Tuesday, June 03, 2008

10 Communication Discoveries 1839-1901

I could do my Tuesday 10 from now through next year on scientific discoveries, but these are all on communication.

1. Fax Machine 1843 (Fig. 1) The first fax machine was invented by Alexander Bain. In 1843, Bain received a British patent for “improvements in producing and regulating electric currents and improvements in timepieces and in electric printing and signal telegraphs”, in laymen's terms a fax machine.

2. Rotary Printing Press 1846 Made by Richard M. Hoe, a prolific New York City inventor of presses and press components, this new press fastened lead type around the circumference of a very large cylinder in the center of the press. By rotating the cylinder, he created a rotary press that turned constantly in one direction. The number of pages printed per hour now depended on how fast this large cylinder turned--and on how many impression cylinders were fitted around its circumference.

3. Kinematoscope, 1861 The invention aimed to present the illusion of motion. The patent was filed by Coleman Sellers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as an "improvement in exhibiting stereoscopic pictures". Coleman applied stereoscopy to the existing principle of toy phantasmascopes using rotating discs.

4. Linotype, 1884 This machine enabled one operator to be machinist, type-setter, justifier, typefounder, and type-distributor all at once. HUH? Basically, now a printer could easily and quickly set movable type. Prior to Ottmar Mergenthaler's invention, no newspaper in the world had more than eight pages.

5. Mimeograph, 1887 The image transfer medium is waxed mulberry paper, backed by a sheet of stiff card stock, with the sheets bound at the top. This "stencil" assemblage is placed in a typewriter to create the original, although the typewriter ribbon has to be disabled so that the bare, sharp type element strikes the stencil directly - "cutting a stencil." Edison didn’t coin the word "mimeograph", which was first used by Albert Blake Dick when he licensed Edison's patents in 1887.

6. Electromechanial Television System, 1884(See fig. 2 left) Paul Nipkow devised the notion of dissecting the image and transmitting it sequentially. To do this he designed the first television scanning device.

7. Paper, 1866 I know you’re probably thinking I’ve lost my mind, but no. Seriously, paper – from wood pulp. Benjamin Chew Tilghman refined the sulfite method of fiber reduction for paper production.

8. Three color camera, 1892 Not much on this invention by Frederick Eugene Ives, but according to the Smithsonian, he patented his ideas, but didn’t license them. Go figure.

9. Practical Mechanical Typewriter, 1867 This one, invented by Christopher Sholes, Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was the first commercially successful one. The patent was sold for $12,000 to Densmore and Yost, who made an agreement with E. Remington and Sons to commercialize the Sholes and Glidden Type-Writer. (Contradicting claims: In 1861, Father Francisco João de Azevedo, a Brazilian priest, made his own typewriter with basic materials and tools, such as wood and knives. Don Pedro I, the Brazilian emperor, in that same year,o presented a gold medal to Father Azevedo for this invention. Many Brazilian people as well as the Brazilian federal government recognize Fr. Azevedo as the real inventor of the typewriter, a claim that has been the subject of some controversy.)

10. Wireless telegraphy, 1896 (fig. 3 below) Guglielmo Marconi invented early radio telegraph originally used to describe electrical signaling without the electric wires to connect the end points. They wanted to distinguish it from the conventional electric telegraph signaling of the day that required wire connection between the end points.


Susan Macatee said...

Just goes to show how many of the devices we take for granted today originated in the Victorian era.

Great post!

Nicole McCaffrey said...

Wow. Some of these I knew about, others just blew me away. A fax machine??? Never would have imagined that technology has been around for so long!

Marlene said...

I had no idea some of these so-called modern machines were actually invented so far back in history. This is most iteresting stuff. The paper was a surprise, but I think it was the fax machine that caught me offguard. Who'd have thought...

Kristin-Marie said...

Amazing inventions were, indeed, happening during the 19th C.

Anonymous said...

The fax got me, too. The paper just made me laugh, because paper has been around fo so long. I can't find the original website that copiled all these, but I'm still lookig.

Jennifer Ross said...

The one that got to me was the mimeograph machine. Sure, I use fax machines, but I'm positive that technology has changed and improved over time. The mimeograph technology is obsolete--and the description is EXACTLY what I, a child of the sixties, have used in my professional life.

And don't get smart--I mean the NINETEEN sixties.

Pennycake said...

Great list!
But credit for the fax machine must go to Giovanni Caselli..

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