Detailed History of Electric Motors

By Manney
  • Volta produces continuous electrical power

    For the first time, Allessandro Volta produces a continuous electrical power from a stack of silver and zinc plates
  • Period: to

    First Experiments with Electromagnetical Devices

  • Oersted observes mechanical movement caused by electrical current

    Hans Christian Oersted finds the generation of a magnetic field by electric currents by observation of the deflection of a compass needle. This was the first time a mechanical movement was caused by an electric current.
  • Solenoid Invented

    André-Marie Ampère invents the cylindric coil (solenoid)
  • Faraday's electromagnetic rotation

    Michael Faraday creates two experiments for the demonstration of electromagnetic rotation. A vertically suspended wire moves in a circular orbit around a magnet
  • Barlow's Wheel

    Peter Barlow invents a spinning wheel (Barlow's wheel = unipolar machine).
  • Invention of the electromagnet

    William Sturgeon invents the electromagnet, a coil of wires with an iron core to enhance the magnetic field.
  • Rotary Machine Invented

    Istvan Jedlik invents the first rotary machine with electromagnets and a commutator. However, he reported his invention decades later so the actual invention date is uncertain.
  • Electromagnetism Induction, generation, and transmission

    Michael Faraday discovers and investigates electromagnetic induction, i.e. the generation of an electric current due to a varying magnetic field (the reversal of Oersted's discovery). Faraday lays the foundation for the development of the electric generator.
  • Joseph Henry's philosophical toy

    Joseph Henry finds the induction law independent of Faraday and builds a small magnetic rocker, describing it as a "philosophical toy." In an article for the English Philosophical Magazine, in 1838 F. Watkins acknowledges Henry's device in detail and calls it the first electric motor ever known. This view extends to present day, mainly in British literature.
  • Dal Negro's electromagnetic pendulum

    Savatore dal Negro builds a device that lifts 60 grams in one second by 5 centimeters and develops nearly 30 mW mechanical power.
  • Invention of the rotating electric machine

    The rotating electric machine is invented by an anonymous letter writer with the initials P.M. There is high probability that this individual is Frederick McClintok.
  • First DC generator with commutator

    William Ritchie builds a rotating electromagnetic generator with four rotor coils, a commutator, and brushes. He is generally regarded as the inventor of the commutator
  • First apparatus built for generating an alternating current

    Hippolyte Pixii builds the first apparatus for generating an alternating current out of a rotation. Later that same year, Pixii improved his device by adding a switching device. He now can produce a pulsating direct current.
  • Sturgeon's rotating electric device

    William Sturgeon builds a rotating electric device that is publicly displayed in London.
  • The first "real" electric motors

    Guiseppe Domenico Botto published an article describing an electric motor, which corresponds to a metronome acting on the pendulum with two electromagnets. Rotary motion is generated via a piston rod.
  • Electromagnetic Wheel

    T. Edmundson builds an electromagnetic rotary device resembling a water wheel.
  • The first alternator

    Hippolyte Pixii builds the first alternator, a device with a rotating magnet
  • First Davenport motor patent application

    Thomas Davenport, along with Orange Smalley create their first rotary machine. The men split and Davenport demonstrates his machine before the patent office with the purpose of registering it. He returns home without success: he lacked the money to properly register his device.
  • Watkin's Toy

    Francis Walker creates an electrical "toy" which allows him to bring several magnetic needles to rotation. Watkins is one of the first who understood the principles of reversal of motor and generator.
  • Charles G. Page

    Page starts a lifelong occupation with electric motors. Over the next 20 years, Page performs research to find better, more powerful machines.
  • Period: to

    Stronger motors, new applications

  • Davenport's tiny model train

    A tiny model train with one of Davenport's motor is displayed in London. It moves at 3 mph.
  • Jacobi's electrically powered boat

    Jacobi demonstrates for the first time on the river Neva an electrically powered boat with paddle wheels.
  • First electric locomotive by Davidson

  • Period: to

    From the invention of the dynamo to the DC motor

  • Siemen's double-T armature winding

    Werner Siemens invents the electric generator with a double-T armature winding. He is the first to place a winding into slots. From this point on, all previous designs disappear.
  • Maxwell's fundamental equations

    James Clark Maxwell summarizes all the current knowledge of electromagnetism in four fundamental equations. These equations are still valid today and fully describe the theory of electrical engineering
  • The dynamo-electric machine

    Siemens develops the dynamo-electric machine based on the double-T armature. This is the first generator powerful enough to lead the way in the advent of electricity.
  • Anchor Drum Motor

    Friedrich von Hefner-Alteneck develops the anchor drum motor. He wraps wire completely around a cylinder shaped anchor, which improves the double-T anchor machine and produces a smooth DC. He solves the problem of eddy currents by using iron wires instead of solid iron for the magnetic core.
  • Period: to

    The three-phase system and the induction motor

  • Nikola Tesla

    Tesla emigrates to America and starts a small company and development laboratory in New York in 1886
  • First Induction Motor

    Galileo Ferraris builds the first induction motor, using two phases.
  • First full AC power system in the world

    The first full AC power system is demonstrated using step up and step down transformers. The system was built by William Stanley
  • First American Commercial AC Power

    Buffalo, NY receives the first commercial AC power system in America
  • Tesla's patents for two-phase AC system

    Tesla files the first patents for a two-phase AC system with four electric power lines, which consists of a generator, a transmission system, and a multi-phase motor.
  • First synchronous motor

    Friedrich August Haselwander is the first with the idea to use a three-phase alternating current system. He builds the first three-phase synchronous generator with salient poles.
  • Multi-phase generators

    Charles Schenk Bradley has been experimenting with multi-phase generators already before the publication of Ferraris' work. In 1887/88 he is granted several US patents on this subject. At first on two-phase and later also on three-phase systems.
  • Tesla's AC Power

    Tesla invents alternating current (AC) making long distance distribution of electrical energy possible
  • Wenström describes three-phase electrical power system

    Jonas Wenström describes in a British patent of all parts of a three-phase electrical power system.
  • Sweden gets AC power transmission

    In 1890, Wenström builids his first three-phase generator and in 1893, builds the first 13 km long AC power transmission system in Sweden.
  • Three-phase cage induction motor

    Michael Dolivo-Dobrowolsky improves the basic ideas of Tesla and Ferraris and constructs the three-phase cage induction motor. He also invents the three-phase slip ring induction motor with starting resistannce.
  • First distance power distribution for electric power utility

    The first distance power distribution for electric power utility is built between Lauffen to Frankfurt, a distance of 109 miles.
  • Electron Discovery

    The electron is discovered by J.J. Thomson