A History of Electricity

By Tim Lambert

Who Invented Electricity? No single person invented electricity. Many people made discoveries and inventions. However, in 1819, a Dane, Hans Christian Oersted discovered that an electric current in a wire caused a nearby compass needle to move. The Englishman Michael Faraday (1791-1867) showed that a magnet can produce electricity. In 1831 Faraday invented the dynamo. Eventually, in the late 19th century people invented all kinds of electric appliances.

Electric Battery

Volta invented the electric battery in 1800.

Electric Blanket

The first practical electric blanket was invented in 1912 by Sidney I. Russell.

Electric Clothes Dryer

The electric clothes dryer was invented in 1935 by a man named J. Ross Moore.

Electric Dishwasher

The electric dishwasher was invented by the Walker brothers in 1913.

Electric Doorbell

The electric doorbell was invented by Joseph Henry in 1831.

Electric Drill

The electric drill was invented by William Blanch Brain in 1889. But it was a heavy device. The first portable electric drill was invented by Wilhelm and Carl Fein in 1895.

Electric Fan

The electric fan was invented in 1882 by Dr Schuyler Wheeler.

Electric Fire

The first practical electric fire was made in 1912.


The flashlight was invented by David Misell in 1899.

Electric Hairdryer

The electric hairdryer was invented by a Frenchman, Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefrey in 1890.

Electric Iron

The first electric iron was invented in 1882 by Henry Seeley.

Electric Kettle

The first electric kettle was made in 1891.

Electric Light

The electric light bulb was invented by Joseph Swan in 1878.

Electric Motor

As early as 1837 Thomas Davenport made an electric motor. However, electricity was seldom used in industry until the end of the 19th century.

Neon Lights

The first neon lights were made by Georges Claude in 1910.

Electric Organ

Morse Robb invented the electric organ in 1928.

Electric Oven

The first electric oven went on sale in the USA in 1891. They went on sale in Britain in 1893. By 1939 there were about 1 1/2 million electric ovens in Britain and about 9 million gas ones.


Who invented the radio is disputed but by 1901 Marconi was sending signals across the Atlantic.

Electric Razor

The first successful electric razor was invented in 1928 by Jacob Schick.


No single person invented the refrigerator. However, the refrigerator for use in your home was invented by Frank W Wolf in 1913.

Electric Sewing Machine

The first electric sewing machine was sold in 1889.

Electric Saw

The electric hand saw was invented by Edmond Michel in 1923.

Electric Toaster

The first electric toaster was patented in Britain in 1893 by Crompton and Co. The pop-up toaster was patented in 1919 by Charles Strite.

Electric Toothbrush

The first cordless electric toothbrush was sold in 1961.


The electric telegraph was invented in 1837 by Sir William Cooke and Sir Charles Wheatstone.

Telegraph key


The telephone was invented in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell.


Television was invented in 1925 by John Logie Baird. The BBC began broadcasting in 1936.

Vacuum Cleaner

The vacuum cleaner was invented in 1901 by Hubert Booth.

Washing Machine

The first electric washing machines were made in 1907.

Power plant

Last revised 2024