Chronology of Electromagnetism and Classical Optics

130 Claudius Ptolemaeus tabulates angles of refraction for several media.
1269 Pelerin de Maricourt describes magnetic poles and remarks on the nonexistence of isolated magnetic poles.
1305 Dietrich von Freiberg uses crystalline spheres and flasks filled with water to study the reflection and refraction in raindrops that leads to primary and secondary rainbows.
1604 Johannes Kepler describes how the eye focuses light.
1611 Marko Dominis discusses the rainbow in De Radiis Visus et Lucis.
1611 Johannes Kepler discovers total internal reflection, a small angle refraction law, and thin lens optics.
1621 Willebrord Snell states his law of refraction.
1637 Rene Descartes quantitatively derives the angles at which primary and secondary rainbows are seen with respect to the angle of the Sun's elevation.
1657 Pierre de Fermat introduces the principle of least time into optics.
1678 Christian Huygens states his principle of wavefront sources.
1704 Isaac Newton publishes Opticks.
1728 James Bradley discovers the aberration of starlight and uses it to determine that the speed of light is about 283,000 km/s.
1752 Benjamin Franklin shows that lightning is electricity.
1767 Joseph Priestly proposes an electrical inverse-square law.
1785 Charles Coulomb introduces the inverse-square law of electrostatics.
1786 Luigi Galvani discovers "animal electricity'' and postulates that animal bodies are storehouses of electricity.
1800 William Herschel discovers infrared radiation from the Sun.
1801 Johann Ritter discovers ultraviolet radiation from the Sun.
1801 Thomas Young demonstrates the wave nature of light and the principle of interference.
1808 Etienne Malus discovers polarization by reflection.
1809 Etienne Malus publishes the law of Malus which predicts the light intensity transmitted by two polarizing sheets.
1811 Francois Arago discovers that some quartz crystals will continuously rotate the electric vector of light.
1816 David Brewster describes the polarization of light by reflection.
1818 Simeon Poisson predicts the Poisson bright spot at the center of the shadow of a circular opaque obstacle.
1818 Francois Arago verifies the existence of the Poisson bright spot.
1820 Hans Oersted notices that a current in a wire can deflect a compass needle.
1821 Augustin Fresnel presented the laws which enable the intensity and polarization of reflected and refracted light to be calculated..
1826 Simon Ohm states his law of electrical resistance.
1831 Michael Faraday states his law of induction.
1833 Heinrich Lenz states that an induced current in a closed conducting loop will appear in such a direction that it opposes the change that produced it.
1845 Michael Faraday discovers that light propagation in a material can be influenced by external magnetic fields.
1849 Armand Fizeau and Jean-Bernard Foucault measure the speed of light to be about 298,000 km/s.
1852 George Stokes defines the Stokes parameters of polarization.
1864 James Clerk Maxwell publishes his papers on a dynamical theory of the electromagnetic field.
1871 Lord Rayleigh discusses the blue sky law and sunsets.
1873 James Clerk Maxwell states that light is an electromagnetic phenomenon.
1875 John Kerr demonstrates the quadratic electro-optic effect (the Keer effect) in glass..
1888 Heinrich Hertz discovers radio waves.
1895 Wilhelm Roentgen discovers X-rays.
1896 Arnold Sommerfeld solves the half-plane diffraction problem.
1956 R. Hanbury-Brown and R.Q. Twiss complete the correlation interferometer.