The telephone and first practical incandescent light bulb are invented while the word "electron" enters the scientific lexicon.


Maxwell's treatise

Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell provides a detailed discussion of his theory of electromagnetism in his Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism.


English electrical engineer Willoughby Smith discovers photoconductivity when he observes that selenium conducts electricity better when exposed to light.

Charge of an electron

Irish physicist George Stoney estimates the charge on the particle of electricity which he would later call the electron.

Kerr electro-optic effect

Physicist John Kerr of Scotland discovers that birefringence can be induced in a transparent material by applying a strong electric field so that it is transverse to the light beam, a phenomenon now referred to as the Kerr electro-optic effect.

Charge and current

American physicist Henry Rowland experimentally proves that a moving electric charge is magnetically equivalent to an electric current.

Patent for telephone

Bell phoneInventor Alexander Graham Bell receives a U.S. patent for his version of the telephone which, unlike the rudimentary design of Phillip Reis, was capable of successfully transmitting human speech and other sounds.

A better arc lamp

Russian electrical engineer and inventor Paul Jablochkov develops an improved arc lamp with a simple design known as the Jablochkov candle, which becomes the preferred form of electric street lighting for several years.

Incandescent bulb

English physicist Joseph Swan, who had invented a primitive electric light in 1860, demonstrates a practical incandescent light bulb in his country; inventor Thomas Edison makes a similar demonstration of the electric light he independently invented in America.

Hall effect

At the suggestion of Henry Rowland, American physicist Edwin Hall carries out an experiment while working on his doctoral thesis that results in his discovery of the Hall effect, which refers to the voltage difference produced by a magnetic field applied perpendicularly to a solid carrying an electric current.
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