Alessandro Volta was born in 1745 in Como, Italy. In 1794, he married Teresa Peregrini, with whom he raised three sons.
In 1774, Volta became a professor of physics at the Royal School in Como. In 1775 he improved and popularised the electrophorus, a device that produced static electricity.
Between 1776 and 1778, Volta studied the chemistry of gases. He researched and discovered methane In November 1776 at Lake Maggiore, and by 1778 he managed to isolate methane.
Luigi Galvani, also an Italian physicist, discovered "animal electricity" when two different metals were connected to one another with frog legs and the dead frog legs twitched when struck by an electrical spark.
Volta realised that the frog's leg served as both a conductor of electricity (a.k.a. an electrolyte) and as a detector of electricity. He replaced the frog's leg with brine-soaked paper and detected the flow of electricity by other means familiar to him from his studies.
In 1800, Volta invented the voltaic pile, an early electric battery, which produced a steady electric current. The most effective pair of dissimilar metals to produce electricity was zinc and copper.