From this time on the knowledge of electricity grew with amazing rapidity. Ohm's definition of electro-motive force, current strength and resistance eventuated into Ohm's law. Thomson greatly simplified the galvanometer, and Wheatstone invented the rheostat, a means of measuring resistance, about 1850. Then primary batteries were brought forward by Daniels, Grove, Bunsen and Thomson, and electrolysis by Faraday. Then came the instruments of precision - the electrometer, the resistance bridge, the ammeter, the voltmeter - all of the utmost value in the science.
The perfection of measuring instruments did more to advance electricity than almost any other field of endeavor; so that after 1875 the inventors took up the subject, and by their energy developed and put into practical operation a most wonderful array of mechanism, which has become valuable in the service of man in almost every field of human activity.
This brief history is given merely to show what wonders have been accomplished in a few years. The art is really less than fifty years old, and yet so rapidly has it gone forward that it is not at all surprising to hear the remark, that the end of the wonders has been reached. Less than twenty-five years ago a high official of the United States Patent Office stated that it was probable the end of electrical research had been reached. The most wonderful developments have been made since that time; and now, as in the past, one discovery is but the prelude to another still more remarkable. We are beginning to learn that we are only on the threshold of that storehouse in which nature has locked her secrets, and that there is no limit to human ingenuity.
As the boy, with his limited vision, surveys this vast accumulation of tools, instruments and machinery, and sees what has been and is now being accomplished, it is not to be wondered at that he should enter the field with timidity. In his mind the great question is, how to acquire the knowledge. There is so much to learn. How can it be accomplished?
The answer to this is, that the student of to-day has the advantage of the knowledge of all who have gone before; and now the pertinent thing is to acquire that knowledge.
This brings us definitely down to an examination of the means that we shall employ to instil this knowledge, so that it may become a permanent asset to the student's store of information.
The most significant thing in the history of electrical development is the knowledge that of all the great scientists not one of them ever added any knowledge to the science on purely speculative reasoning. All of them were experimenters. They practically applied and developed their theories in the laboratory or the workshop. The natural inference is, therefore, that the boy who starts out to acquire a knowledge of electricity, must not only theorize, but that he shall, primarily, conduct the experiments, and thereby acquire the information in a practical way, one example of which will make a more lasting impression than pages of dry text.
Throughout these pages, therefore, I shall, as briefly as possible, point out the theories involved, as a foundation for the work, and then illustrate the structural types or samples; and the work is so arranged that what is done to-day is merely a prelude or stepping-stone to the next phase of the art. In reality, we shall travel, to a considerable extent, the course which the great investigators followed when they were groping for the facts and discovering the great manifestations in nature.