Electricity History

The History of Electricity is fascinating. Despite what you have learned, Benjamin Franklin did not "invent" electricity. In fact, the History of Electric Energy did not begin when Benjamin Franklin at when he flew his kite during a thunderstorm or when light bulbs were installed in houses all around the world.

So, what is electricity? The truth is that electricity, like natural resources, has always been around because it naturally exists in the world. Lightning, for instance, is simply a flow of electrons between the ground and the clouds in the form of static electricity. When you touch something and get a shock, that is really static electricity moving toward you.

Hence, electrical technology like motors, light bulbs, and batteries aren't needed for electic power to exist. They are just creative inventions designed to harness and use electric power.

In the rich History of Electricity, the first discoveries were made back in ancient Greece. Greek philosophers discovered that when amber is rubbed against cloth, lightweight objects will stick to it. This is the basis of static shock.

The History of Electricity. We've all heard of famous people like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, but there have been many other inventors throughout time that play a crucial part in the story of electric power.

Imagine a world without electricity. No computers. No televisions. None of the modern "conveniences" we take for granted.

In the late 19th Century electricity was a new marvel. People had known about electricity for many years. Benjamin Franklin first achieved world renown for his experiments with electricity, including work with his famous kite and key. Until just over a century ago there was no way for electricity to be harnessed for practical use. It was in the late 1870s when America's greatest inventor -- Thomas Alva Edison -- developed and built the first electricity generating plant in New York City.

Soon numerous electric companies were competing to supply power in the nation's major cities. The focus was on business customers, although some wealthy homeowners had electric lighting installed. Because generation capacity was so limited most homes could only have three or four electric lights. And homeowners often had to turn off one light before they could turn on another.

By 1920 all of the nation's major cities had competing electric companies, each with its own sets of poles and wires. In order to bring service to more people, states began adopting laws providing for a single electric company in each city. From these laws grew the "regulatory compact" which formed the foundation of the electric utility industry in the U.S. for nearly eight decades.

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.

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