A Ridiculously Brief History of Electricity


The most common term used today for electrical power is the watt, named in honor of the man most associated with the development of the steam engine.  James Watt, a Scottish mechanical engineer, developed the unit of output known as horsepower.  One horsepower equals approximately 745 watts.

Watt's improvement on the steam engine made it a source of power that transformed the world of work, and was the key innovation that brought forth the Industrial Revolution




Andre Marie Ampere, a French mathematician and physicist who devoted himself to the study of electricity and magnetism, was the first formulate and measure electrical current flow. He founded and named the science of electrodynamics, now known as electromagnetism. Ampere is the unit of measure for electric current we use today.

A jewel of simplicity, the formula, E=IR was first proposed by George Simon Ohm, in 1827.  This German mathematician and physicist had distilled the grand mystery of electricity down to this simple equation: the amount of electromotive force, E (voltage), equals the amount of current in amperes that will flow over the resistance of a circuit, measured in ohms.  Ohm’s Law, as it is called, and its variations, are used almost on a daily basis by electricians and electrical engineers.  His theories were coldly received by the German scientists of his day, but his research was embraced in Great Britain, and he was awarded the Copley Medal in 1841.  His name has been given to the unit of electrical resistance, the ohm.

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