Who, Watt, Where, Why and When

Four European men are behind some of today’s common electrical terms

By Rodger Nichols

The discovery of electricity and the development of terms to describe its aspects came late in the game scientifically. Many of those terms are named after early scientists and experimenters in the field.

Other, older units of measurement are not named after people. There was no Ebenezer Mile or Abner Quart to be honored with those designations, but four European experimenters gave their names to the electrical units watt, ampere, volt, and ohm.

They were not the only ones. Seven others gave their names to more esoteric measurements: the coulomb, farad, Henry, siemens, joule, biot, and debye.