Ben Franklin has often been connected with the discovery of electricity. That would have been around the year of 1752 somewhere. However, this major discovery did not happen in one big moment. Back at this point and time, most people wanted to figure out how they could light their houses in the dark. So it all really began with light then so that others could see in the dark.
Figuring out how to generate electricity was difficult. There was no exact way that a person could rely on to produce it, that is, until the year 1800. It was in 1800 that Alessandro Volta, who was an Italian scientist had a breakthrough in his experiments. He tried soaking a sheet of paper in some salt water, and then by placing both zinc and copper on opposite sides of the paper, saw that this produced a current. That was when the first battery was discovered. Batteries as we know have volts. It was called volts because Volta made this first discovery.
It was still during the 1800 period when another English scientist namely Michael Faraday found out that you could get an electric current by passing a magnet again through copper wiring. That was yet another huge breakthrough in this period of time. The electricity that is used in today’s world was formed through coils of copper wire and magnets, used in places that give our cities their power, (power plants.)
When it came into the year of 1879, there was Thomas Edison, who made the discovery of a light bulb at that time. He wanted to create a bulb that would last us for awhile, and not go out for a period of time. So in his searching for the materials to create this bulb, he used a plain cotton thread that he soaked in carbon. He found out that using this combination of cotton thread and carbon, it gave out a bright light and never burned up. The light bulb at this time was empowered by a battery, and they did not come very cheaply.
After this point and time, there had to be created, an electrical system that was actually capable of applying power to lights. Thomas Edison still continued diligently to find a way to produce electricity that was low cost and would work. He then figured out a way to create our very first power plant that was electrical, and that would produce electricity to houses. There was Edison’s Pearl Street Power Station that had a generator supplying power in 1882. People in New York were first to receive power to their lamps at that time September 4, 1882. To benefit from this power source though, you paid a lot for it.
It wasn’t until a few years beyond 1882, (1895) that alternating power systems were developed. There was alternating current systems that could deliver electricity in a much better and more efficient way. It was in that time that George Westinghouse was able to open his new power plant in Niagra Falls that used an alternating current.
So this is the basics of how it all began. By standards today, just 41 percent of all our energy is used to make electricity.