It was, however, another Italian, Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), a professor of physics, who showed that the electric current which produced the muscular spasm was not due to the animal limb itself, but due to the moisture in it. In 1799 he developed a simple battery comprising copper and zinc discs separated by a brine-soaked cloth. This type of assembly is known as a voltaic pile . From this primitive beginning have come the cells and batteries we use today. The materials used may be more refined, but the basic concept has remained unchanged.