Timeline of Electromagnetism and Wireless Communication

A timeline of the investigation of electricity and magnetism, and of the invention of wireless communication, with links to exhibits at the New England Wireless & Steam Museum.


  • 1600 William Gilbert published “De Magnete,” recognized that Earth is a magnet
  • 1630 Cabeous found there are two electric charges
  • 1660 Otto von Guericke invents an early electrostatic generator
  • 1675 Robert Boyle shows electric repulsion and attraction across a vacuum
  • 1676 Olaus Roemer measures the speed of light by observing Jupiter’s moons


  • 1732 C. F. du Fay demonstrates electric charges generated by rubbing different materials together
  • 1745 Peter van Mussenchenbroek invents the Leyden jar
  • 1752 Benjamin Franklin demonstrates that lighting is electricity, that charges concentrate at points on a rod, and that charge is stored on the glass of a Leyden jar. Names positive and negative charges.
  • 1785 Charles Coulomb reports inverse square law for electrostatics
  • 1786 Luigi Galvani discovers “animal electricity”