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The role of electricity has grown enormously over the years and it can now be used to power motors, cook meals, produce moving pictures on a TV screen or even allow us to talk to someone on the other side of the world.

But where did it all begin?

Electricity is the flow of electrical power or charge. The word ‘electricity’ comes from the Greek word ‘elektron’ which means amber. Amber is a yellow, fossilised rock found in tree sap.

As early as the latter part of the 16th century, Dr. William Gilbert, the Court Physician to Queen Elizabeth I, realised that a force was created, when a piece of amber was rubbed with wool and attracted light objects. This force is known as ‘static electricity’. In describing this property today, we say that the amber is “electrified” or possesses an ‘electric charge’.

The American writer, scientist, diplomat and inventor, Benjamin Franklin, started working with electricity in the 1740’s. He performed different experiments to try to understand more about it, and eventually proved that lightning (a form of static electricity) flowed like water.

He also found that an electric charge exists of two types of electric forces, an attractive force and a repulsive force. To identify these two forces, he gave the names, positive and negative charges and to symbolise them, he used the + and – signs, the + being for positive and the – for negative.

In 1831, Michael Faraday, an English scientist, discovered how to make an electrical current. He found that when a magnet spins inside a coil of copper wire, a tiny electrical current flows through the wire, creating an electrical charge. This is the concept of how electricity is made today.

A major development in the history of electricity occurred in 1879 when American inventor Thomas Edison developed the first practical incandescent lamp. Edison also developed a new direct current generator which, when used together with a steam engine, made today’s large-scale electricity generation possible.

(Information courtesy of Scholz Electrical Co., sourced:…/history1.html
And Energy Information Administration, sourced:…/electricity.html