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By the 17th century, many electricity-related discoveries had been made, such as the invention of an
early electrostatic generator, the differentiation between positive and negative currents, and the
classification of materials as conductors or insulators. In the year 1600, English physician William
Gilbert used the Latin word “electricus” to describe the force that certain substances exert when rubbed
against each other. A few years later another English scientist, Thomas Browne, wrote several books
and he used the word “electricity” to describe his investigations based on Gilbert’s work. In 1752, Ben
Franklin conducted his experiment with a kite, a key, and a storm. This simply proved that lightning
and tiny electric sparks were the same thing. Italian physicist Alessandro Volta discovered that
particular chemical reactions could produce electricity, and in 1800 he constructed the voltaic pile (an
early electric battery) that produced a steady electric current, and so he was the first person to create a
steady flow of electrical charge. Volta also created the first transmission of electricity by linking
positively-charged and negatively-charged connectors and driving an electrical charge, or voltage,
through them. In 1831 electricity became viable for use in technology when Michael Faraday created
the electric dynamo (a crude power generator), which solved the problem of generating electric current
in an ongoing and practical way. Faraday’s rather crude invention used a magnet that was moved inside
a coil of copper wire, creating a tiny electric current that flowed through the wire. This opened the door
to American Thomas Edison and British scientist Joseph Swan who each invented the incandescent
filament light bulb in their respective countries in about 1878. Previously, light bulbs had been invented
by others, but the incandescent bulb was the first practical bulb that would light for hours on end.