History is confusing sometimes.

Thread Starter

Dennis Lee Miles

Joined Dec 6, 2011
As an Electronics Instructor for over 20 years, I always used Samuel Maxwell Ohm as the name for the mathimatician who first formulated "Ohm's Law" however, last night I was watching a series of short movies on HULU.com and under "Science" I discovered a series of short movies about great Inventors. Along with Ben Franklin, Shockey, and Burdine and Edison was Ohm. but his name was given in his native German as "Gaylord Zeorg Ohm", not Samuel Maxwell Ohm as Heathkit Textbooks put in their books. Now I am not fluent in German, so I am wondering if one of you who are could research this item and enlighten us all as to the correct name of the Ohm who formulated that very basic "Ohm's Law." I am wondering if some author took two other great early reasearchers and inventors, namely "Samuel F.B. Morse" telegraph inventor and "George Maxwell" known for his work with magnetism. And slipped onto Ohm's name to "Englishise it." Thank you in advance.


Joined Feb 19, 2009
Georg Simon Ohm (16 March 1789 – 6 July 1854) was a German physicist. As a high school teacher, Ohm began his research with the recently-invented electrochemical cell, invented by Italian Count Alessandro Volta. Using equipment of his own creation, Ohm determined that there is a direct proportionality between the potential difference (voltage) applied across a conductor and the resultant electric current. This relationship is known as Ohm's law.
The Electric Field version was expanded on by Gustav Kirchhoff.
Ohm's work long preceded Maxwell's equations and any understanding of frequency-dependent effects in AC circuits. Modern developments in electromagnetic theory and circuit theory do not contradict Ohm's law when they are evaluated within the appropriate limits.


Joined Dec 26, 2010
It may also be worth your noting that James Clerk Maxwell, not George Maxwell, was the name of famous Scottish physicist and pioneer of electromagnetic field theory. http://www.clerkmaxwellfoundation.org/html/who_was_maxwell_.html

Some areas of technical history are genuinely difficult, disputed between nations or at least controversial, as in Thomas Alva Edison vs Joseph Swann and the light bulb, Alexander Graham Bell vs Elisha Grey and the telephone, Edwin H Armstrong vs Lucien Levy and the super-heterodyne receiver...

I don't want to pursue any of these arguments, merely to cite them as illustrations: the list of them is long, and no doubt some are due to actual copying of ideas, others due to truly parallel inventions. Given the personal interests of some of the people concerned, and in some cases national or political rivalries, we should not be surprised these disputes are so common.

Many other issues like Ohm's name should not be a matter of doubt. It seems a pity if the likes of Heathkit have got this wrong, leading you to pass on incorrect information on the history of electronics for the past 20 years. Was "Heathkit" really your only source for such information? In my opinion, this is the sort of thing that can give technician training a bad name. The material taught may not necessarily have to be to a very high academic level, but it should at least be correct.

Now apparently you have found out your error while viewing another apparently incorrect source. I would be interested to see the HULU video to see if it really is giving wrong information, but apparently at present it cannot be viewed by people outside of the USA..
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Joined Oct 3, 2010
If I ever hear someone refer to Samuel Maxwell Ohm, I'll ask them if they know Dennis Lee Miles. They will be amazed at my clairvoyance.


Joined Dec 26, 2010
And Vladimir Zworykin, Alan Dower Blumlein, RCA, EMI, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all.

It is a subject in itself, but this began with a story of wrong names for inventors. I would very much like to know if Heathkit had this wrong in their documentation in the first place, and whether "HULU" do as well. Unfortunately I'm in UK and can't see their material.


Joined Dec 26, 2010
I have edited this message because on viewing subsequent posts, it seems likely that it may have caused an upset.

On reflection, this may have been taken amiss for ethnic, national stereotyping, or even gender orientation related reasons.
I am sorry if offence was caused, for whatever reason.
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Joined Jan 28, 2011

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