Electrostatic Machines


Electrostatic machines are electromechanical devices that produce "static electricity", or electricity at continuous (DC) high voltage. They were fundamental in the early studies about electricity, started in the XVII century, in the form of "friction machines", and their development culminated at the end of the XIX century with the development of powerful "influence machines". Today, some specialized uses for them continue to exist, but they are mostly seen as demonstration devices in physics laboratories, with much of their history forgotten.

I started experimenting with these machines by 1973, building a first series of machines. With this I learned a lot about electricity, and I still think that all people interested in electricity or electronics shall try these machines to get a real feel of the subject. At least, high voltage static electricity is something that you can see and feel. Eventually I abandoned the subject for several years, but in 1996 I renewed my interest in this subject, started to study and build new machines, and set up these pages.

Below are pictures and descriptions of my old machines, of machines that I built more recently, of machines built by others, pictures from old books and papers related to electrostatic machines and other high-voltage devices, and also some pictures from museums. There are also extensive references, covering classical and new materials. This site is always in construction. I plan to add more details about the machines depicted and historical material, as soon as I find or receive more data from interested people, build and experiment with new machines, and have time.

Está também disponível uma seção em português.

To navigate through this site efficiently, use the "open link in a new window" function of your browser to see the pictures in the links, and use its search function for searching. Recent changes.

"Ignis ubique latet, naturam amplectitur omnem"

Machines of Toepler, Bonetti, Voss, Bohnenberger, and Nicholson

My machines

Machines built by others

Friction machines

Influence machines

Other high-voltage devices, not electrostatic


Half Wimshurst, Toepler, Wommelsdorf, Holtz, and Unfolded Wimshurst machines


1 Found in the catalogs here.


Last update: 6 July 2014. Recent changes and updates
© 1996-2014 Antonio Carlos M. de Queiroz
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