History of Electricity


In the early days dating back to 2000 B.C. long before the invention of electricity, people had come across the famous electric fish, which was referred to as – Thunderer of the Nile by the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians believed that these fish were the ones that protected the other fishes.

Later on, a Greek physician and naturalist came across the same electric fish. There are testaments by several ancient writer, in the likes of Pliny and Scribonius Lrgus, about the paralyzing effect that the cat fish possess and also by the torpedo rays. In those early days the electric fish effect was used to cure illnesses such as gout and headaches. People believed that the jolt that originated from touching the electric fish cured the ailments.

The first people that are said to have come close to the distinctiveness of electricity and its applications are the Arabs.

The ancient cultures that lived near the Mediterranean had come to know that certain substances, like amber, could attract light-weighted objects like feathers once rubbed with cat’s fur. Around 600 B.C., Thales of Miletus made a sequence of observations about static electricity and he deduced that friction made amber magnetic. Although Thales was not very correct in saying that the attractive force was caused by a magnetic effect, science later proved a connection between electricity and magnetism.

In 1600, an English scientist by the name of William Gilbert explored the topic of magnetism and electricity in detail, and he was able to differentiate the effect of the lodestone from the electrical charging of amber by friction. He is the one who invented the Latin word electricus (meaning “of amber”) to denote to the phenomenon of attracting lesser objects after being rubbed. This connotation is the one that gave rise to the words – electricity and electric, in the English language, which were first seen in print form in year 1645 in Thomas Browne’s Pseudodoxia Epidemica.

Several other people like Robert Boyle, Otto von Guericke, C.F. du Fay and Stephen Gray conducted more work in trying to further the idea by Gilbert.

Subsequently, Benjamin Franklin came to the scene in the 18th century and laid the foundations of the knowledge that we now learn during our Physics Tuition classes. He did a very extensive research on electricity. June 1752 was the time when he attached a metallic key to the bottom of a wet kite string. He then flown the kite in a stormy sky. A sequence of sparks was generated from the metal key on the kite to his hand. This exhibited the electrical nature of lightning.