Geek Trivia

Who Coined The Term “Battery” To Describe An Electrical Storage Unit?

Luigi Galvani
Alessandro Volta
Nikola Tesla
Benjamin Franklin
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Answer: Benjamin Franklin

The most common use of the word battery in the modern age is in reference to small series of electrical cells strung together to store energy–the tiny wonders that power everything from our flashlights to smart phones.

In centuries past, however, a battery was not a compact energy cell but a collection of military artillery. By the time Benjamin Franklin was dabbling in electrical studies in the mid-18th century it was used to describe groupings of cannons.

It was with this construction in mind that, when Franklin came across a demonstration of a grouping of large Leyden Jars–an early and very simple electrical capacitor–he was reminded of a grouping of cannons and referred to the array as similar to a battery of cannons.

Thanks to the very slow rate of electrical cell miniaturization, the arrays of electrical cells maintained their canon-battery like appearance for some time and Franklin’s use of the term stuck. Nearly three centuries later, battery as a catch all term for electrical cells shows no sign of falling out of favor.