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1830 - 1839

The first telegraphs are constructed and Michael Faraday produces much of his brilliant and enduring research into electricity and magnetism, inventing the first primitive transformer and generator.


Telegraphic idea

Scottish-American scientist Joseph Henry suggests building a telegraph utilizing a line with an electromagnet connected to one end that can be controlled at the other end.

Faraday's induction

FaradayEnglish chemist and physicist Michael Faraday experimentally observes that a current in a circuit can excite a current in a second circuit when the current in the first circuit changes, the basis of Faraday’s law of induction.


Joseph Henry discovers the principle of self-induction, and with his improved electromagnet design, he successfully lifts more than a ton of iron.

Finding the North Pole

On an Arctic expedition, British explorer James Ross and his uncle Sir John Ross physically locate the Earth’s north magnetic pole.

First magnetometer

German scientist Paul Erman invents a simple magnetometer, which he then uses in the first large-scale survey of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Morse's telegraph

Samuel Morse first conceives his version of the electric telegraph on a return voyage to the United States from England, where he had been studying art.


Parisian instrument maker Hyppolyte Pixii builds a small machine, known today as a magneto, capable of producing alternating current.

Laws of electrolysis

Michael Faraday experiments in electrochemistry and formulates his laws of electrolysis.

Weber's telegraph line

GaussGerman scientists Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber builds a telegraph line in Göttingen that is almost a mile long and uses a galvanometer as a receiver.

Peltier effect

French physicist Jean-Charles Peltier discovers that a difference in temperature can be produced by a current passing through a circuit of two dissimilar metals connected to each other at two junctions (the Peltier effect is the reverse of the Seebeck effect).

Lenz's Law

Heinrich Friedrich Emil Lenz, a German physicist, deduces the law that came to be known as Lenz's Law, which predicts the flow direction of an induced current.

Göttingen Magnetic Union

Carl Friedrich Gauss establishes the Göttingen Magnetic Union, a network of magnetic observatories, most located in Europe.

Speed of electricity

English physicist Charles Wheatstone uses revolving mirrors to measure the speed of electricity traveling through nearly 8 miles of wire. Although his calculations mistakenly lead him to the conclusion that electricity travels faster than light, his ingenious experiment corrects the common belief of the time that electricity traveled instantaneously.

Davenport's motor

American blacksmith Thomas Davenport constructs an electric motor that produces enough energy to power a small model electric railway. Later he would use his motor to supply power to machinery in his shop.

Electrostatic law

Carl Friedrich Gauss devises his famous electrostatic law, though it is not published until more than 30 years later.

Daniell cell

English chemist John Daniell develops an electric cell, now known as the Daniell cell, that efficiently provides a sustained current during continuous usage and is a great improvement over the voltaic cell.

Father of fuel cells

William Grove, a British physicist, becomes the father of the fuel cell when he experimentally combines oxygen and hydrogen to produce water and electricity, a reverse of the reaction demonstrated by William Nicholson and Anthony Carlisle at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Dielectric constant

Michael Faraday develops the concept of a dielectric constant to express the relative ability of dielectric materials to support electrostatic forces.

Tangent galvanometer

French physicist Claude-Servais-Mathias Pouillet invents the tangent galvanometer, a significant improvement over a similar device produced by Johann Schweigger 17 years before.

First telegraph

Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke demonstrate the first working telegraph in Britain. Their initial device uses a receiver with five magnetic needles, but before the Wheatstone-Cooke telegraph would be used commercially several improvements are made, including reducing the number of needles to one.

Electric boat

Russian engineer and physicist Moritz von Jacobi of St. Petersburg builds the first boat powered by electricity and demonstrates it for Tsar Nicholas I on the River Neva.

General theory of electricity

Michael Faraday develops a general theory of electricity by appropriating his model of magnetic lines of induction. He also discovers what is often referred to as the Faraday dark space near the cathode of a Crookes-style tube when an electric current is passed through the gas present in the partially evacuated tube.