This was no Energizer Bunny.
In 1799, philosophy professor Alessandro Volta piled alternating discs of zinc and sliver or copper on top of one another. In between the discs, he slid pieces of cloth or cardboard soaked in salt water.
Although the sloppy stack of metal plates resembled the leaning Tower of Pisa , it generated a small electric current.
Prior to Volta’s shocking discovery, it was widely assumed that only living creatures could produce electricity. His battery, the Voltaic Pile, brought Volta such recognition that the unit of electrical current, a volt, was named in his honor.