Tech history: Who invented electricity?

Electricity is one of the finest discoveries of humanity. One cannot point at just one person who had discovered the electricity for it is has been found after a series of experiments conducted in the past. The name that was recorded in history is Benjamin Franklin. He conducted an experiment using kite and key, and when lighting struck on it, a new phenomenon called electricity was bought about to the world. The answer to the question, who invented electricity, became Benjamin Franklin over the years in a lot of history textbooks all over the world. It is exciting to delve into the facts on electricity and the future of it. 

Let’s define “electricity”


Before you get to know Who invented electricity, one of the prime things to be resolved is to get a clear definition of the concept. 

Going back to the definition in the Physics textbook, the movement of electrons across a conducting material is known as electricity. Some of the best metals can be considered as best conducting materials like copper. The force needed to propel the electrons across the conductor is known as voltage, and the rate at which the electrons flow across the material is known as current. 

V=IR (Ohm’s law) 

For current and voltage to exist in a conducting material, there has to be a certain amount of resistance. When the resistance is too high, then the material becomes insulative in nature. 

You should make use of only one insulator in a conducting material like wire. When you make use of two insulating material, then the charges on one insulating material get transferred to the other insulating material, which in turn leads to the generation of static electricity. 

This can be understood about water flowing across a pipe, the pressure needed to make the water flow across the pipe is similar to voltage, water is current, and the amount of water that flows across the pipe is known as the total value of current. 

There are two types of electricity, namely static electricity, and electric current. The static electricity is the one that gets produced when two materials are rubbed against each other. The electric current is generated when electrons move across a conducting material when voltage is applied to it. 

Electricity in History 

Electricity these days has umpteen applications. Back in the past, people wondered as to what kind of applications the electricity would have been used for. To understand, in what form electricity existed and how they were used, it is vital to learn about the history of electricity. 

The Greeks produced charges by rubbing amber with animal fur that could attract the dried grass. 

When you run through the pages of Egyptian history that speaks high of the civilization that thrived in the Nile river, one could read that the Egyptians believed in the electricity emitted by the electric catfishes which could heal various ailments like a headache. 

Over the years, a battery was devised by Alessandro Volta, an Italian scientist who experimented that certain chemical reactions could produce electricity. This led to the development of the battery. And Volta also ended up discussing as to how one can connect the positively charged terminal and the negatively charged terminal and current can flow across it. 

In the year 1831, Michael Faraday developed the dynamo, which is also known as an electric generator. When a magnet is placed inside a coil, current flows across the wires of the coil. The coming in of the electric generators led to the development of an electric bulb, which eventually led to an incandescent filament lamp. These bought light to the world, reassuring the fact that electricity is an indispensable part of everyday life. 

Edison and Joseph Swan developed electric bulbs in different parts of the world. These two got together to form a company. Eventually, this company was the reason behind the first-ever streetlights in the United States of America. 

Edison used Direct Current to light the lamps, whereas there was another scientist from Sweden, American dissent named Nikolo Tesla developed Alternating Current, which became a revolution in the history of electricity. He also invented the polyphase generator was more than three-phase current can be produced. The alternating current can travel over longer distances, whereas the direct current should be consumed as soon as they are produced. In the 1800s and the 1900s’, various steps were taken to commercialize electricity. It is said that Joseph Swan, Edison, and Tesla partnered to bring about this revolution. 

He spoke on the concept of electromagnetism. Tesla is also known to have competed with Marconi in the patenting of radio. 

Baghdad Battery 

Baghdad Battery

When Dr. Wilhelm Koenig toured around the Iraq Museum in search of antiques, he was astonished to find a battery like structure that looked like a vase. The vase was about 14 cms in height and about 8 cms in diameter. 

Inside the vase, there was a cylinder made of copper, and there was a gap between the cylinder and the inner side of the vase, which was filled with asphalt. The top portion of the vase was fitted with asphalt as well. An iron rod was placed in the middle of the cylinder. 

There were also discoveries were the battery like structure was filled with mild chemicals. It is believed that these batteries would have been of the wet type. 

Also, there were certain findings, which state that these were not batteries but are bottles filled with preservatives that could save the papyrus from losing out on moisture. 

The story behind the kite experiment by Benjamin Franklin 

Benjamin Franklin

Ever since humankind came into the planet, the phenomenon of lightning has always fascinated them. Some worshipped the lightening; some became afraid of it, but few scientists around the globe wanted to study that phenomenon and prove themselves in this world. 

One amongst them was Benjamin Franklin. In the year 1752 Franklin wanted to fly a kite when it was raining on the outside with a heavy thunderstorm and lightening, he tied a key to the kite, and he flew it across the sky. When the lightning fell on the kite, as the flying rod was wet, the electricity passed down through the kite, and he felt a mild shock. He never faced any severe injuries out of it. The lighting can produce extremely high levels of energy that were proved out of this experiment. 

Once Benjamin Franklin conducted this experiment, many all over the world wanted to try out this experiment as well. Benjamin was inspired by a gift he had got from one of his close friends. 

Long before Benjamin Franklin conducted this experiment, the root word for electricity was coined in the 1600s’. William Gilbert, a scientist from Europe, gave out a word called “Electricus”, a Latin word which means that a certain kind of force gets produced when two objects rub against each other. Another scientist named Thomas Brown conducted experiments and a lot of research based on the findings of Gilbert. 

In the coming years, several scientists from Europe and the USA wanted to try out a lot of experiments to invent equipment that would aid the process of the Industrial Revolution. As many strongly believed that energy is the only way that multiplies the output, large amounts of funds starting pouring in for the experiments involving the generation of electricity. 

How is electricity in today’s world, and how it would look like in the future? 

Electricity has been an unavoidable aspect of lives all across the globe. Once the technology to produce electricity became very famous all over the world, the nations started to form companies which were either held publicly or privately that would generate electricity. 

Few companies were involved in the process of generation of electricity, whereas few were involved in the process of transmission, and some companies work on the distribution aspect of electricity. 

Types of electricity generation 

From magnets to wind sources, the sources to generate electricity have taken various shapes over the years. You can understand the process of electricity generation when you know the working behind the generator. A turbine is connected to a generator using a shaft where the mechanical energy gets converted into electrical energy. 

Now, the kind of source which supplies the turbine is what all it takes to generate electricity. The sources form the basis of the types of electricity generation. 


The hydropower generation is when you use the potential energy of the water that is stored in huge dams that have been built across the rivers to convert into kinetic energy by making the waterfall on the turbine at high rates, as these turbines rotate, the generator connected to the turbine also rotates to generate electricity. 


Ever since nuclear fission and fusion process was invented by mankind, it grew into several horizons. The nuclear fission process is used where the nucleus splits up into two or more pieces, and a high amount of energy gets released from the nucleus, which is used to generate the electric generators. 

Natural gas 

When the grounds are dug, to generate electricity, you can make use of the natural gases that come along with petrol and its by-products, the gas can be used to drive the turbine. 


Coal has been used for the generation of power ever since the concept of electricity generation was put into place. 


Bio refers to anything that has life. The organic waste matter, when heated, can produce a large number of biomass gases that can be used to run the turbine to generate electricity. 


The wind is one of the most environmentally friendly energies, where the wind harnessed from the atmosphere can be converted into electricity. 


It is one of the well-known facts that the amount of energy trapped inside the surface of the earth is very high. This energy can be used to drive a turbine that, in turn, generates electricity. 


It is a process by which the remaining heat, which is generated out of a thermal plant, is used for other applications. 

Solar power

One of the booming areas nowadays and one of the most green ways to generate electricity. From small gadgets (e.g. solar powered water pumps) to the biggest solar power plants – it can be used anywhere, where sun is shining.

Need for new energy resources in the future and latest innovations 

The earth is reeling under a big-time crisis in terms of environment and global warming. So, the need for new energy resources grew manifold in the future. Apart from the umpteen number of solar panels you get to see in the deserts and other barren lands, the onshore and offshore wind farms that generate electricity, the huge turbines that could harness the power of the wind in the ocean and converts it into electricity. With the high advancements in technology, the resources to generate electricity also became very varied in design. 

Trapped heat 

For instance, you are traveling in a metro; the air conditioning systems used in those systems need to trap the heat and facilitate the working environment. All those trapped heats, when stored, can lead to extremely high temperatures using which you can generate high levels of energy. 

Make power out of smuggled products 

Many countries in the European region are suffering from the issue of smuggling across the borders. One of the most commonly smuggled products is alcohol. The alcohol can be converted into biomass that powers the trains that run between the various countries in Europe. The train engines have been modified in such a way to facilitate the usage of biomass to run the trains. 

SFD Recycling Plants 

The SFD Recycling Plants are patented by Japan, which could convert the used diapers into a usable form of energy that is biomass pellets. This is a huge milestone for a country like Japan, which seeks to become energy independent. 

Piezoelectric crystals 

The concept of Piezoelectricity can be recalled when you had studied about Piezoelectric crystals back in your school days. These are the type of crystals that can store energy when kinetic energy is produced on the crystal. A lot of dance clubs, gyms in parts of the world like Japan, Netherlands have already made use of this energy effective technology to bring about the storage of electric power in these crystals. 

Harnessing solar power from space 

When the world has invested enough already in space-based projects, there can also be an investment in the areas where solar power can be harnessed from the space. 

A huge solar array would be placed on the space, which would be transmitting energy in wireless format to earth. These solar arrays can collect light from the sun. The light collected from the sun can be focussed on the photovoltaic cells, which convert solar energy into electricity. 

Solar Wind 

The solar wind comprises different kinds of energies and electrons, which is capable of generating electricity. When you place a solar sail with some set of wires in a particular orbit in space, you can generate electricity as solar wind passes across it. 


This might sound silly, but the fact is that jellyfish are known to create trouble. So, there are a lot of research companies working on nanotechnology, which have decided to go ahead with harnessing energy from the jellyfishes. 

Facts about electricity 

We have dependent on electricity for the past many years, but we haven’t still understood the entire facts about electricity to the fullest. Some of the facts are listed below. More than getting to know When and Who invented electricity, it is even more fascinating to know the exceptional facts behind this amazing natural phenomenon. 

The human body has electricity 

There are various pulses of electricity running across the human body. The electrocardiogram is a device that works on the concept that for every pulse of the human body, you can see a line drawn over the machine. The contraction of muscle cells in the human heart is due to the electricity that is present in the human body. 

Static electricity has high energy 

You should never consider that static electricity is dead, and you cannot generate any power from it. The high amounts of static electricity mean that you can draw a lot of power from it. When you deeply dig into finding answers for When and Who invented electricity, one of the significant concepts you would come across is static electricity. 

Idle power 

When you aren’t using electronic devices, the amount of idle power consumed by the electronics is way too high. Also, America keeps increasing the rate of power consumption more than three times every consecutive year. 

Although we have lived very much dependent on electricity, we aren’t entirely aware of the entire story behind the process of Who invented electricity. It is tough to imagine our day to day activity without the interference of electricity and its devices in it. One needs to equip oneself with the idea that we are running short of power resources, and there is an urgent need to store and conserve the energy if we wish to save up some for our future generation. Or we have to look out for the recycling methodologies using which you can produce energy from waste.