A lot of people worked to develop the
understanding of electricity that we have today.
Humanity had to first discover electrical charge
to discover electricity.
To our knowledge, the Greeks were the first to
discover electrical charge. Electrical charge is
static electricity, or electricity that does not
move. This discovery happened over 2,600 years ago
around 600 BC. The Greeks did not know they had
discovered static electricity, but they observed
that rubbing fossilized tree resin, or amber, with
animal fur made the resin attract dried grass.
Fast forward to 2,200 years future. The year is
close to 1600 AD. An English physicist named
William Gilbert writes books on the attractive
nature of amber and uses the Latin word
"electricus" to describe it. Several years later,
another Englishman is inspired by Gilbert. Thomas
Browne writes many books, and in his books on
physics comes up with the word electricity to
describe his investigations based Gilbert's work.
Among those who studied electricity was Benjamin
Franklin. He is famous for his experiments with
electricity, but he did not discover it.
Franklin's famous experiment in 1752 with the
kite, key, and storm simply proved that lightning
and tiny electric sparks were the same thing.
Franklin understood this fact when a spark jumped
from the key on the kite string to his wrist
shortly after lightning struck his kite.
I've written a lot about static electricity, but
I'm guessing you mean dynamic electricity, or
moving electrical charge, when you use the word
electricity. The first man to discover a steady
(not sudden and violent) flow of electrical charge
was Alessandro Volta. Around 1800 an Italian
doctor named Luigi Galvani had found that a frog's
leg twitched when it touched two different kinds
of metals. Volta studied Galvani's findings and
concluded that a kind of electrical potential
between two metals caused electrical charge to
flow through the frog's leg and make it twitch.
Volta found that, in the presence of this
electrical potential, electrical charge can flow
through a metal wire like water flowing through a
pipe. He used his understanding to invent
batteries. Are you aware that different kinds of
batteries, like AAA, transistor batteries, all
have different voltages or electrical potentials?
We have named one of the properties of
electricity, electrical potential, after Volta.
AAA batteries have an electrical potential of 1.5
volts, transistor batteries have an electrical
potential of 9 volts, and car batteries have an
electrical potential of about 12 volts.
After Volta, many other scientists developed
our understanding of static and moving electrical
charge and its connection to magnetism. Among
these many scientists include Michael Faraday, who
discovered that moving magnets move electrical
charge, and Nikola Tesla, who investigated the
unique consequences of charge moving back and
forth in a wire instead of in just one direction.
More people than we know worked to expand our
knowledge of electricity. Our lives are very
different than they would be without electricity.
iPhones, light bulbs, computers, cars,
televisions, gas pumps, cash registers, ovens,
refrigerators, tooth brushes, telephones, and
many, many more things use static and moving
electrical charge to perform marvelous feats.
I hope this answer helps makes electricity seem
even cooler. Keep asking questions!