greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century

  • Marconi sends the first transatlantic signal

    Marconi sends the first transatlantic signal
    Guglielmo Marconi, waiting at a wireless receiver in St. John’s, Newfoundland, picks up the first transatlantic radio signal, transmitted some 2,000 miles from a Marconi station in Cornwall, England. To send the signal of the three dots of the Morse letter "s", Marconi’s engineers send a copper wire aerial skyward by hoisting it with a kite. Marconi builds a booming business using radio as a new way to send Morse code.
  • First sustained flight with a powered, controlled airplane

    First sustained flight with a powered, controlled airplane
    Wilbur and Orville Wright of Dayton, Ohio, complete the first four sustained flights with a powered, controlled airplane at Kill Devil Hills, 4 miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. On their best flight of the day, Wilbur covers 852 feet over the ground in 59 seconds. In 1905 they introduce the Flyer, the world’s first practical airplane.
  • Model T introduced

    Model T introduced
    Henry Ford begins making the Model T. First-year production is 10,660 cars. Cadillac is awarded the Dewar Trophy by Britain’s Royal Automobile Club for a demonstration of the precision and interchangeability of the parts from which the car is assembled. Mass production thus makes more headway in the industry.
  • Asphalt manufactured from oil-refining byproducts

    Asphalt manufactured from oil-refining byproducts
    Gulf Oil, Texas Refining, and Sun Oil introduce asphalt manufactured from byproducts of the oil-refining process. Suitable for road paving, it is less expensive than natural asphalt mined in and imported from Venezuela. The new asphalt serves a growing need for paved roads as the number of motor vehicles in the United States soars from 55,000 in 1904 to 470,000 in 1910 to about 10 million in 1922.
  • Los Angeles–Owens River Aqueduct

    Los Angeles–Owens River Aqueduct
    The Los Angeles–Owens River Aqueduct is completed, bringing water 238 miles from the Owens Valley of the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Los Angeles basin. The project was proposed and designed by William Mulholland, an immigrant from Ireland who taught himself geology, hydraulics, and mathematics and worked his way up from a ditch tender on the Los Angeles River to become the superintendent of the Los Angeles Water Department. Mulholland devised a system to tr
  • Automatic gyrostabilizer leads to first automatic pilot

    Automatic gyrostabilizer leads to first automatic pilot
    Lawrence Sperry demonstrates an automatic gyrostabilizer at Lake Keuka, Hammondsport, New York. A gyroscope linked to sensors keeps the craft level and traveling in a straight line without aid from the human pilot. Two years later Sperry and his inventor father, Elmer, add a steering gyroscope to the stabilizer gyro and demonstrate the first "automatic pilot."
  • The Junkers J4, an all-metal airplane, introduced

    The Junkers J4, an all-metal airplane, introduced
    Hugo Junkers, a German professor of mechanics introduces the Junkers J4, an all-metal airplane built largely of a relatively lightweight aluminum alloy called duralumin.
  • First automatic pop-up toaster

    First automatic pop-up toaster
    Charles Strite’s first automatic pop-up toaster uses a clockwork mechanism to time the toasting process, shut off the heating element when the bread is done, and release the slice with a pop-up spring. The invention finally reaches the marketplace in 1926 under the name Toastmaster.
  • First practical radar

    First practical radar
    First practical radar British scientist Sir Robert Watson-Watt patents the first practical radar (for radio detection and ranging) system for meteorological applications. During World War II radar is successfully used in Great Britain to detect incoming aircraft and provide information to intercept bombers.
  • Golden Gate Bridge

    Golden Gate Bridge
    Golden Gate Bridge The Golden Gate Bridge opens and connects San Francisco with Marin County. To construct a suspension bridge in a region prone to earthquakes, engineer Joseph Strauss uses a million tons of concrete to hold the anchorages in place. Its two main towers each rise 746 feet above the water and are strung with 80,000 miles of cable.
  • Manhattan Project

      	Manhattan Project
    The U.S. Army’s top-secret atomic energy program, known as the Manhattan Project, employs scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico, under the direction of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, to develop the first transportable atomic bomb. Other Manhattan Project teams at Hanford, Washington, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, produce the plutonium and uranium-235 necessary for nuclear fission.
  • B-52 bomber

    B-52 bomber
    Boeing makes the B-52 bomber. It has eight turbojet engines, intercontinental range, and a capacity of 500,000 pounds.