Turns out that the whole history is longer and more complicated than you would think. As is the case for many inventions, it would seem to be almost a hodge-podge of people to come up with the battery we all know today.
The battery is a staple of modern life. They’ve changed a lot over the years, but the core principle is still the same—and it’s probably about 100 years older than you’d think. Most of the electrical pioneering in the world was happening in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, Heinrich Hertz—these and other great minds were filing hundreds of electrical patents that shaped the 20th century into what we know today.
So it might come as a surprise to learn that the battery was invented a century before any of this—in 1800, by Alessandro Volta (an Italian). His “battery” was called the Voltaic Pile and combined layers of copper, zinc, and cardboard soaked in saltwater. The design was modeled the work of another Italian, who noticed that a dead frog’s legs will twitch if an electrical charge touches them. Volta simple replaced the frog legs with salt water to create a circuit.
As a matter of fact, nearly every stage in the evolution of the battery has come from a different country. An Englishman improved on Volta’s battery, a Frenchman developed the first rechargeable battery, and a Swede invented the nickel-cadmium battery, which we still use today. Really, the only American influence came from Benjamin Franklin, who was the first person to use the word “battery.”
All I know is that if it weren't for the battery, all our lives would be diminished by quite a lot.
Coffee out on the patio again this morning. Sure looks like Spring out there!