Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta

Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (1745-1827) of Italy gave his name to the volt. He developed the first primitive battery, the voltaic pile, in 1799. He showed electricity could be generated chemically, which debunked the theory of the time that electricity was generated solely by living beings.

Among Volta’s many achievements, he perfected a way to generate static electricity—the phenomenon best known today by rubbing a balloon in a child’s hair.

One volt is defined as the difference in electric potential between two points of a conducting wire when an electric current of one ampere dissipates one watt of power between those points.

Fun facts: Volta did not speak until he was 4 years old. Despite his delayed speech, Volta became fluent in Italian, German, Latin, French, and English. One of Volta’s admirers was Napoleon Bonaparte, who made Volta a count.