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The History of Electrical Discovery

Posted on December 12, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEver heard the story of Benjamin Franklin, who tied a metal key to a kite string and harnessed electricity in a thunder storm? If you’re reading this right now, your answer is most likely yes. And isn’t that what we all think of when we imagine the first discovery of electricity? Interestingly enough, that’s not even close to the truth. Although Benjamin Franklin was a great guy, he did not discover electricity; he simply learned how to harness it in a new way. Exciting stuff, but not what people often mistake it for. All professional electricians should have the knowledge we’re about to share with you.

The Early Years…

The History of the many discoveries made about electricity is rather intricate. There are many different stories regarding which was the first true “discovery” of the phenomenon. However, all of those stories contradict in some way, and really, we have little way of knowing the name of the first person to have discovered it. We do know however, that in ancient Egypt, certain fish were recognized for delivering a powerful electric shock. Later on our timeline, other ancient writers such as Pliny the Elder, and Scribonius Largus attested to the fact that catfish and torpedo rays could deliver a shock that would effectively numb their victim, and that that shock could be conducted along certain objects.

Static Electrical Discoveries

Ancient cultures knew that rods of amber could be rubbed with a cat’s fur and attract light objects like dust and feathers. They wondered at this, and many of them invented apparatuses that tried to harness this energy. Whether or not they succeeded, we are not able to tell. However, the discoveries were made then, and the writings of the ancient civilizations confirm that electricity and magnetism were not foreign subjects to even the youngest generations of antiquity.

Further Developments

As for further development beyond that, electricity would be an anomaly for several millennia until 1600, when an English scientist by the name of William Gilbert did extensive research on electricity and magnetism. Since then, several renowned scientists of that time began to be interested in the electrical side of things, and began experimenting and documenting their own experiments. This rise in interest in the 1600’s eventually led many people, like Ben Franklin, to delve deeper into the subject over a hundred years later.

Since then, our world has been defined by electricity, and today, every person in a first world country uses it on a daily basis.