Electricity was first used for a specific purpose in 1800 when Italian scientist Alessandro Volta created the first electric battery, the forerunner to the batteries in use today. This proved that electric energy could travel through wire and was the first step toward the invention of the light bulb.
In 1816, the first energy utility in the United States was formed, and in 1821, the first electric motor was invented by British physicist Michael Faraday. The first electric industrial motors were introduced in 1837, two years before the first fuel cell was invented by Welsh judge and physicist Sir Robert William Grove.
It was in 1879, in San Francisco, that the first commercial power station opened using a Charles Brush generator and arc lights. This same year in Cleveland, the first commercial arc lighting system was installed. In Menlo Park, Thomas Edison demonstrated his incandescent lamp.
By 1882, the first American power plant was up and running, providing electricity for a square mile area in New York. This area served influential customers such as J.P. Morgan Chase and the Stock Exchange. It was still two more years before the general public adopted electricity and power plants were built in other areas.