The usage of "battery" to describe a group of electrical devices dates to Benjamin Franklin, who in 1748 described multiple Leyden jars by analogy to a battery of cannon (Benjamin Franklin borrowed the term "battery" from the military, which refers to weapons functioning together).
Alessandro Volta built and described the first electrochemical battery, the voltaic pile, in 1800. This was a stack of copper and zinc plates, separated by brine-soaked paper disks, that could produce a steady current for a considerable length of time. Volta did not understand that the voltage was due to chemical reactions. He thought that his cells were an inexhaustible source of energy, and that the associated corrosion effects at the electrodes were a mere nuisance, rather than an unavoidable consequence of their operation, as Michael Faraday showed in 1834.
Although early batteries were of great value for experimental purposes, in practice their voltages fluctuated and they could not provide a large current for a sustained period. The Daniell cell, invented in 1836 by British chemist John Frederic Daniell, was the first practical source of electricity, becoming an industry standard and seeing widespread adoption as a power source for electrical telegraph networks. It consisted of a copper pot filled with a copper sulfate solution, in which was immersed an unglazed earthenware container filled with sulfuric acid and a zinc electrode.
These wet cells used liquid electrolytes, which were prone to leakage and spillage if not handled correctly. Many used glass jars to hold their components, which made them fragile and potentially dangerous. These characteristics made wet cells unsuitable for portable appliances. Near the end of the nineteenth century, the invention of dry cell batteries, which replaced the liquid electrolyte with a paste, made portable electrical devices practical.