The Question:

Did William Sturgeon invent the electromagnet? And if so why was that important?

The Answer:

Yes. William Sturgeon (1783-1850) was a self-educated English electrical engineer who invented the first electromagnet capable of supporting more than its own weight. This device led to the invention of the telegraph, the electric motor and numerous other devices basic to modern technology.

His invention was a 7-ounce (200-gram) magnet that was able to support 9 pounds (4 kilograms) of iron using the current from a single battery. Later in life he lectured at colleges and published the first English journal devoted to electricity.

—The Fact Monster

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