will fund the distribution of solar kits to be given to families who do not have electricity in impoverished areas of the world.
Elumis’ goal is to bring light to families and kids without that privilege through solar kits. These solar kits are powered through solar panels and can provide light and electricity for a family for up to 24 continuous hours. The Foundation has already made its first donation of 1000 solar kits in Vietnam and plans to distribute more kits to third-world countries throughout Africa, South East Asia, Central America, and India. Our goal is to distribute at least 100,000 kits to families in need.