The statement who invented electricity is quite ironic. You cannot invent electricity as it is a naturally occurring phenomenon. You see high voltage electricity during thunderstorm and more electricity is produced in electrical storm than what is consumed annually throughout the world.
So, instead of saying who invented electricity and how, we should rather ask who harnessed the natural phenomenon of electricity for the benefit of mankind. On the other hand, someone did invent electricity that helped brighten up the darkness in our lives.
Who Invented Electricity and How?
Electricity is a general term used to describe the presence of electrical charges. The discovery process dates back to 2,750 BC, when Egyptians referred to the electric fish as the 'Thunders of the Nile'. These fish were reported after about a thousand years by the ancient Greek, Roman and Arabic physicians.
Pliny the Elder and Scribonius Largus recorded instances of electric shocks by catfish and torpedo rays. Arabs were perhaps the first to discover and identify lightning and electricity and coined the Arabic word raad for electric ray.
The common observation, that rubbing amber on cat's fur could attract light objects was known to the ancient cultures around the Mediterranean. In 600 BC, Thales of Miletus became the earliest researcher of electricity. He rubbed fur with other objects and found them to attract each other.
When he tried rubbing amber, he found that friction turned amber into a magnet. He was although incorrect in thinking that attraction was due to magnetic effect. But science has managed to prove a link between magnetism and electricity.
Electricity remained an intellectual wonder for another 1000 years. The English physician William Gilbert, in 1600 studied the relationship between electricity and magnetism in detail and was able to find the lodestone effect due to static electricity, that was produced by rubbing amber.
Thus, the Latin word electricus, meaning 'of amber' was coined by Gilbert. Soon, in 1646 Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica included the English words 'electric' and 'electricity'. Therefore one can answer the question who was the first person to invent electricity as William Gilbert, who became the father of modern electricity.
Otto Von Guericke, in 1660 made an unconventional machine that could produce static electricity with a ball of sulfur. He was followed by Francis Hauksbee who came up with more experiments that helped produce electricity. You will be surprised to know the Van de Graaf generator is the direct descendant of these earliest machines.
Robert Boyle put forth a hypothesis that attraction and repulsion was mutual and electricity was transmitted through vacuum. Stephen Gray further helped in distinguishing between conductors and nonconductors.
In the 18th century, after a great deal of study, Benjamin Franklin attached a metal key to the bottom of a dampened kite string. He flew this kite in a stormy sky that lead to a succession of sparks that jumped from the key to the back of the hand. Thus, Franklin could prove that electricity was a natural phenomenon.
Bioelectricity, another natural phenomenon was discovered by Luigi Galavi in 1791. He demonstrated that electricity was the medium between nerve cells that helped passing signals to muscles. A more reliable source of electricity than the electrostatic machines used, was provided by Alessandro Volta's battery also called voltaic pile.
He made it from alternating layers of zinc and copper. Thus, the answer to who invented electricity and in what year can be given as Alessandro Volta who invented the first true battery that became the source of continuous electric current.
Hans Christian Orsted and Andre-Marie Ampere during the 1819-1820 helped electromagnetism turn into a recognized field of electric and magnetic phenomenon. Electric motor was invented in 1821 by Michael Faraday and an electrical circuit that was mathematically analyzed was made in 1827 by Georg Ohm.
The contributions by late 19th century scientists like Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Otto Blathy, Sir Charles Parsons, George Westinghouse, Ernst Werner von Siemens, Alexander Graham Bell and Lord Kelvin gave birth to commercial electricity.
When answering who invented electricity and how, you won't be able to single out one individual. It has been a trial and error case study that involved scientific and intellectual oddity that helped in invention of electricity. Electricity has been the basis of almost all the great inventions of the world.
Television, refrigerator, air conditioners, food processors, music system, etc. would have been inutile, if electricity would not have been invented. The great Industrial Revolution occurred with invention of electricity.