The History Behind The First Electric Generator

Curious about the first electric generator and the fundamental discoveries that led to its invention? This article will take you through this landmark of an invention that has revolutionized society into what we know today.

The History Behind The First Electric Generator

If you’ve lived through any kind of natural disaster or simply an unfortunate power outage, chances are that you’ve been thankful for an electric generator. Because electricity has become such a necessary and foundational part of the modern life, it’s no wonder many people are curious about the first electric generator and its history.

The first electric generator was created by Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry. Work on the principles that would go into the development of the first electric generator began in the year 1820 and was completed in 1831. After this, the electric generator’s sustainability was improved upon by adding in disc perimeter magnets.

In this article, you will find an overview of the history of the first electric generator. We will answer questions relating to the creator of the first electric generator, the time frame in which it was created, and the overall purpose of the first electric generator. We’ll even go over some more questions which are frequently asked about this topic. Let’s get started!

The History of the First Electric Generator

To understand the first electric generator, there are a few questions that must be answered. After all, though the first electric generator was eventually established, there were many principles of electricity and engineering that had to be discovered, sometimes by more than one person, before Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry created their invention.

With that in mind, we’ve broken down the history of the first electric generator into the answers to questions you’ll find below.

When was the first electric generator invented?

Technically, Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry created the first working machine that could be called an electric generator in the year 1831. However, work on the principles that led to this generator began almost ten years earlier, in 1820.

The two discovered the principle that would later be known as “Faraday’s Law,” it generally stated that an electrical conductor is responsible for creating an electromotive force and circles a magnetic flux which varies.

To put it plainly, they discovered that when the magnetic field changes due to time passing, it produces an electromotive force. An electromotive force is simply the amount of energy delivered to each unit of an electric charge thanks to a power source. The generator itself is that power source!

Who invented the first electric generator?

Joseph Henry and Michael Faraday are credited with being the founders of the whole electrical industry thanks to their uncovering of Faraday’s Law and the subsequent invention of the electric generator.

Joseph Henry was an engineer and an American Scientist born in December of 1797. He did not invent electromagnets, but he built them, and while doing so, he discovered a phenomenon known as self-inductance.

Added to this accomplishment was the discovery of mutual inductance. Without Joseph Henry’s additional work on electromagnetic relays, electrical telegraphs would not have been invented.

Michael Faraday published Joseph Henry’s findings. Michael Faraday was an Englishman, a natural philosopher born in September of 1791. Among his discoveries were electromagnetic induction, electrolysis, and diamagnetism. This is all the more impressive when considering that Faraday had barely any formal education.

It was Faraday who really established the breakthrough that led to the electric generator’s invention. He did this by finding out that moving a magnet through a loop of insulated electrical wire caused a current of electricity to flow through the wire itself. This meant that a magnetic field which was changing produced electricity.

Eventually, this became known as Faraday’s law and was used in the construction of the Faraday Disc, a magnetic field creating a turning disc which induced an electric current and became the first electric generator.

What was the purpose of the first electric generator?

Michael Faraday created the first electric generator based on principles discovered by himself and Joseph Henry for the purpose of experimenting with magnetic fields and electric fields.

After discovering that the device converted mechanical energy based on motion into electrical energy, more generators were built to be used to create independent electrical power.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you looking for more information about the very first electric generator and how it was used? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with our answers to the web’s most frequently asked questions on this fascinating subject! Let’s take a look below to find out more.

Did Thomas Edison invent the generator?

Though he is credited as the father of electricity, Thomas Edison cannot truly be credited with inventing the first-ever generator. That honor, as mentioned above, goes to Michael Faraday. However, Thomas Edison did build a device known as the DC generator in 1882, and it was installed in New York City that same year.

Who built the first power plant in 1882?

The first power plant, a commercial variety, in the United States was Pearl Street Station. The station was built by a company hired by Thomas Edison known as the Edison Illuminating Company, and Francis Upton directed the construction.

Pearl Street Station was located in the Financial District of Manhattan in New York City on the street named after it. It served just 400 lamps and a grand total of 82 customers when it first began generating electricity in the month of September 1882. Impressively, within the next two years, Pearl Street Station served more than 500 customers and over 10,000 lamps.

Who invented the first DC generator?

Although Michael Faraday invented the first electric generator, to his credit, he did not invent the follow-up generator known as the DC generator. Thomas Edison, as mentioned above, was the inventor of the first DC generator.

The design of this generator was first conceived all the way back in 1878. It is a unique type of energy generator because, unlike the AC generators, it is often compared to, the DC generator only allows an electrical current to flow in one direction. This means that building a DC generator is easier and reduces engineering costs.

Often, DC generators are used for providing lighting, charging up batteries, and offering excitation to alternators. These are also used in motors built to be compatible with a DC generator because they help to control the speed of the vehicle using the motor.

The way a “direct current” generator works is that voltage is first induced in the conductor coil thanks to its rotation in a magnetic field. The faster this conductor coil moves, the more voltage it induces.

Did houses have electricity in 1890?

Yes, houses did actually have electricity in 1890, though it had just begun to be implemented in homes late that year. It was not until the 1920s, all the way through to the mid-30s, that the majority of American households had electricity by joining the electrical utility grid.

Who made the first large-scale electric generators?

The first large-scale electric generators were not built by inventor Michael Faraday, nor were they the brainchild of Thomas Edison. Instead, Sir Charles Parsons of the year 1884 is credited with creating the first large-scale electric generator.

This was originally a steam turbine generator with a low thermal efficiency. However, in 1886, Sir Charles Parsons improved upon his design’s efficiency by adding the element of a condensing turbine: thus, the first large-scale electric generator was born.

In Conclusion

To sum up everything that we’ve learned up, the first electric generator was invented in 1831 by Michael Faraday. These were based on principles and discoveries made not only by himself but by Joseph Henry. Today, electric generators are even more powerful and are used to supply power to lights, motors, batteries, and anything else that needs electricity during the loss of power.