The most significant machines of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Fifty Machines that Changed the Course of History is a fascinating survey of the mechanical devices that propelled 18th-century society into the 19th and 20th centuries.
The book celebrates more than 200 years of technological development at the height of the Industrial Revolution. These are not generic inventions but rather specific, branded machines whose names in many cases have become synonymous with the machine or its purpose.
The entries fall into eight categories relating to their sphere of influence: Industry, Agriculture, Media, Transport, Science, Computing, Energy and Home. Concise text describes the machines, what led to their invention, and the effects on society. Annotated diagrams, illustrations, photographs and "Key Feature" insets enrich the coverage.
These are a few of the 50 machines described:
- Stephenson's Rocket (1829), the first locomotive designed for passenger transport
- Harrison power loom (1851) produced the bulk of the world's cotton cloth during the First Industrial Revolution
- Westinghouse alternating current system (1887) brought electrical power and lighting to homes and workplaces
- Hoover suction sweeper (1908) revolutionized domestic cleaning
- Lumière cine projector (1896) and Marconi radio (1897) together heralded the dawn of the media age
- Baird "Televiso" (1930), the first television set
- More recently, the Motorola DynaTAC cellphone (1983) ensured that we would always be able to "phone home."
Fifty Machines that Changed the Course of
History is perfect for history buffs and anyone who is fascinated by the complexity and beauty of mechanical devices.
|Publisher:||Firefly Books, Limited|
|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
Whitworth Planing Machine
Corliss Steam Engine
Babbage Difference Engine
Singer Sewing Machine
SS Great Eastern
Hyatt Stuffing Machine
Underwood No. 1 Typewriter
Westinghouse AC System
Rover Safety Bicycle
Parsons' Steam Turbine
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
Saturn V Rocket
Unimate 1900 Industrial Robot
Magnox Nuclear Reactor
Victa Rotomo Fan Mower
De Havilland DH106 Comet
Ampex Model 200A
G.E. Top-loading Washing Machine
Mittlewerk V-2 Rocket
Siemens Electron Microscope
Philco-York Air Conditioner
EMI CT Scanner
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
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).