Technological Advancements 1750-1900

  • Steam Engine

    Steam Engine
    James Watt patented his improved steam engine in 1769. The original steam engine was built by Thomas Newcomen but Watt's steam engine not only ushered in the Industrial Revolution, but also improved the lives of people around the world. The steam engine was the first machine to transform fossil fuel into chemical energy and a substitute for human, animal, wind, and water power. This machine was applied to numerous previous inventions, such as boats, trains, and factory machines.
  • Indoor Plumbing

    Indoor Plumbing
    Alexander Cummings, in 1775, patented the first flushing toilet. By the 1840's, the middle class began adding indoor plumbing to their homes (which was only available to the upper class before). This invention prevented the spead of deadly diseases in densely populated cities, which occurred because of unsanitary conditions.
  • Bicycle

    Bicycle
    The first known form of a bicycle was the celerifere, which was created by Frenchman, Comte de Sivrac. Other bikes were invented in Germany that consisted of two wheels and required the power of walking to move it. Pedals did not appear until 1863. Today, bicycles are widely used throughout the world, indicating its continued significance and impact.
  • Sewing Machine

    Sewing Machine
    Thomas Saint, a British inventor, patented the first design for a sewing machine in 1791. An actual model was presented by an Australian tailor (Josef Madersperger) in 1814. This invention was significant because it improved the efficiency and productivity of clothing and textile factories.
  • Guillotine

    Guillotine
    The guillotine, invented in France, was created as a more humane way to execute criminals. However, this invention was soon feared because of its impact during the Reign of Terror after the French Revolution. Thie guilloting is important in French history because between 30,000 and 40,000 people were executed by it during and after the French Revolution.
  • Cotton Gin

    Cotton Gin
    Invented by Eli Whitney, the cotton gin mechanically separated cottonseed from short-staple fiber. This invention revolutionized the cotton industry in the U.S. because separating the cottonseed from the fiber took hours of labor by hand. The machine sped up the separation process for cotton, therefore benefiting the cotton industry.
  • Battery

    Battery
    Benjamin Franklin first thought of the idea of batteries in 1748. It was not until 1800, however, that Alessandro Volta invented the Voltaic Pile. This was the first practical method of generating electricity.
  • Interchangeable Parts

    Interchangeable Parts
    Interchangeable parts greatly affected the firearm industry because they allowed relatively unskilled workers to produce large numbers of weapons quickly and at a lower cost. Also, replacement and repair of parts became easier. The idea of interchangeable parts was first popularized by Eli Whitney in the U.S. But, it gained popularity in other nations because industries applied the same method to their factories.
  • Railroads

    Railroads
    Railroads were soon built after Watt's invention of the steam engine. They were a sign of industrialization across the world. By the 1840's, the U.S. had 6000 miles of track connecting Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore and was expanding westwards. Railroads allowed goods to be exported quickly and cheaply for trade and easily carried people from place to place (immigration).
  • Stethoscope

    Stethoscope
    French physician and inventor, Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laënnec, invented the idea of the stethoscope in 1816, after he found that listening to a patient's heartbeat could indicate that patient's health. This was later expanded upon by American doctor George Cammann, who invented the binaural stethoscope in 1852. The stethoscope today is an invention doctor's could not work without.
  • Braille

    Braille
    Louis Braille invented the 6-dot Braille system at the age of 15. When he was 3 years old, he accidentally poked his eye with one of his father’s sharp tools and became completely blind. Because he longed to read, he created a tool that would enable blind people to read through feeling. This invention helped the blind acquire knowledge previously unavailable or hard to obtain to them
  • Electricity

    Electricity
    Michael Faraday, an Englishman, showed that the motion of a copper wire through a magnetic field caused a electric current in the wire. Based on this discovery, inventors created generators that turned mechanical energy into electric current. Also, as an energy source, electricity was far more flexible and easier to use than water power or the steam engine. Electricity was applied to arc lamps in public squares, streetcars, and motors.
  • Electric Telegraph

    Electric Telegraph
    The first electric telegraph systems were developed almost at the same time in England and America. Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke introduced a five-wire telegraph in England while Samuel Morse introduced a code of dots and dashes that could be transmitted via a single wire in America. This technology was first used by railroad companies because of its safety and efficiency. The electric telegraph impacted the world because it allowed communication without a ship, horse, or train.
  • Steel

    Steel
    The creation of steel through new and improved inventions in the 19th century allowed the metal to become the cheapest and most versatile metal known. William Kelly found a way to make steel without additional fuel and Englishman Henry Bessemer improved this method. Steel production rose throughout Europe and in the U.S. and became abundant enough to make rails, bridges, ships, and tin cans.
  • Typewriter

    Typewriter
    The first typewriter to be successful commercially was invented by Americans. This typing machine created a new way of communication and writing. The keyboard style would eventually transfer to new inventions such as computers and phones.
  • Telephone

    Telephone
    In the 1870’s, both Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell independently invented telephone designs. These machines could transmit speech electrically. This changed the way people communicated throughout the world.
  • Refrigerator

    Refrigerator
    A German engineer, Carl von Linde, invented the refrigerator in 1876. It used the idea of continuously liquefying gases in large quantities. This not only made food last longer and kept it from getting moldy, but it also created a basis for the modern idea of refrigeration.
  • Light Bulb

    Light Bulb
    Thomas Edison was the first to successfully create the light bulb. It consisted of a glass bulb that contained a filament that was made from a carbonized cotton thread. Lightbulbs enabled people to use electricity as light in their homes and on the streets at night, which helped make neighborhoods safer.
  • Machine Gun

    Machine Gun
    James Puckle invented the first known machine gun: the Defense Gun. This led to the later invention of the self-powered machine gun called the Maxim Gun. Machine guns helped European nations, eager to expand their territory, quickly and easily take advantage of less-industrialized nations and improved warfare/military tactics.
  • Airplane

    Airplane
    The Wright brothers tried many times to successfully build a flying machine. After kites, hot air balloons, gliders, and watching birds, they finally came up with a model. Their invention of the airplane created a whole new way of transportation through the sky. Airplanes not only sped up travel, but also provided a new military tactic for expanding imperialist powers.