In order to learn about the first battery in world history, one must go back to Historic Baghdad. In 1938, German archeologist Wilhelm Konig discovered a jar with asphalt, iron, a copper cylinder, and indications that it was once filled with a liquid of some sort. While there is no guarantee that this was indeed a battery, many experts believe that it was used for some electrical purpose.
The first steps toward the modern battery were taken by Alessandro Volta, who created the “Voltaic Pile” around 1836. The Voltaic Pile was the first confirmed record of a useable battery, largely because it was able to sustain a consistent current for a (albeit short) period of time. Throughout the rest of the 19th century, numerous inventors and scientists worked to improve upon the battery technology that Alessandro Volta created.
One of the most notable developments in battery technology during the 19th century occurred around 1859, when a French scientist by the name of Gaston Plante successfully created the first rechargeable battery. This battery was based on lead-acid, which should be noted is the same basic technology used in car batteries today, which means that car battery technology is more than 150 years old!
Evolving from wet cells to dry cells
One of the problems with early batteries was that they required various liquids to function. This posed a number of problems for those who wanted to use batteries in practical situations and not just in a laboratory. The most obvious problem caused by wet cells was the fact that they were very difficult to transport, particularly because the materials they utilized were quite toxic (and often reactive). The other problem was that these early wet cells were very large and held a very limited charge, making it difficult to use them to power anything reliably. Fortunately, there were breakthroughs in the late 19th century that largely solved both of these problems.
In 1881, scientist Carl Gassner created a battery using zinc and carbon that had no liquids. This was the first dry cell that was commercially viable, and was widely used for many years after its invention.
Almost two decades later, Waldmar Jungner created the first commercially viable dry-cell rechargeable batteries using nickel-cadmium in 1899.
The evolution to increasingly-efficient batteries
With commercially-viable dry cells available by the end of the 19th century, the 20th century was all about increasing the capacity and efficiency of commercial batteries. Perhaps the most noteworthy development of the first half of the 20th century was the creation of the Alkaline-Manganese Battery by Lew Urry of the Eveready Battery Company in 1949. This new material was several times more efficient than the zinc-carbon batteries developed in the 19th century.
More recently, Batteryheads has pushed the envelope of battery technology even further with the development of the “TechFuel” replacement battery. These batteries meet or exceed every industry standard, and thanks to supply-chain and other logistical strategies, batteries are available at a significant discount when compared with similar batteries by other manufacturers.
With costs coming down and efficiency on the rise, one can only imagine what type of high-tech lithium batteries and rechargeable batteries will be available a decade from now.