Electricity: A Beginning
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Monday, June 9, 2014

Electrical systems are what deliver power to many homes and businesses throughout the day. In fact, electricity is what powers the computer (or tablet) that you are reading this text on. But why is this relevant to you? As we are living in the 21st century, humans have become dependent on the phenomena in daily routines. It wasn’t always that way, as electricity had a striking beginning.

While many may recall the old tale of Benjamin Franklin flying a kite in a thunderstorm, electricity didn’t become a common utility for people until much later. Thomas Edison invented the first practical incandescent light bulb in 1879. There were others who worked on inventing a light bulb, however the materials Edison used and the fact that he applied for a patent early on, gave him a jump on the other inventors. Electric power seemed odd to several people at first, but after the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company insisted on using Edison’s bulbs aboard the ship Columbia, the introduction of electricity to the masses began to grow.

However, electricity wasn’t widely embraced. It’s strange since nowadays we rely on electricity for basically everything from food and drink to entertainment to simple lighting in a single day. Before the Second Industrial Revolution, people didn’t take a liking to this mystical force. As some didn’t understand it, people began to think of it as an invisible something that could kill someone or even bring someone back from the dead. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published in 1819, and even though there is no mention of electricity bringing her infamous monster to life, individuals thought it was the work of such. This produced a public uninformed about the true properties of electricity.

Despite the misconceptions, it didn’t stop innovators like Edison or Nikola Tesla from working on making strides in the development of electricity’s use. During the Second Industrial Revolution, as the world advanced, so did electricity. In 1882, the Mahen Theatre in Brno of the now Czech Republic was the first enterprise to install and use Edison’s electric lamps, which started the demand for supplying electricity to the masses.

Power stations and lighting companies were formed in the 1880s, creating a market to sell electric lamps to people instead of using candles as a light source. Lighting was just the first stop on the journey of making electricity into a common resource. The invention of light bulbs paved way for electric heating, electrical telegraphs and even an electric motor. And something many of us use today: a computer.

Next time the power goes out, think about how much electricity you use in one day. You may realize that there are an amazing number of electronics that are used in your day. Though it is commonplace now, electricity had a charged entrance into the world.

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