Who invented electricity?

No one invented electricity. Rather, it was discovered. Even so, its discovery cannot be attributed to any one individual in history, but as a culmination of the research of various scholars spanning many eras.

The first mention of electrical use was in the year 600 B.C. in Greece. A man named Thales of Miletus discovered that rubbing fur would make certain objects attract each other. On further experimentation, Thales was able to generate sparks using amber.

In 1600 A.D., an Italian physicist Giralamo Cardano studied the basic properties of electrical power and magnetism. His theories were elucidated by his colleague, William Gilbert, who wrote about various substances and their electric properties in his “De magnete, magneticisique corporibus”.

Gilbert went on to coin the term ‘electricity’ from the Greek word meaning amber. He was also the first to use the terms magnetic pole, electric force and attraction.

Later in the same century a German scientist, Otto von Guericke invented the electrostatic generator, a machine that produced static electricity. Experiments conducted with this device and a few similar ones that followed led to a number of conclusions, like the existence of charge in both negative and positive forms, which greatly contributed to the study of electricity.

In 1747, Benjamin Franklin, following his famous experiment with the kite, concluded that electricity “flows” and has a fluid-like property that is composed of particles. He also invented the lightning rod and proved that lightning was electricity. It was also discovered that static electricity could be converted into current.

These conclusions and the subsequent contributions of scientific greats like Alessandro Volta, Andre Ampere and Georg Ohm led to inventions like the capacitor, the anode and cathode, and the battery.

This was followed by a series of inventions, discoveries and hypotheses related to the theory of electricity. People who made a great impact on the electrical theory during this time were Thomas Alva Edison, George Westinghouse, Samuel Morse, Nikolas Tesla and Alexander Bell.

Their inventions like the light bulb, electric motor, telegraph and the telephone changed civilization in ways unimaginable.

As you can see, no one individual can be credited for the discovery of electricity. It was the combined efforts of all these great thinkers and scientists that helped man discover and manage this very important natural resource.