From Benjamin Franklin To Tesla Motors
When we flip on a switch, we get electricity instantly and our lights turn on almost like magic but behind this everyday convenience of life is a rich and varied history. It has been a journey of almost 270 years and counting every since electricity was discovered by Benjamin Franklin to the modern inventions we have today from electric cars zooming around to computers being charged by light (Li-Fi technology)!
We are happy to take you through a brief history of electricity, covering the key events you need to know to fully appreciate the one commodity we can’t live without!
The Discovery Of Electricity By Benjamin Franklin
In 1752, Benjamin Franklin ran his famous kite experiment that sparked the discovery of electricity. As a prominent American scientist and one of America’s founding fathers, Franklin tied a key to a kite string during a thunderstorm and proved that static electricity and lightning were one and the same thing. Following this historic result, people were eager to try to harness the power of electricity for the primary goal of lighting their homes in a cheap and safe way instead of oil and gas lamps which were flammable and dangerous.
The World’s First Current & Electric Motor By Faraday
Fast forward to 1831, Michael Farady realized that an electric current could be produced by passing a magnet through a copper wire. This amazing discovery formed the bedrock of today’s electricity and how we generate it, through magnets and coils of copper wires in big power plants. Because of this principle, both the electric motor (where electricity is converted into motion) and the generator (where motion is converted into electricity) were born.
Thomas Edison: The Invention Of The Light Bulb
As one of the greatest inventors who ever lived, Thomas Edison began working on electricity and brought to life in 1879 the world’s first incandescent electric light bulb (the yellow warm light) that till today is still being used. As a result of this invention, the entire gas lighting industry was made obsolete and Edison began to create his own company to manufacture and distribute his light bulb invention to every corner of America.
The World’s First Modern Power Grid
While electricity could be generated and transported, it had to be used the moment it was consumed as storage (even till this day) is very costly and has limited utility. Samuel Insull saw an opportunity in the early 1900s to bring together mass efficiencies in production and consumption. He consolidated all the smaller generators and chose to generate electricity by bigger and more efficient generators manufactured by General Electric.
As he began to grow his customer base, Samuel began to create new electricity pricing plans to meet the growing demands of his customers. One such scheme was a peak demand scheme, where customers that required a lot of electricity in a short amount of time had to pay a fixed fee in addition to the typical usage charge.
The Shift To Alternative & Renewable Energies
As the decades continued to roll by, most of the electricity generation was done using fossil fuels, from coal to fuel oil. However, with these traditional methods of electricity generation came an increase in carbon footprint and the emission of greenhouse gases. The world began to focus on renewable energy such as wind power and hydropower. Both of which were in use since the early 1900s but it was only in the early 1930s with the construction of the Hoover Dam when hydropower really took flight and in the 1950s for wind power, once the first utility-grid connected wind turbine became a reality.
Tesla Motors – Electric Cars & Batteries
As we move towards 2020 with new breakthroughs happening every year, electricity is being harnessed in ways few could have imagined. Take Tesla, for example, the company has revolutionized the way we drive by inventing their electric car series which boast long travel distances, a smooth and quiet ride as well as free electricity recharge at any one of their charging stations!
In addition, Tesla is also beginning to make electricity storage feasible and cost-effective for the average family home. With their Powerwall series, families can store electricity and power from the grid that can be used later during power outages to help keep the lights, the air conditioner running and the fridge cool.
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