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EVOLUTION OF ELECTRICITY

Many inventions have taken several centuries to develop into their modern forms and modern inventions are rarely the product of a single inventor's efforts. Each of the inventions listed below were only one small step on the road to the ultimate goal.

Electricity has fascinated human kind since our ancestors first witnessed lightning. In ancient Greece, Thales observed that an electric charge could be generated by rubbing amber, for which the Greek word is electron.
1650 The German physicist Otto von Guericke experimented with generating electricity in 1650.
1729 The English physicist Stephen Gray discovered electrical conductivity in 1729.
1752 Benjamin Franklin proposes the notion of positive and negative charge, conserving a balance except when a deficit is brought about by some means. His famous kite experiments, identifying lightning as a form of electrical discharge, take place in 1752.
1800 Alessandro Volta invents an electric battery, the first source of DC current.
1827 In 1827, using equipment of his own creation, Georg Simon Ohm determined that the current that flows through a wire is proportional to its cross sectional area and inversely proportional to its length or Ohm's law. These fundamental relationships are of such great importance, that they represent the true beginning of electrical circuit analysis
1831 Michael Faraday experimentally characterizes magnetic induction. The most thorough of early electrical investigators, he formulates the quantitative laws of electolysis, the principles of electric motors and transformers, investigates diamagnetic materials, and posits a physical reality for the indirectly observed magnetic and electrical lines of force.
1876 On April 24, 1877 Charles F. Brush was issued U.S. Patent No. 189,997 for his arc lighting system. There were other arc lamps before Brush's that utilized electromagnets as part of a regulation system but it was the combination of the electromagnet with the ring clutch that made Brush's design superior in regulating the arc.
1879 Thomas Alva Edison invented the lightbulb, and houses, shops, factories, schools, streets, ballparks -- every place you could think of, indoors and out -- could at last be easily illuminated after dark.
1881 Louis Latimer and fellow inventor Joseph V. Nichols received a patent for their invention of the first incandescent light bulb with carbon filament. Prior to this breakthrough, filaments had been made from paper.
1885 During his development of the braking and signaling systems, in the mid 1880s, George Westinghouse became quite interested in electricity. He began pursuing the technology of alternating current and he associated with those who were developing AC devices.
1886 On March 20, 1886, William Stanley demonstrated a system of high voltage transmission via a "parallel connected transformer." The device, combined with high-voltage transmission lines, made it possible to spread electric service over a wide area and allowed alternating current to be available at different voltages.
1888 Heinrich Hertz discovers and measures the waves, radio waves, predicted earlier by Faraday and Maxwell.
1888 Nikola Tesla invents the first practicable AC motor and polyphase power transmission system,. Westinghouse acquired exclusive rights to Nikola Tesla's patent for the polyphase system and lured Tesla to join the electric company and continue his work on the AC motor he had developed.
1888 Oliver B. Shallenberger (1860 -1898), a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy, Shallenberger left the Navy in 1884 to join the Westinghouse company. In 1888 he invented an induction meter for measuring alternating current, a critical element in the Westinghouse AC system.
1901 Elihu Thomson, electrical engineer, inventor, and entrepreneur, was an innovator in electrification in both a technical and corporate sense. Thomson acquired nearly 700 patents in his career, his major contributions included (electrostatic motors, electrical meters, high-pressure steam engines, dynamos, generators and, X-rays).
1902 Although a flashlight is a relatively simple device, its invention did not occur until the late 19th century because it depended upon the earlier invention of the electric battery and electric light bulb. Conrad Hubert received a US patent in 1903, number 737,107 issued August 26, for a flashlight with an on/off switch in the now familiar cylindrical casing containing lamp and batteries.

TO LEARN MORE

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
100 Inventions That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112 pages (1983)
/ Bluewood Books 
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.
The Electric Mirror on the Pharos Lighthouse and Other Ancient Lighting
by Larry Brian Radka  / Paperback: 168 pages / The Einhorn Press (April 15, 2006)
This book aims to prove—through a comprehensive layout of ancient coins, artifacts, monuments, and literature—that the ancients used electricity to light up their temples, tombs, lighthouses, fortresses, palaces, cities and other edifices and critical areas.

Empires of Light : Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World
by Jill Jones / Hardcover: 432 pages / Random House; (August 19, 2003)
The genius of such poet-scientists as Nikola Tesla depended on the more finely tuned business skills of George Westinghouse and the towering capital of J.P. Morgan to achieve actualization.
The Forces of Matter
by Michael Faraday / Paperback - 88 pages (May 1993) / Prometheus Books
Certainly a true classic. This book will appeal to both the layman and the technically inclined.
Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics
by Stan Gibilisco / Paperback: 800 pages / McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics;3rd edition (August 2001)
Presented as a self-instructional guide for professionals, hobbyists, and technicians desiring to competently enter the world of circuits (ac and dc), measuring devices, resistors, cells and batteries, semiconductors, computers, and the Internet.

Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism
by James Clerk Maxwell / Paperback 3rd edition  / Dover Pubns (January 1991)
This volume covers magnetism and electromagnetism.

ON THE SCREEN:
Power Plants
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00 / Also VHS
Though the basic technology has remained constant for decades, continual improvements and refinements have made them far more efficient and powerful.

History of Westinghouse - An American Industrial Powerhouse
 DVD / Unrated /  A2ZCDS.com / Run Time: 70 /
Flash / Full Screen / Original recording remastered Westinghouse is still a household name – though many of us may be less than familiar with its founder George Westinghouse, and the hard work and vision that made his company a corporate legend. On this historic DVD is a solid overview of vintage film clips shot at the height of the Westinghouse dynasty.


ON THE WEB:

Consequences of Edison's Lamp
Over the course of the next half century two especially significant social effects became clear. We gained control over light in homes and offices, independent of the time of day. And the electric light brought networks of wires into homes and offices, making it relatively easy to add appliances and other machines. From the Lighting Revolution at the Smithsonian.
(URL: americanhistory.si.edu/lighting/19thcent/consq19.htm)
A Brief History of Electricity
In the history of electricity, no single defining moment exists. The way we produce, distribute, install, and use electricity and the devices it powers is the culmination of nearly 300 years of research and development. Article by Rosalie E. Leposky for  ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, January 2000.
(URL: www.ampersandcom.com/ampersandcommunications/ABriefHistoryofElectricity.htm)

Electrical History
Heinrich Hertz laid the ground work for the vacuum tube. He laid the foundation for the future development of radio, telephone, telegraph, and even television. He was one of the first people to demonstrate the existence of electric waves.
(URL: www.code-electrical.com/historyofelectricity.html)
IEEE Milestones in Electrical Engineering and Computing
This is a program conducted by the IEEE History Committee through the History Center to honor significant achievements in electrical, electronic, and computer engineering. The program was founded in 1983 and to date has recognized over 50 major milestones.
)URL: www.ieee.org/organizations/history_center/milestones_program.html)
Electrification
In the 20th century, widespread electrification gave us power for our cities, factories, farms, and homes - and forever changed our lives. Chosen as the #1 greatest engineering achievement of the 20th Century by the National Academy of Engineering.
(URL: www.greatachievements.org/greatachievements/ga_1_1.html)
Power Play
Power Play is an interactive activity that helps users learn about harnessing energy from different power sources. To build the machine, users should click on one of the parts in the bottom screen and then drag it into the upper screen. Each machine requires three pieces. Once the machine works, users can click "Next" to go on to the next challenge.
(URL: www.sciencenetlinks.com/interactives/powerplay.html)
Electrical Energy and Circuit Design
Extensive listing of Web sites related to the study of electricity and its pioneers.Presented by STC/MS™ is an inquiry-based middle school science curriculum developed by the National Science Resources Center.
(URL: www.stcms.si.edu/trial_teach/circuits.htm)

DID YOU KNOW?
The word electricity comes from the Latin term electricus, meaning to "produce from amber by friction." This term has its roots in the Greek term elektor, which means beaming sun. Without knowing what it was, the effects of electricity have been observed in nature for centuries.

 
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