Sir Joseph John Thomson, a British physicist, discovered the electron in 1897. In experiments studying electric discharge in cathode tubes, he noted a high value for the ratio of charge to mass. His observation led him to identify the first subatomic particle, the electron.
Thomson won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1906 for his discovery. He also received a knighthood in 1908. His research into the nature of particles led to the invention of the mass spectrograph.
Thomson's father wanted him to become an engineer but could not afford the fees for his training. Instead, Thomson attended Owens College in Manchester, Britain. The school's science faculty recommended Thomson to Trinity College in Cambridge, where he studied to become a mathematical physicist.