War of Currents

Who contributed to the development of electricity and AC power

Zipernowsky, Blathy,and Deri, ZBD alternating current transformer inventorsJust as it is impossible to pin point one single invention or one single inventor as the eureka moment when the Internet was invented, the same can be said of the development of electricity and AC power distribution. There were many inventors working on various parts which came together.

Who contributed more to the development of electricity and AC power distribution?

Are you looking for a single name, like Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla? People often talk about the "War of Currents" as the great battle between Edison and Tesla to develop a system for the distribution of electrical current. During the War of Currents, Edison lost control of Edison Electric as it merged with Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric, and Nikola Tesla was one member of a team of engineers working for Westinghouse Electric. George Westinghouse is every bit as much responsible for our current system of AC power in America, arguably more responsible that Thomas Edison. But the world remembers Edison, much more so than Westinghouse.

Many internet memes spread posters about The War of Currents presenting it as a technology battle between Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla. Both men were great inventors, but they lived in a time when many people were working in developing the concepts of electric lights and the distribution of electrical current. What is often not mentioned in the telling of the "War of Currents" stories is that many of the America inventions were based on the work of various European inventors that were the establishing the ideas and principals that were used by Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla.

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Who discovered electricity?

Michael Faraday nineteenth century scientist and electricity pioneerAsking who discovered electricity is the equivalent to asking who first discovered fire. Electricity existed before humans walked the earth. You could probably make the case that the first human to discover fire also discovered electricity as they watched a bolt of lightning strike the earth to start a fire. The bolts of static electricity we see in the sky in the form of lightning during a thunderstorm show the power of electricity.

Ancient writings show that various cultures around the Mediterranean knew that rods of amber could be rubbed with cat fur or silk to attract light objects like feathers. Amber is fossilized tree resin gemstone used in making a variety of decorative objects and jewelry. Amber has been used as a healing agent in folk medicine. The first particle known to carry electric charge, the electron, is named for the Greek word for amber, ēlektron.

If you are looking for a name of someone "who discovered electricity" you could possible look to the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus (624 B.C. to 546 B.C.). Thales was known for his innovative use of geometry, but his writings are some of the first to document the principles of magnetism and static electricity. Thales documented magnetism through his observations that loadstone attracts iron, and static electricity through his observations of static electricity by rubbing fur on substances such as amber.

Some stories claim that various artifacts found shows some electricity production was possible in the Middle East thousands of years ago. For telling the story here at Geek History, and busting the myth that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity we will start in more modern times offering the name of William Gilbert as the first person to define electricity around 1600. Each person on the list that follows contributed to our modern understanding of electricity.

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