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Stephen Ányos Jedlik (Hungarian: Jedlik Ányos István) (January 11, 1800 – December 13, 1895) was a Hungarian inventor, engineer, physicist, Benedictine priest, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciencesmarker, and author of several books. He is considered by Hungarians and Slovaks to be the unsung father of the dynamo and electric motor. Today he is the pride of both the Slovak and Hungarian nations.


He was born in a Hungarian village Szimőmarker, Kingdom of Hungary, (today Zemnémarker, Slovakiamarker).

Jedlik's education began at high schools in Nagyszombat (today Trnavamarker) and Pozsony (today Bratislavamarker). In 1817 he became a Benedictine and from that time continued his studies at the schools of that order. He lectured at Benedictine schools up to 1839, then for 40 years at the Budapest University of Sciences department of physics-mechanics. Only few guessed at that time that his beneficial activities would play an important part in bringing up a new generation of physicists.

The Jedlik Dynamo
Jedlik's electric car model in 1828

In 1845 he began teaching his pupils in Hungarian instead of Latin. His cousin Gergely Czuczor (famous Hungarian linguist) asked him to create the first Hungarian vocabulary in physics. Through his textbook he is regarded as one of the establishers of Hungarian vocabulary in physics. He became the dean of the faculty of arts in 1848, and by 1863 he was rector of the University. From 1858 he was a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciencesmarker and from 1873 an honorary member. He preceded his contemporaries in his scientific work, but he did not speak about his most important invention, his prototype dynamo, until 1856; it was not until 1861 that he mentioned it in writing in a list of inventory of the university. Although that document might serve as a proof of Jedlik's status as the originator, the invention of the dynamo is linked to Siemens' name because Jedlik's invention did not rise to notice at that time.

In 1827, he started experimenting with electromagnetic rotating devices which he called lightning-magnetic self-rotor. In the prototype both the stationary and the revolving parts were electromagnetic. In 1873 at the World's Fair in Viennamarker he demonstrated his lighting conductor.

After his retirement he continued working and spent his last years in complete seclusion at the priory in Győrmarker, the Kingdom of Hungary, Austria-Hungary where he died.

Dynamo invention

Ányos Jedlik's best known invention is the principle of dynamo self-excitation.

In 1827, Jedlik started experimenting with electromagnetic rotating devices which he called electromagnetic self-rotors.

In the prototype of the single-pole electric starter, both the stationary and the revolving parts were electromagnetic. In essence, the concept is that instead of permanent magnets, two electromagnets opposite to each other induce the magnetic field around the rotor. He formulated the concept of the self-excited dynamo about 1861, six years prior to Siemens and Wheatstone.

As one side of the coil passes in front of the north pole, crossing the line of force, current is thus induced. As the frame rotates further the current diminishes, then arriving at the front of the south pole it rises again but flows in the opposite direction. The frame is connected to a commutator, thus the current always flows in the same direction in the external circuit.


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