The history of the early stages of electromagnetic instrumentation is traced here through the men who devised the theories and constructed the instruments.Despite the many uses made of voltaic cells after Volta’s announcement of his “pile” invention in 1800, two decades passed before Oersted discovered the magnetic effects of a voltaic circuit. As a result of this and within a five-month period, three men, apparently independently, announced the invention of the “first” electromagnetic instrument. This article details the merits of their claims to priority.
mploying a rather uncommon method of publication. Instead of submitting a letter to a scientific society or a report to the editor of a journal, he had privately printed a four-page pamphlet describing his results. This, he forwarded simultaneously to the learned societies and outstanding scientists all over Europe. Written in Latin, the paper was published in various journals in English, French, German, Italian and Danish during the next few weeks.
In summary, he reported that a compass needle experienced deviations when placed near a wire connecting the terminals of a voltaic battery. He described fully how the direction and magnitude of the needle deflections varied with the relative position of the wire, and the polarity of the battery, and stated "From the preceding facts, we may likewise collect that this conflict performs circles...." Oersted's comment that the voltaic apparatus used should "be strong enough to heat a metallic wire red hot" does not excuse the 20-year delay of the discovery.
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