The history of electromagnetic induction, a facet of electromagnetism, began with observations of the ancients: electric charge or static electricity (rubbing silk on amber), electric current (lightning), and magnetic attraction (lodestone). Understanding the unity of these forces of nature, and the scientific theory of electromagnetism began in the late 18th century.
Electromagnetic induction was first described by Michael Faraday in 1831. In Faraday's experiment, he wrapped two wires around opposite sides of an iron ring. He expected that, when current started to flow in one wire, a sort of wave would travel through the ring and cause some electrical effect on the opposite side. Using a galvanometer, he observed a transient current flow in the second coil of wire each time that a battery was connected or disconnected from the first coil. This current was induced by the change in magnetic flux that occurred when the battery was connected and disconnected. Faraday found several other manifestations of electromagnetic induction. For example, he saw transient currents when he quickly slid a bar magnet in and out of a coil of wires, and he generated a steady (DC) current by rotating a copper disk near the bar magnet with a sliding electrical lead ("Faraday's disk").
It is customary to use the symbol L for inductance, in honour of the physicist Heinrich Lenz.
In the SI system, the measurement unit for inductance is the henry, with the unit symbol H, named in honor of Joseph Henry, who discovered inductance independently of, but not before, Faraday.