This DC generator is manually operated by turning to the crank handle. The components are attached to a mahogany frame. It was built based on a design patented by Belgian physicist Floris Nollet (1794-1853) in 1850. The machine is what is called a magneto, a dynamo in which the magnetic field is generated by one or more permanent magnets. The heart of the machine consists of a steel shaft supporting a wooden disc with an edge of yellow copper to which eight coils are attached. This element forms the armature of the generator. Also mounted to this shaft is the commutator which converts the alternating current generated by the machine into direct current. Nollet's generator demonstrated the possibility of generating electric light.