The Wimshurst influence machine, 1891.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by Steinmetz. This machine was the first capable of producing static electricity in all atmospheric conditions. It was invented by amateur scientist James Wimshurst (1832-1903). Induction electrostatic machines like this were developed in the mid 19th century, replacing friction machines for demonstrating electrostatic sparks and other effects. The Wimshurst machine was affected less by atmospheric humidity than most other types. From about 1900 some Wimshurst machines were used to power X-ray tubes. The principles of electrostatics are now used in photocopiers. Illustration copied from the periodical 'Engineering', and reproduced in 'Electricity and Magnetism' by Amedee Guillemin (1826-1893), published in London in 1891.