The conversion of electrical energy into mechanical energy by electromagnetic means was demonstrated by the British scientist Michael Faraday in 1821. A free-hanging wire was dipped into a pool of mercury, on which a permanent magnet was placed. When a current was passed through the wire, the wire rotated around the magnet, showing that the current gave rise to a close circular magnetic field around the wire. This motor is often demonstrated in school physics classes, but brine (salt water) is sometimes used in place of the toxic mercury. This is the simplest form of a class of devices called homopolar motors. A later refinement is the Barlow's wheel. These were demonstration devices only, unsuited to practical applications due to their primitive construction.
Jedlik's "electromagnetic self-rotor", 1827 (Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest. The historic motor still works perfectly today.)
In 1827, Hungarian physicist Ányos Jedlik started experimenting with devices he called "electromagnetic self-rotors". Although they were used only for instructional purposes, in 1828 Jedlik demonstrated the first device to contain the three main components of practical direct current motors: the stator, rotor and commutator. The device employed no permanent magnets, as the magnetic fields of both the stationary and revolving components were produced solely by the currents flowing through their windings
The first electric motors
The first commutator-type direct current electric motor capable of turning machinery was invented by the British scientist William Sturgeon in 1832. Following Sturgeon's work, a commutator-type direct-current electric motor made with the intention of commercial use was built by Americans Emily and Thomas Davenport and patented in 1837. Their motors ran at up to 600 revolutions per minute, and powered machine tools and a printing press. Due to the high cost of the zinc electrodes required by primary battery power, the motors were commercially unsuccessful and the Davenports went bankrupt. Several inventors followed Sturgeon in the development of DC motors but all encountered the same cost issues with primary battery power. No electricity distribution had been developed at the time. Like Sturgeon's motor, there was no practical commercial market for these motors