After the discovery of the short pulsed electric arc in 1800 by Humphry Davy and of the continuous electric arc in 1802 by Vasily Petrov,there was little development in electrical welding until Auguste de Méritens developed a carbon arc torch that was patented in 1881
In 1885, Nikolay Benardos and Stanisław Olszewski developed carbon arc welding,obtaining American patents from 1887 showing a rudimentary electrode holder. In 1888, the consumable metal electrode was invented by Nikolay Slavyanov. Later in 1890, C. L. Coffin received U.S. Patent 428,459 for his arc welding method that utilized a metal electrode. The process, like SMAW, deposited melted electrode metal into the weld as filler.
Around 1900, A. P. Strohmenger and Oscar Kjellberg released the first coated electrodes. Strohmenger used clay and lime coating to stabilize the arc, while Kjellberg dipped iron wire into mixtures of carbonates and silicates to coat the electrode. In 1912, Strohmenger released a heavily coated electrode, but high cost and complex production methods prevented these early electrodes from gaining popularity. In 1927, the development of an extrusion process reduced the cost of coating electrodes while allowing manufacturers to produce more complex coating mixtures designed for specific applications. In the 1950s, manufacturers introduced iron powder into the flux coating, making it possible to increase the welding speed.
In 1938 K. K. Madsen described an automated variation of SMAW, now known as gravity welding. It briefly gained popularity in the 1960s after receiving publicity for its use in Japanese shipyards though today its applications are limited. Another little used variation of the process, known as firecracker welding, was developed around the same time by George Hafergut in Austria.