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Galvani's voltaic pile

First described in 1800 by Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), a voltaic pile consists of a series of zinc and cooper discs separated by conducting cards. The pile produces continuous electric current and was used for experiments. This voltaic pile was exhibited at the Volta Centenary Exhibition in Volta’s birthplace, Como, Italy, in 1899. A fire on 8 July 1899 destroyed a large number of objects. This is one of those that were salvaged.

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Glossary: Voltaic pile

The first battery, consisting of a number of cells (made from zinc and copper) joined in series. Invented by Alessandro Volta in 1880.