Electric motors have a long history going back to the early nineteenth century.

Nineteenth century

Date, Name Electric Motor Chronology Selected Patents
1740s, Andrew Gordon and Benjamin Franklin British (Gordon), American (Franklin); experimentation with electrostatic motors.[1][2]
1820, Hans Christian Ørsted Danish, physicist and chemist; first to note a compass needle deflected from magnetic north when an electric current from a battery was switched on and off, confirming a direct relationship between electricity and magnetism.[3][4][5][6]
1820, André-Marie Ampère French, physicist; invented the solenoid.[3][6]
1821 Michael Faraday British, scientist; showed continuous 'electromagnetic rotation' resulted by suspending a magnetic wire in an electric field;[3][4][5][6]
1822, Peter Barlow British, physicist; invented Barlow's wheel, the first device ever powered by electromagnetism.[3][5][6][7]
1824, François Arago French, physicist; showed a rotating copper disk produced rotation in a magnetic needle suspended above it, which Faraday later attributed to induction phenomena.[6][8][9]
1828, Ányos Jedlik Hungarian, physicist and unsung father of the dynamo and electric motor; invented the first commutated rotary electromechanical machine with electromagnets.[3][5] He invented the commutator. In 1828 Jedlik demonstrated the first device to contain the three main components of practical DC motors: the stator, rotor and commutator.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16]
Before 1830, Johann Michael Ekling Austrian, mechanic; constructed an electric motor according to the plans of Austrian physicist Andreas von Baumgartner.[17]
1831 Michael Faraday British, scientist; discovered and investigated induction law in terms of electric current generation in a varying magnetic field.[3][5][6][18]
1831, Joseph Henry American, physicist; Created a mechanical rocker, which he however describes as a philosophical toy.[3][6][18]
1825-1833 William Sturgeon British, scientist; 1825 - invented the electro-magnet; 1833 - built first commutated rotating electric machine that was demonstrated in London.[3]
1832–33, Hippolyte Pixii French, instrument maker, built the first AC generating apparatus out of a rotation; and, the following year, an oscillating DC generator.[3][5][6][19]
1833, Joseph Saxton American, inventor; demonstrated a magneto-electric machine before the British Association for the Advancement of Science.[18]
1833, Heinrich Friedrich Emil Lenz German; formulated the law of reversibility of generators and motors.[3][4][6]
1834–1839, Moritz von Jacobi German-Russian, engineer and physicist; built a 15 watt motor in 1834 submitted to the Academy of Sciences in Paris with details published in 1835; demonstrated first use of electric motor to propel a boat; first real useful rotary electrical motor.[3][5][6][18][20]
1837, Thomas Davenport and Emily Davenport American, blacksmith-inventor and inventor; obtained first US electric motor patent.[3][5][7][18] US 132
1837–1842, Robert Davidson Scottish, inventor; developed electric motors for a lathe and a locomotive.[3][5][18][20]
1838, Solomon Stimpson American; built a 12-pole electric motor with segmental commutator.[7][18][20] US 910
1840, Truman Cook American; built electric motor with a PM armature.[18][20] US 1735
1845, Paul-Gustav Froment French, engineer and instrument maker; first of various motors; first motor translated linear "electromagnetic piston's" energy to wheel's rotary motion. See also Mouse mill motor.[6][18][20][21]
1856, Werner Siemens German, industrialist; invented generator with a double-T armature and slots windings.[3][6]
1861–1864, James Clerk Maxwell British, scientist; reduced electromagnetism knowledge in four key equations.[3][5][6]
1871–1873, Zénobe Théophile Gramme Belgian, engineer; developed the anchor ring motor which solved the double-T armature pulsating DC problem; at Vienna exhibition, demonstrated to great effect ability to transmit between generator and motor 1 km apart.[3][6]
1879, Walter Baily British; based on Arago's rotations, by manual switching on and off, developed the first primitive commutatorless induction motor.[4][9]
1880, Marcel Deprez French engineer; by the progressive shifting of a magnetic field through the mechanical commutator in regular order around a center, electric currents are being developed by induction in a rotating metal mass without sliding contacts or commutator.[22]
1885, Galileo Ferraris Italian, physicist and engineer; invented the first AC commutatorless induction motor using two-phase AC windings in space quadrature. Delivered a paper on it in April 1888.[3][4][9][23]
1887, M. Borel Constructed a two phase motor where the rotor is set in rotation by the combined rotating field produced with two sets of coils.[24]
1887, Helios Co. Based on Coerper's patent, Helios Co. constructed the first 3-phase motor with three slip-rings. The project was dropped in 1890 as they could get satisfactory results using a 2-phase current.[25]
1887, Charles S. Bradley Motor/generators with a Gramme ring, having multiple radial connectors, led off at corresponding symmetrical points to slip-rings. He thus obtained alternate currents differing in phase.[26] US390439A
1887–1891, Nikola Tesla Serbian-American, engineer and inventor; having worked independently from Ferraris, presented a paper in May, 1888 to AIEE describing three patented two-phase four-stator-pole motor types: one with a four-pole rotor forming a non-self-starting reluctance motor, another with a wound rotor forming a self-starting induction motor, and the third a true synchronous motor with separately-excited DC supply to rotor winding. Westinghouse acquired exclusive rights to the Tesla patents as well as the Ferraris design and retain Tesla as a consultant for a short time to work on development of these motors.[3][4][5][6][9] US 0,381,968
US 0,381,969
US 0,382,279
US 0,382,280
1886, Frank Julian Sprague American, industrialist; development of new constant-speed DC motor, which allowed the Sprague company to issue the world's "first important industrial electric motor catalogue".[27]
1889–90, Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky Polish-Russian, engineer and inventor; invented the first cage and wound rotor versions of the three-phase induction motor that are still widely in use today.[3][4][5][6][9]

Twentieth century

Date, Name Electric Motor Chronology Selected Patents
1905, Alfred Zehden German, a feasible linear induction motor described in patent form for driving trains or lifts. U.S. Patent 782,312
1935, Hermann Kemper German, built a working linear induction motor
1945–1949, Eric Laithwaite British, first full-size working model of linear induction motor


  1. ^ Tom McInally, The Sixth Scottish University. The Scots Colleges Abroad: 1575 to 1799 (Brill, Leiden, 2012) p. 115
  2. ^ OLEG D. JEFIMENKO, Electrostatic Motors, Their History, Types, and Principles of Operation, Electret Scientific Company - 1973, page 22-45
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Doppelbauer, Martin (25 September 2014). "A short history of electric motors, 1800-1893". Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Drury, Bill (2001). Control Techniques Drives and Controls Handbook. Institution of Electrical Engineers. p. xiv. ISBN 978-0-85296-793-5.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Electropeadia. "Battery and Energy Technologies, Technology and Applications Timeline".
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Multon, Bernard (June 1995). "Historique des Machines Électromagnétiques et Plus Particulièrement des Machines à Réluctance Variable" (PDF). Revue 3E (in French). I (3): 3–8.
  7. ^ a b c Martin, Thomas Commerford; Wetzler, Joseph (1891). The Electric Motor and Its Applications, with an Appendix on 'The Development of the Electric Motor Since 1888' by Louis Bell (3rd ed.). The W.J. Johnston Company, Limited. p. 315 pages.
  8. ^ "Francois Arago". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  9. ^ a b c d e Vučković, Vladan (November 2006). "Interpretation of a Discovery" (PDF). The Serbian Journal of Electrical Engineers. 3 (2). Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  10. ^ Guillemin, Amédée (1891). 'Le Magnétisme et l'Électricitée' [Electricity and Magnetism]. trans., ed. & rev. from the French by Sylvanus P. Thompson. Macmillan and Co. Archived from the original on 2018-01-04.
  11. ^ Heller, Augustus (April 1896). "Anianus Jedlik". Nature. Norman Lockyer. 53 (1379): 516–517. Bibcode:1896Natur..53..516H. doi:10.1038/053516a0.
  12. ^ Blundel, Stephen J. (2012). Magnetism A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-19-960120-2.
  13. ^ Thein, M. "Elektrische Maschinen in Kraftfahrzeugen" [Electric Machines in Motor Vehicles] (PDF) (in German). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 September 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  14. ^ "Elektrische Chronologie". Elektrisiermaschinen im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert – Ein kleines Lexikon ("Electrical machinery in the 18th and 19th centuries – a small thesaurus") (in German). University of Regensburg. 2004. Archived from the original on June 9, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  15. ^ "History of Batteries (inter alia)". Electropaedia. June 9, 2010. Archived from the original on May 12, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
  16. ^ "Battery and Energy Technologies, Technology and Applications Timeline". Archived from the original on 2 March 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  17. ^ "Institute - History - the invention of the electric motor 1800-1854". 25 September 2014.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i Michalowicz, Joseph C. (Jan 1948). "Origin of the Electric Motor". Trans. AIEE. 67 (2): 1288–1292. doi:10.1109/T-AIEE.1948.5059817. S2CID 51648310.
  19. ^ King, H. James (April 1833). "Paper 30: Development of Electrical Technology in the 19th Century: III" (PDF). American Journal of Science, 24: 146; Bulletin 228: Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology, p. 349. p. fig. 21 Pixii magneto generator, without commutator.
  20. ^ a b c d e Boursin, Philippe. "Histoire de la Voiture Électrique".
  21. ^ Kenyon College Physics Dept. "Froment motors".
  22. ^ Thompson, Silvanus Phillips (1895). "4". Polyphase Electric Currents and Alternate-Current Motors. London: E. & F. N. SPON. p. 87.
  23. ^ Baily, Walter (June 28, 1879). "A Mode of Producing Arago's Rotation". Philosophical Magazine. Taylor & Francis. 3 (1): 115. Bibcode:1879PPSL....3..115B. doi:10.1088/1478-7814/3/1/318.
  24. ^ Thompson, Silvanus Phillips (1895). "4". Polyphase Electric Currents and Alternate-Current Motors. London: E. & F. N. SPON. p. 90.
  25. ^ Thompson, Silvanus Phillips (1895). "4". Polyphase Electric Currents and Alternate-Current Motors. London: E. & F. N. SPON. p. 91.
  26. ^ Thompson, Silvanus Phillips (1895). Polyphase Electric Currents and Alternate-Current Motors. London: E. & F. N. SPON. pp. 91–93.
  27. ^ Sprague, Frank J. (May 1934). "Digging in the "Mines of the Motors"". Trans. AIEE. 53 (5): 695–706. doi:10.1109/T-AIEE.1934.5056690. S2CID 51648076.