Coulomb made electricity a modern science

The concept of "electricity" has existed since ancient times, but the study of electricity did not begin until the 16th century with the advent of modern science.

Records of electricity date back to the 6th century BC. The Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus (624-620 BCE - 548-545 BCE) wrote that amber rubbed with a block of wood attracts small and light objects such as broken grass. In China, during the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC -9 BC), there was also a folk saying that "hawksbill turtle attracts you", that is, the back plate of hawksbill turtle can attract small objects. In the Jin Dynasty, Zhang Hua (232-300 years) in his "History of Natural History" has a description of "When people comb their hair and take off their clothes, there are those who unknot with the comb, and there are also Zha sound."

In 1600, British scientist William Gilbert (1540-1605) pointed out in his book On Magnetism that rubbing amber, diamonds, gems, etc., can attract small objects such as feathers and produce sparks during friction. He also coined the Latin word electricus, meaning "amber-like" thing or process. In 1646, the Latin word was quoted by another English polymath, Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), in his book False Epidemics, and later became the official English word electric.

Since then, the potential of electricity in life has dawned. People began to try to design and build devices that could generate static electricity. However, it has taken more than two centuries and the efforts and research of many scientists to realize this wish.

In 1660, the German physicist Otto von Guericke (1602-1686) invented the first friction motor. Newton later suggested that the sulfur ball he used be changed into a glass ball. This machine played an important role in the experimental study of static electricity over the next 100 years.

In 1706, the English physicist Francis Hauksbee (1660-1713) improved von Guerick's friction generator.

In 1730, the German physicist Georg Matthias Bose (1710-1761) further improved the friction motor by adding a collector conductor.

In 1745, the Scottish physicist Andreas Gordon (1712-1751) modified von Guerick's machine, replacing Newton's glass ball with a glass cylinder, and made an efficient friction motor.

In 1762, the English physicist John Canton (1718-1772) greatly improved the efficiency of the generator by spraying tin amalgam on the surface of the frictioner.

In 1775, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745-1827) created a type of electric starter that consisted of an insulating plate and a conductive plate, which were charged by friction. In 1799, he designed and built the first chemical battery capable of generating a continuous current, the "voltaic battery."

In 1784, designed by Dutch physicist Martin van Marum (1750-1837) and machining by British instrument maker John Cuthbertson (1743-1821), the two teamed up to build the first large practical electrostatic generator. Exhibited at the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, the Netherlands.

In 1787, the English instrument engineer Edward Nairne (1726-1806) invented an electrostatic generator consisting of a glass cylinder mounted on a glass insulator, which could generate positive or negative electricity, and attempted to provide it for medical applications.

In 1831, the Italian physicist Giuseppe Belli (1791-1860) developed a simple and convenient electrostatic multiplier capable of transferring almost all the charge generated by a machine to a collector.

In 1840, British physicist William G. Armstrong (1810-1900) discovered that steam emitted from boilers would produce an electric arc during condensation, known as the "Armstrong effect". In 1843, he designed a large electrostatic generator based on this effect.

In 1860, British engineer Cromwell F. Varley (1828-1883) built the first modern electrostatic generator. In 1865, the German physicist August J. I. Toepler (1836-1912) made a major improvement to it.

In 1865, the German physicist Wilhelm Holtz (1836-1913) invented another type of electrostatic generator that collected electric charge in a Leiden bottle.

In 1867, British physicist Lord Kelvin, William Thomson (1824-1907) invented an electrostatic generator known as the "Kelvin Water Drop motor". The device uses the positive feedback effect of water droplets on the voltage difference in the process of dripping and the electrostatic induction effect of positive and negative ions in water on the electrostatic field generated in the electric dipole to form the voltage difference and generate and accumulate electrostatic charge.

In 1882, British inventor James Wimshurst (1832-1903) created the disk type electrostatic induction generator, in which two coaxial glass circles can be rotated at high speed in reverse, its triboelectric efficiency is very high, and can produce high voltage. His machine was thought to be a combination of Varley's and Holtz's electrostatic generators. This kind of electrostatic generator has been used until now after many improvements, especially in the middle school physics class for electrical experiment demonstration.