**Timeline of electromagnetism and classical optics**

- 130 - Claudius Ptolemy tabulates angles of refraction for several media,
- 1269 - Pélerin 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,
- 1604 - Johann Kepler specifies the laws of the rectilinear propagation of the 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 van Roijen Snell states his Snell's law of refraction,
- 1630 - Cabaeus found that there are two types of electric charges
- 1637 - René 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,
- 1665 - Francesco Maria Grimaldi highlights the phenomena of diffraction
- 1673 - Ignace Pardies provides a wave explanation for refraction of light
- 1675 - Isaac Newton delivers his theory of light
- 1676 - Olaus Roemer measures the speed of light by observing Jupiter's moonss
- 1678 - Christian Huygens states his principle of wavefront sources,
- 1704 - Isaac Newton publishes
*Opticks*, a corpuscular theory of light and colour, - 1728 - James Bradley discovers the aberration of starlight and uses it to determine that the speed of light is about 283,000 km/s,
- 1746 - Leonhard Euler develops the wave theory of light refraction and dispersion
- 1752 - Benjamin Franklin shows that lightning is electricity,
- 1767 - Joseph Priestley 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-Louis Malus discovers polarization by reflection,
- 1809 - Etienne-Louis Malus publishes the law of Malus which predicts the light intensity transmitted by two polarizing sheets,
- 1811 - François Jean Dominique Arago discovers that some quartz crystals will continuously rotate the electric vector of light,
- 1816 - David Brewster discovers stress birefringence,
- 1818 - Simeon Poisson predicts the Poisson-Arago bright spot at the center of the shadow of a circular opaque obstacle,
- 1818 - François Jean Dominique Arago verifies the existence of the Poisson-Arago bright spot,
- 1820 - Hans Christian Ørsted notices that a current in a wire can deflect a compass needle,
- 1825 - Augustin Fresnel phenomenologically explains optical activity by introducing circular birefringence,
- 1826 - Georg Simon Ohm states his Ohm's 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 (Lenz's law),
- 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 Gabriel 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 (Rayleigh scattering),
- 1873 - James Clerk Maxwell states that light is an electromagnetic phenomenon,
- 1875 - John Kerr discovers the electrically induced birefringence of some liquids,
- 1879 - Jožef Stefan discovers the Stefan-Boltzmann radiation law of a blackbody and uses it to calculate the first sensible value of the temperature of a Sun's surface to be 5700 K,
- 1888 - Heinrich Rudolf Hertz discovers radio waves,
- 1895 - Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovers X-rays,
- 1896 - Arnold Sommerfeld solves the half-plane diffraction problem,
- 1956 - R. Hanbury-Brown and R.Q. Twiss complete the correlation interferometer.