Like many electronic components, capacitors have a very long history. Utilizing generators, water and glass jars, early experimenters including Ewald Georg von Kleist and Pieter van Musschenbroek developed what are widely considered to be the first examples of capacitors. One of the first designs was conceived by Musschenbroek and was called the Leyden Jar.
Benjamin Franklin even experimented with capacitors, the Leyden Jar, specifically, and was the first of the experimenters to realize that the electrical charge being stored in the early designs was actually being stored on the glass that made up the jar rather than in the water within the jar. These jars were later adapted by putting metal foil on the interior and exterior surfaces, similar to the design of modern capacitors.
Capacitors remained in low demand up until the invention of radio. Radio requires capacitors to allow smooth tuning between frequencies. The advent of radio also resulted in the creation of capacitors that were much more compact than the original designs.
The term condenser is sometimes used as a synonym for capacitor, though its usage is very infrequent in modern electronics.