Friday, June 24, 2016

Products & Technology Of The 1800's

Dear Friends,

Ever wonder about some of the products and technology that we pretty much take for granted today? Ever wonder how many products and such started out in the 1800s? Well, here's a small list that I hope you find it as interesting as I did when I put the list together.

I put this together because I just received a very nice email regarding my article Life In 1881 Tombstone Was Very Civilized. My reader wanted me to talk more about my claim that many products which we use today were in fact already around in one form or another back in the 1800s.

As I stated in that article, "For those who wonder what products were around back then that are still around today, you should be comforted to know that one could find Heinz ketchup and vinegar (1876), Philadelphia Cream Cheese (1880), Tabasco Sauce (1868), Fleischmann's Yeast (1868), Campbell’s Soups (1868), A-1 Steak Sauce (1873), Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce (1838), Underwood Deviled Ham (1822), Saltine Crackers (1876), Pillsbury Flour (1872), Graham Crackers (1829), Schweppes Tonic Water (1783), Angostura Bitters (1824), among other things that are still around today. I put the dates of when those products first went into production just so we can see how many things we have today that was already available back then."

Besides these products, there was in fact a technology boom which was taking place in the 1800s. It was an important time in our history because a lot of the products and technology that we use today was first invented and/or patented back in the 1800s.

Most folks think that many of the things which we have today only came about in the last few years. But like the Ferris Wheel that is found at just about any carnival around the country, not only were inventions in 1800s important as a place to start in the development of many things which we take for granted today, I believe we actually still use many of the names of those inventions today -- and are returning to some of them because of one reason or another.

Take a look at the list of inventions below and look at the year they were invented or patented. Then if you would, ask yourself if these products don't look or sound familiar to you. And think about this, many of these items were around long before Jesse James was robbing trains or the gunfight at the OK Corral.
Below is a list of inventions from the 1800s. The list is by name of the invention, the year it was invented and/or patented, the country the invention originated, and the inventor or inventors:
  • Ultraviolet Radiation Discovered, 1801 Germany, Johann Ritter
  • Self-contained Firearm Cartridge, 1808, Swiss, Jean Samuel Pauly 
  • First Ark Lamp, 1809, England, Humphry Davy
  • Tin Cans, 1810, England, Peter Durand
  • The Miner's Lamp, 1815, England, Humphey Davy
  • Hydrogen Peroxide, 1818, France, Louis Jacque Thenard
  • First Steam Locomotive, 1814, England, George Stephenson 
  • Photograph, 1814, France, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
  • Suspenders (Braces), 1820, England, Albert Thurston
  • Waterproof Raincoat (Mackintosh), 1823, Scotland, Charles Mackintosh
  • Portland Cement, 1824, England, Joseph Aspdin
  • The Electromagnet, 1825, England, William Sturgeon
  • Internal Combustion Engine, 1826, United States, Samuel Morey
  • Matches, 1827, England, John Walker
  • The First Microphone, 1927, England, Charles Wheatstone
  • Typewriter, 1829, United States, W.A. Burt
  • Graham Crackers, 1829, United States, Sylvester Graham
  • Braille printing, 1829, France, Louis Braille 
  • Sewing Machine, 1830, France, Barthelemy Thimonnier
  • Refrigerator, 1834, United States, Jacob Perkins
  • Mechanical Calculator, 1835, England, Charles Babbage
  • Wrench (Spanner), 1835, United States, Solymon Merrick
  • Postage Stamps, 1837, England, Rowland Hill
  • Morse Code, 1838, United States, Samual Morse 
  • Vulcanized Rubber, 1839, United States, Charles Goodyear
  • Platform Scale, 1839, United States, Thaddeus Fairbanks
  • Bicycle, 1839, England, Kirkpatrick Macmillan
  • First Hydrogen Fuel Cell, 1839, England, William Robert Grove
  • Blueprints, 1840, England, John Herschel
  • Stapler, 1841, United States, Samuel Slocum
  • Grain Elevator, 1842, United States, Joseph Dart
  • Fax Machine, 1843, Scotland, Alexander Bain
  • Mercerized Cotton, 1844, England, John Mercer
  • Anesthesia, 1846, United States, William Morton
  • Antiseptics, 1847, Hungary, Ignaz Semmelweis 
  • Safety Pin, 1849, United States, Walter Hunt
  • Sewing Machine, 1851, United States, Isaac Singer
  • Gyroscope, 1852, France, Jean Bernard Léon Foucault
  • Pasteurization, 1856, France, Louis Pasteur
  • The Pullman Sleeping Train Car, 1857, United States, George Pullman
  • The Rotary Washing Machine, 1858, United States, Hamilton Smith
  • The Internal Combustion Engine, 1858, Belgian, Jean Lenoir
  • Bicycle, 1861, France, Pierre Michaux
  • The Cylinder Lock (Yale Lock), 1861, United States, Linus Yale
  • Machine Gun (crank operated), 1861, United States, Richard Gatling
  • Man-Made Plastic, 1862, England,  Alexander Parkes
  • Dynamite, 1866, Sweden, Alfred Nobel
  • First Modern Typewriter, 1867, United States, Christopher Scholes
  • Air Brakes, 1868, United States, George Westinghouse
  • Tungsten Steel, 1868, England, Robert Mushet
  • Traffic Lights, 1868, England, J.P. Knight
  • Metal Windmill, 1872, United States, J.S. Risdon
  • Mail-Order Catalog, 1872, United States, A.M. Ward
  • Barbed Wire, 1873, United States, Joseph Glidden
  • Telephone, 1876, Scotland, Alexander Graham Bell
  • Motion Pictures, 1877, United States, Eadweard Muybridge
  • Incandescent Light Bulb, 1878, England, Joseph Wilson Swan
  • Toilet Paper, 1880, England, The British Perforated Paper Company
  • Automatic Player Piano, 1881, England, Edward Leveaux
  • Photographic Film, 1884, United States, George Eastman
  • Rayon, 1884, France, H. de Chardonnet
  • Fountain Pen, 1884, United States, Lewis Edson Waterman
  • Smokeless Gun Powder, 1884, France, Paul Vieille
  • Automobile (with Internal-Combustion Engine), 1885, Germany, Karl Benz
  • Gas-Engine Motorcycle, 1885, Germany, Gottlieb Daimler
  • Machine Gun (gas operated), 1885, Germany, Harim Maxim
  • Coca Cola, 1886, United States, John Pemberton
  • Dishwasher, 1886, United States, Josephine Cochran
  • Contact Lenses, 1887, Germany, F.E. Muller and Adolph Fick
  • Radar, 1887, Germany, Heinrich Hertz 
  • Pneumatic tire, 1888, United States, John Boyd Dunlop
  • AC motor and Transformer, 1888, United States, Nikola Tesla
  • Match-Book, 1889, United States, Joshua Pusey
  • Cordite, 1889, England, James Dewar and Frederick Abel
  • Escalator, 1891, United States, Jesse W. Reno
  • Radio, 1891, United States, Thomas Edison
  • Diesel-Fueled Internal Combustion Engine, 1892, Germany, Rudolf Diesel
  • Vacuum Flask (thermos), 1892, Scotland, James Dewar 
  • Zipper, 1893, United States, W.L. Judson
  • Rubber Heel, 1896, United States, H. O'Sullivan
  • Motor-Driven Vacuum Cleaner, 1899, United States, J.S. Thurman
Yes, on February 11th, 1809, Robert Fulton patents his steamboat and soon after begins offering services on major rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

On October 11, 1811, steam-powered ferry service begins between New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey.

In 1818, the American steamship "Savannah" crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 29 days.

In 1835, Samuel Colt received a British patent on his improved design for a revolver. He receives two U.S. patents in 1836.

As for an 1843 Fax Machine being attributed to Alexander Bain? 

Here you go! Bain worked on an experimental facsimile machine in 1843 to 1846. He used a clock to synchronise the movement of two pendulums for line-by-line scanning of a message. For transmission, Bain applied metal pins arranged on a cylinder made of insulating material. An electric probe that transmitted on-off pulses then scanned the pins. 

The message was reproduced at the receiving station on electrochemically sensitive paper impregnated with a chemical solution similar to that developed for his chemical telegraph. 

His May 27th, 1843, patent is described: "improvements in producing and regulating electric currents and improvements in timepieces, and in electric printing, and signal telegraphs," he claimed that "a copy of any other surface composed of conducting and non-conducting materials can be taken by these means". 

The transmitter and receiver were connected by five wires. In 1850, Bain applied for an improved version but was too late. Inventor Frederick Bakewell had obtained a patent for his superior "image telegraph" two years earlier in 1848.

Bain's and Bakewell's laboratory mechanisms reproduced poor quality images and were not viable systems because the transmitter and receiver were never truly synchronized. As a result, it wasn't until later, in 1861, that the first practical operating electro-mechanical commercially exploited telefax machine, the Pantelegraph, was invented by the Italian physicist Giovanni Caselli. 

Giovanni Caselli actually introduced the first commercial "telefax service" between Paris and Lyon at least 11 years before the invention of workable telephones. Imagine that! 

On May 24th, 1844, Samuel B. Morse sends the message, "What hath God wrought" over the first telegraph line from Washington, DC, to Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1852, Henri Giffard built an airship powered by the first aircraft engine.

On March 23rd, 1857, Elisha Otis installs the first elevator safety brakes. Otis became the man who solved the elevator safety problem which in turn made skyscrapers possible. While Elisha Otis is generally known as the inventor of the modern elevator, in 1852, he in fact came up with a design that had its safety brakes.

On August 27, 1859, drilling is completed on the first productive commercial oil well in Titusville, PA.

On May 10th, 1869, ceremonies at Promontory, Utah, take place to celebrate the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

On August 2nd, 1873, Andrew Hallidie tests the first cable car system in San Francisco, California.

On December 7th, 1877, Thomas Edison demonstrates the phonograph at the offices of the "Scientific American .

On September 4, 1882, Thomas Edison's Pearl Street Station in New York City begins generating electricity to supply 400 street lamps and 85 customers with electrical power.

At noon on April 22nd, 1889, a starting gun announced the start of the "Oklahoma Land Rush." Approximately 50,000 would-be settlers rush to stake their claim to the 1.92 million acres of land previously given to American Indian tribes.

On May 17th, 1890, Comic Cuts became the first weekly comic strip. It was published in London

On April 1st, 1891, the Wrigley Company is founded in Chicago, Illinois, originally selling soap, baking powder. By 1892, they will start selling chewing gum.

On May 20th, 1891, the first showing to a public audience, the convention of the National Federation of Women's Clubs, of Thomas A. Edison's new strip motion picture film took place at Edison's West Orange, New Jersey laboratory.

On June 21st, 1891, alternating current (AC) is transmitted for the first time by the Ames power plant near Telluride, Colorado, by Lucien and Paul Nunn.

On April 15th, 1892, the Edison General Electric Company merges with the Thomson-Houston Company. Yes, this is the start of the General Electric Company. 

In 1893, the world's first Ferris Wheel was erected by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr.. at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

In February of 1893, Thomas Edison finished building his first motion picture studio.

On September 20th, 1893, the Duryea Brothers road-test the first-ever, American-made, gasoline-powered automobile in Springfield, Massachusetts.

With Coca-Cola having been trademarked in 1893, the Coca-Cola Company was able to sell its produce in bottles for the first time on March 12th, 1894 in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

On September 7th, 1894, the fight between heavyweight boxing champion  Gentleman Jim Corbett and Peter Courtney is caught on motion picture film by Thomas Edison at the Black Maria studio of his New Jersey laboratory.

Thanksgiving Day 1895, that was the day of the first race of gas powered cars. Six motor cars left Chicago's Jackson Park for a 54 mile race to Evanston, Illinois and back racing for a 1st prize of $2,000 provided by the Chicago Times-Herald Newspaper. Car Number 5 driven by inventor Frank Duryea, won the race in just over 10 hours at an average speed of 7.3 mph.

On November 5th, 1895, the first United States patent for the automobile, #549160, is granted to George B. Selden for his two stroke automobile engine.

On September 1st, 1897, the era of the subway begins when the first underground public transportation in North America opens in Boston, Massachusetts.

On February 14th, 1899, the United States Congress approves the use of voting machines in Federal elections.

By 1900, the first electric bus became operational in New York City and Kodak introduced the "Brownie" camera for personal use.

So yes, I'd say there was a lot more technology being created between 1800 and 1900 than we think. In fact, I'd say we still use much of the technology that was invented and patented back then and don't even know it.

Many today probably don't realize that many of the early versions of what we take for granted was created long before their great-grandparents were even thought of. And while I couldn't cover everything invented or patented during the 1800s, I hope you found what I did find as interesting as I did.

Tom Correa 


  1. fax machine? hard to get my head wrapped around that one

    1. Hello Randy! Yes, I had a hard time with a few of them. But since receiving your comment, I've updated the article to include an explanation about Bain's fax machine in 1843. Please see that explanation below the list. Thanks for visiting my site.

    2. I really enjoyed that list. It is helpful to see the inventions and developments dated in order of their appearance. Thanks, John Schulz


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