A timeline illustrating the evolution of the use of electricity

Michael Faraday nineteenth century scientist and electricity pioneerThis timeline illustrating the evolution of the use of electricity clearly illustrates that the development of AC power was the work of many people long before the "War of Currents" between Nikola Tesla, George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison.

1600 William Gilbert first scientists to document the concept of electricity in his book “De Magnete.”

1675 Robert William Boyle published "Experiments and Notes about the Mechanical Origine or Production of Electricity."

1799 Alessandro Volta invented the first battery known as the Voltaic Pile.

1821 Michael Faraday demonstrated the first simple electric motor.

1832 Hippolyte Pixii builds an early form of alternating current electrical generator based on Faraday's work.

1855 James Clerk Maxwell introduced his mathematical conceptualization of electromagnetic phenomena to the Cambridge Philosophical Society.

1878 Pavel Yablochkov introduced his lighting system to the world installing 64 of his arc lights along a half mile length of streets.

1878 The ZBD Transformer, created by Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy, and Miksa Déri of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, used in both experimental, and commercial systems.

1881 Power transformer developed by Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs demonstrated in London.

1882 Thomas Edison launched the modern electric utility industry with the creation of the Pearl Street station in lower Manhattan using DC (Direct Current).

1886 Westinghouse Electric Company was started, Westinghouse purchased the American rights to Gaulard and Gibbs patents for AC current transformers.

1886 William Stanley created the first full feature AC power distribution system using transformers in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a project funded by Westinghouse.

1888 Nikola Tesla presents to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers his polyphase alternating current system in the report “A New System of Alternating Current Motors and Transformers.”

1888 George Westinghouse hires Nikola Tesla as a consultant at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company's Pittsburgh labs. Westinghouse purchases patent options on induction motors from both Nikola Tesla and Galileo Ferraris.

1893 Westinghouse Electric under bid Edison General Electric to get the contract to light the World's Columbian Exposition. Westinghouse exhibit at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago introduces world to AC power distribution.

Learn more about the many inventors and engineers that could be added to this timeline from the other pages in In this section of the GeekHistory almanac as we explore the history of electricity in homes from the discovery of electricity through the War of Currents.


Graphic: Long before television Michael Faraday nineteenth century scientist and electricity pioneer took science to the people as illustrated here delivering the British Royal Institution's Christmas Lecture for Juveniles during the Institution's Christmas break in 1856.

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