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Ever wonder just what high voltage, low current DC or static electricity can be used for? Well, it's capable of producing rotational motion when harnessed and applied to an electrostatic motor.
For over 100 years, the middle 1700's to the mid 1800's, motors powered by electricity were nothing more than a curious novelty or a great study matter. In short, electric motors and especially electrostatic motors were comparable to Hero's steam engine.
Scotsman, Monk, scientist and inventor Andrew Gordon can be credited with developing the first electrostatic motor. Ben Franklin had an interpretation of a high voltage, low current motor as did many other tinkerers of the day. These motors work due to attraction and repulsion of opposite charges, much like a magnetic motor which came after, but with high voltage Direct Current as opposed to magnets and electromagnets. In simple terms, think of styrofoam packing peanuts being attracted to a sweater or a balloon to hair.
The reason motors like this became the first electric devises to produce a rotational force was due to the fact the only crude, electrostatic friction machines were available as a source of electricity. People worked with what they had.
Thanks to Faraday and that cohort, electricity became less of a mystery, and could be reliably produced due to the advent of dynamos and generators. Electricity as we know it was finally harnessed in the form if low voltage Direct Current to preform rotational work on a practical level in the late 1830's. Tesla invented his Alternating Current Induction Motor in 1887 and revolutionized pretty much everything in terms of being practical due to the fact that it runs from wall current.
As we progress even further in the 21st century, many commercially viable motors that operate on electrostatic principles are being developed and marketed. Many of these motors claim to be fas smaller and more efficient than magnetic motors.