Fifty Machines that Changed the Course of History

Fifty Machines that Changed the Course of History

by Eric Chaline


$26.96 $29.95 Save 10% Current price is $26.96, Original price is $29.95. You Save 10%.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781770850903
Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
Publication date: 10/30/2012
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Rric Chaline is a journalist and writer specializing in history, philosophy and religion. He has published numerous books, including Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History.

Table of Contents


    Jacquard Loom
    Roberts' Lathe
    Stephenson's Rocket
    Roberts' Loom
    Whitworth Planing Machine
    Corliss Steam Engine
    Babbage Difference Engine
    Singer Sewing Machine
    SS Great Eastern
    Hyatt Stuffing Machine
    Underwood No. 1 Typewriter
    Diesel Engine
    Marconi Radio
    Lumière Cinématographe
    Berliner Gramophone
    Westinghouse AC System
    Rover Safety Bicycle
    Parsons' Steam Turbine
    Linotype Machine
    Gramme Machine
    Kodak Brownie Camera
    Tungsram Light Bulb
    Automatic Electric Telephone
    Model T Ford
    Hoover Suction Sweeper
    Holt Caterpillar Combine
    Black and Decker Electric Drill
    G.E. Monitor Top Refrigerator
    127 Graf Zeppelin
    Baird Televisor
    Saturn V Rocket
    Unimate 1900 Industrial Robot
    Magnox Nuclear Reactor
    Victa Rotomo Fan Mower
    De Havilland DH106 Comet
    Ampex Model 200A
    Tape Recorder
    G.E. Top-loading Washing Machine
    Mittlewerk V-2 Rocket
    Siemens Electron Microscope
    Philco-York Air Conditioner
    EMI CT Scanner
    JVC HR-3300EK
    Atari 2600 Games Console
    Sony TPS-L2 Walkman
    Vestas HVK10 Wind Turbine
    IBM PC 5150
    Hayes Smartmodem 300
    ABI 370A DNA Sequencer
    Hubble Space Telescope
    Motorola StarTAC Cell Phone

Further Reading
Useful Websites


Humanity has had a complex and often contradictory relationship with the machine. The development of each new technology has brought about unforeseen transformations in society, politics, economics, and the natural environment, ending, sometimes in a matter of years, ways of life that had endured for centuries. Humans may like to believe that machines are their servants, but as we shall see in this survey of the iconic machines of the past two centuries, they have often been the true masters that have unmade and remade human lives, livelihoods, and lifestyles.

The handy man
Members of the Homo habilis (2.3-1.4 million years BP) species of hominids, who figure as a major branch in humanity's flourishing ancestral tree, distinguished themselves from their predecessors by their superior ability to make and use stone tools, earning the name "handy man," and setting humanity on the road that would one day lead to the steam locomotive, the vacuum cleaner, the PC, and the Hubble telescope. This survey of iconic machines that changed the course of history does not go back to the invention of the hand axe or wheel, but begins in 1801, with the first successful application of automation to weaving that had until then been the preserve of the skilled artisan. From that time on, for good, or for many of those directly involved at the time, for ill, machines have continued their relentless advance into every aspect of human life and culture.

During the First Industrial Revolution (1760-1860), machines revolutionized tool-making (Roberts lathe, page 12; Whitworth planing machine, page 24) and the manufacture of consumer goods, particularly textiles (Jacquard loom, page 8; Roberts' loom, page 20; Corliss steam engine, page 26), whose production became mechanized and automated, turning the skilled artisan into the unskilled factory worker, and transport, with the development of steam locomotives and steamships (Rocket, page 14; SS Great Eastern, page 38).

The Second Industrial Revolution (1860-1914) provided a new source of power: electricity (Gramme machine, page 44; Parsons steam turbine, page 52; Westinghouse AC, page 58) and saw an even greater transformation of society as technology entered the office (Linotype, page 46; Underwood No 1 typewriter, page 84; Tungsram light bulb, page 94; Automatic Electric rotary dial telephone, page 98) and the home (Singer "Turtle Back" sewing machine, page 36; Hoover suction sweeper, page 110); and revolutionized transport ("Rover" bicycle, page 54; Diesel engine, page 78; "Model T" Ford, page 104), and popular entertainment (Berliner gramophone, page 60; Lumière "Cinématographe," page 66; Marconi radio, page 72).

The manufacturing of the modern world.
In what is often called contemporary "postindustrial" society — rather oddly, I've always thought, as manufacturing industry and technology are still the necessary foundations of all human societies — machines have relieved humans of the most repetitive tasks in the factory ("Unimate" industrial robot, page 170), home (GE top-loading washing machine, page 146; Victa lawn mower, page 160), and office (IBM PC 5150, page 200); and given humans new ways to fill their increasing leisure time (Baird "Televisor," page 130; Ampex reel-to-reel tape recorder, page 150, JVC HR-3300EK VCR, page 184; Atari 2600, page 188; Sony "Walkman," page 192), to communicate (Hayes Smartmodem, page 206; Motorola "StarTAC" cell phone, page 214), to produce energy (Magnox nuclear reactor, page 164; Vestas wind turbine, page 196), and to travel (LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin, page 126, De Havilland Comet jetliner, page 154). Last but not least, machines have allowed humans to investigate and explore their Universe in ways undreamed of by their ancestors (Siemens electron microscope, page 138; EMI CT
scanner, page 180; Saturn V rocket, page 174; Hubble space telescope, page 210).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews