The History of Electrical Engineering
by Prof. Dr. Walter Kaiser (former Chair of Historical Development of Technology)Siemens-Pressebild
Roughly between 1790 and 1830, in physics the basics of electrodynamics- so called by Ampère -were discovered . Since 1820 , there have also been initial approaches to a theoretical description. Amazingly fast - and in the 19th Century only comparable to c hemistry - industrial electrical engineering developed on the basis of these new physical discoveries . Initialized by sophisticated optical telegraphs on the one hand and limited by the weak electrochemical power sources on the other , the focus of this early electrical engineering clearly was on telegraphy . Government users , i.e., military and administration, as well as wealthy individuals and corporations , however, were enabled to convey messages over great distances with unprecedented speed .
"Power Engineering" followed i n the second stage of the development of industrial electrical engineering, booming from 1880 onwards. Due to improved large generators which became independent of permanent magnets , electro-forming , electric motors, and lighting systems where able to finally enforce themselves. While arc lamps filled streets and squares with bright light , the incandescent bulb allowed electric lighting inside buildings . The achievements of electrical engineering became visible to the public not least through the construction of tramways since 1880.
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A signal of the growing economic importance of electrical engineering and also of a lasting change in production was the use of phase current and three phase motors in heavy industry from about 1910 onwards. The electrification of the individual life was rather slow , however . For example, electric lighting had to prevail against the cheaper gas light . Despite early patents, electrical equipment found its way into private households in large numbers only from the 1920s and 1930s onwards .
" Weak current technology" had first developed world-embracing telegraph and telephone networks , with considerable sums having been invested in devices, switching systems, transmission lines and cables. It was not until around 1910 that it experienced its second heyday in the form of wireless communications technology. What is fascinating is that even with the simple transmitter and receiver technology of the early years, the Atlantic could be bridged . This development accelerated at the end of World War I and inbetween the two wars , with the general broadcast and early television technologies being in the foreground . Before the outbreak of World War II, however, especially radio broadcasting had become a major economic factor , the central medium, and an integral part of family life .
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