The First Battery

March 20, 1800

Alessandro Volta sends a letter to Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society of London, describing his “electric pile”. This was the first device that could form a steady flow of electricity, now recognized as the first practical battery. Later called the “Voltaic Pile”, the entire reason Volta created the device was to prove another Italian scientist wrong. Luigi Galvani had incorrectly believed that frog muscles could generate electricity. Volta believed that the frog legs Galvani was using was simply reacting to electricity and set out to create proof. Regardless, within mere weeks the importance of this first battery was realized which allowed many further scientific advancements to be possible, such as electrochemistry. Recognizing the importance of his work, including the Voltaic Pile, the electrical unit of the Volt is named in Volta’s honor.