History of Motors

How Motors Work

History of Motors

Types of Motors

Frequently asked Questions


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History of Motors

Motors find the most practical use in our every day life in form of modern gadgets, devices and appliances. There is no exact date that can be traced back to being the exact day of modern day motor invention. It has been a gradual process with many prominent names and contributions from the scientific world. Starting way back, today we have progressed to develop nanoelectromechanical systems that promise to be the future miniature form of motors.

The core function of electric motors is to convert electrical current into mechanical force. The history of motors can be related to times when fundamentals of electromagnetic induction were introduced. In early 1800, three popular scientists Oersted, Faraday and Gauss came up with the basic principals of electromagnetic induction.

In 1820, Andre Ampere and Hans Oersted made the most fascinating invention. They discovered that electric current produces magnetic field leading to the invention of the basic DC motor some ten years later. No body in particular is acclaimed with the sole invention of the DC motor, as it was a gradual process with involvement of many people

Michael Faraday from England set to prove the theory proposed by Ampere and Oersted. In 1921, he successfully demonstrated in his experiment by converting electrical energy into motion. His motor was made of a free-hanging wire that was plunged into a puddle of mercury. A permanent magnet was placed in the centre of the mercury pool. On passing through the wire, it rotated around the magnet. It proved that the current resulted in a circular magnetic field around the wire. This is the simplest form of electric motor.

Ten years later, it was Joseph Henry who built an improved motor based upon Faraday’s experimental motor. He constructed a device whose rotating part was an electromagnet with a horizontal axis. The motion resulted in two vertical permanent magnets, alternately attracted and repelled at end of the electromagnet. This made the magnet sway back and forth at 75 cycles per minute.

Till this stage, use of electromagnetic field in motors was restricted to lab experiments. A major development took place with William Sturgeon’s invention of commutator. He is credited with the discovery of first rotary electric motor. Sturgeon made use of horseshoe electromagnets to build rotating and stationary magnetic fields. His shunt wound DC motor was the first to produce a continuous rotary motion using all essentials of modern-day DC motors.

Another early electric motor design used a reciprocating plunger inside a switched solenoid; an electromagnetic version of a two-stroke internal combustion engine. A remarkable fact points that the modern day version of motor was actually an accident. In the year 1873, Zénobe Gramme accidentally linked a spinning dynamo to a similar unit, driving it as a motor.

The accident proved to be successful. And the journey of development started from then on. There are many amusing facts and chapters in the development of the present day motor. Motor is the core of many hi-tech electronic, electro-mechanical and electrical gadgets all over the world.


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