Fascinating facts about the
invention of the
by Alessandro Volta
AT A GLANCE:
Volta, Italian physicist, known for his pioneering work in
electricity. Volta was born in Italy and educated in the public
schools there. By 1800 he had developed the so-called voltaic pile, a
forerunner of the electric battery, which produced a steady stream of
electricity. In recognition of his work in the field of electricity, the
electrical unit known as the volt was named in his honor.
HOW IT WORKS
DID YOU KNOW?
battery in 1800
In science and technology, a battery is a device
that stores energy and makes it available in an electrical form. A battery converts chemical energy into electric
energy. It is a connected bunch (or “battery”) of electro-chemical
Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta
18, 1745.in Como, Lombardy, Italy
1827.in Como, Lombardy, Italy
1650 German physicist Otto von Guericke experimented with generating
1729 The English physicist Stephen Gray discovered electrical
1752 Ben Franklin studied the properties of electricity by
conducting his kite flying experiment
1780 Luigi Galvani erroneously discovers "animal electricity"
Volta believes that a chemical interaction causes electricity
Volta developed the so-called voltaic pile, a forerunner of the electric
1813 Sir Humphry Davy deduced that electrolysis was the action that produced electricity
1820 John Daniell invented a cell consisting of copper and zinc
plates and copper and zinc sulphate
1834 Michael Faraday conducted experiments with a ferrite ring, a
galvanometer, and a battery
1834 Michael Faraday also developed the principle of ionic mobility in
chemical reactions of batteries.
1836 John F. Daniell an English chemist, produced a cell that was not
subject to polarization.
1839 William Grove developed the first fuel cell,
produced energy using hydrogen and oxygen
1859 Gaston Plante invents lead acid storage battery "wet cell"
1868 Georges Leclanche invents "single fluid electric generating
1881 Emile Alphonse Faure developed batteries using a mixture of lead
oxides for the positive plate
1886 German scientist, Dr. Carl Gassner Jr. invents the first "dry cell" batteries.
1886 The National Carbon Co. was founded the then Brush Electric Co.
executive W. H. Lawrence
1896 First commercial battery for sale. Carbon-zinc battery by National
1898 National Carbon Company introduces the first D cell battery
1898 Nathan Stubblefield, combined primary and secondary
electric battery (US 600,457)
1898 Conrad Hubert invents "electric hand torch" flashlight
1900 Thomas Alva Edison invents storage battery
1900 Waldemar Junger and Karl Berg invent nickel-cadmium battery (ni-cad)
1905 American Electrical Novelty & Mfg. Co renamed The American Ever
1914 National Carbon Company buys half interest in The American Ever
1917 National Carbon Co. merged with Union Carbide to form The Union
Carbide and Carbon Co
1942 Samuel Ruben and Philip
Rogers Mallory developed the mercury cell.
1949 Lew Urry developed the small alkaline battery at the Eveready
Battery Company laboratory
1953 Samuel Ruben improved the alkaline manganese battery
1954 The Mallory Battery Company introduced alkaline manganese cells in
a new size, the AAA.
1954 Gerald Pearson , Daryl Chapin , and Calvin Fuller invent the first solar
battery or solar cell
1955 Russell S. Ohl developed a wafer of silicon that produced free
1956:Eveready Battery Company develops the 9-volt battery
1956 Francis Thomas Bacon developed the hydrogen - oxygen fuel cell
1959:Eveready Battery Company introduces the first
commercially available alkaline battery.
1960:Miniature silver-oxide or “button batteries” are developed for
hearing aides and watches.
1960 First nickel-cadmium rechargeable battery system is developed by
Waldmar Junger in Sweden.
1964 Duracell brand alkaline batteries introduced by the Mallory Battery
1989 The Energizer Bunny starts "going and going"
1992:The first lithium batteries are commercially available. Powerful
battery, electric battery, voltic pile, wet cell, dry cell, Alessandro
Volta, Luigi Galvani, John F. Daniell, William R. Grove, Gaston Plante,
Georges Leclanche, Thomas Alva Edison, Carl Gassner Jr, Waldemar Junger,
Karl Berg, Lew Urry, volt, invention, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention
of, fascinating facts.
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. In 1938 a jar was found just outside Baghdad,
Iraq (that may be, could be or is believed to be) the first battery. The jar
is about 2000 years old from the Parthian
period. The jar is composed of a clay jar
with a stopper made of asphalt. Sticking through the asphalt is an iron rod
surrounded by a copper cylinder. When filled with vinegar - or any other
electrolytic solution - the jar produces about 1.1 volts. But, such ancient
knowledge in the history of electricity bears no known continuous
relationship to the development of modern batteries. Its form, though, is
nearly identical to the principles that are in use today
The German physicist Otto von Guericke experimented with
generating electricity in 1650. The English physicist Stephen Gray discovered electrical
conductivity in 1729. The American statesman and
inventor Benjamin Franklin studied the properties of electricity by
conducting his famous experiment of flying a kite with a key attached during
electrical storms in 1752.
Luigi Galvani is famous for his experiments
concerning "the electrical forces in muscular movements", leading up to his
theory of animal electricity. This began with the accidental observation, in
1780, of the twitching of the legs of a dissected frog when the bared crural
nerve was touched with the steel scalpel. He worked diligently along these
lines, but waited for eleven years before he published the results and his
ingenious and simple theory. This theory discovered that when nerve and
muscle touch two dissimilar metals in contact with each other, a contraction
of the muscle takes place. But he incorrectly thought fluid in the frog's
body was the source of the electricity. The theory has been abandoned by
scientists on account of later discoveries by Italian inventor Alessandro
Volta. Volta proved that the source of the electricity was a reaction caused
by the animal's body fluids being touched by two different types of metal.
Beginning his work in 1794, Volta observed
the electrical interaction between two different metals submerged near each
other in an acidic solution. Based on this principle, his first battery
consisted of a series of alternating copper and zinc rings in an acid
solution known as an electrolyte. His device for generating a consistent
flow of electricity was invented in 1800. He called his invention a column
battery, although it came to be commonly known as the Volta battery, Voltaic
cell or Voltaic pile. Volta’s discovery of a means of converting chemical energy
into electrical energy formed the basis for nearly all modern batteries.
Volta researched the effects which different metals produced when exposed to
salt water. In 1801, Volta demonstrated the Voltaic cell to Napoleon
Bonaparte (who later ennobled him, Count, for his discoveries).
In 1800 , William Nicholson and Anthony Carlisle used a battery to decompose
water into hydrogen and oxygen. Sir Humphry Davy researched this chemical
effect at the same time. Davy researched the decomposition of substances
(called electrolysis ). In 1813 , he constructed a 2,000-plate paired
battery in the basement of Britain's Royal Society, covering 889 ft² (83
m²). Through this experiment, Davy deduced that electrolysis was the action
in the voltaic pile that produced electricity. In 1820, the British
researcher John Frederic Daniell improved the voltaic cell. The Daniell cell
consisted of copper and zinc plates and copper and zinc sulphates . It was
used to operate telegraphs and doorbells.
Between 1832 and 1834 , Michael
Faraday conducted experiments with a ferrite ring , a galvanometer, and a
connected battery. When the battery was connected or disconnected, the
galvanometer deflected. Faraday also developed the principle of ionic
mobility in chemical reactions of batteries. In 1839 , William Robert Grove
developed the first fuel cell, which produced electrical energy by combining
hydrogen and oxygen. Grove developed another form the electric cell using
zinc and platinum electrodes. These electrodes were exposed to two acids
separated by a diaphragm.
The next step in the evolution of electrical energy storage was the
invention of the lead acid storage battery in 1859 by the French
physicist Gaston Plante. This chemical battery used a liquid
electrolyte, and was not easy to move. Based on the pioneering work done
between 1867 and 1877 by Georges Leclanche in
France, the situation showed promise of changing to a more portable
Around 1881, Emile Alphonse Faure , with his
colleagues, developed batteries using a mixture of lead oxides for the
positive plate electrolyte. These had faster reactions and higher
Dr. Carl Gassner Jr. produced the first "dry" cell in 1886
with zinc as the container for the other elements as well as for the
negative electrode. The electrolyte was absorbed in a porous material
and the cell was sealed across the top. During 1886 Dr. Gassner obtained
patents throughout Europe. A U.S. patent no. 373,064 was issued on
November 15, 1887. In the dry cell battery, the electrolyte is a damp paste so
that there is no liquid to leak out, and thus quite portable. It became
the prototype for the dry battery industry.
The National Carbon Company was founded
in 1886 by the then Brush Electric Company executive W. H. Lawrence. The
company would supply carbon items needed in electrical devices such as
carbon-arc electrodes, motor brushes and rods used in carbon-zinc
batteries. That same year the first commercial battery went on sale. It
was a carbon-zinc battery introduced by National
Carbon Company. In
1898 the National Carbon Company introduces the first D cell
battery. In 1905, National Carbon Company which had supplied "Eveready"
with materials for their batteries, bought a half interest in the
company for $200,000. Conrad Hubert remained president and there was
little change in the general policies of the company. The name was
changed to "The American Ever Ready Company". In 1914, American Ever
Ready became part of National Carbon Company now forming a manufacturer
specializing in both batteries and lighting products.
Since those early days, either
2000 years ago or 200 years ago, many improvements have been made to the
battery. Even today chemist, scientists and inventors are working to
find additional improvements and new applications for the electric
TO LEARN MORE
Volta Biography from The Great Idea Finder
History of Electricity
from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
100 Inventions That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112
pages / Bluewood Books (1983)
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
The Book of Inventions
by Ian Harrison / Hardcover: 288 pages /
National Geographic (November 1, 2004)
This extremely lively-and intricately researched-book is a rousing romp
through the history of inventions and their inventors through time, from the
tiny paper clip-coined "the world's most valuable invention"-to the massive
jet engine; from mastermind Leonardo daVinci, to quirky, colorful,
dual-cyclone-vacuum-cleaner inventor James Dyson.
Collector's Guide to Battery Toys: Batteries Not Included
(This title is out of print.)
by Don Hultzman / Paperback - 144 pages / Collector Books; November,
This 110 page softbound book features more than 300 full color, sharp,
large photos. A good
introduction to the collectible is provided. There are over 1,600
entries in this book.
Gizmos & Gadgets: Creating Science Contraptions That Work (& Knowing Why)
by Jill Frankel Hauser, Michael Kline (Illustrator) / Paperback: 144
pages / Williamson Pub; (1999)
Gear up to discover science by constructing weird, wacky contraptions.
With this guide, children
can start building, questioning, creating, and inventing--all the while
learning fun physics principles
and good science practices.
Discovery Box: The Battery
by Gallimard Jeunesse / Hardcover - 32 pages / Scholastic Trade;March,
With this compact book and activity kit in the Scholastic Discovery Box
series, kids ages 6 and older can revel in the wonders of
electricity--without being shocked. The accompanying richly illustrated,
caption-packed, 32-page booklet is peppered with all sorts of fascinating
facts about the history and workings of electricity, and more information
about batteries than you can shine a flashlight at.
ON THE WEB:
Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta
His young childhood did not show the makings of a prodigy. It was
not until the age of four that he talked, and his family was convinced that
he was retarded.
History of Batteries
Everything you need to know about batteries from Energizer.
The Human Battery
In 1836, John F. Daniell, an English chemist, introduced a more efficient
primary cell. The Daniell cell had two liquid electrolytes and produced a
steadier current than Volta's device.
Gassner Dry Cell Battery
Dr. Gassner produced the first "dry" cell in 1888 with zinc as the container
for the other elements as well as for the negative electrode. The
electrolyte was absorbed in a porous material and the cell was sealed across
the top. This cell was easy to handle and portable. It became the prototype
for the dry battery industry. A U.S. patent was issued to Gassner in 1887
Once the processing chips got smaller, so did the devices. Smaller devices
meant portability and portable products required power – specifically,
battery power. From the Consumer Electronics Association Web site.
Much twenty-first-century technology runs on nineteenth-century chemistry.
by Curt Wohleber for Invention & Technology magazine.
Volta's Electrical Battery Invention
The Voltaic pile stimulated so much scientific inquiry that, by 1831,
when Faraday built the first dynamo, the basic principles of electricity had
been established. From IEEE History Center.
The Baghdad Battery
Believed to be the first battery, about 2000 years old from the Parthian
period. The jar was found just outside Baghdad and is composed of a clay jar
with a stopper made of asphalt. Sticking through the asphalt is an iron rod
surrounded by a copper cylinder. When filled with vinegar - or any other
electrolytic solution - the jar produces about 1.1 volts.
Volta modified this effect to produce the first continuous flow
of electric current. Around 1800, he invented a wet battery called a Voltaic
The story of Duracell begins in the early 1920's with an inventive scientist
named Samuel Ruben and an eager manufacturer of tungsten filament wire named
Philip Rogers Mallory.Duracell believes there is no limit to the potential
of portable power — and as a company we will always strive to find
innovative and efficient ways to power your life in the future.
Timeline of Batteries
While it is obvious that transportable energy will always be needed, it may
not always be batteries that provide it. Fuel cells may take over as the
favorable form of energy. A student ThinkQuest project.
The invention of the battery page includes copies of Volta's notes,
historical paintings and pages from his book.
In 1800 he constructed the first
battery to produce electricity.
The Battery: Using Chemistry to Make Energy
A battery converts chemical energy into electric energy. It is a connected
bunch (or “battery”) of electro-chemical devices. The Italian inventor
Alessandro Volta invented the first battery in 1800.
Batteries - what would we do without them?
Let's talk about the smaller, portable kind, the ones you throw away when
they don't run your toy or light your flashlight anymore. There are dozens
of them, different sizes, different chemistries usually for different
purposes. Article by Brooke Schumm for Electrochemistry Encyclopedia.
HOW IT WORKS:
How a Battery Works
A battery is essentially a can full of chemicals that produce electrons.
Chemical reactions able to produce electrons are called Electro-chemical
reactions. Complete explanation at Energizer.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The term volt, a unit for measuring
electrical potential difference and electromotive force, is also derived
- The name Galvanism is given to the
manifestations of current electricity. Named after Luigi Galvani.
- It would take about eight AA batteries to
boil a cup of water.
- The term battery had been coined by
Benjamin Franklin to refer to a collection of Leyden jars, which were
essentially large capacitors. It was adopted by later scientists to
describe a collection of voltaic cells.
- In dry cell lights, once a month you
should remove the batteries. You then use a pencil eraser and scrub both
terminals of each battery. If you can get to the contact points and bottom
spring in the light, scrub them with the eraser, too. If your batteries
show any sign of leakage, replace them.
- You should replace flashlight batteries
every six months whether you have used the light or not.
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Reference Sources in BOLD Type.
This page revised October 26, 2005.
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The invention of the Internet,
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book, is the perfect desktop reference for both the science novice and the
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