Timeline of Events– Science and Technology

  • February 3, 2006 at 1:35 am #1607




    The first electric battery is invented by Alessandro Volta. It is made up of alternating zinc and silver disks that are seperated by felt soaked in brine. It is the first known source of steady electrical current. The invention is not announced until the year 1800.


    Joseph Jacquard invents an automated loom capable of weaving intricate patterns. Automated looms existed before Jacquard’s loom, but were uncapable of weaving the designs of Jacquard’s. Various cards with different size patters determined which size rods each throw of the shuttle would allow to pass. Thus, a ‘program’ was allowed to be set for the machine.


    John Dalton arranges the known earth elements by weight and creates a table of them, giving each a symbol. This prototype of today’s periodic table of the elements, and the theories that coincided with it, provided the foundings of modern atomic theory.


    Richard Trevithick constructs the first steam powered tramway locomotive. (The locomotive ran on a road, not a railway system.) It is arguable that this was the first steam powered locomotive. What is known is that Trevithick was the first to utilize a high pressure engine, rather than low pressure condensation to power the locomotive. The result was increased energy output and a more efficient cost to operate as it wasted less fuel.


    Italian Inventor Pellegrino Turri creates a thin paper coated with wax and pigment. Carbon Paper, as we know it today, evolved from this. Ironically, the paper was originally made for a type machine that would present the blind with a means of creating documents.


    Pennsylvania native Robert Fulton uses the steam engine to power a ship for the first time. His ship, named the Clermont set out from Albany en route to New York City. The 150 foot ship made the voyage steadily at 5 mph. The entire voyage took 32 hours. It was a new record and a revolution in travel via waterway.

    The first electrochemical decompositions are performed by British inventor Humphry Davy. The element Sodium is isolated through the electrolysis of caustic sodium (Sodium Hydroxide). The negative charge of the electricity drew the positively charged sodium ion from the negatively charged base Hydroxide.


    British inventor Humphry Davy connects two wires to a battery and attaches a thin charcoal strip to the other ends of the batteries. The carbon of the charcoal glows from resistance to the electrical current flowing through it. This is the first known incandescent electric light.


    German inventor Frederick Koenig innovates printing technology through the use of a steam engine to power the printing machine. It is yet another of many ‘steam dreams’ of the industrial revolution.


    The first photograph is taken by Joseph Nic?phore Ni?pce in his French home by setting up his Camera Obscura in a window. It took eight hours for the camera to capture the picture.


    French physician Ren? La?nnec, considered to be the father of chest medicine, invents the first stethoscope. He is inspired after listening to the scratching of a pin through the length of a wooden beam.


    British inventor Joseph Aspdin revolutionizes building cement by burning ground limestone and clay together. The properties of the materials were altered on a chemical level, resulting in a much stronger cement than just crushed limestone.


    British electrician William Sturgeon invents the first electromagnet. The device featured a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron that was wrapped by several turns in a coil. The coil was charged with an electrical current. When the current passed through the coil, it magnetized the device. When the current stopped, the device lost all but residual magnetic properties. It would be later discovered that his device was the foundation for largescale electronic communications.


    British chemist John Walker invents the modern friction match. By mixing certain chemicals and allowing them to dry on the tip of a wooden shaft, the chemist found he could create fire by striking them against most surfaces.


    Frenchman Louis Braille, deprived of sight at the age of three, completes his system of raised dots to be used by the blind for reading through the use of the fingers to ‘feel’ what the words said. His famous Braille code is still in use today.


    American born Henry Blair becomes the second black inventor to receive a patent. His patent featured a machine designed to plant seed automatically, and was part of a massive industrial focus on revolutionizing agricultural processes.

    Inventor Jacob Perkins creates the first practical refrigerating machine by putting ether through a series of vapor compression cycles.


    British inventor Francis Petit Smith invents the propeller.

    Solymon Merrick patents the first wrench, used for tightening nuts and bolts.

    Inventor Charles Babbage, inspired by the use of punch cards to create a programmed sequence in Jacquard’s loom, creates the first mechanical calculator.


    Samuel Colt invents the first firearm with a revolving cylinder, to be known as the ‘revolver’.


    British schoolmaster Rowland Hill invests the first adhesive postage stamp. His postage system was based on weight rather than size, and resulted in the prepayment of postage that would prove to be practical.


    Samuel Morse sends signals through wires. These pulses of current deflected an electromagnet that in turn created written code on paper. This marked the invention of Morse Code and the first efficient telegraph system.


    Welsh judge and physicist Sir William Robert Grove invents the first hydrogen fuel cell. By mixing hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of an electrolye, water and electricity was yielded. This early fuel cell, however, did not yield enough electrical output to be rendered efficient.


    Austrian born Christian Doppler presents a paper explaining the changes in frequency of light and sound waves was due to the relative motion of both the source of the wave as well as the observer. His ideas were the foundation of the use of tracking electromagnetic radio waves to follow weather patterns. (Thus the Doppler Effect.)


    Robert William Thomson patents the first rubber pneumatic tire. It is inefficient, however, and so Dunlops 1888 patent is given credit for the invention.


    Hungary doctor Ignaz Semmelweis pioneers antiseptic policies after observing the effects of fellow doctors washing or not washing their hands prior and post treatment of pregnant women.


    Henri Giffard builds a flight machine powered by the first aircraft engine. His design proves to be unsuccessful, however.


    George Cayley invents a man driven glider.


    John Tyndall demonstrates that light signals can be bent if they are conducted through a curved stream of water. It is this principle that is the basis of all fiber optics.


    Frenchman Louis Pasteur explains how the process of fermentation is used to removed bacteria from wine and beer. It is from this principle that the process of pasteurization was created.

    The cocaine alkaloid is isolated by German chemist Friedrich Gaedcke, leading to the birth of many medicinal applications of the powerful stimulant.


    Belgian engineer Jean Joseph Lenoir invents a double-acting electrical spark-ignition internal combustion engine. The engine is fueled by coal gas.


    Doctor Richard Gatling invents the first machine-gun. The six-barreled weapon was capable of firing 200 rounds per minute. This was an amazing rate of fire for the time. By rotating several barrels rather than firing all rounds from one barrel, it allowed rounds to be fired at a high rate without heating the barrels of the weapon to a level that would render them inefficient.

    Alexander Parkes demonstrates the first man-made plastic at the Great International Exhibition in London. The material, called Parkeskine, was derived from cellulose (a material that makes up the cell walls of plant stems). When the material was heated, it could be molded, and then it would retain its shape when cooled.


    Alfred Nobel invents dynamite. The explosive material proves to be revolutionary in the fields of mining, and, to the Swedish inventors, regret, war.


    Christopher Scholes invents the first practical and modern typewriter. The QWERTY layout of the keys is still in use in modern typing systems.


    Robert Mushet invents tungsten steel. An alloy of made up of the element tungsten, its high resistance to electricity is what leads it to be used as the filament for the modern incandescent lightbulb.

    Now, obviously the Victorian Era was also part of the prime of the Industrial Revolution in England. There are certainly many more inventions and advancements in science and technology. However, I tried to touch on what I thought were some of the major ones here. If you wish to contribute to this timeline, I encourage you to do so.

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