Timeline of mechanical engineering innovation


The timeline of mechanical engineering innovation is a chronological list of particularly important or significant mechanical engineering inventions and their inventors, where known. This timeline initially started as an inventory of significant mechanical engineering innovation by the History and Heritage Committee of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The extensive inventory then added some items from a listing prepared by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).[1] The resulting inventory was then prepared into a Timeline, to which additional mechanical engineering innovations are added periodically as information and documentation becomes available.

If you are aware of a significant mechanical engineering innovation that is not listed, you are encouraged to add it to this timeline. Edits are also welcome.

Note: Dates for inventions are often controversial. Sometimes several inventors create an important innovation around the same time, or an innovation may be invented in an impractical form many years before another inventor improves the invention into a practical form. The intention of this timeline is to emphasize innovation that has been created, rather than hypothesized, although often both events are cited in this Timeline.

Before Common Era

  • 8000 BC: First boats[2]. Egyptian rock paintings illustrate canoes, dugouts and rafts. The oldest recovered boat in the world is the 3 meter long Pesse canoe constructed around 8,000 BCE, however far earlier boats most likely existed. A rock carving in Azerbaijan dating from ~10,000 BCE shows a reed boat manned by about 20 paddlers.
  • 3500 BC: The Bronocice pot from Southern Poland illustrates a wheeled vehicle. It shows a wagon with four wheels and two axles.
  • 3300 BC: The first depiction of a ship using cloth sails in found in Egyptian paintings. The earliest known explorer, Hannu from ancient Egypt, made the first recorded exploring expedition by sail around 2750 BC and wrote his account of the exploration in stone.
  • 3000 BC: Evidence for the potter's wheel[3]. At first, this device was a simple turntable, but later evolved into a more elaborate device. These potter's wheels were hand turned and the kick wheel variety was probably not developed until the Persian or Ptolemaic periods, although there is some disagreement among Egyptologists on this matter. The potter's wheel also spurred the development of more refined kilns. The Potter's wheel allowed pottery to be made in greater abundance.
  • 1800 BC: The earliest known production of steel, as evidenced by pieces of ironware excavated from an archaeological site in Anatolia (Kaman-Kalehoyuk), dating from 1800 BC. The Roman poet Horace identified steel weapons like the falcata in the Iberian Peninsula, while Noric steel was later used by the Roman military.
  • 280 BC: The Pharos at Alexandria[4], the most famous lighthouse of the ancient world, is constructed around 280 BCE. It was built by Sostratus of Cnidus. The lighthouse stood in the harbor of Alexandria on the island of Pharos. It is believed it was more than 110 meters high, making it perhaps the second highest man-made structure at the time—the pyramids of Giza being the highest. The lighthouse was still standing in the 12th century, but was likely destroyed by an earthquake in the 1300s. In 1477 the Mamlūk sultan Qāʾit Bāy built a fort from its ruins.
  • Portions of the Antikythera mechanism at the Athens Museum. Photo from 2019.
    80 BC: Antikythera mechanism. The Antikythera mechanism, is an ancient mechanical computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. The device is a complex clockwork mechanism composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gears. Its remains were found as 82 separate fragments, of which only seven contain any gears or significant inscriptions. It was recovered in 1900–1901 from the Antikythera wreck. The construction has been dated to the early 1st century BCE. All known fragments of the Antikythera mechanism are kept at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. The Antikythera mechanism was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME in 2019 (ASME Landmark number 271).[5]

First Century

  • 1: Fire piston invented in Southeast Asia for starting fires, preceded the invention of the match. A fire piston, sometimes called a fire syringe or a slam rod fire starter, is a device of ancient Southeast Asian origin which is used to kindle fire. It uses the principle of the heating of a gas (in this case air) by rapid and adiabatic compression to ignite a piece of tinder, which is then used to set light to kindling.
  • 1: Fulling mills are in use, in which workers press fabric by foot. Fulling is a process that increases the thickness and compactness of woven or knitted wool by subjecting it to pressure, as well friction, moisture, and heat. (France)
  • 25: Hypocaust system for building heating used: charcoal furnaces with tile flues in walls. Excavations at Mohenjo-daro in what is now Pakistan have unearthed what is believed to be a hypocaust lined with bitumen-coated bricks. If it fulfilled a similar role, the structure would predate the earliest Roman hypocaust by as much as 2000 years. (Roman Empire and Asia, Europe, Japan, and China)
  • 50: Hero writes Pneumatic, which includes 75 devices that work on air, steam or water pressure, including the hydraulis or water organ and "Mechanica" which includes gear ratio, basic devices, and hoists. (Hero, Alexandria, Egypt)
  • 62: Aeolipile devised; a pure-reaction machine that can be called the first steam engine. (Hero, Alexandria, Egypt)
  • 70: Gaius Plinius Secundus aka Pliny the Elder publishes "Naturalis Historia". The work is divided into 37 books, organized into ten volumes. These cover topics including astronomy, mathematics, geography, ethnography, anthropology, human physiology, zoology, botany, agriculture, horticulture, pharmacology, mining, mineralogy, sculpture, painting, and precious stones. The Natural History became a model for later encyclopedias and scholarly works as a result of its breadth of subject matter, its referencing of original authors, and its index. (Pliny the Elder)
  • 80: Two-barreled reciprocating pump is first seen. The device was cut from a block of wood, lined with lead sheet (0409 ca). (Romans in Britain, Silchester)

Second Century

  • 105: Under the Han Dynasty emperor Ho-Ti, a government official in China named Ts'ai Lun was the first to start a papermaking industry. Ts'ai Lun seems to have made his paper by mixing finely chopped mulberry bark and hemp rags with water, mashing it flat, and then pressing out the water and letting it dry in the sun. However, the discovery of specimens bearing written Chinese characters in 2006 at Fangmatan in north-east China's Gansu Province suggest that paper was in use by the ancient Chinese military more than 100 years before Cai, in 8 BC, and possibly much earlier as the map fragment found at the Fangmatan tomb site dates from 179–41 BC. See history of paper, subheading techniques. (Tshai Lun, China)
  • 132: Seismograph built; it incorporated an inverted pendulum.[6] It was cylindrical in shape with eight dragon heads arranged around its upper circumference, each with a ball in its mouth. Around the lower circumference were eight frogs, each directly under a dragon head. When an earthquake occurred, one of the balls was released from a dragon's mouth, probably by an internal pendulum, and was caught by a frog's mouth. (Chang Heng, China)
  • 180: Rotary fan first used for ventilation in China. The technology was not transferred to west until 1556. (China)

Third Century

  • 200: Archaeological evidence indicates the earliest wheelbarrows were in use around year 200 in the form of a one-wheeled cart. Depicted in 2nd century Han Dynasty Emperor Hui's tomb murals and brick tomb reliefs. The painted tomb mural of a man pushing a wheelbarrow was found in a tomb at Chengdu, Sichuan province, dated precisely to 118 AD. See Wheelbarrow#Ancient China for additional information. (China)
  • 200: A Roman iron crankshaft of yet unknown purpose dating to the 2nd century AD was excavated in Augusta Raurica, Switzerland. The Roman Hierapolis sawmill from the 3rd century AD saw the earliest known machine to combine a crank with a connecting rod. The earliest evidence, anywhere in the world, for a crank and connecting rod in a machine appears in the late Roman Hierapolis sawmill from the 3rd century AD and two Roman stone sawmills at Gerasa, Roman Syria, and Ephesus, Asia Minor. (both 6th century AD)

Fourth Century

  • 300: The water wheel is recognized as a prime mover in Western Europe for diverse applications. However, the waterwheel dates back to the 3rd Century BC in Ancient Byzantium and in Alexandria.
  • 315: The Barbegal Aqueduct and mill complex is built. It was a Roman watermill complex located on the territory of the commune of Fontvieille, near the town of Arles, in southern France. The mill had 16 waterwheels arranged in two descending columns built into the hillside. The site shows evidence of foundations of the individual mills, along with the water channels. The capacity of the mills was calculated in terms of the amount of flour that could be milled—recorded at 4.5 tons of flour per day. [7] (Barbegal, France)
  • 370: Ship propelled by paddle wheels and a number of fanciful war machines were suggested by unknown Latin author of de Rubus Bellicus.

Fifth Century

  • 400: Wind-driven prayer wheels were written of by a Chinese pilgrim around 400 C.E. in Ladakh. (China)
  • 400: Windmills appear in Chinese writings and in Islam for Caliph Omar I. The authenticity of the windmill involving the second caliph Umar (AD 634–644) is questioned on the grounds that it appears in a tenth-century document. Furthermore while it was probably invented much earlier, the earliest recorded use found by archeologists in China is a.d. 1219 (Asia)
  • 400: A Roman edict is issued to protect watermills, indicating that they were in existence and valued. (Romans, Europe)
  • 400: Double-piston bellows for continuous blast used. (China)
  • 400: Mineral oil used as lubricant: Chinese work refers to its use (difficult to be certain about earlier references). (China)
  • 438: "Senchus Mor" written, followed by "Book of Aicill". The writings describe Irish code on mills, including horizontal waterwheels. (Ireland)

Sixth Century

  • 500: Earliest specimens of fabric produced using a draw loom in western world date from this century. Fabric looms for appear to have been originally developed in East Asia for silk weaving, unknown date. (Egypt)

Seventh Century

  • 644: The Persians build a pumping machine powered by the wind. The Persian windmill was invented sometime around 700–900 AD. This design was the panemone windmill, with vertical lightweight wooden sails attached by horizontal struts to a central vertical shaft. It was first built to pump water, and subsequently modified to grind grain as well. Wind-powered machines may have been known earlier, but there is no clear evidence of windmills prior to the 9th century.

Eighth Century

  • 725: Evidence of escapement mechanism devised in China to regulate oscillation of clock hands. Not introduced in the Western World until 1759. (I Hing, China)

Ninth Century

  • 800–900: Evidence of a plow with curved iron board (concave) being used to guide and turn over heavy clay soil in a continuous-ribbon motion: 9th century in China. Not introduced in Europe until 1300–1700. The principle was later used for wrapping and folding for machinery. (China)
  • 830: Crank mentioned on Utrecht Psalter. It was used with a rotary grindstone. (Western world)
  • 833: Windmills begin to be introduced into Germany. (Germany)

Tenth Century

  • 985: Hand crank is in use on an organistrum in northern Spain as an instrument used for singing instruction in monastic settings. It produces sound by a crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. (Also known as a 'hurdy gurdy').

Eleventh Century

  • 1000: Geared astrolabe designed with calendrical gearing: earliest record of complicated gear relating to a clock. (al Biruni)
  • 1041: Movable type introduced in China. The system was made of Chinese porcelain and clay. The length of clay movable types in China was 1 to 2 centimeters. (Pi Sheng, China)
  • 1086: Domesday Book lists 5,624 mills. The mills in use at that time were probably driven by a mix of primitive vertical and horizontal watermills. (Britain)
  • 1088: Su Sung escapement mechanism uses a trip lever and scoop wheel for clock towers. The action of the escapement's arrest and release was achieved by gravity exerted periodically as the continuous flow of liquid filled containers of a limited size. In a single line of evolution, Su Song's clock therefore united the concept of the 'clepsydra' and the mechanical clock into one device run by mechanics and hydraulics. (Su Sung, China) (Note: A detailed model exists at Gishodo Suwako Watch and Clock Museum, in Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture)

Twelfth Century

  • 1100: Evidence of forge bellows with wooden boards and leather flap-valves introduced in Britain. (Britain)
  • 1105: Windmills introduced into France. (France)
  • 1150: Stamp mill used in papermaking (not mentioned by L7) (E9 says 1144, Spain). (Italy)
  • 1150: Floating mills on the Seine in Paris depicted. (Paris)
  • 1170: Tide mill reported at Woodbridge, Suffolk. The Woodbridge Tide Mill still operates at the site as a tourist attraction. A tide mill is a water mill driven by tidal rise and fall. A dam with a sluice is created across a suitable tidal inlet, or a section of river estuary is made into a reservoir. As the tide comes in, it enters the mill pond through a one way gate, and this gate closes automatically when the tide begins to fall. When the tide is low enough, the stored water can be released to turn a water wheel. During 1950s it had become the last working tide mill in the country before being closed in 1957 restored in 1968. The first recording of a tide mill on this site was a medieval mill in 1170 but the present surviving tide mill was actually built in 1793. Its machinery reflects the skills and achievements of the early Industrial Revolution.[8] (Britain)
  • 1180: Earliest mention of western windmill; Abbey of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte. (Normandy)
  • 1185: Earliest records of fulling mills in England, at Newsham (Yorkshire) and Barton. (Britain)
  • 1185: Post windmill appears in Europe. The first recorded use of a post windmill occurs in 1185 in Yorkshire.
  • 1195: Arab treatise by Fakhr ad-din Ridwan b. Muhammad on great automaton water clocks. (Ridwan)

Thirteenth Century

  • 1200: Stone stove heating system with chimney flue and slide damper used in German castles. (Germany)
  • 1200: Horizontal bench lathe appears, using foot treadle to rotate object.
  • 1200: Cog ship (single-masted merchant ships) built for northern trade. The transformation of the cog into a true seagoing trader came not only during the time of the intense trade between West and East, but also as a direct answer to the closure of the western entrance to the Limfjord. The need for spacious and relatively inexpensive ships led to the development of the first workhorse of the Hanseatic League, the cog. The new and improved cog could cross even the most dangerous passages. (Europe)
  • 1221: Astrolabe: oldest geared machine (in complete state) in existence; signed and dated. (Muhamad b. Abi Bakr, Isfahan, Persia)
  • 1225: Water-driven machinery recorded: sketches of sawmills, including spring motion. (Villard de Honnecourt, medieval Europe)
  • 1250: Primitive rope escapement for clocks illustrated in "Album" by Villard de Honnecourt.
  • 1256: 'Five Books of Clocks' in "Libros del Saber de Astronomia": on water clocks is published. (King Alfonso X of Castile)
  • 1280: The spinning wheel is illustrated for the first time (in known history). It was a primitive, spindle-on-an-axle type. (Europe)

Fourteenth Century

  • 1300: Iron manufacture begins to use blowing furnaces driven by water power. (Britain)
  • 1304: The mechanical clock first emerged during the 14th century using the verge and foliot mechanism. The foliot is a horizontal bar with weights on either end. It sits on a vertical rod, called a verge. The verge has pallets to engage and release the main gear which is turned by a heavy stone on the end of a cable. The verge nudges the foliot back and forth in an inertial rhythm, and that determines the pace of the gear train. The first clear drawing of an escapement was given by Jacopo di Dondi and his son in 1364; they may have been building clocks for twenty years by then. The Heinrich von Wieck clock in Paris dating from 1362 is the first clock of which it is known with certainty that it had a foliot and a verge escapement. The clock at Graggenturm in Luzern, Switzerland, from 1385, was the first with written operating instructions. See Wikipedia article on the Turret Clock.Turret clock
  • 1322: Evidence of the sawmill invented (Domesday Book mentions sawmills in 1076—H5). (Europe)
  • 1350: Windmill-driven scoop wheel developed. (France)
  • Noria al-Muhammadiyya of Syria, a stand-alone water pump. Photograph from the early 1900s
    1361: Noria al-Muhammadiyya is placed in service. Hama-3 norias It has a diameter of 21 meters (69 feet), making it among the largest water wheels ever constructed. (Note: The word noria means a device for raising water. Noria finds its origin in the Arabic word "naurah". This word is used in Syria for a water wheel and literally means "the wailer" after the noise that the wooden bearing must have made.) It is located in the city of Hama, Syria, where a set of seventeen large water wheels continues to operate on the River Orontes as they have for many centuries. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME. The landmark plaque notes that its "very existence today serves as a lasting testimony to engineering ingenuity in the ancient Arab world and to the central role of technology in creating and sustaining such sophisticated civilizations". [9]
  • 1386: Salisbury clock with crank mechanism is invented. Dating from about 1386, it is one of the oldest working clocks in the world. It has been relocated in the London Science Museum, where it continues to operate. (Britain)

Fifteenth Century

  • 1400: Holland adapts the windmill for large-scale drainage (1439 for grinding grain – Q9). (Dutch, Holland) Reflected by Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks Nos. 151 and 161 (Victoria Dutch Windmill [10] and Old Mill in Nantucket [11].
  • 1400: Rapid evolution of full-rigged ship from a one-mast cog with square sail to four-mast galleon with bowsprit. Eventually, around the 14th century, the cog reached its structural limits, resulting in the desperate need for a quick replacement. The replacement, the hulk, already existed but awaited reconditioning. Although there is no evidence that hulks descended from the cogs, it is clear that a lot of technological ideas were adapted from one to the other and vice versa. By 1528, documentary sources point to a new type of ship called the Galleon which was used by the Venetians against pirates.[12] (Atlantic Ocean)
  • 1400: Improved loom advances weaving of elaborate silk fabrics.[13] On this loom, loops were tied around the tail cords, and those that would be pulled to open each figure shed were knotted together. A cord tied to this knot passed through holes in another board and terminated in a button that prevented the cord from slipping back. To open each figure shed, the weaver simply pulled the buttons in the prearranged order. It would be universally adopted across Europe during the 5th century.[14] (John the Calabrian)
  • 1400: Flywheel recorded as a machine in 15th-century manuscript.
  • 1421: German manuscript depicts early crank and connecting rod system. (Munich)
  • 1430: Spring drive introduced into mechanical clock. (Europe) (Note: Spring-driven clocks appeared during the 15th century, although they are often erroneously credited to Nuremberg watchmaker Peter Henlein (or Henle, or Hele) around 1511. The earliest existing spring driven clock is the chamber clock given to Phillip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, around 1430, now in the Germanisches National museum. Spring power presented clockmakers with a new problem: how to keep the clock movement running at a constant rate as the spring ran down. This resulted in the invention of the stackfreed and the fusee in the 15th century, and many other innovations.)
  • 1435: Ship called 'Scraper' dredges harbor channel. (Dutch, Maiddelburg)
  • 1440: Earliest evidence of block book, "Spirituale Pomerium": block-printed wood cuts. (Brussels)
  • 1441: First rain gauge: to measure precipitation with precision, for agricultural purposes. As the trend towards continuous farming grew, King Sejong was keen to determine the levels of rain which were falling in the various parts of his kingdom. In 1441, a more precise method for measuring precipitation was invented with the rain gauge, a milestone in the history of meteorology. The new metallic, circular gauge was an invention of Yi Chon. Measuring 42.5cm in height and 17cm in diameter, it was the first device in the world capable of measuring levels of rainfall accurately, preceding Benedetto Castelli's pluviometer by almost 200 years.
  • 1448: Gutenberg printing press developed for Mainz printing office. It used movable and reusable type. Johannes Gutenberg's work on the printing press began in approximately 1436 when he partnered with Andreas Dritzehn—a man who had previously instructed in gem-cutting—and Andreas Heilmann, owner of a paper mill. A 1439 lawsuit against Gutenberg shows an official record of witnesses' testimony discussing Gutenberg's types, an inventory of metals (including lead), and his type molds. He was the first to make type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, which was critical for producing durable type that produced high-quality printed books and proved to be much better suited for printing than all other known materials. Gutenberg is also credited with the introduction of an oil-based ink which was more durable than the previously used water-based inks. In 1454 Gutenberg put his press to commercial use, printing thousands of indulgences for the Church. The following year he printed his famous 42-line Bible, the first book ever printed on a moveable type printing press. It should be noted that Gutenberg technically did not invent the printing press. Chinese and Korean inventors had been using the printing press for centuries before Gutenberg (Gutenberg, Fust, Europe) Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME (No. 269) in 2019.[15]
  • 1450: Instrument making at Nuremberg: observatory, machine shop, and printing plant built. It was the first permanent European observatory (Johann Muller (Regiomontanus), Germany)
  • 1450: Blast furnaces with water-driven bellows (1340, H2) first used. (Rhine Valley)
  • 1480: Continuous rotary action analyzed: especially friction, motion, and power. (Leonardo da Vinci, Italy)
  • 1485: Evidence of vertical grinding wheel with treadle and crank.
  • 1487: Earliest surviving evidence of application of numerical reasoning to water-power technology in Leonardo da Vinci notebooks. It contains notes and diagrams for devices relating to hydraulic engineering and on the moving and raising of water. Some of the ideas recorded investigate perpetual motion. (Codex Forster)
  • 1488: Leonardo da Vinci conceives of flying machines, creating over 100 sketches to illustrate his ideas. He learned by imitating the way birds glide was more practical that than human powered wing motion for a sustained flight for any extended period. However, he had designed winged gliders exclusively by and for human use in mind. (Paris Manuscripts and Codex on the Flight of Birds)
  • 1490: First stove of record produced: brick and tile. (Alsace, France)
  • 1490: Leonardo da Vinci's Codex Madrid (discovered in 1960s).[16] The two notebooks contain 197 pages, with the first volume largely discussing mechanics, statics, and geometry. The notebooks, in his handwriting, outlined engineering ideas that were unheard of at the time. Among other mechanics, the notebooks include da Vinci's thoughts on improved ball bearings, worm gears, and bicycle chain drives. (Leonardo da Vinci)
  • 1491: Blast furnace introduced into Britain. The oldest extant blast furnaces were built during the Han Dynasty of China in the 1st century BC.Blast furnace#Origin and spread of early modern blast furnaces The Weald of Sussex was where the first furnace called Queenstock in Buxted was introduced in Britain built in about 1491. It followed by one at Newbridge in Ashdown Forest in 1496. They remained few in number until about 1530 but many were built in the following decades in the Weald, where the iron industry perhaps reached its peak about 1590.

Sixteenth Century

  • 1500: Wheellock invented in Italy. It is a friction-wheel mechanism to cause a spark for firing a firearm. It was the next major development in firearms technology after the matchlock and the first self-igniting firearm. Drawings made by Leonardo of a wheellock mechanism date from either the mid-1490s or the early 1500s. However, a drawing from a book of German inventions dated 1505 and a 1507 reference to the purchase of a wheellock in Austria may indicate the inventor was an unknown German mechanic instead. (Italy)
  • 1500: Leather foot bellows used by Egyptians (earliest mechanical air pump in west is blowpipe).
  • 1500: Tinplate. Tin-coated vessels are known to have existed as early as 23 A.D., but the tin was apparently only used for decoration. The first tinplate appears to have been made in Bavaria in the fourteenth century, and by the sixteenth century, a thriving tinplate industry existed in Saxony and Bohemia. Tinplate manufacture spread to England in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. (Europe)
  • 1500: Mitre-gate pound locks. The development of the mitre lock, a double-leaf gate the closure of which formed an angle pointing upstream, heralded a period of extensive canal construction during the 16th and 17th centuries. The canals and canalized rivers of that period foreshadowed the European network to be developed over many years. (Italy, Spain, Portugal)
  • 1500: Clear glass produced in large beehive furnaces fired by charcoal. (Europe), although Romano-Alexandria was producing clear glass works since 1st century BC. By the 11th century, clear glass mirrors were being produced in Arab Islamic Spain.
  • 1500: Large undershot waterwheels used to drive pumps for water supply: later erected in Paris and London. In India and Asia Minor, wheels of this kind were used for irrigation in pre-Christian times. The Franconian waterwheels have been built along almost the same lines for over 500 years. Of the 200 wheels on the Regnitz, 12 still remain in 1985 as technical monuments. (Germany)
  • 1505: Original Nuremberg watches: spring driven clocks with single hand. Production was made possible by the miniaturization of the torsion pendulum and coil spring mechanism by Nuremberg clockmaker. It is known that he first succeeded in producing a portable clock in 1510, and his contributions were clearly instrumental in giving rise to the later Nuremberg "neck-watch" industry (Peter Henlein, Nuremberg, Germany)
  • 1511: Bellows pump demonstrated. (Vegetius)
  • 1523: Earliest record of steelworks in Britain. (Britain)
  • 1530: Foot-driven spinning wheel. A citizen of Brunswick</ref> is said to have added a treadle, by which the spinner could rotate her spindle with one foot and have both hands free to spin. Leonardo da Vinci drew a picture of the flyer, which twists the yarn before winding it onto the spindle. During the 16th century a treadle wheel with flyer was in common use, and gained such names as the Saxony wheel and the flax wheel. It sped up production, as one needn't stop spinning to wind up the yarn.
  • 1534: Ball thrust bearing introduced: free wheeling and made of wood. In 1534 The King of France commissioned a Florentine goldsmith to produce a statue of Jupiter about 1.4 meters (4 1/2 ft) high. He describes his ball bearing stating "I placed it upon a wooden socle, and within that socle I fixed four little globes of wood which were more than half hidden in their sockets." See History of Ball Bearings.[17] (Benvenuto Cellini, Italy)
  • 1539: Molds made for casting lead pipe. It consisted of casting the lead pipes complete in short lengths in molds placed in perpendicular position. After a number were cast, they were united together in a separate mold by pouring hot metal over the ends until they were a single long piece. Allowed for the conveyance of water through pipes.[18] (Robert Broke, England)
  • 1540–1546: In Book VI of the De re metallica, Georgius Agricola extensively illustrated and describes the tools and machinery associated with mining during the era, including details of various kinds of machines for lifting weights. Some of these are man-powered and some powered by up to four horses or by waterwheels. Horizontal driveshafts along tunnels allow lifting in shafts not directly connected to the surface. If this is not possible treadmills will be installed underground. Instead of lifting weights, similar machines use chains of buckets to lift water. Agricola also describes several designs of piston force pumps which are either man or animal powered or powered by waterwheels. Because these pumps can only lift water about 24 feet, batteries of pumps are required for the deepest mines. Water pipe designs are also covered in this section. Designs of wind scoop for ventilating shafts or forced air using fans or bellows are also described. Finally ladders and lifts using wicker cages are used to get miners up and down shafts. This text along with his other works compose the earliest comprehensive "scientific" approach to mineralogy, mining, and geological science. Georgius Agricola, Germany)
  • 1540: Biringuccio's Pirotecnia on metallurgy and machine tools.[19] The work was printed in Venice, and has been reprinted numerous times. It is divided into ten books dealing with minerals, semi-minerals, assaying, smelting, the separation of gold from silver, alloys, the art of casting metals (especially bells and cannons), and alchemy. He describes in detail the way moulds are made for casting so as to avoid defects, including the way patterns are made for the final product shape. (Biringuccio)
  • 1550: Universal joint described in physics treatise: de Subtilitate (1550) and de Rerum (1557) by Geronimo Cardano.[20] Cardano studied the inclined plane and the lever and described other mechanical devices. as well as hydrodynamics. (Geronimo Cardano, Italy)
  • 1552: Iron rolling machine is developed. (Brulier)
  • 1561: Baldewin's astronomical clock was built for Landgraf William IV of Hesse. In this instance the calculations for the clock were made by the Landgraf and his Astronomer, Andreas Schoener. Dials were provided for Mars, Venus, Mercury (planet), Saturn, Jupiter, the Earth's Moon, ar Astrolabe and one for the calendar dial. On the top of the clock a celestial globe was mounted.[21] (Baldewin)
  • 1562: Dredgers of the Chinese chain-pump type used in Low Countries. (Germany)
  • 1568: Simple mandrel lathe shown on a woodcut of the "Panoplia Omnium" by Hartman Schopper.
  • 1571: Improved (screw) lathe described in Theatrum Instrumentorum; tool held rigidly and moved axially forward by lead screw. Theatrum Instrumentorum was a collection of Jacques Besson's own new inventions with detailed illustrations of each engraved by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau to his specifications. Some of his designs suggested important improvements to lathes and the ppwaterwheel. (Jacques Besson, France)
  • 1571: Instruments Mathematiques et Mechaniques shows math concepts applied to machines. (France, Geneva)
  • 1582: Undershot tide-mill pumps installed in London</ref> water system. The three waterwheels worked a total of 52 water pumps; the wheels could turn in either direction and so be driven by the flowing and ebbing tide; and the pumps were designed to force 132,120 gallons an hour to a height of 120 feet. The machinery was largely destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 but replacements engineered by Morice's grandson remained under the bridge until the early 19th century, before the New London Bridge was erected in the 1830s. (London Bridge Waterworks established). (Morice (Dutch), Britain)
  • 1584: First British water closet or as it is known today, the toilet, is invented by Sir John Harington. The water-closet had a pan with an opening at the bottom, sealed with a leather-faced valve. A system of handles, levers and weights poured in water from a cistern, and opened the valve. (John Harrington, Britain)
  • 1586: Claude Dangon, a French weaver in Lyons, made improvements on the draw loom by refining the shedding mehanismuse forbidden according to legend thus inventing the lever draw-loom. The number of lashes on the loom could be increased from 800 to 2400. Though it was not successful, the principles exemplified were later applied to multi-shuttle looms. Other weavers were said to have made improvements including Anton Moller of Danzig who is said to have made a similar improvement but forbade it's use.[22] (Dangon, France) (Moller, Danzig)
  • 1588: Rotary pumps were described by Ramelli, in "Le diverse et artificiose machine del Capitano Agostino Ramelli", (The various and ingenious machines of Captain Agostino Ramelli) too difficult to make before 16th century due to manufacturing accuracy, sealing and pipeline problems.[23]
  • 1588: Internal workings of western windmill depicted: includes a chain-pump in a tower mill. (Agostino Ramelli, Lyons)
  • 1589: An English clergyman and inventor, William Lee Britain devised the first stocking frame knitting machine which remained the only one in use for centuries. Its principle of operation remains in use. His first machine produced a coarse wool, for stockings. Refused a patent by Queen Elizabeth I, he built an improved machine that increased the number of needles per inch from 8 to 20 and produced a silk of finer texture, but the queen again denied him a patent because of her concern for the employment security of the kingdom's many hand knitters whose livelihood might be threatened by such mechanization. Eventually, he moved to France with his brother James, taking 9 workmen and 9 frames. He found better support from the Hugenot Henry IV of France, who granted him a patent. Lee began stocking manufacture in Rouen, France. (William Lee Britain, Britain and France)
  • 1590: Galileo Galilei of Italy shows that a load supported by cantilevered beam can be calculated as step toward studying strength of materials. (Note: The discovery of The Codex Madrid in the National Library of Spain in 1967 found that Leonardo da Vinci's work in 1493 preceded Galileo's by over 100 years and also correctly identified the stress and strain distribution across a section in bending.) (Galileo Galilei, Italy)
  • 1590: Updated analysis of simple machines and treatise on statics (Guidobaldo also called Guido Ubaldi). (Guidobaldo de Monte, Italy)
  • 1590: "On Mills" published by Simon Stevin: gives mathematical theory to scoop wheel improvements to raise water; first use of theory to analyze wind-powered, water-lifting devices. Suggested improvements including ideas that the wheels should move slowly with a better system for meshing of the gear teeth. These improved the efficiency of the windmills used in pumping water out of the polders by three times. Stevin received a patent on his innovation in 1586. (Simon Stevin, Holland)
  • 1593: Open, air-expansion thermoscope developed by Galileo Galilei of Italy: forerunner of thermometer, for comparing temperatures. The device was built from a small vase filled with water, attached to a thin vertically rising pipe, with a large empty glass ball at the top. Changes in temperature of the upper ball would exert positive or vacuum pressure on the water below, causing it to rise or lower in the thin column. Based on the principles of buoyancy, temperature effects on fluids, density and floating objects. (Galileo Galilei, Italy)
  • 1594: The wind-powered sawmill is invented, which made the conversion of log timber into planks 30 times faster than before. It used a crankshaft to convert a windmill's circular motion into a back-and-forward motion powering the saw. The sawmill ""Het Juffertje"" soon developed into a more advanced version, a type known today as the paltrokmolen (post mill), which played a key part in the economic success of the Dutch Republic during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century by enabling the mass construction of ships for overseas trade. The mill turned the Zaan district, north of Amsterdam, into the world's first industrial area. (Cornelis Corneliszoon van Uitgeest, Netherlands)

Seventeenth Century

  • 1600: Evidence of gear pump in use, although it initially had no effect on the development of hydraulics until Blaise Pascal laid the foundations for the further development of hydraulics with the "hydrostatic law" (Kepler)
  • 1600: Rag-and-chain pump used to drain Cornish mines. Rag and chain pumps were constructed from a series of interconnecting wooden pipes, made from hollowed out logs that reached all the way down to the lowest point of the mine. An endless chain (looped so it could be continuously pulled round and round) with balls of rags attached at intervals was pulled up through the pipe, drawing the water up with it in a continual flow. (Britain)
  • 1604: Ribbon frames patented in Europe. Mechanization of ribbon weaving and twining. Allowed a single worker to weave twelve ribbons at a time and were widely used in the Haarlem linen industry in the 1660s.[24] The Dutch called this engine lintmolen or "ribbon mill" (Willem Dierickzoon van Sonnevelt, France)
  • 1606: Giambattista della Porta describes a method to move water by vacuum created when steam condenses: concept proved in laboratory and described in de' spiritali. It would later prove to be the foundation of the steam engine. (Giambattista della Porta, Italy)
  • 1608: Practical refracting telescope invented by Hans Lippershey, called a 'kijker' (Dutch), later known as binoculars. This device achieved a 3X magnification. The patent was filed in 1608 but never granted since the same claim for invention had also been made by other spectacle-makers. (Hans Lippershey, Germany, Netherlands)
  • 1610: Temperature regulator developed: later called a thermostat; initially used for scientific laboratory experiments. Used a column of mercury and a system of floats and levers to maintain a steady temperature within a furnace. (Cornelis Drebbel, Dutch)
  • 1614: Cementation steel process patented by Ellyott and Meysey. While they did receive the British patent, they were not the actual inventors. (Ellyott and Meysey, Britain). The process was described in a treatise published in Prague in 1574. It was again invented by Johann Nussbaum of Magdeburg, who began operations at Nuremberg in 1601.
  • 1619: Experiments to forge pig iron using coal-fired furnace begin: also many have used coke. (Dud Dudley, Britain)
  • 1620: First successful submarine developed by Cornelius van Drebbel. His human-powered submersible was successfully demonstrated in 1624 on the Thames River. (Britain)
  • 1623: Automatic multiplying and subtracting machine devised. In two letters that he sent to Kepler, Wilhelm Schickard reported his design and construction of what he referred to as an "arithmeticum organum" that he has invented, but which would later be described as a Rechenuhr (calculating clock). The machine was designed to assist in all the four basic functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The machine could add and subtract six-digit numbers, and indicated an overflow of this capacity by ringing a bell. The adding machine in the base was primarily provided to assist in the difficult task of adding or multiplying two multi-digit numbers. In the 1950s, scholars who were collecting the works of Kepler found tucked into a book Schickard's original drawings of his device. This made it possible for Professor Bruno Baron von Freytag Loringhoff of the University of Tübingen to reconstruct Schickard's calculator. (Wilhelm Schickard, Tubingen, Germany)
  • 1629: Giovanni Branca describes water-operated pumps of direct air-pressure type; also described form of impulse steam turbine. (Giovanni Branca, Italy)
  • 1630: William Oughtred of Cambridge invented a circular slide rule, and in 1632 combined two handheld Gunter rules to make a device that is recognizably the modern slide rule. Used primarily for multiplication and division, and also for functions such as roots, logarithms and trigonometry. (William Oughtred)
  • 1630: Auxiliary, or vernier, scale invented. The vernier, dial, and digital calipers give a direct reading of the distance measured with high accuracy and precision. They are functionally identical, with different ways of reading the result. These calipers comprise a calibrated scale with a fixed jaw, and another jaw, with a pointer, that slides along the scale. (Pierre Vernier, France)
  • 1635: Gearwheel pump illustrated by Schwenter. (Schwenter)
  • 1638: Galileo demonstrates parabolic trajectory: based on fundamental laws of motion (on mechanics). (Galileo Galilei, Italy)
  • 1639: Castelli's cylindrical rain gauge. (Castelli)
  • 1640: Screw caliper devised, used with telescope: later improved by Maudslay as micrometer. It was used in a telescope to measure angular distances between stars and the relative sizes of celestial objects. (Wm Gascoigne, Britain)
  • 1642: First manufactured cast-iron stove produced. This stove had no grates and was little more than a cast-iron box. (Lynn, Mass)
  • 1642: Blaise Pascal designed and began work on his calculator at the age of 19 to help his father who was a tax commissioner by building a device that would reduce some of his workload. It was the only operational mechanical calculator in the 17th century. The Pasaline was the first calculating machine to be made public, to have a controlled carry mechanism which allowed for an effective propagation of multiple carries, to be used in an office, to be commercialized, to be patented and to be sold by a distributor.Of the 9 surviving Pasalines, 4 exist at the CNAM museum in Paris and 2 at the musée Henri Lecoq. Supposedly, one also still exists at the IBM collection in the U.S. (Blaise Pascal, France)
  • 1643: Mercury barometer invented; a tube approximately one meter long and sealed at the top was filled it with mercury, and set vertically into a basin of mercury. The column of mercury fell to about 76 cm, leaving a Torricellian vacuum above. The column's height fluctuated with changing atmospheric pressure (Evangelista Torricelli, Italy)
  • 1647: Experiments on fluid forces involving syphons, bellows, and tubes published. Blaise Pascal produced Experiences nouvelles touchant le vide, ("New Experiments with the Vacuum"), which detailed basic rules describing to what degree various liquids could be supported by air pressure. It also provided reasons why it was indeed a vacuum above the column of liquid in a barometer tube. (Blaise Pascal, France)
  • 1647: Saugus Iron Works produces pig iron and wrought iron by puddling, first in US. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME; Landmark No. 7 in 1975.'[25]
  • 1650: Horse-powered cog-and-rung gin invented to raise coal from mine shaft. The wallower was turned by means of a wooden gear mechanism, driven by a horse. A double ended rope, each end being attached to a basket (corve), was used for lifting the coal. One basket descended as the other ascended. After each lift the horse was turned and driven in the opposite direction. The size and placement of the mechanism limited the overall operational efficiency of this type of gin. Cog and rung gins were widely used in mine shafts during the 18th century to bring coal to the surface using a wooden gear mechanism driven by a horse that used a double ended rope to lift baskets up and down the mine shaft. A full scale model currently exists at Middleton Park in West Yorkshire, England (improved by Whim Gin).
  • 1650: Machine-bored pump barrels used, mostly later in century; flanged and bolted pipes used. (Bate, Britain)
  • 1652: Air (vacuum) pump devised: steadily improved upon later. Consisted of a piston and an air gun cylinder with two-way flaps designed to pull air out of whatever vessel it was connected to, and used to investigate the properties of the vacuum in many experiments. This pump is described in Chapters II and III of Book III of the Experimenta Nova and in the Mechanica Hydraulico-pneumatica (p. 445-6).(Otto von Guericke)
  • 1655: High-resolution telescope invented: followed lens grinding process development. Designed in 1662 the Huygenian eyepiece, with two lenses, as a telescope ocular.Would later help Huygens study the rings of Saturn and discober its moon Titan.(Christiaan Huygens, The Hague, Netherlands)
  • 1655 Epicycloidal profile for gear-wheel teeth developed. A system for raising water was installed near Paris. It was based on the use of the at the time unrecognized principle of the epicycloidal wheel (Gerard Desargues)
  • 1655: Air pump experiments conducted. Ended up creating the first British vacuum pump which was an improvement on Otto von Guericke's original vacuum pump from 1652. Boyle used the pump extensively in his early work, making discoveries such as that sound does not travel in a vacuum and that air is necessary to sustain a candle flame. (Boyle and Hooke)
  • 1656: Pendulum-regulated clock built: 1675 balance wheel and spring oscillator, reliable accuracy, and precision gearing. The introduction of the pendulum, the first harmonic oscillator used in timekeeping, increased the accuracy of clocks enormously, from about 15 minutes per day to 15 seconds per day. These early clocks, due to their verge escapements, had wide pendulum swings of up to 100°. The Horologium Oscillatorium showed that wide swings made the pendulum inaccurate, causing its period, and thus the rate of the clock, to vary with unavoidable variations in the driving force provided by the movement. The realization that only pendulums with small swings of a few degrees are isochronous motivated the invention of the anchor escapement around 1670, which reduced the pendulum's swing to 4°-6°. The anchor became the standard escapement used in pendulum clocks. In addition to increased accuracy, the anchor's narrow pendulum swing allowed the clock's case to accommodate longer, slower pendulums, which needed less power and caused less wear on the movement. The increased accuracy resulting from these developments caused the minute hand, previously rare, to be added to clock faces beginning around 1690. (Christiaan Huygens, Netherlands)
  • 1657: Public demonstration to overcome vacuum: trial of two-horse teams pulling in opposite directions cannot overcome air pressure. (Otto von Guericke, Magdeburg, Germany)
  • 1660: Modern thermometer, also known as the Galileo thermometer was developed by the Florentine Accademia del Cimento. The Galilean thermometer works on the principle of buoyancy. Details of the thermometer were published in the Saggi di naturali esperienze fatte nell'Academia del Cimento sotto la protezione del Serenissimo Principe Leopoldo di Toscana e descritte dal segretario di essa Accademia (1666), the Academy's main publication. It was revived in the modern era by the Natural History Museum, London, which started selling a version in the 1990s.(Italy)
  • 1660: Effective balance spring for marine clock devised: Hautefeuille and Huygens also claim. In the process, Hooke demonstrated a pocket-watch of his own devising, fitted with a coil spring attached to the arbour of the balance. For the first time it is possible to make a watch which is reasonably accurate and slim. In February 2006, a long-lost copy of Hooke's handwritten notes from several decades of Royal Society meetings was discovered in a cupboard in Hampshire, England. The evidence contained in those notes seems to settle in favour of Hooke's claim.
  • 1661: Boyle's law of compression of gases expressed in DEFENSE AGAINST LINUS: volume of gas varies inversely as pressure.This law was the first physical law to be expressed in the form of an equation describing the dependence of two variable quantities. (Robt Boyle, Britain)
  • 1662: Water-driven boring mill with guided auger for pump logs illustrated. (Bockler, Britain)
  • 1663: Direct-steam 'water commanding' engine design devised by Marquis of Worcester. Constructed from the barrel of a cannon, it was an obvious prototype design for what would later become the steam engine, and clearly anticipated the power and applications of that machine.(Worcester, Britain)
  • 1665: Differential and integral calculus developed. Newton was the first to apply calculus to general physics and Leibniz developed much of the notation used in calculus today. The basic insights that both Newton and Leibniz provided were the laws of differentiation and integration, second and higher derivatives, and the notion of an approximating polynomial series. (Newton, Leibniz, and Takakazu)
  • 1666: Screw-type micrometer described and perfected.It was aspecialized eyepiece used in astronomical telescopes for astrometry measurements, in microscopes for specimen measurements, and in alignment and surveying telescopes for measuring angles and distances on nearby objects. (Adrien Auzout, France)
  • 1667: Robert Hooke likely invented the wind pressure gauge and improved bathometer, hygrometer, hydrometer, and barometer. (Robert Hooke, Royal Academy of London)
  • 1670: Highly efficient microscope developed: uses single lenses of high quality and short focal length. By placing the middle of a small rod of soda lime glass in a hot flame, Leeuwenhoek could pull the hot section apart to create two long whiskers of glass. Then, by reinserting the end of one whisker into the flame, he could create a very small, high-quality glass sphere. These spheres became the lenses of his microscopes, with the smallest spheres providing the highest magnifications. (Antonie van Leeuwenhock, Delft, Netherlands)
  • 1670: Rolled sheet lead made. (Hale, Britain)
  • 1671: Machine invented for cutting clock wheels by Robert Hooke: developed by 1784 into commercial availability. (Robert Hooke, Britain)
  • 1674: Morland's plunger pumps patented in an attempt to improve the water supply to Windsor Castle,: made in sizes up to 10-in-dia by Isaack Thomson (1675). (Moreland, Thomson, Britain)
  • 1674: Mechanical-calculator mechanism designed and construted (called a Stepped Reckoner): with stepped drum mechanism called the Leibniz wheel (which was designed in 1673 and used in calculators for the next 3 centuries until the mid-1970s). It was the first calculator that could perform all four arithmetic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Two prototypes were built; today only one survives in the National Library of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek) in Hanover, Germany.(G Leibniz, Germany)
  • 1675: Marine chronometer built: driven by coiled spring, with verge escapement for regulation, instead of a pendulum, opening the way to marine chronometers and modern pocket watches and wristwatches. (Christiaan Huygens, Netherlands)
  • 1675: First spring-operated watch built: under Huygens' supervision. (Isaac Thuret, Netherlands)
  • 1675: Anchor escapement introduced by Robert Hooke: replaces verge and foliot. The escapement is a mechanism in a mechanical clock that maintains the swing of the pendulum by giving it a small push each swing, and allows the clock's wheels to advance a fixed amount with each swing, moving the clock's hands forward. (Clement disputes Hooke claim). (Robert Hooke, Europe)
  • 1675: Suction hose used in Amsterdam for fire engines.The forerunner of the modern fire hose was invented in 1672 in Amsterdam by Nicholas and Jan van der Heiden. Their discharge hose was made of leather with tightly sewn seams. Brass fittings were attached to each end to allow several sections to be coupled together. In 1698, they made a suction hose of heavy sailcloth coated with paint or cement to make it watertight. The hose was reinforced with internal metal rings to prevent it from collapsing under a vacuum.
  • 1676: Repeating clock invented. The rack and snail striking mechanism for striking clocks could easily be made to repeat the striking of the hour. Therefore it was used to construct repeater clocks, which at the pull of a string would strike the number of hours. Used to tell the time after dark before artificial illumination. (Edward Barlow, Britain)
  • 1675: Deadbeat escapement for mechanical clock developed by astronomer Richard Towneley and first used by Thomas Tompion in a clock built for Sir Jonas Moore. (Note: The deadbeat escapement is often erroneously credited to George Graham who introduced it around 1715 in his precision regulator clocks. Category: Timekeeping-Clockwork-Astrolabes
  • 1676: Robert Hooke's law of elasticity is developed; discusses material behavior with stress. The modern theory of elasticity generalizes Hooke's law to say that the strain (deformation) of an elastic object or material is proportional to the stress applied to it. (Britain)
  • 1677: Abbe Jean de Hautefeuille ignited gunpowder to create vacuum: pumps water from the Seine to supply the palace of Versailles. Unlike Huygen's engine below, did not consist of a piston and cylinder. (Hautefeuille)
  • 1678: Christiaan Huygens outlined a gunpowder engine consisting of a vertical tube containing a piston. Gunpowder was inserted into the tube and lit through a small hole at the base, like a cannon. The expanding gasses would drive the piston up the tube until the reached a point near the top. Here, the piston uncovered holes in the tube that allowed any remaining hot gasses to escape. The weight of the piston and the vacuum formed by the cooling gasses in the now-closed cylinder drew the piston back into the tube, lifting a test mass to provide power. He built an example of this gunpowder explosion-driven motor in 1678 or 1679.[26]
  • 1679: Steam digester invented: a high-pressure cooker that extracting fats from bones in a high-pressure steam environment, forerunner of autoclave, pressure valve invented to prevent explosions. (Denis Papin, London)
  • 1680: Simple centrifugal pump invented. (Jordan)
  • 1680: Lever safety valve devised for steam engine: The first safety valve was invented by Denis Papin for his steam digester (1679), an early pressure cooker rather than an engine.By using a "steelyard" lever a smaller weight was required, also the pressure could easily be regulated by sliding the same weight back and forth along the lever arm. Papin retained the same design for his 1707 steam pump.[27] that powered more than 250 pumps to bring water 500 ft (162 m) up a hillside from the Seine River to the Louveciennes Aqueduct. The chief engineer for the project was Arnold de Ville who contracted the master carpenter and mechanic Rennequin Sualem and his brother Paulus Sualem. The construction lasted 7 years and was inaugurated in the presence of the King in June 1684. It was considered a wonder of the world at the time, and may have been the largest system of integrated machinery ever assembled to that date. (Ranneguin, France)
  • 1685: Air compressing pump for high pressures for experiments invented. (Denis Papin, Britain)
  • 1687: Astronomia Europaea describes wheeled vehicle driven by steam turbine. (Ferdinand Verbiest, China)
  • 1687: Cast plate glassused a new pouring process that allowed it to make plate glass mirrors measuring at least 60 by 40 inches wide: Saint Gobain factory established at Tourlaville to make mirrors by Compagnie Thévart. (Nicolas du Noyer, France)
  • 1688: First reflecting telescope built: uses mirrors instead of lenses. Was a prototype for a design that later came to be called a newtonian telescope.The telescope also acted as proof for the theory that white light is composed of a spectrum of colours. The telescope used mirrors as the objective which bypass that problem of chromatic aberration .(Sir Isaac Newton, Britain)
  • 1689: Centrifugal pump, known as Hessian pump, described. Within a year of becoming a chair of mathematics at the University of Marburg, Papin invented the earliest form of centrifugal pump, which was used in local drainage work; he applied the same principle to the ventilation of a coal mine. Neither version was widely adopted. (Dennis Papin, Germany)
  • 1690: First demonstration of raising a piston using steam: considered early atmospheric engine. The purpose of the steam engine was to raise water to a canal between Kassel and Karlshaven. He also used a steam engine to pump water to a tank on the roof of the palace to supply water for the fountains in the grounds. (Denis Papin, England)
  • 1690: Master patent received 7/28/1698 for practical steam pump: 'fire engine' demonstrated in 1699 It was also the first commercially used steam powered engine. (Capt Thomas Savery, Britain)
  • 1695: Traite de Mecanique published: followed by treatise on cycloidal gear teeth. (P de La Hire, Paris)
  • 1695: Lead rolling mills used in England (1730 in France). (Britain)
  • 1695: Dry friction laws developed; thermometry studied; Clepsydra improved; optical telegraph developed. (G Amontons, Paris)

Eighteenth Century

  • 1700: Zinc-smelting at Swansea. (Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1700- 1800: Earliest accurate metal-working lathes in use. The slide rest (as the earliest forms of carriage were known) can be traced to the fifteenth century. In 1718 the tool-supporting slide rest with a set of gears was introduced by a Russian inventor Andrey Nartov and had limited usage in the Russian industry. In the eighteenth century the slide rest was also used on French ornamental turning lathes. The suite of gun boring mills at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, in the 1780s by the Verbruggan family also had slide rests. Category: Machine Tools
  • 1700: Iron mandrel lathes start to replace wood versions: written 1698, published 1701. (Father Plumier) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1701: Horse-drawn seed drill for planting seeds in rows developed. (Jethro Tull, Britain) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1704: Antoine Parent carries out first sophisticated analysis of operation of water wheel, early practical application of calculus Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1707: Centrifugal blowers and pumps developed. (Denis Papin, Britain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1709–1750: Smelting of iron at Coalbrookdale works begins: 1713 with coke, hotter blast and better iron.In the century after the Old Blast Furnace closed, it became buried. There was a proposal for the site to be cleared and the furnace dismantled, but fortunately, it was decided to excavate and preserve it. It and a small museum were opened to celebrate 250 years of the Company in 1959. (Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron.) (Abraham Darby, Shropshire, Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1712: Newcomen's (1663–1729) first atmospheric steam engine built: self-acting steam pumping engine, originally for coal mines of Black Country. (Thomas Newcomen, Dudley Castle) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1716: Highly accurate chronometer fit with roller bearing. The marine clock, fitted with a sophisticated pendulum to determine longitude accurately, was presented to the French Académie des Sciences. (Henry Sully, Paris) Category: Timekeeping-Clockwork-Astrolabes
  • 1716: Double-acting piston pump described: No practical device developed at the time. (De la Hire, Britain) Category: Pumps
  • 1717–1732: Silk-throwing mill develops rapidly in England: John Lombe, visited Piedmont and returned to England with details of the Italian silk-throwing machines, and some Italian craftsmen. He was granted a fourteen-year patent, and built Lombe's Mill in Derby. (Lombe's, Derby, Britain) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1718: Savery's pump improved; later it was automatic. Desaguliers claimed that his improved form of Savery's engine was twice as efficient as the Newcomen pump. (John Theophilus Desaguliers, France) Category: Pumps
  • 1720: Cornwall furnace, typical of US ironworks, produces pig iron and cast-iron products. It was one of the largest ironworks in Colonial Pennsylvania, later becoming significant providers of munitions to the Revolutionary War effort. (Peter Grubb, Cornwall, Pa.) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1721: Modern manual fire engine evolves from fire engine. The engine had two single-acting pistons and an air vessel placed in a tank which formed the frame of the machine. The pump was worked by people at the long cross handles. At the front of the engine, protected by a sheet of horn and a door, were directions for keeping the machine in order. The cistern could hold about 170 US gallons (640 L) of water pumping up to 100 US gallons (380 L) a minute. Patented in 1721. (Richard Newsham) Category: Pumps
  • 1722: The earliest mercurial pump, devised by Swedenborg and described in his Miscellanea observata circa yes naturales (1722), was statical in action, consisting essentially in replacing the solid piston of the mechanical pump by a column of mercury, which by being alternately raised and lowered gradually exhausted a vessel. (Emanuel Swedenborg) Category: Pumps
  • 1725–1728: In 1725 John Harrison investigated the expansion of metals caused by the effects of heat and cold. In 1727–28 he developed the gridiron pendulum consisting of four steel rods (in addition to the pendulum rod itself) and four brass rods. The extra rods are arranged in a frame which allows them to move freely in relation to the pendulum rod. However, they are riveted so that the steel rods can only expand downwards and the brass rods upwards. This keeps the pendulum bob at a constant position. (John Harrison, Britain) Category: Timekeeping-Clockwork-Astrolabes
  • 1728: Rolling mill for iron patented. (Payne, Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1730- 1732: Pitot tube invented to measure the velocity of water: used in studying ships, demonstrates surface speed. (Henri Pitot, Aramon, France) Category: Laboratory-Model Instruments
  • 1730: The tympanum pumping apparatus is developed. It is a great hollow wheel, forming a kind of barrel or drum composed of several planks joined together with a horizontal axle on which it turns. The interior of this drum is divided into 8 equal spaces by the partitions placed in the direction of the radii. Each space has an orifice about half a foot in the rim of the drum or wheel shaped in such a way to facilitate the admission of water. The tympanum raises water from the running stream moved by the means of float boards. The chief defect of this machine is that it raises water in the most disadvantageous situation possible, since the load is always found towards the extremity of the wheel's radius it cannot act uniformly. M. de la Faye, improved the machine to make this process far more efficient.[28] (M. De la Faye) Category: Pumps
  • 1730: Plow with four cutters invented: published 1731 but not widely used for many years. (Jethro Tull, Britain) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1732: Simple centrifugal pump described. Consisted of a straight tube rotating in a basin of water with the lower end of the tube rotating in the basin. Limited action and poor efficiency (Le Demour, Paris) Category: Pumps
  • 1732: Diaphragm pump invented by Gosset and Deville. (Gosset and Deville, Britain) Category: Pumps
  • 1733: Drawn lead pipes introduced. (Britain) Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1733: Flying Shuttle for weaving loom invented: marks beginning of textile industry. Was one of the key developments in the industrialization of weaving. It allowed a single weaver to weave much wider fabrics, and it could be mechanized, allowing for automatic machine looms. (John Kay, Britain) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1737: Mechanical automaton demonstrates simulated finger and lip movement to play flute. The Flute Player, a life-size figure of a shepherd that played the tabor and the pipe and had a repertoire of twelve songs. The figure's fingers were not pliable enough to play the flute correctly, so Vaucanson had to glove the creation in skin. The following year, in early 1738, he presented his creation to the Académie des Sciences. At the time, mechanical creatures were somewhat a fad in Europe, but most could be classified as toys, and de Vaucanson's creations were recognized as being revolutionary in their mechanical lifelike sophistication. (Jacques de Vaucanson) Category: Automation
  • 1738: Process invented to smelt zinc with coal: highly laborious process. Reduced the cost of spelter from £260 per to £48 by 1750 (William Champion, Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1738: Bernoulli's Hydrodynamica published: laws of fluid flow (theories of fluid motion). Explained the nature of hydrodynamic pressure and discovered the role of loss of vis viva in fluid flow, which would later be known as the Bernoulli principle. (Daniel Bernoulli) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1739: Designs published for semi-balanced valve and brass pump bucket (later evolved into standard). (Belidor, France) Category: Pumps
  • 1739–1753: Architecture Hydraulique describes tub wheels; pioneers applied science. (Forest de Belidor, France) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1740–1744: Franklin stove introduced: used with fireplace to heat buildings. The two distinguishing features of Franklin's stove were (1) a hollow baffle (a metal panel that directed the flow of the fire's fumes) and (2) a flue (that would draw the fire's hot fumes up the front and down the back of the Franklin stove's hollow baffle). It was still sold in 1980s. (Benjamin Franklin, Boston) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1740: Crucible-cast steel developed commercially. Used a coke-fired furnace capable of reaching 1,600 °C, into which up to twelve clay crucibles, each capable of holding about 15 kg of iron, were placed. When the crucibles or "pots" were white-hot, they were charged with lumps of blister steel, an alloy of iron and carbon produced by the cementation process, and a flux to help remove impurities. Complete melting of the steel produced a highly uniform crystal structure upon cooling, which gave the metal increased tensile strength and hardness compared to other steels being made at the time. Sheffield works established. (Benjamin Huntsman, Handsworth, Britain) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1740: Cast-iron cylinders for steam engine can be bored. (Britain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1742–1837: Galvanizing developed: Malouin describes in 1742, patents in 1837 (zinc coating on steel or iron). (France and Britain) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1743: Thomas Boulsover discovers a new technique of plating copper with silver which becomes known as Sheffield Plate. Almost every article made in sterling silver was also crafted by Sheffield makers, who used this manufacturing process to produce nearly identical wares at far less cost. Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1745: Fan tail and shutter sail mechanisms patented: used to regulate windmills. turns the cap automatically to bring it into the wind. (Edmund Lee, Wigan, England) Category: Machine Elements
  • 1745: Rolling mill designed to refine and shape wrought iron bar in single process: Later used by Henry Cort for the production of wrought iron in England. (Cristopher Polhem, Sweden) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1746: Lifting pump devised using Archimedian screw. (Wirtz) Category: Pumps
  • 1746–1749: Lead-chamber process for sulphuric acid developed: used until 20th century. Used a boxlike chamber from riveted sheets of lead, the only inexpensive metal known at the time that was resistant to sulfuric acid. In the lead chamber, a hundred pounds or more of sulfuric acid at a time compared with only a few pounds possible in a glass jar could be produced replaced by Messel. (John Roebuck, Britain) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1746–1752: Franklin's (1706–90) experiments with electricity leads to lightning rod. (Benjamin Franklin, US) Category: Non-ME Engineering, Science, and Math
  • 1748: Hand driven carding machine for wool. Disentangles, cleans and intermixes fibres to produce a continuous web or sliver suitable for subsequent processing A coat of wire slips was placed around a card which was then wrapped around a cylinder. (Lewis Paul of Birmingham, Britain) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1748: United Society for Manufactures and Importation, early US textile factory, uses hand looms. (Boston) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization


  • 1750–1754: Leonhard Euler's Equation formulated: torque equals rate of influx minus rate of efflux of angular momentum. (Leonhard Euler, Berlin, Prussia) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1750: Lathe with tool holder carriage invented: it made early use a screw drive for precision machinery. (Thiout, Europe) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1750: Stagecoaches appear in regular service. The introduction of the first spring-suspended coaches was made as early as the 1660s, along with the spoked wheels with iron rim brakes, improved the characteristics of the coach.[29] (Britain) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1751: Nickel isolated by Swedish scientist Axel Frederich Cronstedt Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1753: First US steam engine assembled. Combined Watt's expansion Engine with the two cylinders. It wasn't considered a novelty. (Johnathon Hornblower, US.) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1754–1763: Chronometer developed and tested: conceived 1754, completed compensation balance 1756. Pierre Le Roy invented the detent escapement, the temperature-compensated balance and the isochronous balance spring which allowed the precision necessary and laid the foundation of the modern clock (Pierre Le Roy) Category: Timekeeping-Clockwork-Astrolabes
  • 1754–1790: Specific and latent heat measured; works published posthumously 1803 by Joseph Black. The theory of latent heat marks the beginning of thermodynamics. The theory ultimately proved important not only in the development of abstract science but in the development of the steam engine. The latent heat of water is large compared with many other liquids, so giving impetus to James Watt's attempts to improve the efficiency of the steam engine. Black and Watt became friends after meeting around 1757 while both were at Glasgow. (Joseph Black, Glasgow) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1755: Direct air-pressure mine pump used at Chemnitz. The principle of Heron*s pneumatic fountain for raising water was carried out on a large and useful scale in the Pneumatic pumping engine at the mines of Chemnitz, in Hungary, erected by M. Hoell in 1755; this system illustrated the refrigerating power of air when expanded from great pressure. In the chamber of this apparatus the discharge of air and its expansion with water pro­duced hail, or pellets of ice.[30] Category: Pumps
  • 1755: German Charles Fredrick Wiesenthal obtains a British patent for a sewing machine. His invention employed a double pointed needle with an eye at one end. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1756–1759: Principles developed by John Smeaton for waterwheel energy output, fundamental in thermodynamics: includes first scale-model engineering experiments and demonstrated superior performance of the overshot wheel. In his 1759 paper "An Experimental Enquiry Concerning the Natural Powers of Water and Wind to Turn Mills and Other Machines Depending on Circular Motion", Smeaton developed the concepts and data which became the basis for the Smeaton coefficient, the lift equation used by the Wright brothers. It has the form: [math]\displaystyle{ L = k V^2 A C_l \, }[/math], where: [math]\displaystyle{ L }[/math] is the lift; [math]\displaystyle{ k }[/math] is the Smeaton coefficient; [math]\displaystyle{ V }[/math] is the velocity [math]\displaystyle{ A }[/math] is the area in square feet; and [math]\displaystyle{ C_l }[/math] is the lift coefficient (the lift relative to the drag of a plate of the same area). (John Smeaton, Britain) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1757–1759: Tub-blowing machine patented by Isaac Wilkinson (1757—O4, 1759—E1), for blast furnace: included three cast-iron cylinders and three-throw crank. (Isaac Wilkinson, Britain) Category: Pumps
  • 1758: Achromatic lens, combining convex and concave lenses, invented by John Dolland. (John Dolland, Britain) (Dolland received the patent but it is well established that there was an earlier inventor of achromatic lens. Optician George Bass, following the instructions of Chester Moore Hall, made and sold such lenses as early as 1733.) Category: Observation
  • 1760: First metal-cylinder blowing engine built at Carron Ironworks by John Smeaton. The use of cast iron in machines led end of wooden construction in power machinery. (John Smeaton, Scotland) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1761: Reciprocating pick machine 'Willie Brown's Iron Man' introduced at a Northumberland colliery. It was a robot-like picking device created for mining that was later modified to include a saw.[31] (Britain) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1762: John Harrison produces his best chronometer: studies started in 1735 (invented 1759—F9 L7, invented gridiron pendulum 1726—W7). (John Harrison, Britain) Category: Timekeeping-Clockwork-Astrolabes
  • 1764: Jenny invented for cotton spinning: eight spindles at once (patent 1770). It was one of the key developments in the industrialization of weaving during the early Industrial Revolution. The device reduced the amount of work needed to produce yarn, with a worker able to work eight or more spools at once. This grew to 120 as technology advanced. The Spinning Jenny was mentioned as one of the most important inventions to the Industrial Revolution for basically revolutionizing British clothing production. There is a working replica at the Science Museum at Wroughton. (James Hargreaves, Britain) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1767: Stream-tube analysis and study of ideal waterwheels introduced in Memoire sur les roues hydrauliques by Jean Charles Borda. He studied several situations. Besides the classical undershot wheel with plane blades, he also examined a wheel with curved blades and an overshot wheel. In the end the paper correcting the two main errors of Parent and harmonizing theory through experimentation.[32] (Jean Charles Borda) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1768: First formula for resistance to fluid flow in channels expressed by Antoine Chezy; describes the mean flow velocity of steady, turbulent open channel flow, referred to as the Chezy formula. (Antoine Chezy) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1768: Cole-Bentinck Chain pump improved and introduced into ships: more efficient with renewable elements. The design of the chain and the drive wheel decreased link wear and also reduced the probability that the chain would slip or jerk back under the load. With fewer men working it, the pump discharged more water than other contemporary pumps. In a trial on the HMS Seaford, the new pump operated by 4 men pumped 1 ton of water in 43.5 seconds. Another important feature of this chain pump was the ease and speed of which it could be disassembled and reparied.[33] (John Bentinck & William Cole) Category: Pumps
  • 1769: Watt's flyball governor introduced: a device that regulated steam flow to a steam engine to maintain constant engine speed despite a changing load. It was the first automatic feedback controller in industrial process. (James Watt, Glasgow) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1769–1770: Steam road wagon built 1769 by Nicolas Joseph Cugnot. It was a three-wheeled artillery tractor driven by a steam engine. It was demonstrated in 1770, traveling approximately 3 mph. It was the first self-propelled vehicle in the world, making him the world's first automotive engineer. The first was built in 1769 and the second in 1770. This vehicleʾs two-piston steam engine was designed independently of Thomas Newcomen and James Watt and was based directly on the theoretical descriptions of the French physicist Denis Papin. The engine in it was the first to employ high-pressure steam expansively without condensation. The carriage was tricycle-mounted, with the single front wheel performing both steering and driving functions. The second of the original Fardier de Cugnot has been in the collection of the Le Conservatoire de Arts et Metiers, Paris, France since 1801 (Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, France) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1769: Boring mills at Carron designed; improve pump cylinders. (John Smeaton, Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1769: Patent granted to James Watt for a condenser; Watt's first for a steam engine. Its use halved fuel consumption. Watt invented the condenser in 1765 after repairing Newcomen model engine. James Watt, was assigned the job in 1763 of repairing a model Newcomen engine for the University of Glasgow, and noted how inefficient it was. Watt conceived the idea of a separate condensation chamber to turn the steam back into water. Watt's idea was to equip the engine with a second, small cylinder, connected to the main one. In Watt's design, the cold water was injected only into the condensation chamber. Because the chambers were connected, this caused condensation without significant loss of heat. The specification was accepted on 5 January 1769 and enrolled on 29 April. (James Watt, Glasgow) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1769: Water-powered spinning frame patented; model for all later spinning machinery. It produced a strong twist for warps, substituting wooden and metal cylinders for human fingers. This made possible inexpensive cotton-spinning. The water frame was originally powered by horses at a factory built by Arkwright and partners in Nottingham. In 1770 Arkwright built a water powered mill in Cromford, Derbyshire. (Note: Richard Arkwright's Masson Mill is now a working textile museum) (Richard Arkwright) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1772: Watt's screw micrometer developed. First bench type micrometer. Key concept of the design was the magnification based on threads. (James Watt, Britain) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1772: Principle of hydraulic ram developed. A manually controlled precursor called the "pulsation engine" was invented and installed the first one at Oulton, Cheshire to raise water to a height of 4.9 meters (16 ft). (John Whitehurst, Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1774: Shipbuilding starts at the Portsmouth-Kittery naval shipyard—the first in the US. It achieved notable firsts in technology and producing many well-known US naval vessels. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[34]
  • 1774: Manganese isolated. Manganese dioxide was reduced to manganese metal using carbon (Johan Gottlieb Gahn, Sweden) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1775: Screw-cutting lathe invented: first to get satisfactory results. His device included a leadscrew, slide rest, and change gear mechanism. These form the elements of a modern (non-CNC) lathe and are in use to this day. Ramsden was able to use his first screw-cutting lathe to make even more accurate lathes. With these, he was able to make an exceptionally accurate dividing engine and in turn, some of the finest astronomical, surveying, and navigational instruments of the 18th century. (Jesse Ramsden, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1775–1776: Horizontal boring mill invented (water-wheel powered): bores 57-inch steam cylinder 'correct within the 'thickness of ... shilling'. Allowed Watt and Boulton to bore a true hole into the cylinder of their steam engine.[35] (John Wilkinson, Bersham, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1775–1776: One-person-capsule submersible torpedo boat (with screw propeller), the TURTLE, built and used in New York Harbor during Revolutionary War: hand powered, attaches timed bomb to hull of British EAGLE, but the bomb floats away. It was the first submarine ever used in combat. (David Bushnell, Connecticut) (A cutaway full size replica of the Turtle on display at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Gosport, UK) Category: Submersibles
  • 1775: Mine and stone tramway cars with simple hand brakes appear (late 18th century). (Europe) Category: Railway
  • 1775: Arkwright's carding machine patented: first successful cotton spinner. It converted raw cotton buds into a continuous skein of cotton fibers which could then be spun into yarn. (Richard Arkwright, Britain) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1775: Improved British water closet activated by flush handle and uses exit valve. A crucial advance in plumbing, was the S-trap to help prevent sewer gases from entering buildings. The concept of the trap is still in use today. (Alex. Cummings, Britain) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1775: Improved and popularized Johan Carl Wilcke's Electrophorus for storing electrical charge. (Alessandro Volta Italy) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1775: Reciprocating engine with flywheel. Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1776: Boulton and Watt produce their first commercial steam engine, for John Wilkinson. (Matthew Boulton and James Watt, Birmingham, Britain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1776: Patent for reverberatory furnace obtained.[36] (Thomas & George Cranege) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1777–1845: Egg incubator heated by circulating hot-water system: boiler, tubes, and expansion chamber. (Le Pecq, France) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1777–1781: Sun-and-planet gearing devised for Watt rotative engine. It provided a method of converting reciprocating motion to rotary motion and was used in the first rotative beam engines. (Wm Murdock, Soho, Britain) Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1777: First Watt steam engine to drive cotton mill operates in Arkwright's factory. This was used to replenish the millpond that drove the mill's waterwheel rather than to drive the machinery directly. (Arkwright, Nottingham) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1778: Modern water closet patented: includes first practical hinged-flap valve, a predecessor to the modern ballcock. Bramah's closet was used extensively on ships and boats of the era. (Joseph Bramah, London) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1779: Spinning mule perfected: based on jenny and water frame. It spun yarn suitable for use in the manufacture of muslin. The mule's importance was that it could spin thread better than could be done by hand. This led to ever finer thread. A survey in 1812 showed there were between 4 to 5 million mule spindles in use. Crompton received no royalties for his invention. (Samuel Crompton, Britain) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1780: Dividing engine divides circle with accuracy: opens new era of precision instruments. Ramsden used a tangent screw mechanism to advance the machine from one position to another. Since he had developed a screw-cutting lathe that was particularly advanced, he produced a superior product. (Jesse Ramsden, Britain) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1781: Rope pump introduced. A crude kind of bucket pump which operates using a set of pulleys.[37] (Vera) Category: Pumps
  • 1781: Molybdenum isolated using carbon and linseed oil. (Peter Jacob Hjelm, Sweden) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1781: Steam engine patent granted for improvements: rotary motion enables application of steam engine to ordinary machinery, includes epicyclic or sun-and-planet gearing (Wm Murdoch). (James Watt, Scotland) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1781: Single-acting compound (double-cylinder) engine patented: Radstock Colliery (Watt won in litigation preventing him from developing it further). (Joseph Hornblower, Britain) Category: Steam
  • 1782: Patent for improvements to steam engine granted: Watt's third steam-engine patent, includes double-acting engine and used expansion concept. The steam cylinder used valves above and below the piston to connect independently to the boiler or the condenser; the piston performed work on both the upward and downward stroke! This evened out the stroking of the piston, performing equal work on each movement. (James Watt, Scotland) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1783: Thermostat patented based on Drebbel's regulator for efficient incubator control. Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1783–1784: Puddling process allows pig iron to be converted into wrought iron by subjecting it to heat and frequent stirring in a furnace in the presence of oxidizing substances. (Henry Cort, Britain) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1783: Grinder for tools and cutters invented for sharpening tools.[38] (Samuel Rehe, France) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1783: Pyroscaphe, the first working paddle-steamer, demonstrated on River Saône in France. It was not really successful, since the machinery of the ship failed after fifteen minutes of work. (Marquis de Jouffroy, France) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1783: Montgolfier's Fly Balloon (first manned free ascent). On 21 November 1783, the first free flight by humans was made by Pilâtre, together with an army officer, the marquis d'Arlandes. The flight began from the grounds of the Château de la Muette in the western outskirts of Paris. They flew aloft about 3,000 feet (910 m) above Paris for a distance of nine kilometers. After 25 minutes, the machine landed between the windmills, outside the city ramparts, on the Butte-aux-Cailles. (Joseph and Jacque Montgolfier, Paris) Category: Aeronautics, except spacecraft
  • 1783–1784: Dirigible balloon designed: airship proposed propeller drive. Consisted of an internal ballonnet (air cell), a rudder, and a method of propulsion which was incorporated into the craft of professor Jacques Charles and the Robert brothers for a manned hydrogen balloon called a Charlière (Jean Meusnier de la Place, France) Category: Aeronautics, except spacecraft
  • 1783–1784: Watt introduces horsepower as unit of work. (James Watt, Britain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1783–1791: Steam-powered flour mill, Albion Mills, built (1783) and operated (1786) by John Rennie: fire destroys mill in 1791.Most of the notable engineering drawings and depictions of Albion Mills are in the Birmingham Central Library. (Matthew Boulton and James Watt, London) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1784: Lock patented: The design is the first known high security lock design. Bramah's company famously had a "Challenge Lock" displayed in the window of their London shop from 1790 mounted on a board containing the inscription: "The artist who can make an instrument that will pick or open this lock shall receive 200 guineas the moment it is produced." The challenge stood for over 67 years until, at the Great Exhibition of 1851, the American locksmith Alfred Charles Hobbs was able to open the lock. Hobbs' attempt required some 51 hours, spread over 16 days. (Joseph Bramah, London) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1784: Parallel motion of the rotative beam engine patented: Watt's fourth patent on the steam engine; used three-bar, straight-line motion. (James Watt, Birmingham) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1785–1795: Mechanized flour mill introduces automated factory: bucket elevators, conveyors, and hopper boy. None of the devices were revolutionary by the standards of the time. However, the integration of their design was. It represented a radical shift in thinking about the manufacturing process, treating it as a continuous integrated whole rather than a series of isolated processes. Thus, manufacturing could be a fully automated production line. The missing link was materials handling, and Evans's mill designs sought to feed materials continuously through a system without the need for any human intervention. This was the first fully automated industrial process, (Oliver Evans, Wilmington, Del) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1785: Interchangeable musket locks produced with jigs (idea exported via Thomas Jefferson). (France) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1785–1795: Several Americans compete to develop successful steamboat service on United States rivers. The rivalry results in paddle-wheel river services. The Patent commission did not award a broad monopoly—instead it awarded individual patents. (Jon Fitch, James Rumsey, John Stevens, etc., US) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1785–1787: Power loom in factory (1785—E2 I3): (looms not necessarily practical until 1785–88—L7). (Edmund Cartwright, Britain) Power loom invented in 1784 and patented it in 1785. It had too many problems to be successful. Later Improvements helped make it a commercial success in the industrial revolution. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1787–1788: Mechanique Analytique published: a history of fluid mechanics. Was a treatise that used variational ideas to present mechanics from a unified analytic viewpoint and set the basis for all later work in this field. (Joseph Louis Lagrange, France) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1787: Conical pendulum-centrifugal governor applied to steam engine: considered first automatically controlled rotary engine and early application of feedback. James Watt never claimed the centrifugal governor to be an invention of his own. Centrifugal governors were used to regulate the distance and pressure between millstones in windmills since the 17th century. It is therefore a misunderstanding that James Watt is the inventor of this device. (James Watt, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1787–1790: Alkali-soda-making process invented 1789: uses common salt. One of the most important chemical processes of the nineteenth century (Nicolas Leblanc, France) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1787: First high-pressure steam engine in US built, developing his design independently of Richard Trevithick, who built the first in the world a year earlier. (Oliver Evans, Delaware) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1787: Jon Fitch (1743–1798) builds and demonstrates a steamboat. The first successful trial run of his steamboat "Perseverance" was made on the Delaware River on August 22. Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1787: Lift tenter perfected (tentering gear for regulating windmill speed). Was based on the use of a double conical pendulum; height of the flyballs depended on the mill speed and variations in this height her transmitted to the lift tenter. The lift tenter was part of an open-loop system for adjusting the gap between the stones in accordance with variations in speed.[39] (Thomas Mead, Britain) Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1788: Throttle valve perfected: regulates speed of steam engine. (James Watt, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1788: Centrifugal speed regulator depicted (11/1788) and Lap engine governor depicted (12/1788). (James Watt, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1788: Modern iron diving bell developed; incorporates several improvements to the traditional diving bell, including: a bell made from cast iron; the first efficient hand-operated pump to sustain the air supply via a hose; an air reservoir system and nonreturn valves to keep air from being sucked back up the hoses when the pump stops. (John Smeaton) Category: Submersibles
  • 1788: Drum thresher patented: invented 1784–86. This used fluted rollers to feed sheaves of corn to a rotating drum which beat the corn against a curved casing (the concave). The ears of corn and the chaff then fell through a grating while the straw continued horizontally out of the drum casing. Before Meikle's invention ears of corn had to be separated from the stalks on which they had grown by men wielding jointed wooden sticks – flails – a slow and laborious process. The rate of threshing, as this was called, limited the output of wheat, oats and barley as food for people and horses, and as the raw material for brewing and whisky distilling. (Andrew Meikle) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1789: Caloric heat theory described; experiments end phlogiston; modern combustion theory established. Caloric theory is an obsolete scientific theory that was superseded by the mid-19th century in favor of the mechanical theory of heat (A L Lavoisier, France) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1790: Nail-making machine with toggle joint invented. (Jacob Perkins, Massachusetts) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1790: Use of cast iron for rail track begins to develop first in South Wales and northeast New England (USA): promoted by Wm. Jessop of Britain. However, cast iron rails had a propensity to break easily, and the short lengths soon became uneven. In 1820, it was replaced by John Birkenshaw's method of rolling rails in greater lengths using wrought iron. (Britain and USA) Category: Railway
  • 1790: Wet-spun process using machine for spinning flax yarn patented and installed in factory. (Matthew Murray, Leeds, England) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1790: Sewing machine patented. Commercially unsuccessful but included many practically functional features: an overhanging arm, a feed mechanism (adequate for short lengths of leather), a vertical needle bar, and a looper. (Thomas Saint, Britain) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1790–1798:First US cotton mill built using powered machinery; built by Wm Almy and S Brown. It was designed from memory of Slater's time as an apprentice in an industrialized cotton mill in Britain to produce spindles of yarn. (Samuel Slater, Pawtucket, R.I.) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1790: Laws of friction established in experiments to improve vehicle performance (soil mechanics). (C A de Coulomb) Category: Tribology
  • 1791: An improved steam heating method for factory and other buildings developed by James Watt. He is awarded the first British patent the same year). Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1791: Gas turbine patented in Britain by John Barber (engineer) but not built. Barber's concept was for a turbine to burn gas obtained from wood, coal, oil, or other substances, heated in a retort or producer, from where the gases were conveyed into a receiver and cooled. Air and gas were then to be compressed in different cylinders and pumped into an "exploder" (combustion chamber) where they were ignited, the mixture of hot gas then being played against the vanes of a paddle wheel. Water was to be injected into the explosive mixture to cool the mouth of the chamber and, by producing steam, to increase the volume of the charge. Barber's concept appears sound, but given the technology of that day, it was not possible for the device to create sufficient power to both compress the air and the gas and produce useful work. (John Barber, Britain) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1791: Titanium isolated by isolating the calx of an unknown metal (William Gregor, Cornwall Britain) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1792: Cotton factory heated by hot air system, air flow measured with anemometer; wrought-iron furnace. Based on the distribution of warm air through networks of ducts incorporated in floor and wall construction.A similar installation was built at the Derby infirmary building.[40] (William Strutt, Derby, Britain) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1793: Rotary shearing engine, with spiral knives working against a bed plate, for textile industry. (US) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1793: Water-tube boiler used on steamboat. It would be the same boiler Robert Fulton uses in his "Clermont" (Barlow, France) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1793: Woodworking machinery patented (includes planing machines with rotary cutters) helping to revolutionize the production of the wooden pulley blocks used in ships' rigging, devising woodworking machinery to improve production efficiency. (Samuel Bentham, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1793: First important US water-powered woolen mill. (Scholfield, Newburyport, Mass) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1794–1945: Springfield Armory established for US govt manufacturing: includes research and development, gauges, metal working, etc. The Springfield Armory was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark (No. 41) in 1980[41] (Warner, Thomas Blanchard, Springfield, Mass) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1794: First US stamp mill built. (Josiah Hornblower, New Jersey) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1794: Compound slide rest developed. Slide rest was already invented but was the first time someone combined the slide rest, leadscrew, and change gears in a precision machine, which popularized the concept and caused modern industry to widely adopt it. (Henry Maudslay, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1794: Coal gas produced by decomposing coal in a retort. Murdoch was producing coal gas from a small retort containing heated coals with a three or four-foot iron tube attached, through which he piped the gas before sending it through an old gun barrel and igniting it to produce light. Murdoch's house (which still exists) at Redruth was the first domestic residence to be lit by gas. (William Murdock, Britain) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1794: Eli Whitney develops a machine for separating seeds from cotton and applies for a patent in 1793. The patent was not validated until 1807, allowing numerous 'copy cats.' The device, generally referred to as a cotton 'gin' (an abbreviation for machine) used a combination of a wire screen and small wire hooks to pull the cotton through, and brushes to continuously remove the loose cotton lint to prevent jams. It effectively separated cotton fibers from their seeds. By allowing greater productivity than manual cotton separation, it established Southern plantation wealth and influenced manufacturing industries. (Eli Whitney, US) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1794: Internal combustion engine using piston and system of levers patented: raised water. (Robert Street, Britain) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1795–1798: Assembly process machines to produce interchangeable gun parts developed (independent of French work). (Eli Whitney and Samuel Bentham, New Haven, Conn) (Note: Samuel Bentham worked independently from Whitney to help create interchangeable parts for sailing blocks not firearms. Secondly, while Whitney did demonstrate the potential benefit of "interchangeable parts" for the firearms to the US Congress, he never achieved interchangeable parts manufacturing. His family company did so after his death.) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1795: Advanced management practices implemented in Soho Factory setting up executive development programs, sickness benefit schemes and welfare programmes.: 2d generation (sons). (Boulton and Watt (sons), near Birmingham, Britain) Category: Management Science and Policy
  • 1796: Drop process for producing spherical lead shot patented; 1807, used at Jackson Shot Tower. ASME Designated the Jackson Ferry Shot Tower in Austinville, VA as a Historic Mechancial Engineering Landmark in 1981 as one of the few surviving shot towers.[42] Category: Arms, Weapons, and Military
  • 1796: Self-acting hydraulic ram introduced: in use by 1827 for raising water in a paper mill at Voiron. (J M Montgolfier, France) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1796–1798: Hydraulic press*, using Pascal's hydrostatic principles, built 1795, patented 1796: with Henri Maudsley, first functional hydraulic press. The press had two cylinders and pistons of different cross-sectional areas. If a force was exerted on the smaller piston, this would be translated into a larger force on the larger piston. The difference in the two forces would be proportional to the difference in area of the two pistons. In effect the cylinders act in a similar way that a lever is used to increase the force exerted. (Joseph Bramah, Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1797: Hydraulic studies on fluid flow conducted. Discovered the Venturi effect (the reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section of pipe), which was described in 1797 in his "Recherches Experimentales sur le Principe de la Communication Laterale du Mouvement dans les Fluides applique a l'Explication de Differens Phenomenes Hydrauliques" (Giovanni B Venturi, Italy) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1797: Chromium isolated by heating the oxide in a charcoal oven. (Louis Nicolas Vauquelin, France) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1797–1800: All-metal screw-turning lathe for precision machining introduced (1794—X3). Pioneered the manufacture of highly accurate screw threads. Before Maudslay's invention, screw threads were crudely manufactured by hand. (Henry Maudslay, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1797: Mechanized textile carding machine patented: used in early 1790s, spread to England. (Amos Whittemore, Hartford, Conn)[43] Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1798: Continuous rolling mill patented: developed 1856. (Wm Hazeldine, Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1798: Slide-rest lathe for cutting screw threads patented. It was "indispensable" for making firearms, and that public armories used 200 lathes based on the invention(David Wilkinson, Pawtucket, R.I.) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1798: Continuous paper-making machine invented: not commercial until 1800 with Bryan Donkin and John Gamble, Britain. became the blueprint of the Fourdrinier machine. (Nicholas Louis Robert, France) Category: Specialized Factory Tools and Systems
  • 1798: Lithography invented after experimentation with a novel etching technique using a greasy, acid resistant ink as a resist on a smooth fine-grained stone of Solnhofen limestone. The value of the new cheap and exact reproduction process was recognized early by land surveying offices across Europe. (Alois Senefelder, France) Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1798: Mechanical energy converted to heat establishes heat as form of motion, not fluid. Thompson's work rejected the popular belief that heat is a liquid form of matter and laid down the modern theory that heat is a form of mechanical motion of the borer. He showed that the quantity of heat was equal to the motional energy of the borer. He made it clear that heat is a form of energy. Thompson even assessed how much heat was produced by a given amount of motion. He was the first scientist to measure the mechanical equivalent of heat (MEH). (Benj Thompson (Count Rumford), Bavaria (British)) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1799: Slide valve invented and patented: controlled steam flow on beam steam engine. This valve worked by "connecting the upper and lower valves so as to be worked by one rod or spindle, and in making the stem or tube which connects them hollow, so as to serve for an induction pipe to the upper end of the cylinder". This allowed two valves to do the work of four, later improved by Matthew Murray 1801. (William Murdoch, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1799: First practical installation of steam heating system erected: silk and woolen manufactory.[44] (Neil Snodgrass) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1799–1857: Cayley set forth the concept of the modern aeroplane as a fixed-wing flying machine with separate systems for lift, propulsion, and control. Designer of the first successful glider to carry a human being aloft, he discovered and identified the four aerodynamic forces of flight: weight, lift, drag, and thrust, which act on any flying vehicle. Modern airplane design is based on those discoveries including cambered wings. (1804 model). (Sir George Cayley, Britain) Category: Aeronautics, except spacecraft
  • 1799: Traite de Mechanique Celeste published. A treatise on celestial mechanics using Newton's Principia. Applied analytical mathematical theories to celestial bodies and concluded that the apparent changes in the motion of planets and their satellites are changes of long periods, and that the solar system is in all probability very stable. Gave methods for calculating the movements of translation and rotation of heavenly bodies and for resolving problems of tides, helped deduce the mass of the moon. (Pierre Laplace)

Nineteenth Century

  • 1800–1899: First water turbines developed; reaction (Barker), impulse (flutter wheel), and tub wheel. In 1994, ASME designated the Barker Turbine at Hacienda Buena Vista coffee plantation, near Ponce, the only known surviving Barker Turbine, as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[45] Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1800–1811: Wilkinson textile mill; important to steam power and machine tool development in US. (David Wilkinson, Pawtucket, R.I.) ASME Designated the Wilkinson Textile Mill as a Historic Mechancial Engineering Landmark in 1977.[46] Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1800: Round Cast-iron stove with grates for cooking food manufactured. (Isaac Orr, Philadelphia) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1800–1808: Clocks mass produced in New England by Eli Terry; die-cut brass wheels used; first US clock factory. Terry created jigs and fixtures to produce a large number of interchangeable clock parts. This allowed for the rapid adjustment and assembly of clocks, freeing his factory from the task of fitting and modifying each individual piece of each clock. Allowed speedy cut wheels, pinions, and other important clock parts accurately and repetitively, allowing him to offer an affordable clock. (Eli Terry, Plymouth, Conn) Category: Plant-Factory Operation
  • 1800: Volta's galvanic cell perfected; "voltaic pile" was the first electrical battery that could continuously provide an electrical current to a circuit. The voltaic pile then enabled a rapid series of discoveries including the electrical decomposition (electrolysis) of water into oxygen and hydrogen and the discovery or isolation of the chemical elements sodium, potassium, calcium, boron, barium, strontium, and magnesium (Alessandro Volta, Italy) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1801–1802: Charlotte Dundas steam-driven paddle boat runs in Scottish (Forth and Clyde) canals; first commercial success of a steamship. Was capable of towing sloops from the river Forth up the Carron and thence along the Forth and Clyde Canal. (William Symington & Alexander Hart, Scotland, Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1801: Propeller-driven submarine Nautilus built (1797 design); human-powered, too slow for warfare. Nautilus was designed from the start to carry what Fulton called a "carcass", a naval mine intended to be dragged into contact with an enemy ship. (Robt Fulton, Le Havre, France) Category: Submersibles
  • 1801–1804: First horse-drawn public railway planned (1801); Surrey Iron Railway opens (1803) as first railroad built independent of canal system, opens to paying public 1804. The nine-mile route followed the shallow valley of the River Wandle, then heavily industrialized with numerous factories and mills, from the River Thames at Wandsworth southwards to Croydon, at what is now Reeves Corner. A short branch ran from Mitcham to Hackbridge and Carshalton. (Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1801: First major US water works established. At a time when steam power was finding its first uses in America, Philadelphia opened two steam pumping stations, January 1801, to lift water from the Schuylkill River and distribute it through the city's wooden pipes and mains, and the Fairmount Water Works opened September 7, 1815. These water works represented the first large-scale application of steam pumping to water service in the country. (Benj H Latrobe, Philadelphia) The Fairmount Water Works was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME in 1977.[47] Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1801: High-pressure steam engine operates. The prevailing fear of early steam engineering was that no boiler could safely contain high-pressure steam. This first engine was powered by a double-acting cylinder six inches in diameter and with a piston stroke length of eighteen inches. The boiler, the engineering of which was critical to the safe operation of the engine, consisted of a large copper shell encased in wood and [48] rings in order to contain the pressure. (Oliver Evans, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1801: Richard Trevithick builds the world's first self-propelled passenger-carrying vehicle designed for road travel. Cugnot had built a steam vehicle thirty years previously, but that had been a slow-moving artillery tractor, not built to carry passengers. Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1803–1814: Large-scale cotton factory designed at Lowell; major step for textile industry. ASME has designated two landmarks associated with this factory as Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks. ASME Landmark No. 107 the Lowell Power Canal System and Gatehouse[49] and ASME Landmark No. 251 for the Textile Machinery Collection at the American Textile History Museum[50] (Francis Lowell, Waltham and Lowell, Mass) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1803–1805: Power loom developed; influenced British textile developments. (Thomas Johnson, Britain) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1803: Marine multi-tubular boiler patented (also claimed by Nathan Read 8/26/1791—A2). (John Stevens, New Jersey) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1804: First steamship ferry with screw propeller, the Little Juliana, crosses Hudson River; flat-bottomed boat built in 1802, achieves 4 mph. Service was between New York, New York, and Hoboken, New Jersey (John Stevens, Hoboken, New Jersey) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1804: First steam locomotive, the New Castle, tested at Coalbrookdale Iron Works; built 1803, runs but is too hard on rails. Called the 'Puffing Eagle,' on 21 February, the world's first railway journey took place as the then unnamed steam locomotive hauled a train along the tramway from the Pen-y-darren ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil, to Abercynon in South Wales. (Richard Trevithick, Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1804-1804: Jacquard automatic silk loom invented; major improvement over draw loom, uses punch card system, in general use by 1810. The Jacquard head also used replaceable punched cards to control a sequence of operations. The ability to change the pattern of the loom's weave by simply changing cards was an important conceptual precursor to the development of computer programming and data entry. (Joseph M Jacquard, France) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1804: Friedrich Winzer (last name sometimes referred to as 'Winsor') develops a light illuminated with gas. He obtains a patent in 1804. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1805: First amphibious steam carriage built; steam-powered dock-cleaning dredge 'Orukter Amphibolus' or "Amphibious Digger". The vessel consisted of a flat-bottomed scow with bucket chains to bring up mud and hooks to clear away sticks, stones and other obstacles. Power for the dredging equipment and propulsion was supplied by a high-pressure Evans engine. The end result was a craft nearly thirty feet long, twelve feet wide and weighing some seventeen tons. To move this ungainly hulk to the waterfront, as well to give a demonstration of his long-held beliefs in the possibility of land-based steam transportation, Evans mounted the hull on four wheels and connected the engine to them in order to drive the Oruktor from his workshop through the Philadelphia streets on the way to the Schuylkill River on July 13, 1805. (Oliver Evans, US) Category: Submersibles
  • 1805–1807: Gunpowder-propelled wooden rockets developed; uses guide stick (centered in 1815), used in Baltimore battle (War of 1812). Mysorean rockets used by the armies of India were the first iron rockets that were successfully deployed for military use. They were used to considerable effect against the British in the Battle of Pollilur (1780) and the battles at Seringapatam (1792/1799). This led to the Royal Arsenal beginning a military rocket R&D program in 1801. Congreve first demonstrated solid fuel rockets at the Royal Arsenal in 1805 drawing off both Indian and Irish experiences. In 1807 at least 300 Congreve Rockets were used in the Bombardment of Copenhagen, which caused fires. (Wm Congreve, Britain) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1805–1809: Steel check plate invented for paper-engraving process that made counterfeit notes difficult. (Jacob Perkins, Massachusetts) (Note: In 1809 Perkins bought the stereotype technology (prevention of counterfeit bills) from Asa Spencer and took out the patent for the invention.) Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1807: Mechanical ventilator introduced into British mining; based on exhausting air pump. Used a compound system of ventilation. This allowed the working of the panel system of mining and resulted, together with improved furnaces at shaft bottoms, in greater airflow underground, which led to our present unit ventilation systems. Called "Air Splitting" (John Buddle, Britain) Category: Ventilation
  • 1807: Potassium, strontium, calcium, magnesium, and barium isolated using electrolysis. (Sir Humphry Davy, London) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1807: Modulus of elasticity; A numerical constant that describes the elastic properties of a solid undergoing tension or compression in only one direction, as in the case of a metal rod that after being stretched or compressed lengthwise returns to its original length. (Thomas Young) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1807: North River (often mistakenly referred to as the Clermont), widely regarded as the first commercially successful steam paddleboat, demonstrated on Hudson River; uses 20-hp Watt engine. Carried passengers between Albany and New York City. (Robt Fulton, New York) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1807: Pure-reaction wheel introduced. (Marquis d'Ectot) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1807: Early version of piston-and-cylinder (internal combustion) engine invented; powered boat. Successfully powered a boat upstream on the river Saône. Ran on what were believed to be "controlled dust explosions" of various experimental fuels, although technically they were deflagrations (rapid burns). (Joseph and Claude Niepce, France) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1808: Machines devised to make pulley blocks for British Navy; produced by Maudsley. (Marc I Brunel, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1808: Power compressor used to drive workshop tools; apparently for the first time. (Wm Murdock, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1808–1809: Phoenix steamboat [51] built in Hoboken, N.J., and sent to Philadelphia; first sea-going steamboat. (John Stevens, New Jersey) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1808–1809: Gay-Lussac establishes law; ratios of volumes of gases. (Joseph Gay-Lussac, France) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1808: Richard Trevithick demonstrates his locomotive, ""Catch-Me-Who-Can"", on a circular railway near to Euston Square. The locomotive reached a top speed of 12 mph (19 km/h). It proved too heavy, however, for the relatively brittle cast-iron rails then in use and Trevithick closed his exhibition after a broken rail caused a derailment. Category: Railway
  • 1809: Carbon arc discovered using charcoal sticks and batteries; later used as illuminant (1860 ca) and for arc welding (1900 ca). (Sir Humphry Davy, London) Category: Forging and Fabrication


  • 1810: Lead screw adapted to lathe, leading to large-quantity machine-tool construction. (Henry Maudslay, Britain) (Note: This item needs to be investigated further. Evidence is somewhat scant. Jesse Ramsden may have done this earlier.) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1810: Tin-plate container patented; introduces tin cans made of sheet metal. In his patent, Durand clearly mentions that the idea of the invention was communicated to him more than a year ago by a friend abroad. He did however test the idea on a larger scale of production. (Peter Durand, Britain) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1810: Thomas C. Hewes erects first all-iron, vertical water wheel equipped with thin, wrought iron spokes (similar in design to a bicycle wheel. Prototype for the large iron water wheels which powered early industrialization in Britain and the U.S.) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1810–1953: Chef wins cash award of 12,000 francs new method of preserving food and builds first bottling and canning factory; House of Appert (1795–1933). (Nicolas Appert, Massy France) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1810: Friedrich Koenig invented and patented a printing press powered by steam. Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1811: Double-expansion (compound) engine developed; with half the fuel of Watt's engine, produced in France after 1815. (Arthur Woolf, London) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1812: First Cornish (noncondensing, 1.4 bar, high-pressure, 5 psig) engine at Wheal Prosper Mine; replaces Watt engine. (R Trevithick, Cornwall, England) ASME has designated the Kew Bridge museum as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. The musum provides a rare experience wherein five beam engines, original to the site, represent the progressive development of the Cornish-cycle steam engine for waterworks service from 1820 to 1869.[52] Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1812: Comet makes voyage on Clyde River in Scotland; first commercial coastal steamer in Europe. The Comet made a delivery voyage from Port Glasgow 21 miles upriver to the Broomielaw, Glasgow, then sailed from Glasgow the 24 miles down to Greenock, making five mph against the headwind. (Henry Bell, Scotland) (Note: Replica exists at Port Glasgow) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1812–1835: First operating steam-powered railroad hauls coal from Middleton mine to Leeds (June 1812); locomotive built by Matthew Murray for John Blenkinsop's tooth-rack railway, 30 wagons haul coal at 3 mph. It was the first locomotive to use two cylinders. (Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1812: The use of shoulder and trunk muscles to control truly functional prosthetic arms first occurs in 1812.Upper limbs, developed for below-elbow amputees and Van Peetersen in 1844 for above-elbow amputees, were functional, but still far less than ideal. (Peter Baliff, Berlin) Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1813: Francis Lowell builds his first textile mill. It was the first time that a mill could process cotton into cloth in a single facility. The firm was incorporated as the Boston Manufacturing Company the following year. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1813: Puffing Billy (simple adhesion locomotive) carries coal between mine head and wharf, Wylam Colliery. constructed by engineer William Hedley, engine wright Jonathan Forster and blacksmith Timothy Hackworth for Christopher Blackett, who owned the Colliery. Incorporated a number of novel features, patented by Hedley, which were to prove important to the development of locomotives. It had two vertical cylinders on either side of the boiler, and partly enclosed by it, and drove a single crankshaft beneath the frames, from which gears drove and also coupled the wheels allowing better traction. Replicas have been built at the Beamish Museum and the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Category: Railway
  • 1814: Blucher pulls load faster than horse team; steam-blast engine, demonstrates steam locomotion potential, uses flanged wheels, driven by adhesion. It was designed for hauling coal on the Killingworth wagonway and modelled on Matthew Murray's locomotive Willington. The locomotive could haul 30 tons of coal up a hill at 4 mph (6.4 km/h), and was the first successful flanged-wheel adhesion locomotive (George Stephenson, Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1814: First operating steam-powered highspeed newspaper press installed at The Times in London by Friedrick Konig, which was built with the help of watchmaker Andreas Friedrich Bauer. (Friedrick Konig, London) Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1815–1817: Gas meter invented; prototype of devices measures gas consumption. (Samuel Clegg, Britain) Category: Fluid-Pressure Measurement
  • 1815: First direct-loaded spring safety valve designed (adopted much later). (Murray, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1815–1817: Miner's safety lamp developed; uses double wire gauze to lower heat of flame and reduces fires. The Davy lamp is a safety lamp created for use in coal mines, to reduce the danger of explosions due to the presence of methane and other flammable gases. The original prototype still exists in the Royal Institution in the Faraday Museum. (Sir Humphry Davy) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1816: Milling machine invented to reduce hand filing of intricate shapes. It was the first entirely new type of machine invented in America and one which made the production of interchangeable parts possible. (Simeon North, Harpers Ferry Armory) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1816: Cast-iron plow invented (first in US); patented 2/3/1819, adds mold board with interchangeable parts 1837. (Stephen McCormick, Virginia) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1816–1818: Stethoscope invented; patented in 1882, according to D3. Discovered that the new stethoscope was superior to the normally used method of placing the ear over the chest. (Rene Laennec, France) Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1816: Regenerator using hot-air engine invented. The regenerator is an internal heat exchanger and temporary heat store placed between the hot and cold spaces such that the working fluid passes through it first in one direction then the other, taking heat from the fluid in one direction, and returning it in the other. It can be as simple as metal mesh or foam, and benefits from high surface area, high heat capacity, low conductivity and low flow friction. Its function is to retain within the system that heat that would otherwise be exchanged with the environment at temperatures intermediate to the maximum and minimum cycle temperatures, thus enabling the thermal efficiency of the cycle to approach the limiting Carnot efficiency. (Robt Stirling, Scotland) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1816: Francis Lowell builds the first power loom in the United States. In 1810 Lowell made an extended visit to England, where he was fascinated by the power loom, not yet available in America. Since it was illegal to export either models or designs, he studied the looms so thoroughly that with the help of a skilled mechanic, Paul Moody, he was able to have them reproduced from his memory and drawings on his return to Boston. (Note: Might have been 1812 instead of 1816) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1817: High-pressure engine and boilers designed and built by Oliver Evans for the Fairmount Water Works. (Oliver Evans, Philadelphia) The Fairmount Water Works was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering landmark by ASME.[53] Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1817: Steam-heating plant supplies building heat to bank; book published by architect. (Note: More info in "Die Heizung mit Wasser-Dämpfen") (Ludwig Catel, Berlin) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1817: Metal planing machine.to allow the machining of flat surfaces. Previous to this, flat surfaces were laboriously made by hand with the fitter using hammers and chisels, files and scrapers to get a true surface. (Richard Roberts, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1817–1818: 'Draisine' demonstrated at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris; launches hobby horse (bicycle) era, built with wooden frame and steerable front wheel; nicknamed "Hobby-Horse" or "Dandy Horse". (Baron Karl Drais von Sauerbronn, Paris) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1818: The West Point Foundry is established. It becomes a major American ironworking and machine shop and operates until the early 20th Century. It became most famous for its production of Parrott rifle artillery and other munitions, although it also manufactured a variety of iron products for civilian use. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[54]
  • 1818: Massachusetts centrifugal pump introduced in Boston.[55] (US) Category: Pumps
  • 1818: Milling machine invented. (Eli Whitney, US) (Note: Whitney was among a group of contemporaries all developing milling machines at about the same time. Therefore, no one person can properly be described as the inventor of the milling machine.) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1818–1836: Machine to copy wooden shapes invented; woodworking machines made (several patented). The copying lathe began being used to make shoe lasts (forms) in the 1850s. By being able to accurately reproduce last it was possible to make shoes in standard sizes. (Thomas Blanchard, Worcester, Mass) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1818: The Savannah launched as sailing packet ship by Fickett and Crockett; 90-hp steam engine used for transatlantic crossing (also used sail). She is notable for being the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, a feat that was accomplished from May to June 1819, although only a fraction of the distance was covered with the ship under steam power. (New York) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1818: Law of specific (molecular) heat developed. states the classical expression for the molar specific heat capacity of certain chemical elements (Dulong and Petit, Britain) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1819: Differential mechanism invented. (Asa Arnold, R.I. or N.H.) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1819: Building-heat and cooking-range systems installed in home and factory; published. (Marquis de Chabannes, Britain) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1819: Roving machine for cotton spinning patented; with differential mechanism. (Asa Arnold, N.H. or R.I.) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1819–1826: Firearms mass produced by John Hall and Simeon North. Simeon North developed one of America's first milling machines in 1818 and played an important role in the development of interchangeable parts manufacturing. John Hancock Hall was the inventor of the M1819 Hall breech-loading rifle, and innovated mass production through a system of leather belts and pulleys to power his machines with unusual pace. (Harpers Ferry, VA) Category: Arms, Weapons, and Military


  • 1820: Seamless lead tubes produced from squirting or extrusion process. (Thomas Burr, Britain) Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1820: Study of common alloying steels begins after publication of Stodart and Faraday's work. Stodart worked with Michael Faraday and produced several alloys including a chrome steel, silver steel, rhodium steel and platinum steel around 1818–19. Bars of each alloy were prepared by Farady in 1820 and sent to various manufacturers. James Stodart, Michael Faraday) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1820–1829: Sintering developed; for melting powdered platinum (undated—W7). Developed the first physio-chemical method for processing platinum ore in practical quantities (Wm Wollaston, Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1820–1829: Steam locomotion imported to US (Stourbridge Lion shipped in 1829); high growth in 1840s. The remains of the Stourbridge Lion are on display in the Smithsonian Institution (Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1820: Cultivator invented; first to be operated in North America. (Henry Burden, New York) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1820–1829: Revolving horse-drawn hay rake commercially available; displaces older forms by 1850s. The revolving rake eliminated the need to stop the horse and lift the rake over the gathered hay and shake it loose. (US) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1820–1822: Arithmometer invented; calculating machine uses Leibniz stepped-wheel mechanism. By the time of his death in 1870, his manufacturing facility had built around 1,000 Arithmometers, making it the first mass-produced mechanical calculator in the world, and at the time, the only mechanical calculator reliable and dependable enough to be used in places like government agencies, banks, insurance companies and observatories just to name a few. (Thom. de Colmar) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1820: Gas engine tested. (W Ceck, Britain) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1821–1833: Prony friction brake (dynamometer) invented; Gaspard de Prony first tested it on Fourneron turbine in 1832. In the Prony brake, brake blocks are squeezed against a rotating wheel, and the friction generated at the ends of the wheel applies torque to a lever; a scale measures the force needed to hold the lever in place. (Piobert and Hardy, France) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1821: First natural gas well in US drilled near 'burning spring'. William Hart dug the well specifically to produce natural gas on the banks of Canadaway Creek in Fredonia. It was 27 feet (8.2 m) deep, excavated with shovels by hand, and its gas pipeline was hollowed out logs sealed with tar and rags. It supplied enough natural gas for lights in two stores, two shops and a gristmill by 1825. Expanding on Hart's work, the Fredonia Gas Light Company was formed in 1858, becoming the first American natural gas company. The site of the first gas well is marked by a stone monument in downtown Fredonia. (William Hart, Fredonia, N.Y.) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1821: Seebeck effect discovered; basis for all thermoelectric work. Seebeck discovered that a compass needle would be deflected by a closed loop formed by two different metals joined in two places, with a temperature difference between the junctions. This was because the metals responded to the temperature difference in different ways, creating a current loop and a magnetic field. (Thomas Seebeck, Germany) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1821–1835: Fundamentals of electromagnetic rotation demonstrated; principles established in 1821, leads to electric generator. (Michael Faraday, Britain) (Note: Faraday conducted electromagnetism experiments from 1821 to 1835.) Category: Electric Power Plants
  • 1822–1830: Self-acting power loom patented in 1822 and demonstrated in 1830; based on Wm Horrocks', for weaving intricately designed fabrics. (Richard Roberts, Manchester) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1822: Fourier published his work on heat flow in Théorie analytique de la chaleur (The Analytic Theory of Heat), in which he based his reasoning on Newton's law of cooling, namely, that the flow of heat between two adjacent molecules is proportional to the extremely small difference of their temperatures. Conduction in solids established. (Jean Fourier, Paris) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1822: Mathematician Charles Babbage proposes his difference engine to improve significantly the accuracy of the calculations in the production of arithmetical tables. This machine used the decimal number system and was powered by cranking a handle. The British government was interested, since producing tables was time-consuming and expensive and in 1823, gave Babbage £1700 to start work on the project before stopping the project in 1842. Babbage went on to design his much more general analytical engine, but later produced an improved "Difference Engine No. 2" design, between 1847 and 1849. Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1823: Undershot waterwheel modified with curved paddles to increase efficiency. It roughly doubled the efficiency of existing undershot waterwheels through a series of detail improvements. The first Poncelet wheel was constructed in 1838, and the design quickly became common in France (Jean V Poncelet, France) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1823: Apparatus for the compression liquefaction of gases installed; historic paper. (H Davies, London) Category: Refrigeration Plants
  • 1823: Rubberized waterproof material manufactured for garments and air cushions. (Charles MacIntosh, Glasgow) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1823: Gas engine built, produced, and sold. Brown proposed to fill a closed chamber with a gas flame, and so expel the air; then he condensed the flame by injecting water, and operated an air engine by exhausting into the partial vacuum so obtained. (Samuel Brown) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1823–1880: Construction and growth of the Lowell, Massachusetts, water power system (by 1950 9000 hp using dozens of water wheels) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1824: Tensile testing machine built. (Gabriel Lame, France) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1824–1826: First theoretical treatise on steam heat for buildings published. Titled "Principles of Warming and Ventilating Public Buildings" (Thomas Tredgold, Britain) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1824: Better cement process invented; Portland cement concrete substituted for and named after Portland rock. It was invented by heating a mixture of finely ground limestone and clay in the inventor's kitchen and grinding the mixture into a powder to create a hydraulic cement–one that hardens with the addition of water. The first major use of this modern-day Portland cement, and its first engineering use, was in a tunnel under the Thames River in 1828. (Joseph Aspdin, Leeds) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1824: Foundation of thermodynamics laid out in Réflexions sur la Puissance Motrice du Feu ("Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire") He discussed the relative merits of air and steam as working fluids, the merits of various aspects of steam engine design, and even included some ideas of his own regarding possible improvements of the practical nature. The most important part of the book was devoted to an abstract presentation of an idealized engine that could be used to understand and clarify the fundamental principles that are generally applied to all heat engines, independent of their design. (Sadi Carnot, Paris) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1824: Undershot waterwheel with curved blades designed; uses Carnot's principles. (Jean V Poncelot, France) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1824: Self-acting mule perfected. (Richard Roberts, Manchester) (Note: Patented in 1825) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1825–1886: In 1825, Hans Christian Oersted, a Danish chemist, was the first to produce tiny amounts of aluminum. Two years later, Friedrich Wöhler, a German chemist, developed a different way to obtain aluminum. By 1845, he was able to produce samples large enough to determine some of aluminum's basic properties. Wöhler's method was improved in 1854 by Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville, a French chemist. Deville's process allowed for the commercial production of aluminum. As a result, the price of aluminum dropped from around $1200 per kilogram in 1852 to around $40 per kilogram in 1859. Unfortunately, aluminum remained too expensive to be widely used. In 1886, Charles Martin Hall, an American chemist, and Paul L. T. Héroult, a French chemist, each invented a new process for obtaining aluminum from aluminum oxide independently. (Hans C Oersted, Friedrich Wohler, Henri Deville, Charles Martin Hall and Paul L. T. Héroult; Denmark, Germany, France, America, France) (respectively) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1825: World's first passenger steam-powered train opens; The Stockton and Darlington railway opened on September 27, 1825. Driven by George Stephenson, Locomotion hauled an 80-ton load of coal and flour nine miles (15 km) in two hours, reaching a speed of 24 miles per hour (39 km/h) on one stretch. The first purpose-built passenger car, Experiment, was attached and carried dignitaries on the opening journey. It was the first time passenger traffic had been run on a steam locomotive railway. (George Stephenson, Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1826: Lecons Sur L'Application de La Mechanique published; elastic limit established on strength of materials. Navier formulated the general theory of elasticity in a mathematically usable form (1821), making it available to the field of construction with sufficient accuracy for the first time. In 1819 he succeeded in determining the zero line of mechanical stress, finally correcting Galileo Galilei's incorrect results, and in 1826 he established the elastic modulus as a property of materials independent of the second moment of area. Navier is often considered to be the founder of modern structural analysis. (Claude L M Navier, France) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1826: Graphite crucible invented; withstands extreme heat. A heat-resistant graphite crucible was widely used in the production of iron and steel during the Mexican-American War. This invention's success led Dixon to build a new mill in what is now the Van Vorst Park neighborhood of historic Downtown Jersey City, New Jersey in 1847. (Joseph Dixon, Massachusetts) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1826: Malleable wrought iron developed in US; patented 1831. (Seth Boyden, US) Boyden began his work with malleable iron in 1820, when he was 32 years old. From observing the behavior of iron that stuck to the walls of his grandfather's forge, he had developed a theory about the heat treatment of iron. He completed his research in 1826, and won an award from the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia two years later. Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1826: Steel-arm filing machine introduced. (James Nasmyth) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1826: First US steam locomotive runs on rails; in circle for demonstration. Possibly 1825. (John Stevens, Hoboken, N.J.) Category: Railway
  • 1826: Powered printing press patented; perhaps first in US. In 1818 Treadwell devised a new form of printing press, and in 1819 went to England, where he conceived the idea of a power press. This was completed in a year after his return, and was the first press by which a sheet was printed on this continent by other than hand power. (Daniel Treadwell, Massachusetts) Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1826–1839: First acknowledged photograph produced; uses heliographic experiments. In 1822, Niepce used it to create what is believed to have been the world's first permanent photographic image, a contact-exposed copy of an engraving of Pope Pius VII, but it was later destroyed when Niépce attempted to make prints from it. The earliest surviving photographic artifacts by Niépce, made in 1825, are copies of a 17th-century engraving of a man with a horse and of what may be an etching or engraving of a woman with a spinning wheel. They are simply sheets of plain paper printed with ink in a printing press, like ordinary etchings, engravings, or lithographs, but the plates used to print them were created photographically. (Joseph Niepce, France) Category: Category: Communication
  • 1826–1845: Viscous fluid flow equations formulated. (S C Poisson and C L M H Navier, France) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1826–1860: Open-cycle hot-air engine patented 1826; basis of most his experimental engines. (John Ericcson, US) In his later years, the caloric engine would render Ericsson comfortably wealthy, as its boilerless design made it a much safer and more practical means of power for small industry than steam engines. Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1827: Earliest fanner-type coal-mine ventilator introduced in Britain. (Paisley, Scotland) Category: Ventilation
  • 1827: Benoit Fourneyron set in operation the first modern water turbine at Pont-sur-l'Ognon, France. The performance of Fourneyron's radial outflow turbine led to rapid displacement of traditional vertical water wheels. While his first turbine used two sets of blades, curved in opposite directions to generate 6 horsepower (4.5 kW) of energy, by 1837 he had a 60 horsepower (45 kW) turbine that capable of a 2,300 rotations per minute Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1828: Baltimore and Ohio Railroad built; begins as horse-drawn system on wooden rails. Later initiates innovative systems (chartered 2/28/1827, carried traffic 1/7/1830). Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME. The development of the railroad engineering concepts and equipment that opened the American West began with the "Old Main Line" in 1828. As the first U.S. railroad in public service, constructed between 1828 and 1830, it began operating between Mount Claire, Baltimore, and Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.[56] Category: Railway
  • 1828: Hot-blast stove invented; introduces preheated air to blast furnace at ironworks, increases productivity. While trying to solve a problem with a blast furnace at Wilsontown Ironworks, Neilson realized that the fuel efficiency of the furnace could be increased by blowing it with hot air, rather than cold air, by passing it through a red-hot vessel. Experimentation showed that a temperature of 600° Fahrenheit reduced consumption to a third of that with cold blast, and enabled raw coal to be used instead of coke, with a further cost saving. It also enabled the exploitation of black band ironstone, the use of which had previously proved unprofitable. (James B Neilson, Glasgow, Scotland) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1828: First horse-drawn railway opens in France; steam locomotive operates 1832 on St. Etienne-Andruezieux line, carries passengers 1832. Eighteen kilometers long and opened on 30 June 1827 to transport coal from the Forez mines to the River Loire, it marked the beginning of the expansion of the railway in France. Category: Railway
  • 1828: Ring spinner patented; produces stronger, uniform yarn or thread at high speeds. John Thorpe's frame and traveler are the precursors of the modern continuous ring spinning machines, which revolutionized textile machinery. As a result, the spinning speed was limited only by the maximum traveler speed, determined by heat generated due to friction in ring frame. (John Thorp, Providence, R.I.) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1828: Cap spinner or "Danforth frame", which came into general use throughout the world in connection with cotton machinery. (Charles Danforth, Ramapo, New York) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1828: Design of waterwheel improved. (Wm Fairbairn) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1829: Bigelow finishes writing Elements of Technology. (Jacob Bigelow, US) Category: Machine Elements
  • 1829: Poisson ratio established; elastic theory developed. (S D Poisson, France) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1829: Calorifere hot-air furnace described in treatise; heating system in high school in Heilbronn. (C von Bruckmann) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1829: Hot-water circulation system for building heating patented in Britain (1834 in France). (Price brothers, Bristol, Britain) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1829: The Rainhill Trials were held. They were an important competition in the early days of steam locomotive railways, run in October 1829 for the nearly completed Liverpool and Manchester railway. Five engines competed, running back and forth along a mile length of level track at Rainhill, in Lancashire. The Stephenson's Rocket, built by Robert and his father George Stephenson, was the only locomotive to complete the trials, and was declared the winner. Though the Rocket was not the first steam locomotive, it was the first to bring together several innovations to produce the most advanced locomotive of its day traveling at 29 mph and using a fire-tube boiler. The locomotive was preserved and is now on display in the Science Museum in London. The site of the Rainhill Trials was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[57] (George and Robt Stephenson, Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1829: Fish-bellied rolled-iron edge rails patented. (John Blenkinsop, Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1829: Stourbridge Lion operates in US (shipped from England). Stourbridge Lion was the first railroad steam locomotive to be operated in the United States. It takes its name from the lion's face painted on the front, and Stourbridge in England, where it was manufactured in 1828. The boiler was stored again and eventually acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1890. A few other parts that are believed to have been from the Stourbridge Lion are also preserved. (Horatio Allen, US) Category: Railway
  • 1829–1830: Tom Thumb; locomotive with vertical boiler, becomes first US-built steam locomotive, for B & O. It is especially remembered as a participant in an impromptu race with a horse-drawn car, which the horse won after Tom Thumb suffered a mechanical failure. However, the demonstration was successful; and in the following year, the railroad committed to the use of steam locomotion and held trials for a working engine. (Peter Cooper, Baltimore and Ohio) Category: Railway
  • 1829: British horse-drawn omnibus operates; horses replaced by internal combustion engine in London in 1911. George Shillibeer saw the success of the Paris omnibus in service and concluded that operating similar vehicles in London, for the fare-paying public with multiple stops, would be a paying enterprise, so he returned to his native city. His first London "Omnibus", using the same design and name as the Paris vehicle, took up service on 4 July 1829 on the route between Paddington and "Bank" via the "New Road", Somers Town and City Road. Four services were provided in each direction daily. Shillibeer's success prompted many competitors to enter the market. (George Shillibeer, London) Category: Road Vehicles


  • 1830–1839: English factories begin to use direct-plunger elevators; similar to hydraulic press. (Britain) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1830: Thermocouple developed as measuring device; follows formulation of Seebeck and Peltier effects. Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1830: Bimetallic strips for temperature control, called thermostat; applied to distillation process. Became commonly used 51 years later after Charles Hearson made improvements.[58] (Andrew Ure, Glasgow) Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1830–1839: Dynamometer invented. (Arthur Jules Morin, France) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1830: Tympanum improved by use of vanes curved to Archimedean spirals. (Cave) Category: Pumps
  • 1830: Bucket-pump system introduced at British colliery to sink shaft. (Britain) Category: Pumps
  • 1830: Vanadium isolated. (Note: In 1831, Jöns Jacob Berzelius reported the isolation of the metal, but Henry Enfield Roscoe showed that Berzelius had in fact produced the nitride, vanadium nitride (VN). Roscoe eventually produced the metal in 1867 by reduction of vanadium (II) chloride, VCl2, with hydrogen.) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1830: Gear-cutting machine with involute cutters and geared indexing improved. (Joseph Whitworth, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1830: Best Friend of Charleston built for South Carolina Railroad by West Point Foundry Association; first operating US-built steam locomotive and first US passenger train offering regular service. After its inaugural run on Christmas Day, the Best Friend was used in regular passenger service along a six-mile demonstration route in Charleston. For the time, this locomotive was considered one of the fastest modes of transport available, taking its passengers "on the wings of wind at the speed of fifteen to twenty-five miles per hour". (Charleston) Category: Railway
  • 1830: The Liverpool and Manchester railway was a railway opened on 15 September 1830 between the Lancashire towns of Liverpool and Manchester in the United Kingdom. It was the first railway to rely exclusively on steam power, with no horse-drawn traffic permitted at any time; the first to be entirely double track throughout its length; the first to have a signaling system; the first to be fully timetabled; the first to be powered entirely by its own motive power; and the first to carry mail. (Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1830–1831: Inverted T rail (iron) designed for Camden and Amboy Railroad and Transportation Company; modern rail bed introduced. Stevens conceived the idea that an all-iron rail would be better suited for building a railroad. There were no steel mills in America capable of rolling long lengths, so he went to England where his flanged T rail (also called T-section) could be rolled. Before 1831, the rails of all previous American railroads were strap iron rails made of wood with a metal strap applied to the wood. (Robt L Stevens, US) Category: Railway
  • 1830–1839: Flat-bottomed (inverted T) rail invented (fish plate introduced 1847). (Charles Vignoles, Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1830: Barthelemy Thimonnier patents the first working sewing machine in 1829 and in 1830 he signed a contract with Auguste Ferrand, a mining engineer, who made the requisite drawings and submitted a patent application. The patent for his machine was issued on 17 July 1830 in the names of both men, supported by the French government. A model of the machine is exhibited at the London Science Museum. The machine is made of wood and uses a barbed needle which passes downward through the cloth to grab the thread and pull it up to form a loop to be locked by the next loop. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1830: On 3 May 1830 the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway, popularly known as the Crab and Winkle Line, becomes the first steam passenger railway. From the beginning, the 1830 Canterbury and Whitstable railway was a public railway, intended for passengers as well as freight. Indeed, the world's first season ticket was issued for use on the line in 1834, to take Canterbury passengers to the Whitstable beaches for the summer season. Unlike the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which opened four months later, it used cable haulage by stationary steam engines over much of its length, with steam locomotives restricted to the level stretch. Category: Railway
  • 1830: Man-engine devised to transport miners up and down shafts in Harz Mountain mines where they were driven by cranks connected to water wheels. The first formal engine was installed in 1833 at a mine at Clausthal, Lower Saxony, where inspector Wilhelm Albert and manager Georg Dörell (1793–1854) fastened foot platforms and hand-holds to adjacent, reciprocating pump rods, using a waterwheel-driven pump put out of use when a new drainage adit was made at a lower level. (West Germany) Category: Tribology
  • 1830: Thaddeus Fairbanks patents the basic platform scale. Before this time, accurate weighing of objects required hanging them from a balancing beam; as a result, particularly heavy or ungainly objects could not be weighed accurately. A platform scale, if large enough, could weigh an entire wagon. In 1834, Fairbanks and his brothers formed "E. and T. Fairbanks and Company" to manufacture and sell these platform scales. The design was improved in 1868. (Thaddeus Fairbanks, Vermont) Category: Measurement Apparatus and Testing
  • 1831: Early form of water tube boiler invented. (Jacob Perkins) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1831: Perkins' system of high-pressure warm-air heating for buildings patented. (Anger M Perkins, Britain) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1831: Surface-grinding machine patented. With a horizontal grinding spindle, this design was also used in Europe for decades. (J W Stone, Washington, DC) (Note: Some sources say 1831 while others say 1838) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1831: Bogie truck (swivel wheels) reinvented (1812 patent); installed in 1832 in Experiment (Bro. Jonathon). (John B Jervis) While working as chief engineer for the Delaware and Hudson Canal and Railroad, John Jervis built the first steam locomotives with a leading bogie, a four-wheel leading truck that guides the locomotive into curves. This 4-2-0 locomotive, which had two powered driving wheels on a rear axle underneath the locomotive's firebox, became knowns as the Jervis type. Category: Railway
  • 1831: John Bull imported; brings rail technology to US. (Robert L Stevens) John Bull is a British-built railroad steam locomotive that operated in the United States. It was operated for the first time on September 15, 1831, and it became the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian Institution operated it in 1981. Built by Robert Stephenson and Company, the John Bull was initially purchased by and operated for the Camden and Amboy Railroad, the first railroad in New Jersey. The original John Bull is housed on static display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Category: Railway
  • 1831: Cyrus McCormick built, field-tested, remodeled and successfully demonstrated the world's first mechanical reaper. McCormick's invention automatically cut, threshed and bundled grain while being pulled through a field by horses. (Cyrus McCormick, US) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1831: Commercial steam (Hero-type) turbines built in US to drive machinery; not developed. In Avery's turbine, steam flowed from the hub out through the tip where it escaped as a driving jet. The tips approached the speed of sound and, when one of Avery's cast iron rotors failed, its fragments tore through three floors of a building. (William Avery, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1831–1837: Experiments on steam-boiler explosions by Franklin Institute published. (Boston, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1832: First horse tramway opens, New York and Harlem Street Railway; horse-pulled trams spread to Paris in 1855 and to England in 1860. The earliest streetcars used horses and sometimes mules, usually two as a team, to haul the cars. Rarely, other animals were tried, including humans in emergency circumstances. By the mid-1880s, there were 415 street railway companies in the USA operating over 6,000 miles of track and carrying 188 million passengers per year using horsecars. (John Stephenson, New York, USA) Category: Railway
  • 1832–1852: Old Ironsides operates in US; wood and metal construction, improved steam-tube joints. Built for the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown Railroad, this engine traveled at the rate of only 1 mile per hour in initial trials made on November 23, 1832 but the machine was later refined and improved so that a peak speed of 28 mph was attained. It weighed over 5 tons, with 54" diameter rear wheels, 9.5" cylinders with 18" stroke and a 30' diameter boiler which took 20 minutes to raise steam. (M Wm Baldwin, Pennsylvania) Category: Railway
  • 1832: On the Economy of Machinery and Manufacturers extended Smith's work on management principles. (Charles Babbage, US and Europe) Category: Management Science and Policy
  • 1832: Soda water manufacturing begins in US. The equipment was a lead-lined cast-iron box where carbonic acid gas was formed by mixing sulphuric acid with marble dust. The gas was then purified by passing it through water, and then into a tank partially filled with cool water. The tank was rocked for a quarter to a half hour, until the water was impregnated and bubbly. (John Matthews, New York) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1832: Mechanized type-casting machine introduced; capable of producing 20,000 letters a day. British patent no. 4664 for "An Improved Apparatus for Printing". This patent which was illustrated with 8 large folding engineering drawings consisted of three parts; "first, a machine for casting the printing types, and also of arranging them in boxes of letters, so that the types of the same denomination are placed side by side in ranges, ready to be transferred to the composing machinery. The second part of the apparatus consists of a machine, by which the individual types are selected and composed into words and sentences. The third part of the apparatus is a press for printing and delivering the sheets into a pile/ (Wm Church (US), Britain) Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1832–1833: Three water turbines patented, 1832; useful for industry, presented to the Societe d' Encouragement (first water turbine based on Charles Burdin – W7). (Benoit Fourneyron, France) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1833: Wheatstone bridge invented; The 'diamond' method, the forerunner of the Wheatstone bridge, in a paper on the magnetic and electrical properties of metals, was a method for comparing the resistances of wires of different thicknesses. (Samuel Christie, London) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1833: Base-burner stove using anthracite coal invented. (Jordon Mott) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1833: Iron smelting with anthracite patented. The first person to employ the hot blast technique to anthracite smelting was Dr. Frederick W. Gesenhainer, who filed for a patent on the process in 1831 and received it in 1833. (US) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1833: Pin-making machine developed, with Robert Hoe; spun-head pin-making machines manufactured. Before 1840 Americans imported hand-made pins. Howe, a physician, invented a pin-making machine in 1832 and 1835. Howe's machine is on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. (John I Howe, Salem, N.Y.) Category: Specialized Factory Tools and Systems
  • 1833: Reaper with cutter sickle attains commercial success; Six months before McCormick's. (Obed Hussey, US) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1833: Internal combustion engine using pressure from combustion, rather than vacuum from cooling, built. In 1833, W. L. Wright patented in England, an engine in which the gas and air were supplied by separate pumps to a working cylinder. The charge was contained in the spherical bulbs near the ends of the cylinder, ignition occurring while the piston was at the end of the stroke. The engine was double acting, water jacketed, with poppet exhaust valves and a fly-ball governor. It represented a great advance in design and was probably built, though no records of its performance are known to exist. (W L Wright) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1834: Hydraulic belt pump patented. (Child) Category: Pumps
  • 1834: Hot-water circulation system for building heating patented in France; water stoves used. (Leon Duvoir, France) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1834: Grinding machine developed; perhaps first. (Wheaton, Providence, R.I.) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1834: Free-fall devices on drills introduced; Karl von Oeynhausen's jars. (Oeynhausen) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1834: First mechanical refrigerator invented by Jacob Perkins. It was a vapor compression system. Patent assigned on August 14, 1835. All later efforts in refrigeration and ice-making were based on his application of vapor compression cooling. (Jacob Perkins, England) The Perkins vapor compression refrigeration cycle was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering landmark by ASME.[59] Category: Refrigeration Plants
  • 1834: Analytic engine designed; forerunner of computer, used perforated tape. It was first described in 1837 as the successor to Babbage's difference engine, a design for a mechanical computer. The Analytical Engine incorporated an arithmetic logic unit, control flow in the form of conditional branching and loops, and integrated memory, making it the first design for a general-purpose computer that could be described in modern terms as Turing-complete. Though Babbage was never able to build the machine due to conflicts with his chief engineer and inadequate, in 1930 IBM applied the concept. (Charles Babbage, Britain) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1834: Peltier effect discovered; opposite of Seebeck effect, involving refrigeration, leads to thermocouple. (Jean C A Peltier, France) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1835: Teagle elevator in use in multistory English factories; driven from line shafting. The Teagle was a belt-driven, counterweighted, steam-driven lift (Frost and Stutt, Britain) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1835: Steam trap developed as safety device for building heating systems; flat cylindrical float. Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1835: The Adler was the first locomotive that was successfully used commercially for the rail transport of passengers and goods in Germany. The railway vehicle was designed and built by George and Robert Stephenson in Newcastle, England for the Bavarian Ludwig Railway (Bayerische Ludwigsbahn). It operated between Nurnberg and Furth. (Germany) Category: Railway
  • 1835–1862: Horseshoe and railroad spike machines mass produce forged metal objects. The "Horseshoe Machine" could produce 60 shoes a minute. Burden became the chief horseshoe producer for the Union Army. (Henry Burden, Troy, N.Y.) Category: Specialized Factory Tools and Systems
  • 1835: Colt revolver patented (T6, W4); 1853 armory has interchangeable system. (Samuel Colt, US) Category: Arms, Weapons, and Military
  • 1835: Steam engines of glass industry in Pittsburgh establish industrial base in city. (Pittsburgh) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1836–1839: Steam hammer invented by French F Cave and François Bourdon (at the works in Le Creusot) and its invention is also credited to James Nasmyth working in England. (France, Britain) ASME designated a Le Creusot Steam Hammer a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. The landmarked Creusot Steam Hammer, built in 1876, was the most powerful steam hammer in the world for many years.[60] Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1836: Indirect (or relay) governor (Schofield governor) patented; improved in 1857. (N Schofield) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1836: Shaping machine invented; Whitworth soon added crank mechanism. (James Nasmyth, Britain) By 1856, Nasmyth had built 236 shaping machines Category: Machine Tools
  • 1836: Safety hook invented for winding-rope devices at coal mines (braking system). (John Wild, Lancashire, Britain) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1836–1839: Steam shovel invented as the earliest type of power shovel/excavating machine. The patent was issued to William Smith Otis for the steam shovel in February 24th 1839. It was first used on the Western Railroad in Massachusetts where it could move about 380 cubic meters of earth a day, with its 1.1 cubic meter capacity shovel and 180° slewing wooden jib. (Wm Otis, Massachusetts) Category: Structural Equipment
  • 1836: First 'American Standard' 4-4-0 locomotive patented for the Philadelphia, Germantown, and Norristown Railroad; type was built from 1837 to 1914, known for negotiating poor track (a hallmark of American rail technology). For the time, Campbell's 4-4-0 was a giant among locomotives. It boasted 54 inches diameter driving wheels, could maintain 90 pounds per square inch of steam pressure and weighed 12 short tons. Campbell's locomotive was estimated to be able to pull a train of 450 short tons at 15 miles per hour on level track, outperforming the strongest of Baldwin's 4-2-0s in tractive effort by about 63%. (Henry Campbell, Pennsylvania) Category: Railway
  • 1836: Fiberglass (check trademark) patented. (Dubus-Bonnel, Paris) (Note: Glass fibers have been produced for centuries, but mass production of glass strands was discovered in 1932 when Games Slayter, a researcher at Owens-Illinois accidentally directed a jet of compressed air at a stream of molten glass and produced fibers.) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1836: Alonzo D. Phillips of Springfield, Massachusetts, obtained a patent for "manufacturing of friction matches" and called them locofocos. Predecessor to safety matches. (Springfield, Massachusetts) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1836: First practical firearm with rotating cylinder in US patented; large armory established 1854. The Colt revolving rifles were early repeating rifles produced by the Colt's Manufacturing Company. They were mainly based upon the patent and mechanism of already existing Colt revolvers like the Colt Sidehammer or the Colt Dragoon. (Samuel Colt, Hartford, Conn) Category: Arms, Weapons, and Military
  • 1878: First steam-supply engine system with variable expansion uses governor patent. (Joseph Farcot) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1837–1850: Instrumentation advances made, including velocity measurements of vessels, reflecting pyrometer, hydrometer, etc.; mint machinery and coast survey apparatus developed (portrayed in Men of Progress portrait by Christian Schussele, 1863). (Joseph Saxton) Category: General Instrument Making
  • 1837: Pneumatic regulator patented; for pumping engines (British patent held by Hannuic). The practical significance of Molinie's regulator was not its integral action but its ability to generate much larger forces than the centrifugal governor and thus its ability to regulate water wheels.[61] (Louis Molinie, Saint-Pons, France) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1837: Two propeller propulsion system designed for tug FRANCIS OGDEN. (John Ericsson, US, Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1837: SS Great Western launched; one of first transatlantic commercial ships. It was an oak-hulled paddle-wheel steamship, the first steamship purpose-built for crossing the Atlantic, and the initial unit of the Great Western Steamship Company. She was the largest passenger ship in the world from 1837 to 1839. (Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1837: Combined thresher and fanning mill built (check winnowing machine) (patented 1834 – D2, X4). (Hiram and John Pitts, Winthrop, Maine) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1837: Plow with steel cutting edge and wrought-iron self-scouring mold board; dubbed singing plow. The self-scouring steel plow was pioneered when John Deere fashioned a Scottish steel saw blade into a plow. Prior to Deere's steel plow, most farmers used iron or wooden plows which stuck to the rich Midwestern soil and had to be cleaned frequently. The smooth sided steel plow solved this problem, and greatly aided migration into the American Great Plains in the 19th and early 20th century. (John Deere, US) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1837: First axial-flow turbine designed. (Jonval, France) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1837: Aeolipiles produced to drive machines. (Avery, Syracuse, N.Y.) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1838: Gearless anemometer records wind pressure; first true self-registering scientific instrument. Osler's anemometer deserves to be called the first successful self-registering meteorological instrument; it was standard equipment in British observatories until the latter part of the 19th century when it was replaced by the cup-anemometer of Robinson. (A Follet Osler, Britain) Category: Fluid-Pressure Measurement
  • 1838: Solid-drawn brass or copper tubes cast then drawn through die. 4 Improvements (Charles Green) Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1838: Oil shale distilled to make lamp fuel; shale oil industry starts. The modern industrial use of oil shale for oil extraction started in France, where oil shale commercial mining began in Autun in 1837.[62] The shale oil production started in 1838 by using Selligue process, invented by Alexander Selligue. (France) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1838: Process of vulcanizing rubber patented in Britain. (Thomas Hancock, Britain) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1838: Bruce's type casting machine. (David Bruce Jr., New York, N.Y., US) Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1838: Inward-flow water turbine patented. Howd's wheel had the advantage of being more compact and thus less expensive (Samuel Howd, Geneva, N.Y.) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1838: Barnett's gasoline engine; first to compress charge before burning. UK Patent 7615 April 1838 "Obtaining Motive Power" (William Barnett) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1839–1843: Great Britain built; first screw propeller-driven iron-hulled transatlantic steamship, also first with watertight bulkheads. The SS Great Britain was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME as the World's first iron-hulled, screw-propelled ship to cross any ocean, leading to Britain's world leadership in maritime commerce.[63](Isambard K Brunel, Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1839: First shaft governor patented. Wasn't industrially successful until the 1870s. (Jacob D Custer) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1839: Reliable stop valve designed. (James Nasmyth, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1839: Cheaper steel produced from adding curburet of manganese as deoxidizer; patented. (Josiah M Heath, Sheffield, Britain) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1839: Helical propeller (developed in 1794 by Archimedes) used on ship called Archimedes. Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1839–1845: Cast-iron railroad car wheel, wheel manufacturing, and cast-iron annealing process patented. (Asa Whitney, Pennsylvania) Category: Railway
  • 1839: Bicycles propelled by pedals (a first). Macmillan allegedly completed construction of a pedal driven bicycle of wood in 1839 that included iron-rimmed wooden wheels, a steerable wheel in the front and a larger wheel in the rear which was connected to pedals via connecting rods. The doctrine of the bright, modest and industrious tradesman, achieving what others would only do decades later, captured the public imagination, especially in Scotland. It was also well accepted among historians until the early 20th century. An early replica of the bike exists at Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura. (Kirkpatrick Macmillan, Scotland) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1839: Fuel cell demonstrated thermal dissociation of water. The Grove cell used zinc and platinum electrodes exposed to two acids and separated by a porous ceramic pot. (William Robert Grove, Britain) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1839: Early photovoltaic developed; 1893, cell invented by Julius Elster and Hans Geiter, Germany. At age 19, Becquerel built the world's first photovoltaic cell in his father's laboratory. In this experiment, silver chloride was placed in an acidic solution and illuminated while connected to platinum electrodes, generating voltage and current. (Henri Becquerel, Paris) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1839: Patent for tin-based bearing alloys initiates rolling element bearing industry. (Isaac Babbitt, US) Category: Tribology


  • 1840: Go and no-go gauge system developed; checks part size and aids interchangeability of parts. (Wm Thorton, US) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1840: Hot-water heaters installed in US. (Robert Briggs, US) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1840: Rotary concentric squeezer patented; for rolling puddled iron into cylindrical bars. pushed out wrought iron as smoothly as toothpaste from a tube. came to be used in all the leading iron manufactories in both America and Europe (Henry Burden, New York) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1840–1844: Rotary drills with metal bits used; English patent by Beart; 1887 Chapman update. (Robt Beart (English), France) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1840: Vertical pillar drill with power drive and feed in use (originated in 1750). Category: Machine Tools
  • 1840: Boiler designers establish tests; lay groundwork for professional naval mechanical engineers. (Copeland, Haswell) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1840–1849: Tin patterns for shoe making leads to standard sizes, right and left 'crooked' shoes and shoe boxes. (US (New England)) Category: Specialized Factory Tools and Systems
  • 1840–1879: Siderographic printing device with geometric pattern lathe produces stamps. (Jacob Perkins, Britain) Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1840: Self-acting mule for spinning cotton patented. (Wm Mason, Massachusetts) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1840: Joseph Whitworth develops his measurement machine, allowing a hitherto impossible degree of accuracy in engineering. Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1840: Robert Napier, a Scottish marine engineer invented the vacuum coffee brewer, but never patented it. This style of vacuum brewer, also called a "Napierian" remained popular for many years and in 1856 was presented an award by The Institution of Mechanical Engineers attesting to its popularity. The principles behind his invention are still considered by many enthusiasts to produce the finest cup of coffee. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1841–1901: Navier-Stokes equations formulated; in fluid mechanics (Stokes published 1842–62) (1849–51—W7). (Sir George Stokes) (Claude-Louis Navier, 1822) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1841: John Penn & Sons Oscillating Steam Engine goes into service to power the steamboat Diesbar. It was the first steam engine to utilize oscillatory cylinders. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[64]
  • 1841: Whitworth screw threads introduced; standard adopted in Britain. The Whitworth thread was the world's first national screw thread standard, devised and specified by Joseph Whitworth. Until then, the only standardization was what little had been done by individual people and companies, with some companies' in-house standards spreading a bit within their industries. (Joseph Whitworth, Britain) Category: Tools and Shop
  • 1841: Semaphore signal used; uses visual telegraph apparatus, becomes universal railroad signaling device for decades. (C H Gregory, London) Category: Railway
  • 1841: Vulcanization in US invented (1839—E2 X4; 1835—I3). (Charles Goodyear, Philadelphia) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1841: Axial-flow reaction turbine with a draft-tube diffuser; increased efficiency (1843—E1). (Jonval) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1841: Flat wire ropes introduced into coal mine machinery; replace flat rope made of hemp. (Britain) Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1842: Cable-wrapping machine patented by John Roebling. In 1989, ASME designated a Roebling 80-ton wire rope machine as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark—the only remaining Roebling rope machine known in existance.[65](John Roebling, US) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1842–1859: Waste steel converted into ingots and crucible steel formulas created; improves saws. (Henry Disston, Philadelphia) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1842: Self-acting power-driven planing machine introduced. (Joseph Whitworth, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1842: Gear-generating machine for cutting cycloidal teeth developed. (Joseph Saxton, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1842: Powered carpet loom patented; makes hand weaving obsolete. (Erastus Bigelow, Massachusetts) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1842: Math relationship of how pitch is affected by motion of sound shown by Austrian mathematician in the treatise Über das farbige Licht der Doppelsterne und einiger anderer Gestirne des Himmels. (Christian J Doppler, Prague, Czechosolavkia) Category: Communication
  • 1842: Mechanical equivalent of heat calculated; energy conservation law (first law). (Robert Mayer, Germany) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1842: First US steam-heating system installed in the counting house of Middlesex County. The Perkins system, which was sold by J. Perkins & Co. in London, introduced steam heating to America. Walworth & Nason, which was formed in New York in 1841 succeeded at several locations in New York. Beginning with the first steam heating unit in the United States installed at the Middlesex Co. in Lowell, Mass., they installed their system in numerous mills and other large buildings throughout New England over the next few decades. (James Jones Walworth and Joseph Nason, Lowell, Mass) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1843: Torsion and beam design studied; theory of plasticity studied. (Saint Venant) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1843: An early current meter was the electrodynamometer, the basic principles of which were laid out in an 1848 paper by German physicist. (Wilhelm Eduard Weber) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1843–1865: Fatigue in metals studied by Scottish engineering professor Rankine. (Lewis Gordon, Wm J M Rankine, Scotland) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1843: 'Aerial steam carriage" was a flying machine patented in 1842 that was supposed to carry passengers into the air. It was, in practice, incapable of flight since it had insufficient power from its heavy steam engine to fly. A more successful model was built in 1848 which was able to fly for small distances within a hangar. The aerial steam carriage was significant because it was a transition from glider experimentation to powered flight experimentation. It was awarded British patent; based on Sir Cayley's calculations. (William Samuel Henson & John Stringfellow, Britain) Category: Aeronautics, except spacecraft
  • 1843: Evaporator for sugar cane invented. In the 1800s, the process for sugar refinement was slow, expensive, and inefficient. This new system utilized a vacuum chamber or a container with reduced air to lower the boiling point of the liquids. Inside this several pans are stacked to contain the sugarcane juice. As the bottom pans heat, they release steam to transfer heat to the pans above. This prevents the sugar from being burned and discolored. As the workers do not have to transfer the liquid, sugarcane is not spilled and they are at a reduced risk for burns. (Norbert Rilieux, US) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1843–1845: Mechanical equivalent of heat measured by Joule; Rankine confirms later (1842 Mayer). Joule's more exact measurements on equivalence were pivotal in establishing the kinetic theory at the expense of the Caloric theory. The idea that heat and work are equivalent was also proposed by Julius Robert von Mayer in 1842 in the leading German physics journal and independently by James Prescott Joule in 1843 in the leading British physics journal. (James P Joule, Britain) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1843: Hot plug introduced; used to ignite internal combustion engines. (Alfred Drake) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1844–1852: Gun-manufacturing factory built by Robbins and Lawrence (originally Robbins, Kendall, and Lawrence); first export of machine tools and guns with interchangeable parts, closed 1852. Middle Dam of Mill Brook in distance. – Robbins and Lawrence Armory, 196 Main Street, Windsor, Windsor County, VT HAER VT-39-2 The Robbins & Lawrence Machine Shop was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering landmark by ASME as the site of the first machine shop to achieve interchangeable manufacture on a practical scale.[66] (Richard Lawrence, Windsor, Vt.) Category: Plant-Factory Operation
  • 1844: Siemens' chronometric governor patented in Britain by Joseph Woods. (Siemens brothers (German), Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1844–1845: Lancashire shell-type boilers with two flues patented. Two different firms. (William Fairbairn and John Hetherington, Britain) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1844: Rotary drilling for mining and oil exploration described in British patent. The rotary employed many of the basic principles embodied in today's modern drilling equipment. The design used hollow drill rods and a circulating fluid to remove cuttings. Rotary drilling was a more efficient method of drilling than previously existing techniques, increasing the speed, depth, and efficiency of drilling for oil and gas. (Robt Beart, Britain) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1844: Hale rotating rocket invented; dispenses with Congreve's guide stick, tested during Crimean War. The new form of rotary rocket was improved on the earlier Congreve rocket design. Hale removed the guide stick from the design, instead vectoring part of the thrust through canted exhaust holes to provide rotation of the rocket, which improved its stability in flight. Hale rockets were first used by the United States Army in the Mexican–American War of 1846–1848. Although the British Army experimented with Hale rockets during the Crimean War, they did not officially adopt them until 1867. (William Hale, Britain) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1844–1846: Boyden turbine designed; diffuser, improved on Fourneyron water turbine by adding a conical approach passage for the incoming water—submerged diffusers, guide vanes and a diverting exit passage. (Uriah A Boyden, Boston) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1844: First US noncompression gas engine patented. A model of the improved version of this engine patented in 1846 is held in the Smithsonian. (Stuart Perry, New York) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1845: Magnetometer used to detect submarines from the air. (Note: The first magnetometer was invented by Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1833 and Fluxgate magnetometers (FGM) were invented in the 1930s by Victor Vacquier who applied them during World War II as an instrument for detecting submarines.) Category: Observation
  • 1845: Disc-grinding machines devised. (James Nasmyth, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1845: Hydraulic drill patented; continuous cleaning drill (improved percussive drills after 1900). (P Fauvell) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1845: Baltimore clipper ships built; fast and economic transport for passengers, mail, and freight (wooden). Baltimore clippers were first built as small, fast sailing vessels for trade around the coastlines of the United States and the Caribbean Islands. The origins of the type are unknown but certainly hulls conforming to the concept were being built in Jamaica and Bermuda and by the late 18th century were popular both in Britain and the United States. Modern replicas of an early 19th-century Baltimore Clipper type include the Pride of Baltimore II, and Californian. (John Griffiths, Donald McKay) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1845–1848: Beam engine converted to compound engine by adding cylinder; patented 1845. This improvement could be retrospectively fitted to existing engines. (William McNaught, Bury, Lancashire) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1845: Antifriction bearing metal, known as Babbitt metal, patented. The original Babbitt metal was invented in 1839 by Isaac Babbitt who disclosed one of his alloy recipes but kept others as trade secrets. Babbitt metal is most commonly used as a thin surface layer in a complex, multi-metal structure, but its original use was as a cast-in-place bulk bearing material. Babbitt metal is characterized by its resistance to galling. (Isaac Babbitt, Massachusetts) Category: Tribology
  • 1846: Armstrong subsequently developed a piston engine instead of a rotary one and decided that it might be suitable for driving a hydraulic crane. In 1845 a scheme was set in motion to provide piped water from distant reservoirs to the households of Newcastle. Armstrong proposed to Newcastle Corporation that the excess water pressure in the lower part of town could be used to power a Quayside crane specially adapted by himself. He claimed that his hydraulic crane could unload ships faster and more cheaply than conventional cranes. The Corporation agreed to his suggestion, and the experiment proved so successful that three more hydraulic cranes were installed on the Quayside (William George Armstrong, Britain) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1846: Whitney (cylinder) wood-planing machine built. Baxter D. Whitney purportedly invented the rotary surface planer in 1837, which was introduced to the market in 1846. He made only single- and double-sided surface planers, avoiding the planer-matcher and four-sided planer markets controlled by the Woodworth patent monopoly. (Baxter Whitney, Massachusetts) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1846: In 1843, Richard Hoe invented a rotary printing press that placed the type on a revolving cylinder, a design much faster than the old flatbed printing press. It received U.S. Patent 5,199 in 1847, and was placed in commercial use the same year. In its early days, it was variously called the "Hoe lightning press", and "Hoe's Cylindrical-Bed Press". credited with revolutionizing newspaper printing. (Richard M Hoe, Philadelphia) Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1846: Elias Howe develops his sewing machine. Howe was not the first to conceive of the idea of a sewing machine. However, Howe originated significant refinements to the design concepts of his predecessors, and on September 10, 1846, he was awarded the first United States patent (U.S. Patent 4,750) for a sewing machine using a lockstitch design. His machine contained the three essential features common to most modern machines; a needle with the eye at the point, a shuttle operating beneath the cloth to form the lock stitch, and an automatic feed. (Elias Howe, Massachusetts) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1847–1892: Holyoke water power system and canal built; industrial center established. The Holyoke Water Power System was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME as a major 19th-century US industrial center for paper and textile industries, known for its machine shops and water-power system.[67] (Holyoke, Mass) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1847–1848: Factory built for mass production of McCormick's reaper; mechanizes agriculture industry. The McCormick reaper sold well, partially as a result of savvy and innovative business practices. McCormick developed marketing and sales techniques, developing a wide network of salesmen trained to demonstrate operation of the machines in the field, as well as to get parts quickly and repair machines in the field if necessary, during crucial times in the farm year. (Cyrus McCormick, Chicago) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1847: Regnault's calorimetric researches published. Regnault's calorimeter, first described in 1840, is an elegant apparatus with the attention to detail so necessary to secure accurate results in experiments on heat. With it one can measure the amount of heat energy required to change the temperature of a solid body by a known amount. (Henri Victor Regnault, France) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1847: First law of thermodynamics formulated; laws of conservation of energy. Very early in his academic career, Helmholtz published one of his most important findings, a pamphlet on the conservation of energy. In it, he clearly explained and mathematically demonstrated that heat and energy were equivalent and that neither was ever destroyed. That relationship is now called the First Law of Thermodynamics. Helmholtz's elucidation of that law did much to finally bury vitalist approaches to biology. (Hermann Helmholtz, Germany) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1847–1855: In 1848, Francis and Uriah A. Boyden successfully improved the turbine with what is now known as the Francis turbine. Francis' turbine eclipsed the Boyden turbine in power by 90%. Having extensively tested the Francis radial inward-flow reaction turbine, in 1855, Francis published these findings in the "Lowell Hydraulic Experiments” (James B Francis, Lowell, Mass) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1847: Round-wire ropes introduced into British coal mines; replace flat wire. (Britain) Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1847: Studies on journal bearings completed. (Gustave A Hirn, Paris) Category: Tribology
  • 1848: Modern hand micrometer patented as Palmer's screw caliper. (J L Palmer, Paris) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1848: Weisbach experiments with stress on machine parts; publishes MECHANICS. (Julies Weisbach, Saxony Germany) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1848: Richard Roberts' punching machine for iron plates. His patent for the machine was made on the 5th March 1847 before the commencement of the ironwork for bridges. It has been said that he designed the machine in one evening. His first machine was constructed at the Globe Works in Manchester. (Roberts, Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1848: Steam turbines, including radial inflow type, patented (no evidence of influence). (Robt Wilson, Greenock, Scotland) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1849: Abraham Lincoln's patent is issued. It is an invention to lift boats over shoals and obstructions in a river. It is the only United States patent ever registered to a President of the United States. Lincoln conceived the idea of inventing a mechanism that would lift a boat over shoals and obstructions when on two different occasions the boat on which he traveled got hung up on obstructions. This device was composed of large bellows attached to the sides of a boat that was expandable due to air chambers. His successful patent application led to his drafting and delivering two lectures on the subject of patents while he was President. Patent Model of Abraham Lincoln's invention exists at Smithsonian Institution. (Abraham Lincoln, US) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1849: Corliss designed (1848) and patented (1849) automatic cut-off valve gear; exported 1859. ASME designated the New England Wireless and Steam Museum Steam Engine Collection as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. It includes one of the few surviving steam engines built at the Corliss Works.[68](George H Corliss, US (R.I. or Mass.)) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1849: Bourdon's pressure gauge patented and introduced for rail locomotives and hydraulic machines. It is still one of the most widely used instruments for measuring the pressure of liquids and gases of all kinds, including steam, water, and air up to pressures of 100,000 pounds per square inch. Eugene Bourdon founded the Bourdon Sedeme Company to manufacture his invention. (Eugene Bourdon, France) Category: Fluid-Pressure Measurement
  • 1849: Steam direct-acting steam pump invented; for Simplex pumps. Boilers on steam-powered vessels of that time had to be continuously replenished with water, and the pumps to do so were driven directly by the engine. However, often the boat was not in motion and the engines were idle; for instance, whenever the boat passed through canal locks, the engine was turned off, and the water level in the boiler dropped. It could be replenished only by a hand pump. This was not only a tedious procedure but also kept the crew from performing other duties on the boat. Worthington developed a different method, a steam-driven feed pump that was direct-acting, in other words, one that operated independently and automatically from the engine. (Henry Worthington) (probably invented earlier) Category: Pumps
  • 1849: Water-gas process developed; with air or steam blowing into coke bed. (Gaillard) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1849: Synthetic oil patented; see 1925 Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch synthesis. (Young) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1849: Mine equipment powered by compressed air in Britain, Govan Colliery. (Glasgow, Britain) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1849: Dense-air compression machine (air refrigerator) invented. (John Gorrie, Charleston, SC) Category: Refrigeration Plants
  • 1849: Steam steering device invented (1849); patented (1853), installed (1853) in Augusta. By 1860, when Sickels submitted this model to the Patent Office, he had refined the form and details of his device, a process he continued into the 1880s. Although his apparatus was employed successfully in experiments on a few U.S. naval vessels, it failed to gain widespread acceptance. (Frederick E Sickels, US) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1849: Well-known trial of paddle boat HMS Basilisk and screw-propelled HMS Niger (winner) in the English Channel. Both were designed as sailing sloops but their designs were altered to fit a steam engine. One fitted with screw propulsion while the other was fitted with paddles. Since both ships had the same lines and steam engines developing almost identical power, the propulsion trials finally proved the superiority of screw propulsion. (UK) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1849: Modern safety pin patented (no date given in A2). On April 10, 1849, Walter Hunt was granted US patent #6,281 for his safety pin. Hunt's pin was made from one piece of wire, which was coiled into a spring at one end and a separate clasp and point at the other end, allowing the point of the wire to be forced by the spring into the clasp. It was the first pin to have a clasp and spring action and Hunt claimed that it was designed to keep fingers safe from injury – hence the name. (Walter Hunt, New York) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares


  • 1850: Reaction-type hydraulic (Scotch) turbine installed (may be first). ASME designated the Morris Canal Reaction Turbine as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark for its early "Reaction" or "Scotch" turbine a type that later found widespread application. [69] (Stewartsville, N.J.) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1850: Linear dividing machine built; first automatic machine for graduating rules in US. Brown was able to develop and produce a small caliper that depended on main and vernier scales cut on the dividing machine. (Joseph R Brown, Providence, R.I.) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1850: Photo elastic stress analysis techniques developed in two dimensions; uses glass. Maxwell constructed shaped blocks of gelatin, subjected them to various stresses, and with a pair of polarizing prisms, viewed the colored fringes that had developed within the jelly. Through this practice he discovered photoelasticity, which is a means of determining the stress distribution within physical structures. (James C Maxwell, Britain) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1850: Constant flow valve invented; journal-bearing friction studies performed in 1877. (Henry Charles Fleeming Jenkin, Edinburgh Univ, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1850: Major experimental techniques in metal microstructure and thermal treatment begins. Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1850: Commercially successful universal milling machine designed (Robbins & Lawrence); first US. (Frederick W Howe, Windsor, Vt.) (Note: The Universal Milling Machine was actually invented by Joseph R. Brown and Lucian Sharpe which is mentioned further down below in Inventory #743. However, according to the American Precision Museum, Howe did inspire Brown invent the milling machine) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1850–1885: Synthetic grinding wheels developed; introduces surface grinding over hand scraping. (US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1850: Steam-powered rock drill invented; nearly modern. (Charles Fowle, Boston) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1850: Oil refining begins. Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1850–1851: Carnot's theory of heat reconciled with second law of thermodynamics; theoretical maximum of efficiency of any heat engine exists. (Rudolf J E Clausius and Lord Kelvin, Britain) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1850: Vortex turbine patented; a radial-inflow turbine produced through 1920. The Vortex had the great advantage that it could work on any head of water from 3 to 300 feet, it was relatively small, and had an efficiency of 70 to 75%. If fitted with movable guide blades, it would maintain a reasonable efficiency with a low flow of water. (James Thomson, Britain) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1850: Partial-admission impulse turbine built. (Girard) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1850–1851: Hydraulic accumulator invented to power machinery; eventually led to power storage and transmission. However, when supplying cranes for use at New Holland on the Humber Estuary, Armstrong produced the hydraulic accumulator, a cast-iron cylinder fitted with a plunger supporting a very heavy weight. The plunger would slowly be raised, drawing in water, until the downward force of the weight was sufficient to force the water below it into pipes at great pressure. (William George Armstrong, Britain) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1850: Three-dimensional stress systems studied. (James C Maxwell, Britain) Category: Tribology
  • 1851: First workable elevator mechanism produced to prevent falling in case of rope or cable failure. (Elisha G Otis, Yonkers, N.Y.) C479; C671 Category: Materials Handling
  • 1851: Vernier caliper introduced. (Joseph R Brown, US) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1851: Diving-bell salvage boats built; to raise wrecks, salvage cargo, and restore boats especially along the busy Mississippi River. (James B Eads, Paducah, Ky) Category: Submersibles
  • 1851: Isaac Singer designed and patented an improved sewing machine that allowed continuous and curved stitching. The sewing machine designed for household use eventually became (1860) the first commercially successful sewing machine. The company he founded became the world's largest manufacturer of sewing machines. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1851: On May 6, 1851, John Gorrie was granted U.S. Patent No. 8080 for a machine to make ice. The original model of this machine and the scientific articles he wrote are at the Smithsonian Institution. A working model is believed to have been put into operation at a hospital in Florida. Dr. Gorrie submitted his patent petition on February 27, 1848. On August 22, 1850, he received London Patent #13,124, and on May 6, 1851, U. S. Patent #8080. Although the mechanism produced ice in quantities, leakage and irregular performance sometimes impaired its operation. Gorrie never realized any return from his invention. Category: Refrigeration Plants
  • 1851: Scottish-born James Harrison of Australia developed his first mechanical ice-making machine began operation in 1851 on the banks of the Barwon River at Rocky Point in Geelong. His first commercial ice-making machine followed in 1854, and his patent for an ether vapor-compression refrigeration system was granted in 1855. This novel system used a compressor to force the refrigeration gas to pass through a condenser, where it cooled down and liquefied. The liquefied gas then circulated through the refrigeration coils and vaporized again, cooling down the surrounding system. The machine employed a 5 m (16 ft.) flywheel and produced 3,000 kilograms (6,600 lb.) of ice per day. In 1856 Harrison went to London where he patented both his process (747 of 1856) and his apparatus (2362 of 1857). Category: Refrigeration Plants
  • 1851–1855: Science of energetics developed; behavior of heat engines examined, distinguishing between action (sensible) and potential (latent) energy. In 1849, Rankine had succeeded in finding the relationship between saturated vapor pressure and temperature. The following year, he used his theory to establish relationships between the temperature, pressure and density of gases, and expressions for the latent heat of evaporation of a liquid. He accurately predicted the surprising fact that the apparent specific heat of saturated steam would be negative. (William John McQuorn Rankine, Scotland) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1851: A mechanical clothes washing machine was invented by James King, who was granted a patent for the device. It used a rotating cylinder that was hand powered. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1852: Chesapeake and Delaware Canal scoop wheel and engines tested. ASME designated the Canal Scoop Wheel & Engines as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. The canal required the excavation of a stretch through solid rock, known as the "Deep Cut". At the summit where canals suffer from lack of water, a steam pump was needed to lift at least 200,000 cubic feet of water an hour a distance of 16 feet. Barnabas Bartols, an engineer of Merrick & Sons Company, devised a 39-foot wheel with twelve buckets, driven by a Merrick engine. In April of 1852 the first test was conducted, with the apparatus proven a complete success. In 1919 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers updated the canal as part of the Intracoastal Waterway system.[70] (Merrick and Sons, Chesapeake, Md) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1852: Coal-cutting (chain) Disc machine patented; makes vertical shearing cuts at sides of heading. (Waring, Britain) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1852–1854: Heat-as-reusable-fuel demonstrated in the caloric heat engine of the Ericsson. In 1851 Ericsson persuaded his financial backers to build the Caloric Ship Ericsson. A 260-foot paddle ship powered by a four-cylinder caloric engine. Each cylinder was 168 inches in diameter with a 6 foot stoke. The ship was not a success, and unfortunately for Ericsson it sank in storm off New York. On being raised the Ericsson was fitted with steam engines. These steam engines were later removed and the ship continued in service as a sailing vessel (trial 1/11/53). (John Ericsson, US, New York) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1852: The burglar alarm was patented in 1853 by the Reverend Augustus Russell Pope (1819–1858) of Somerville, Massachusetts. Edwin Holmes acquired Pope's patent rights in 1857 for $1500 and manufactured the device in his factory in Boston, Massachusetts. He began to sell them in 1858. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1853: Drop hammer patented, a large industrial hammer that stamps metal. It became the standard in American manufacturing. Credited with modernizing die-forging; Built for the Colt Armory built also. (Elisha Root, Hartford, Conn) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1853: Surface grinder patented. (S Darling, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1853: Alex. Twining ice plant produces 1,600 tons of ice a day; double-acting vacuum and compression pump with sulfuric ether. (Alex. Twining, New Haven, Conn) Category: Refrigeration Plants
  • 1853: First Asian railway opens between Bombay and Thana (British influence). The train took fifty-seven minutes to reach Tannah from Bombay. It covered a distance of 21 miles (33.8 km). Three locomotives named Sultan, Sindh and Sahib pulled the 14 carriages carrying 400 passengers on board. (India) Category: Railway
  • 1853: Differential equation for circuits established; 1848, Kelvin concept of absolute temperature (B9). (Kelvin (Wm Thomas), Britain) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1854: Bunsen's burner devised (gas burner 1855—X4). When the University of Heidelberg hired Robert Bunsen in 1852, the authorities promised to build him a new laboratory building. While his building was still under construction late in 1854, Bunsen suggested certain design principles for his labs gas lamps to the university's mechanic, Peter Desaga, and asked him to construct a prototype. The Bunsen/Desaga design succeeded in generating a hot, sootless, non-luminous flame by mixing the gas with air in a controlled fashion before combustion. (Robt W Bunsen, Germany) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1854: Elevator with safety device demonstrated at Crystal Palace Exhibition in New York City. (Elisha G Otis, Yonkers, N.Y.) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1854: The Halladay windmill for pumping water is invented; the first commercially successful self-controlled windmill in America. ASME designated the Batavia Windmill collection as a Historic Mechanical Engineering landmark. The Batavia collection of restored windmill operated waterpumps made at one of the three windmill manufacturing companies in Batavia. It was once known as 'The Windmill City' for being the largest windmill manufacturerin the U.S.[71] Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1854: Fatigue, or creep, defined as result of mechanical failures by F. Braithwaite.[72] (F Braithwaite) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1854: Commercial vertical turret lathe built for Robbins and Lawrence by R W Howe and Henry Stone. (Stone, Howe, Lawrence, Windsor, Vt.) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1854: First deep gas well sunk at Erie, Pennsylvania (1,200 feet deep). (Erie, Pa., US) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1854: First self-contained breathing apparatus; predates gas-mask for mining rescue work. A professor working in Belgium designed breathing apparatus on the regenerative process and it was exhibited in Paris in the 1870s but may never have been used (Theodore Schwann) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1854: Brandon steamship built; uses a compound steam engine. (John Elder and Charles Randolf, Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1854: The Laxey Wheel, also called the Lady Isabel wheel, on the Isle of Man, completed, one of the largest water wheels ever constructed put into operation. Still in operation. Built to pump water from the local mineshafts. Representative of the pinnacle of traditional vertical water wheel technology. It has a 72-foot-6-inch (22.1 m) diameter, is 6 feet (1.83 m) wide and revolves at approximately three revolutions per minute. Designed by Robert Casement Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1854–1862: Iron-clad USS Monitor conceived and built; features revolving gun turret, renders mast and sail expendable, major design innovation. Built during the American Civil War, she was the first ironclad warship commissioned by the Union Navy. Monitor is most famous for her duel against the Confederate Ironclad, CSS Virginia. The unique design of the ship was distinguished by its revolving turret which was invented by American inventor Theodore Timby. On the very last day of the 1962, she sank while under tow during a storm off Cape Hatteras and was not recovered again until 1973. Her guns, gun turret, engine and other relics are on display at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia along with a full-scale static replica. (John Ericsson, US) (Note: Marks the beginning of the age of metal ships.) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1854: Four-motion feed patented; fundamental to sewing machine development. Wilson received US patent 12116 for his "four-motion feed", which the machines of other inventors were forced to adopt. The advantage of his improvements was that the stitching made the strongest possible seam, being exactly even on both sides, with no threads showing above the surface that would be liable to wear oft and cause ripping. The first completed machine—that finished in 1851—sold for $125. (Allen B Wilson, Connecticut) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1855: First complete elevator machine in the US built; complex and inefficient, for freight. (US) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1855: Henry Bessemer develops his process for making steel. He worked on the problem of manufacturing cheap steel for ordnance production from 1850 to 1855 when he patented his method for which it was granted a year later in Feb 1856. The Bessemer process involved using oxygen in air blown through molten pig iron to burn off the impurities and thus create steel. (Henry Bessemer, Britain) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1855: Precision gear-cutter produced; accurate gears, drill index plates, and circular graduating. (Joseph R Brown, Providence, R.I.) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1855: Marine steam-engine governor patented; controlled speed of engine in weather. (Thomas Silver, Philadelphia) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1855: George Audemars invents a product eventually called 'Rayon.' He is not able to introduce it commercially. The solubility of nitrocellulose in organic solvents such as ether and acetone was the basis for the first "artificial silk". Commercial production started in 1891, but the result was flammable and more expensive than cellulose acetate or cuprammonium rayon. Because of this expense, production ceased early in the 1900s. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1855–1871: Theory of sliding friction of rotating bearing published in 1871; best work, pioneer in engineering research. (Robt H Thurston, Stevens Institute, Hoboken) Category: Tribology
  • 1856: 3-high mill (Rolling mill consisting of three rolls or known as 3 High rolling mill) introduced for rolling metal at Motala ironworks. (Sweden) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1856: Hobbing process for making gears developed; effective with involute-shaped gear that superseded cycloidal in 1880s. Christian Schiele obtained a patent for a screw-shaped hob for the manufacture of cylindrical gears, the predecessor of the hob. The advantage of this procedure lays in its enormous productivity. Even though the manufacture of such tools was not simple, the short processing times and the high quality of the gears manufactured in this fashion were convincing enough to ensure that hobbing became the established standard toothing procedure for cylindrical gears. (Christian Schiele, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1856: Aniline dye (mauve) discovered; leads to rise of coal-tar industry. While performing chemistry experiments in the crude laboratory in his apartment on the top floor of his home in Cable Street in east London, Perkins made his great accidental discovery; that aniline could be partly transformed into a crude mixture which when extracted with alcohol produced a substance with an intense purple color. (William Henry Perkins) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1856: Condensed milk canned. During Borden's return voyage from the Exhibition in London, a disease infected both cows aboard the ship. The cows eventually died, along with several children who drank the contaminated milk. Contamination threatened other supplies of milk across the country. In part, the event inspired Borden's interest in preserving milk. After three years of refining his model, Borden received the patent for his process of condensing milk by vacuum. (Gail Borden, US) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1856: Multiple-rope drive for factories introduced. Beginning in Falls Foundry at Belfast.[73] (James Combe, Britain) Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1857: Three-moment equation published; based on a relationship among the bending moments at three consecutive supports of a horizontal beam. (Benoît Paul Émile Clapeyron, France) Category: Kinematics
  • 1857: Elias Otis installs first passenger 'safety' elevator on March 23 in the store of E.V. Haughwout & Co. on 488 Broadway and Broome Street, New York. Category: Materials Handling
  • 1857: Feathering chain pump patented. (Murray, Britain) Category: Pumps
  • 1857–1859: Duplex steam pump invented. In 1857, Henry Worthington came up with a duplex direct-acting pump, considered the most significant development in steam-powered pumps at the time and one that became a widely used means for handling municipal water by steam power. In the next two decades, some 80 municipalities in the U.S. were using it in their waterworks operations. These pumps because of reliability and low operating cost were used for many decades in waterworks and for pumping oil through long pipe lines in oil fields. Patent model exists at the Smithsonian. ASME Designated a Worthington Horizontal Cross-compound Pumping in York, Pa., as a Historic Mechancial Engieering Landmark.[74] (Henry Worthington, New York) Category: Pumps
  • 1857: Patents comparable to Bessemer process granted to William Kelly of Kentucky, Robert Mushet for triple-compound process, and Joseph Martien for furnace. (Kelly, Mushet, Martien, US) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1857: Manufacture of iron-tungsten alloys patented; for high-speed steels and powder metallurgy. (Oxland) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1857: 3-high rolling mills developed (a Rolling mill consisting of three rolls or known as 3 High rolling mill); advances in rolling plants. Fritz proposed a mill with three 2′ rollers stacked vertically. The rails would first pass through the lower two rollers, and then be raised on an elevator for a return pass through the upper rollers. Fritz doubled the mills' capacity by taking advantage of both sides of the middle roller. The invention of this three-high rolling mill decreased costs and increased production of rolled iron. (John Fritz, Pittsburgh) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1857: Whitney gauge lathe built. (Baxter Whitney, Massachusetts) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1857: Drawing glass directly from furnace patented. (Wm Clark, St Helens, Britain) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1858: Strength of tubes, flywheels, and rail tracks and the bending of curved bars studied. (E Winkler) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1858–1860: Limits to metal fatigue (creep) described by railroad engineer; fatigue-testing machine used. Wöhler's work on fatigue marks the first systematic investigation of S-N Curves to characterize the fatigue behavior of materials. Such curves can be used to minimize the problem of fatigue by lowering the stress at critical points in a component. Wohler showed clearly that fatigue occurs by crack growth from surface defects until the product can no longer support the applied load. The history of a fracture can be understood from a study of the fracture surface. (August Wöhler, Hanover, Germany) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1858: Porter central counterpose governor patented. (Charles T Porter, New York) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1858: Compressed-air drill patented; to drill Mont Cenis Tunnel, based on Giovanni Battista Piatti's idea. (Germain Sommeiller) Construction Tools
  • 1858: Great Eastern, first 'great iron ship,' launched. It was a paddle-and-screw steamer. Construction started in 1853. The ship was by far the largest built at the time of her 1858 launch, and had the capacity to carry 4,000 passengers from England to Australia without refueling. (Planned and attempted to be launched on 1857 but failed, as the steam winches and manual capstans used to haul the ship towards the water were not adequate). The ship was broken up in 1889. (Isambard K Brunel, Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1858: Mason jar patented. The Mason jar, a molded glass jar used in home canning to preserve food, was invented and patented by Philadelphia tinsmith John Landis Mason. (US) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1858: The first transatlantic cable is laid by American Cyrus West Field and the New York, Newfoundland and London Telegraph Company with Charles Tilston Bright as chief engineer. The first communications occurred August 16, 1858, reducing the communication time between North America and Europe from ten days – the time it took to deliver a message by ship – to a matter of minutes. The first official telegram to pass between two continents was a letter of congratulation from Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom to the President of the United States James Buchanan on August 16. Signal quality declined rapidly, slowing transmission to an almost unusable speed. The cable was destroyed the following month when Wildman Whitehouse applied excessive voltage to it while trying to achieve faster operation. Category: Communication
  • 1858: A Manual of Applied Mechanics published; combines theoretical and practical application of mechanics, first use of 'applied mechanics' as title. (William John Macquorn Rankine, Scotland) Mechanical Engineering Professionalism
  • 1859: Drake strikes oil; launches US oil industry. ASME designated the Drake Oil Well as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[75](Edwin Drake, Titusville, Pa.) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1859: Sectional boiler introduced. (J Harrison, Philadelphia) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1859: Giffard boiler-feed steam injector invented in Britain and in US in 1860 by Wm Sellers. The injector was originally used in the boilers of steam locomotives for injecting or pumping the boiler feedwater into the boiler. Unusually, he had thoroughly worked out the theory of this invention before making any experimental instrument, having explained the idea in 1850. (Henri Giffard) Category: Railway
  • 1859: The Steam Engine and Other Prime Movers published; details basic science involved. (Wm J McQuorn Rankine, Scotland) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1859–1860: Jean-Joseph Etienne Lenoir develops the first successful internal combustion engine capable of operating continuously. Prior designs for such engines were patented as early as 1807, but none were commercially successful. Lenoir's engine was commercialized in sufficient quantities to be considered a success, a first for the internal combustion engine. The engine differed from more modern two-stroke engines in that the charge was not compressed before ignition with a power stroke at each end of the cylinder. (J Gifford Etienne Lenoir, Paris) Category: IC Piston Engines


  • 1860–1899: Design handbook published 1861; Kinematics of Machines published 1875 on theoretical kinematics; had significant world impact, encouraged simplicity in design. Reuleaux believed that machines could be abstracted into chains of elementary links called kinematic pairs. Constraints on the machine are described by constraints on each kinematic pair, and the sequence of movements of pairs produces a kinematic chain. He developed a compact symbolic notation to describe the topology of a very wide variety of mechanisms, and showed how it could be used to classify them and even lead to the invention of new useful mechanisms. He directed the design and manufacture of over 300 beautiful models of simple mechanisms, such as the four-bar linkage and the crank. These were sold to universities for pedagogical purposes. Today, the most complete set are at Cornell University College of Engineering. (Franz Reuleaux, Germany) Category: Kinematics
  • 1860: Isaac M. Singer introduces his sewing machine for sale. It is the first commercially successful sewing machine for general home use.
  • 1860: Lockport water works built; introduces pressurized water-main, fire-hydrant system designed by Birdsill Holly. The Holly Fire Protection and Water System was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[76] Birdsill Holly, Lockport, N.Y.) Category: Centralized Distribution Systems
  • 1860: First analytical laboratory for iron and steel works established at Cambria Iron Company. (Robt W Hunt, Johnstown, Pa.) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1860: Duplex water-works engine built; widely adopted. (Henry Worthington, New York) Category: Pumps
  • 1860–1869: Solid-drawn tube process patented; for copper marine tubes, previously seam brazed. (C Green, Elliots, UK) Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1860–1869: Steam-driven centrifugal fan, at top of shaft, used to ventilate mines. Category: Ventilation
  • 1860: Continuously galvanizing wire mills for copper telegraph wire introduced.[77] (George Bedson, Britain) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1860: The original universal milling machine was designed primarily for the purpose of forming the flutes in twist drills. Its capabilities, however, were quickly recognized, and its use soon spread to other lines, until today we find that there is an unusually large variety of machine shop jobs that can be done on a modern machine of this type. The universal milling machine was invented by Joseph R. Brown and his apprentice Lucian Sharpe. (Joseph R. Brown & Lucian Sharpe, Providence, Rhode Island US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1860–1869: First cylindrical grinder made in US; replaces single-point tool of engine lathe. The Brown & Sharpe company in Providence, R.I. was one of the first builders of the Willcox & Gibbs Sewing Machine, one of the first piece of precision machinery to be used in a residential setting. Joseph Brown believed that the shaft and needle bars of the sewing machine must be crafted from hardened tool steel. It was this desire that led to their experimentation with building a cylindrical grinder. The first attempt was simple a small lathe with a grinding wheel mounted to it. Subsequent attempts led to the cylindrical grinder displayed at the 1876 Centennial Exposition and the subsequent patent. (Joseph R. Brown & Lucian Sharpe, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1860–1879: Universal milling (1861–65) and universal grinding machines (1876) produced. (Joseph Brown and L Sharpe, Providence, R.I.) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1860: Septic tank principle used in Automatic Scavenger. (L Mouras, France) Pollution Control
  • 1860: Ammonia absorption refrigeration machine developed. (F P E Carre, France) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1860: Boneshaker (bicycle) velocipede built with pedals attached to the front-wheel axle; uses brakes, sold over 400 a year by 1865. (Pierre Michaux, France) (Note: He may have become the inventor of the bicycle when he added pedals to a draisine to form a velocipede, the forerunner of the modern bicycle. However historic sources reveal other possible claimants such as his son Ernest Michaux and Pierre Lallement.) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1860: Marine compound engines introduced for ships; pressures rise and surface condensers used more. Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1861: Porter invented an isochronous centrifugal governor to control the speed of an engine over time. According to Porter in his autobiography, the governor emulates the precision manufacturing techniques of machine tool producers, and regulates machines more precisely. The "Porter Governor" won medals at the 1859 American Institute fair. (Charles Porter, New York) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1861: Kerosene made from oil entirely displaces the product from coal in the US. The petroleum discovery at the Drake Well in western Pennsylvania in 1859 caused a great deal of public excitement and investment drilling in new wells, not only in Pennsylvania, but also in Canada, where petroleum had been discovered at Oil Springs, Ontario in 1858, and southern Poland, where Ignacy Łukasiewicz had been distilling lamp oil from petroleum seeps since 1852. The increased supply of petroleum allowed oil refiners to entirely side-step the oil-from-coal patents of both Young and Gesner, and produce illuminating oil from petroleum without paying royalties to anyone. As a result, the illuminating oil industry in the US completely switched over to petroleum in the 1860s. (US and Abroad) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1861: Gas producer devised; recognized as successful. (K W Siemens) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1861: First (US) successful flat knitting machine patented; improved by 1865. A flat knitting machine is very flexible, allowing complex stitch designs, shaped knitting and precise width adjustment. It is, however relatively slow when compared to a circular machine. (Isaac W Lamb, Michigan) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1861: Small cylinder lock patented; with pin tumbler mechanism and small flat key. Linus Yale, Jr. was inspired by the original 1840s pin-tumbler lock designed by his father, thus inventing and patenting a smaller flat key with serrated edges as well as pins of varying lengths within the lock itself, the same design of the pin-tumbler lock in use today. Basic principles of the pin tumbler lock may date as far back as 4000 BC in Egypt; the lock consisted of a wooden post affixed to the door, and a horizontal bolt that slid into the post. The bolt had vertical openings into which a set of pins fitted. These could be lifted, using a key, to a sufficient height to allow the bolt to move and unlock the door. (Linus Yale (Jr), New York City) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1861–1869: Solar pump patented and solar steam-electric power demonstrated. Believing that the coal which fueled the Industrial Revolution would eventually run out, Mouchot began exploring solar cooking, drawing on the works of Horace-Bénédict de Saussure and Claude Pouillet. Further experiments involved a water-filled cauldron enclosed in glass, which would be exposed to the heat of the sun until the water boiled; the steam thus produced would provide motive power for a small steam engine. By 1866, Mouchot had developed the first parabolic trough solar collector, which was presented to the Napoleon III in Paris. Mouchot continued development and increased the scale of his solar experiments. The publication of his book on solar energy, La Chaleur solaire et ses Applications industrielles ("Solar Heat and its Industrial Applications") (1869), coincided with the unveiling of the largest solar steam engine he had yet built. (Augustine Mouchot, France) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1862: Spring-loaded governor patented; gradually replaces Porter governors. The 1861 "Pickering governor" had revolving balls act against curved flat springs which helped operators produce more consistent and steady speeds in steam engines. (Thomas Pickering, Portland Connecticut) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1862: Continuous mill for rolling metal re-invented. In 1862, Bedson patented the world's first successful continuous rod rolling mill, which operated at the Bradford Iron Works. These machines sped up the wire making process at a time when demand was rising rapidly. Part of a Bedson-designed rod rolling mill is on display in the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. (George Bedson, Manchester) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1862: Rotary diamond core drill patented; in France and Britain. It was used for drilling blast holes for tunneling Mount Cenis on the France-Italy border. In 1869 a Leschot diamond drill was shipped to the United States for use in a marble quarry in Vermont (Rodolphe Leschot, France) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1862: Air refrigerator improved; regenerator added. (Kirk) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1862–1870: Machinery designed and constructed for expansion of US Navy steam-powered fleet. When the Mexican–American War ended, Isherwood was assigned to the Washington Navy Yard, where he assisted Charles Stuart in designing engines and experiments with steam as a source of power for propelling ships. Throughout the 1850s, Isherwood compiled operational and performance data from steam engines in U.S. and foreign commercial vessels and warships. He used these empirical data to analyze the efficiency of engine types then in use. (Benj F Isherwood, US) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1862: Coiled and elliptic railroad-car springs invented; reduces weight of car spring and increases strength. (Aaron French, Ohio) Category: Railway
  • 1862: Steam-engine indicator for high-speed engines developed. Hailed as the most significant improvement to the steam engine since the days of James Watt. The big breakthrough on the Richards indicator was the use of a precision set of levers to magnify the movement of the pencil. With this arrangement the travel of the piston could be reduced to of the travel of the pencil. The Richards indicator was the prototype of every mechanical indicator that was built, until their manufacture ceased in the twentieth century. (Charles Brinckerhoff Richards, Hartford, Conn) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1862: In the year 1862 M. Beau de Rochas, a French engineer, took out a patent setting forth, theoretically, the best working conditions for an internal-combustion engine, with a view to utilizing more completely the heat supplied. His cycle of operations was in all respects the same as that in use at the present day in the so-called Otto cycle engines. Most modern automobiles today operate based on beau de Rocha's four-stroke principles. (A Beau de Rochas, Paris) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1863–1865: Linear dividing machine, to rule scales, designed and built; corrector bar and lead screw. (Auguste de la Rive & Marc Thury, Geneva) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1863: Bessemer steel-making process introduced to United States.10 patents for improvements to the process, which the rights to had been purchased in 1863 for £10,000. With John F. Winslow and John Augustus Griswold's support, Holley began setting up a mill in Troy, New York in 1865. The factory contained a number of Holley's innovations that greatly improved productivity over Bessemer's factory in Sheffield. The Troy factory attracted the attention of the Pennsylvania Railroad, who wanted to use the process to manufacture steel rail, and ended up funding Holley's second mill as part of its Pennsylvania Steel subsidiary. Between 1866 and 1877, the partners licensed 11 Bessemer steel mills. (Alexander Lyman Holley, Troy, N.Y.) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1863–1868: Thread-rolling machines for screw threads built. (Joseph Tanye, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1863: Turbine-powered Disc machine for coal cutting patented; improvement added with rotary action. (Thomas Harrison, Durham, Britain) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1863: Ballast tanks cleared by the use of compressed air in the Le Plongeur submarine. She was the first submarine in the world to be propelled by mechanical power. The submarine used a compressed-air engine, propelled by stored compressed air powering a reciprocating engine. The air was contained in 23 tanks holding air at 12.5 bar (1.25 MPa, 180 psi), taking up a huge amount of space (153 m³/5,403 ft³), and requiring the submarine to be of unprecedented size. The engine had a power of 60 kW (80 hp), and could propel the submarine for 5 miles (9 km), at a speed of 4 kn (7.2 km/h). Model of Plongeur currently exists at the Musée de la Marine, Paris. (Siméon Bourgeois, Rochefort France) Category: Submersibles
  • 1863: First underground railway begins operation in London. The Metropolitan Line ran from Bishop's Road, Paddington to Farringdon. Built by the "cut-and-cover" method under city streets. The trench was 33 feet 6 inches (10.2 m) wide, with brick retaining walls supporting an elliptical brick arch or iron girders spanning 28 feet 6 inches (8.7 m). The tunnels were wider at stations to accommodate the platforms. Most of the excavation work was carried out manually by navies, although a primitive earth-moving conveyor was used to remove excavated spoil from the trench. It was followed in 1868 by New York's elevated railway. (John Fowler, London) Category: Railway
  • 1863: First automatic railroad car coupler, Miller Hook, developed; came to replace the older link-and-pin coupler, heralded as greatest safety device. (US) Category: Railway
  • 1863: Experimental Researches in Steam Engines published (revised 1865). (Benj F Isherwood, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1864: George Pullman builds the Pioneer, his first railroad sleeping car, run on the Chicago & Alton Railroad (Pullman began designing sleeping cars in 1859). ASME designated the Pullman Sleeping Car 'Glengyle', a later example of a Pullman sleeping car, a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[78] (George Pullman, US) Category: Railway
  • 1864–1869: Cog railway designed and built 1864 (first in world); Tip Top begins operating 1869. ASME designated the Mount Washington Cog Railway as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Civil-mechanical engineer Sylvester Marsh conceived and executed this railway, including a ratchet safety cog with gear reduction, braking mechanism, and related patents.[79] (Sylvester Marsh, Mt Washington, N.H.) Category: Railway
  • 1864: British associated ohm issued; measures electrical quantities in mechanical units (1833, Gauss, and 1851, Weber). Category: Measurement Apparatus and Testing
  • 1864: Schlieren optical system developed; observation of density changes. The basic optical schlieren system uses light from a single collimated source shining on, or from behind, a target object. Variations in refractive index caused by density gradients in the fluid distort the collimated light beam. This distortion creates a spatial variation in the intensity of the light, which can be visualized directly with a shadowgraph system. (August Topler, Bonn Germany) Category: Observation
  • 1864: American standard screw thread proposed; adopted 1901–05. (William Sellers, Philadelphia) Category: Tools and Shop
  • 1864–1868: Siemens-Martin process; In 1865, the French engineer Pierre-Émile Martin took out a license from Siemens and first applied his regenerative furnace for making steel. Their process was known as the Siemens-Martin process, and the furnace as an "open-hearth" furnace. The most appealing characteristic of the Siemens regenerative furnace is the rapid production of large quantities of basic steel, used for example to construct high-rise buildings. (Sirevil Works, Paris) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1865: Materials testing laboratory established in Southwark, London. built a large hydraulic tensile test machine, or tensometer for examining the mechanical properties of components, such as their tensile strength and tensile modulus or stiffness. (David Kirkaldy, London) (Note: The original test house still exists along with many of the major equipment and inventions he had developed as the Kirkaldy Testing Museum) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1865: Mercury vacuum pump invented; solves problem in carbon filament lamp. Falling mercury drops compress the air to atmospheric pressure which is released when the stream reaches a container at the bottom of the tube. As the pressure drops, the cushioning effect of trapped air between the droplets diminishes, so a hammering or knocking sound can be heard, accompanied by flashes of light within the evacuated vessel. The pump created the highest vacuum achievable at that time. (Hermann Sprengel) Category: Pumps
  • 1865: Pontoon for raising sunken vessels by displacement patented; still used in 1930s. (Israel J Merritt, New York) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1865: First US steel rails rolled by the Cambria Co. for use by the Pennsylvania Railroad. (first US steel rails rolled using Bessemer process in 1866, Johnstown, Pa., Robt Hunt—A2). (Chicago) Category: Railway
  • 1865: Harvesters patented (1/31) with Rufus Howard; combined rakes and reels patented (2/7). Patented a one-man hand-rake reaper with a swinging, cantilevered hand rake that could be easily operated solely by the driver (most hand-rake reapers of the day required a second man to work the rake). On the same date received a patent for a corn-harvesting attachment for the reaper that not only cut the corn, but also left it in bundles ready for tying. (Samuel Johnston, New York) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1865: The Van Syckel Pipeline, the world's first oil pipeline is built, out of wood. Nine miles long, it carried crude oil from the well at Pithole, Pennsylvania. The pipeline was laid about 5 miles of two-inch wrought iron pipe in 15-foot joints from Miller Farm RR Station on the west side of Oil Creek in a southeast direction to Pithole. This was in hilly terrain of about 400 feet relief, but over half of that was in the descent from the flanking ridge to Oil Creek. The joints cost $50 apiece and were tested to a pressure of 900 barrels to the square inch. They were lap welded. (Samuel Van Syckel & William Snow) Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1866: Hydraulic forging press erected in Oldham (patented 1847); uses Bessemer steel. (Sir Charles Fox) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1866: Steering engine using feedback patented; used on Great Eastern. (J McFarlane Gray, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1866: Positive displacement invented; ventilated mines. (Root brothers, US) Category: Ventilation
  • 1866: Holt engine brings compound engines into use, with compound steamships replacing sail trade to Far East; boiler construction allows higher pressures, coincides with opening of Suez Canal in 1869. The earliest of these ships was the SS Agamemnon which brought together three improvements in steamship design; higher boiler pressure, an efficient and compact compound steam engine, and a hull form with modest power requirements. Before Agamemnon, steamships were not a practical option for trade between Britain and the Far East. The amount of coal that they needed to carry left little space for cargo. Agamemnon could steam at 10 knots consuming only 20 tons of coal a day. This was substantially less than other ships of the time and a saving of between 23 and 14 tons per day was achieved. This enabled her to steam to China with a coaling stop at Mauritius on the outward and return journey. (Alfred Holt, Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1866: In 1864, Nicolaus Otto and Eugen Langen started the world's first engine manufacturing company N.A. Otto & Cie and in 1866 created the Atmospheric Engine for which they won the Gold Medal at the Paris World Exhibition a year later. Its advantage over the existing steam engine was its ability to be started and stopped on demand, making it ideal for intermittent work such as barge loading or unloading. Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1866: Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company organizes; first policy goes to Crompton Loom Works. (US) Category: Commercial Organization
  • 1866: Gatling gun (1861—E9) accepted by US Army (1889—X4, Hiram Maxim, automatic machine gun). (US) Developed somewhat earlier by the American inventor Dr. Richard J. Gatling in 1861 and patented on November 4, 1862. Category: Arms, Weapons, and Military
  • 1867: Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements from the American Artisan published. (ed. Henry Brown, US) Category: Kinematics
  • 1867: Concept of critical points pioneered. (D.K Tschernoff, Russia) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1867–1870: Demonstrations and trials of Whitehead torpedoes held on 21 December; advanced servomechanisms. The Whitehead torpedo was the first self-propelled or "locomotive" torpedo ever developed. It was perfected in 1866 by Robert Whitehead from a design conceived by Giovanni Luppis of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. Many naval services procured the Whitehead torpedo during the 1870s, including the US Navy. This early torpedo proved itself in combat during the Russo-Turkish War when, on January 16, 1878, the Turkish ship Intibah was sunk by Russian torpedo boats carrying Whiteheads. (Robt Whitehead, Austria, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1867–1870: Steam-gas generating apparatus patented; used for illuminating. (Hiram Stevens Maxim, Fitchburg, Mass) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1867: Centrifugal shot-making machine invented; eliminated shot-tower process. (Thomas Shaw, Pennsylvania) Category: Arms, Weapons, and Military
  • 1867: Compound beam engine advances pumping engines; introduces hydraulic forging. (Erasmus D Leavitt, Lynn, Mass) (Note: William McNaught patented a compound beam engine in 1845 and Leavitt had just left the US Navy to be a consulting engineer during this time.) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1867: Water-tube boiler patented; avoided explosions, based on Wilcox safety boiler of 1856. This boiler type has a single drum, with feedwater drawn from the bottom of the drum into a header that supplies inclined water-tubes. The water tubes supply steam back into the top of the drum. Furnaces are located below the tubes and drum. (Stephen Wilcox and George Babcock, Rhode Island) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1867: Free-piston internal combustion engine produced (superior to Barsanti and Mateucci type, 1854) by firm of Otto and Langen. (Otto and Langen, Deutz, Germany) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1868: Pocket micrometer mass produced; accurate to one-thousandth of an inch. Added two features; a mechanism to hold spindle threads better and a spindle clamp. (Brown and Sharpe, US) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1868: Automatic scales for weighing grain charging into hopper patented; other improvements follow. (Thaddeus and Henry Fairbanks, Vermont) Weight-Scales
  • 1868: Two-dimensional stress on a plane studied. (Christian Otto Mohr) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1868: Vertical direct-acting flywheel pump patented. (Thomson and Moreland) Category: Pumps
  • 1868–1870: Mushet tool steel developed; first air-hardening alloy steel, forerunner of high-speed steel. Previously, the only way to make steel hard enough for Category: Machine Tools had been to quench it, by rapid cooling in water. Self-hardening steel Category: Machine Tools could run much faster and were able to cut harder metals than had been possible previously. Mushet tool steel revolutionized the design of Category: Machine Tools and the progress of industrial metalworking, and was the forerunner of high-speed steel. (Robt Mushet, Britain) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1868: Compressed-air plant built to refrigerate food (limited power). (Paris) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1868: Spring-lock washer patented; used worldwide for holding rail bolts in place. (Thomas Shaw, Pennsylvania) Category: Railway
  • 1868: Positive-motion loom, with belt attached to shuttle carriage, patented; for cotton industry. Its advantages are the abolition of the picking sticks; a positive motion to the shuttle from any point in its course; the great width of the fabric that may be woven; the variety of fabrics that may be produced, from the finest silk to the heaviest carpet; the almost total absence of wear, and the very small amount of power required to operate the looms. (James W Lyall, New York) Lyall's Positive Motion Loom Company made its headquarters at 35 Wooster Street in Soho, New York City, building still exists. (Contact "The Drawing Center" for Landmark Inquiries. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1868: Workable typewriter patented by Christopher Sholes (Milwaukee, Wis.); later produced by Remington 1876. The Sholes & Glidden Type Writer was the first practical and commercially successful, mass-produced mechanical device with keys of the alphabet that, when pressed, caused ink to be printed on paper. The innovation allowed the typist to quickly and freely record words onto a page at a rate significantly faster than could be written by hand. Once its usefulness as a tool became recognized, it revolutionized the conduct of business and the work of professionals who relied upon writing for a living. ASME designated the Sholes & Glidden 'Type Writer' as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[80] (Christopher Sholes and C Glidden, US) Category: Communication
  • 1869: A Manual of Machinery and Millwork published. (Wm J McQuorn Rankine, Scotland) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1869: Machine for planing metal patented; production of fine gear work promotes standardized gauges. (Francis Pratt, Hartford, Conn) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1869: George Westinghouse patented the continuous compressed-air brake in April 1869 for high-speed rail safety and founded the Westinghouse Air Brake Company in the same year. The compressed air brake uses an auxiliary engine for compressing the air into the reservoir from which it is conducted by pipes and applied to operating the brakes, via brake-cylinders and pistons, attached to each car. By 1893, the Railroad Safety Appliance Act of 1893 made air brakes compulsory on all American trains. The Westinghouse air break was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[81] (George Westinghouse, Pittsburgh) Category: Railway
  • 1869: First US transcontinental railway route completed; Golden Spike driven in ceremony at Promontory, Utah. A 1,907-mile (3,069 km) contiguous railroad line constructed in the United States between 1863 and 1869 west of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to connect the Pacific coast at San Francisco Bay with the existing eastern U.S. rail network at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Opened for through traffic on May 10, 1869 with the ceremonial driving of the "Golden Spike" with a silver hammer at Promontory Summit, the road established a mechanized transportation network that revolutionized the settlement and economy of the American West by bringing these western states and territories firmly and profitably into the "Union" and making goods and transportation much quicker, cheaper, and more flexible from coast to coast. (US) (Note: The "Last Spike" now lies in the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.) Category: Railway
  • 1869: On June 8, 1869, Chicago inventor, Ives McGaffey patented a "sweeping machine". This was the first patent for a device that cleaned rugs, however, it was not a motorized vacuum cleaner. McGaffey called his machine the Whirlwind and it was the first hand-pumped vacuum cleaner in the United States, a wood and canvas contraption. (Ives W McGaffey, US) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares


  • 1870–1899: Steam elevator refined; valving and control systems improved but limited in rise by cable length. (US) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1870–1879: Compounding (double, triple, and quadruple expansion) steam engines established; Steam's golden age. ASME designated a triple-expansion, engine-driven dynamo now located at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI as the sole surviving engine-generator set marking the beginning of large-scale electric power generation in the United States.[82] (US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1870: Monongahela Incline, earliest US passenger incline, opens; built by Prussian engineer John Andres, assisted by Samuel Diescher, used Roebling cable, this was first of 17 inclines in the Pittsburgh hills. ASME Dessignated the Monongahelia Include as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[83] (John Andres, Pennsylvania) Category: Railway
  • 1870: Jet pump devised. Designed to clear water out of the pits of submerged waterwheels when access to them is required for inspection or repairs.[84] (James Thomson, Britain) Category: Pumps
  • 1870: Hydraulic servomechanism patented; developed for steering engine and hydraulic cranes for merchant ships. (Betts Brown, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1870: Shaft governor patented; especially used in flywheels, capable of industrial application.[85] (Dan Woodbury) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1870: Diamond-drill channeling machine devised for quarrying stone, especially marble.[86] (Albert Ball, Windsor, Vt.) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1870: Disintegrator for coal crushing developed. (Lascelles Carr) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1870: Dynamometer car developed to autographically record locomotive and train performance. (US) Category: Railway
  • 1870–1871: Ariel bicycle, aka ordinary or penny-farthing, introduced; gearing revolves at twice the speed of crank. notable for its use of center pivot steering. Considered the first true bicycle by many historians, the Ariel was the immediate precursor of the high-wheel ordinary and was the standard of bicycle design for the next decade. (James Starley, Britain) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1870: Used cloth, ivory dust, and shellac to create a method of covering billiard balls with the addition of collodion. Celluloid patented as a commercially viable way of producing solid, stable nitrocellulose. (created 1869); factory established 1872 in Newark; machines developed 1875–78. (John Hyatt, New Jersey) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1870: Universal Stock Ticker developed by Thomas Edison in 1869, used alphanumeric characters with a printing speed of approximately one character per second; first great invention by Edison, from which he started own firm. (Thomas Edison, US) Category: Communication
  • 1870: Generator, later known as first dynamo, invented. A type of direct current dynamo capable of generating smoother (less AC) and much higher voltages than the dynamos known to that point (Zenobe T Gramme, Paris) Category: Electric Power Plants
  • 1870–1889: Petrov's law of friction torques in journal bearings resolves railroad problems. Petrov accurately formulated the physical laws that might provide a basis for calculating elementary frictional forces. He demonstrated that the frictional force developed within a viscous liquid is proportional to the velocity of relative motion and to the surface area of contact; it does not depend on pressure, and the coefficient of proportionality depends only on the properties of the liquid. (Nikolay Petrov, USSR) Category: Tribology
  • 1870–1900: High-carbon chromium steel, common in ball and roller bearings, finds limited use; probably first low-alloy steel. Category: Tribology
  • 1871–1879: Materials testing laboratory established in Munich, Berlin, Vienna ('73), Zurich ('79), and Stuttgard ('79). (Europe) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1871: Differential valve motion for direct-acting pump patented. (Heney Davey) Category: Pumps
  • 1871–1873: Sand blasting developed and introduced for fettling iron castings. This technique is uniquely suited to applications such as sharpening files, engraving bottles, cleaning boilers or bringing out the grain in wood. In 1871, at the 40th Exhibition of the American Institute of the City of New York, he was awarded the institute's Great Medal of Honor for his invention; shortly after, he was also awarded the Elliott Cresson Medal by the Franklin Institute. (Benjamin Chew Tilghman, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1871: Rock drill patented; improved by Henry C Sergeant 1885–1886. (Simon Ingersoll, New York) His percussion drill replaced hand drilling, making mining and tunneling much faster and cheaper. Before Ingersoll's drills, underground drilling was done by striking a length of steel rod repeatedly with a sledgehammer. Ingersoll's invention surpassed earlier drills because it rotated the drill after each strike, automatically advancing the steel. His design also featured an innovative tripod, and was significantly lighter than other drills. His first design was powered by steam but later operated on compressed air. Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1871: Triple-expansion marine engine patented (installed 1873). (Benjamin Norman, France) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1871–1919: Dimensional analysis develops; introduced 1892. Rayleigh's method of dimensional analysis is a conceptual tool used in physics, chemistry, and engineering. This form of dimensional analysis expresses a functional relationship of some variables in the form of an exponential equation. (John Wm Strutt, aka Lord Rayleigh) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1871–1873: Boyden hydraulic turbine installed; most powerful in US at time. ASME designated the Boyden Hydraulic Turbines as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[87] (Cohoes, N.Y.) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1871–1877: Achilles and Hercules water turbine developed in early 1870s; produced in 1877 in Holyoke, by Jolly in 1889. (John B McCormick, Holyoke, Mass) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1871–1874: Thurston (1839–1903) established first model mechanical engineering curriculum and the first US mechanical engineering laboratory for conducting funded research at an academic institution for higher learning. (Robert H Thurston, Stevens Institute, Hoboken) Category: Mechanical Engineering Professionalism
  • 1872: Hurdy-gurdy wooden waterwheel buckets replaced by curved, cast-iron buckets. A 'Hurdy-Gurdy' is a wheel moved by a jet of water issuing under pressure from a conical nozle, and striking open buckets on the circumference of the wheel. It is an impact-wheel; the term was especially applied in California, US. Samuel N. Knight patented an efficient water wheel that used cast-iron buckets. It came to dominate the field prior to the introduction of the Pelton turbine in the mid-1880s. The Knight Foundry and Machine Shop was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME. It s one of the earliest US foundry-machine shops remaining in operation and one of the few water powered. It was founded by Samuel N. Knight (1838–1913) to manufacture machinery for the gold mines of the Mother Lode region. Knight was one of several inventors experimenting with impulse turbines to exploit the area's abundant high-head water power for driving hoists, ore stamps, and other mining machinery.[88] (S N Knight, California) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1872: Towing tank technology established; law of similitude (comparing model with ship phenomena). Froude published a series of influential papers on ship designs for maximizing stability in the 1860s. The Institution of Naval Architects eventually commissioned him to identify the most efficient hull shape. He validated his theoretical models with extensive empirical testing, using scale models for the different hull dimensions. He established a formula by which the results of small-scale tests could be used to predict the behavior of full-sized hulls. He built a sequence of 3-, 6- and 12-foot scale models and used them in towing trials to establish resistance and scaling laws. His experiments were vindicated in full-scale trials conducted by the Admiralty and as a result the first Ship model basin was built. Here he was able to combine mathematical expertise with practical experimentation and his methods are still followed today. (Wm Froude, Tourkay, UK) Laboratory-Model Instruments
  • 1872: Pulsometer steam pump invented. The pump ran automatically without attendance. It was praised for its "extreme simplicity of construction, operation, compact form, high efficiency, economy, durability, and adaptability". (Charles Henry Hall, Britain) Category: Pumps
  • 1872–1873: Servomotor invented by Jean Joseph Leon Farcot, son of Marie Joseph Farcot. With his servo-motor design of 1859 Joseph Farcot implemented the feedback principle. This allowed a giant battleship with a rudder weighing several tons to be steered using a single wheel. The mechanism used the position of the rudder to direct the right amount of steam to a piston that controlled the rudder. This was the basis for the theoretical discipline of cybernetics. Farcot was given a British patent for a steering engine in 1868. In 1873 he published a book Le servo-moteur ou moteur asservi that described the different steam steering devices that Farcot and Son had developed. (Farcot and Son) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1872: Ammonia-compression machine for producing ice invented. David Boyle, in 1873, established his first ammonia-compression plant in a lean-to off a lumber mill. Improvements made during the winter of 1873–74 resulted in a high-grade production that attracted national attention. In 1874, Boyle went to Illinois and made an arrangement with Richard T. Crane of Crane and Company of Chicago to manufacture his compression machines. The first two machines produced were bought by the Capitol Ice Company of Austin and by Richard King, who wanted to experiment with meat refrigeration on the King Ranch. (David Boyle) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1872–1876: HMS Challenger surveyed ocean waters and ocean bottom; accurate sounding device introduced. To enable her to probe the depths, the Challenger‍‍ '​‍s guns were removed and her spars reduced to make more space available. Laboratories, extra cabins and a special dredging platform were installed. She was loaded with specimen jars, filled with alcohol for preservation of samples, microscopes and chemical apparatus, trawls and dredges, thermometers and water sampling bottles, sounding leads and devices to collect sediment from the sea bed and great lengths of rope with which to suspend the equipment into the ocean depths. In all she was supplied with 181 miles (291 km) of Italian hemp for sounding. (Pacific Ocean) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1872: Japan's first railway opens. In 1868 Thomas Blake Glover, a Scottish merchant, was responsible for bringing the first steam locomotive, "Iron Duke", to Japan, which he demonstrated on an 8-mile track in the Ōura district of Nagasaki. On September 12, 1872, the first railway, between Shimbashi (Tokyo) and Yokohama opened. A one-way trip took 53 minutes in comparison to 40 minutes for a modern electric train. Service started with nine round trips daily. (Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan) Category: Railway
  • 1872: Track circuit invented. A simple electrical device used to detect the absence of a train on rail tracks, used to inform signalers and control relevant signals. improved traffic flow of railroads. (William Robinson, Brooklyn) Category: Railway
  • 1872: The arrangement of the Stolze gas turbine developed; consisted of a multistage axial-flow air compressor coupled directly to a multistage reaction turbine. The high-pressure air leaving the compressor was heated in an externally fired combustion chamber and thereafter expanded in the multistage turbine. The Stolze plant was tested in 1900 and 1904, but the unit was unsuccessful. (Franz Stolze, Germany) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1873–1876: Sholes & Glidden typewriter introduced; manufactured by Remington based on a design by Christoper Latham Sholes and associates. n. (US) Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME. Category: Communication
Sholes & Glidden Typewriter designated a landmark by ASME. Located at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Photograph by Thomas Fehring, P.E.
  • 1873: First US micrometer caliper for tool making. (John Edson Sweet, New York) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1873–1873: Theory of least work and virtual work published; used for analysis of structures. (A Castigliano, Italy) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1873: Automatic screw machine invented (1893, produced finished screws from coiled wire—A2). (Christopher Miner Spencer, Connecticut) (Note: US Patent #816510) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1873: Automats to produce screws, nuts, and cogwheels, en masse patented; forerunner of NC machines. (Christopher M Spencer) Category: Automation
  • 1873: Water-gas process, by Tessie du Motay and Thaddeus Lowe, developed. Lowe's water gas process which is a modification of the water gas process by which large amounts of hydrogen enriched gas could be generated for residential and commercial use in heating and lighting. Unlike the common coal gas, or coke gas which was used in municipal service, this gas provided a more efficient heating fuel that was also suitable for illumination. (Motay and Lowe, US) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1873: Open-cycle air machines made; proposed by Kelvin and Rankine, 1852. (Paul Giffard, France) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1873–1875: Refrigerated warehouses (New York City and London) and commercial transatlantic ship built (Celtic). (Carroll L Riker, New York) The invention consists, first, in a novel combination of parts constituting an ice-machine for use by what is known as the air process; second, in a novel form of the ice-mold and manner of applying and using the same; third, in an apparatus for utilizing the exhaust air from the machine, all as hereinafter more fully set forth. Category: Refrigeration
  • 1873–1876: Ammonia-compression system for (brewery) refrigeration; based on vapor compression work; founded the Gesellschaft für Lindes Eismaschinen Aktiengesellschaft ("Linde's Ice Machine Company"), now Linde AG. (Carl von Linde, Munich) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1873: Janney coupler patented; first used on Southern Railroad, used in 1876 by Penn Railroad, improved 1881 and 1882, made standard 1888. The Janney coupler was an improvement in railroad car couplers that became the standard for the railroad freight car couplers used even today. The Janney coupler had several advantages over link and pin couplers. Not only did it alleviate the problem of loose parts that plagued the link and pin coupler, it also allowed rail workers to couple and uncouple cars without having to go between the cars to guide the link and set the pin. (Eli H Janney, Virginia) Category: Railway
  • 1873: Kinetic theory of gases formulated. He gave calculations of the velocity, mean-free-path, and number of collisions of the molecules in the mixture at a given temperature. He also gave the first accurate expression of the pressure of a gas assuming random molecular speeds and showed it to be the same as what had previously been obtained on the assumption of uniform speeds. In addition, he repeated, more accurately, Waterston's deduction of Avogadro's law, that equal volumes of gas, at equal temperatures and pressures contain equal numbers of molecules. (James C Maxwell, Britain) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1873: Joseph Farwell Glidden, an American farmer, patented barbed wire, a product that forever altered the development of the American West. Using a coffee mill to create the barbs, Glidden placed the barbs along a wire and then twisted another wire around it to keep the barbs in place. He received a patent in 1874. Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1873: Oil engine. The significant difference from other piston driven internal combustion engines is that the two cylinders are arranged so that the fuel/air mixture burns progressively at constant pressure as it is transferred from the compressor cylinder and reservoir to the working/expansion cylinder. (Geo Brayton) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1874–1887: Industrial tempered glass manufacturing process developed and factories established. (R Royer, France) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1874: First solar motor developed. It provided one half-horsepower and powered a pump. Exhibited at the Universal Exposition in Paris 1878. (Augustine Mouchot, Tours, France) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1875: Treaty of the Metre signed by 21 countries, International Bureau of Weights and Measures; to define meter and kg. (Sevres, France) Category: Measurement Apparatus and Testing
  • 1875: Thompson indicator (for steam engine) patented. The Thompson system made use of the mathematically superior "Evans' Parallelogram", also known as the 'Scott Russell', 'Grasshopper' or ellipsoid method. Thompson indicators generally performed better with high-speed engines than the Richards pattern. (Joseph Thompson, Ohio) Category: Fluid-Pressure Measurement
  • 1875: Wind tunnel developed to study drag of vanes. The tunnel was unusual in that the gas flow was provided by steam rather than air. He demonstrated the truth of George Cayley's idea that giving the upper surface greater curvature than the lower accelerates the upper airflow, reducing pressure above the wing and so creating lift. (Horatio Frederick Phillips, Britain) Category: Laboratory-Model Instruments
  • 1875: Multistage centrifugal pump patented; improved efficiency. (O Reynolds, Britain) Category: Pumps
  • 1875: Pop safety valve introduced for rail locomotives. (Crosby) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1875: Pipe thread design introduced; later known as American National Taper Pipe Thread. (Robert Briggs, US) Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1875: Steel piping available; replaces cast iron and wood for water mains and to transport oil. (Van Sickle, Nobel, US, USSR) Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1875: Cyclic gas generator produces 'blue water gas' and continuous fixed-bed gas producers developed. Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1875: Quadruple-expansion engines; No. German Lloyd twin-screw ships, Kaiser Wilhelm II. (Germany) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1875: Contact process for manufacturing sulphuric acid which was called oleum patented; replaces Roebuck's method (1749). The key to the process was the combination of pure Sulphur dioxide and oxygen gases using a platinized pumice catalyst. (Rudolph Messel, W S Squire, Germany) He worked for the company Dunn, Squire & Company who manufactured sulphuric acid. Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1875: Turbine pump patented; includes centrifugal impeller with vaned diffuser. (Osborne Reynolds, Manchester Univ) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1875–1880: True variable toothed-gear drive developed (simultaneously), when two calculators invented. (Frank Baldwin, T Odhner (Swede), US, USSR) Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1876–1880: Rope-geared hydraulic elevator becomes standard elevator form; US was dominant. Category: Materials Handling
  • This pair of steam engine driven water pumps is located at the Jacksonville municipal water system. Built by Allis-Chalmers of Milwaukee, the steam engines use valving designed by Edwin Reynolds--a modification of the Corliss design.
    1876–1878: Reynolds-Corliss engine developed; for pumping, mining machines, air compressors, etc. ASME had designated a surviving Reynolds-Corliss pumping engine located in Jacksonville Florida as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[89] (Edwin Reynolds, Milwaukee, Wis) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1876: Pioneer Oil Refinery begins commercial refinery operations; first in West. the Pioneer Oil Refinery was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[90] (Andrews Station, Calif.) Category: Resource Preparation
  • 1876: Analysis of astatic governor reported to Academie des Sciences in Paris via M Tresca. (J Wischnegradski, USSR) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1876–1896: Manganese-bronze marine propeller developed; replaces wrought iron and cast steel. (Parson, UK) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1876: First compound locomotive designed and built for Bayonne-Anglet-Biarritz railway in France. introduced a series of small 2-cylinder compound 0-4-2 locomotives. The essence of his idea combines articulation of the locomotive and compound steam use. The articulation was achieved by supporting the front of the locomotive on a bogie frame (called a Bissell truck); the compound steam system fed steam at boiler pressure to high pressure cylinders for the main driving wheels. As the steam was exhausted from those cylinders, it was passed into a low-pressure receiver and was then sent to low pressure cylinders to power the driving wheels on the Bissell truck. (Anatole Mallet, France) Category: Railway
  • 1876: Workable prototype of a telephone simultaneously produced by Bell (3/10) and Elisha Gray. Bell filed a patent describing his method of transmitting sounds on February 14, 1876, just hours before Gray filed a caveat (a statement of concept) on a similar method. On March 7, 1876, the Patent Office awarded Bell what is said to be one of the most valuable patents in history. It is most likely that both Bell and Gray independently devised their telephone designs as an outgrowth of their work on harmonic telegraphy. Despite having the patent, Bell did not have a fully functioning instrument. He first produced intelligible speech on March 10, 1876, when he summoned his laboratory assistant, Thomas Watson, with words that Bell transcribed in his lab notes as "Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you." Over the next few months Bell continued to refine his instrument to make it suitable for public exhibition. In June he demonstrated his telephone to the judges of the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. By August of that year, he was on the receiving end of the first one-way long-distance call, transmitted from Brantford to nearby Paris, Ontario, over a telegraph wire. (Bell and Gray, US, England) Category: Communication
  • 1876: Small hot-air engine invented; 1/4, 1/2, and 1 hp built, license sold to Britain 1877. (Rider, US) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1876: In May 1876, Nicolaus Otto built the first practical four-stroke piston cycle internal combustion engine. It was patented in US in 1877 and then manufactured in US also. He continued to develop his four-stroke engine and considered his work finished after his invention of the first magneto ignition system for low voltage ignition in 1884. (Otto and Langen, Germany) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1876: William Grylls Adams and his student Richard Evans Day discover the principals behind photovoltaic cells. This first demonstrated that electricity could be produced from light without moving parts and led to the modern solar cell. Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1877: The Paige Compositor is developed. It was developed by James W. Paige. Mark Twain made a substantial investment in the venture, which ultimately failed. Only a few machines were produced. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
  • 1877: First tanker, Zoroaster, designed specifically to transport oil, built for Caspian Sea Trade. It carried its 242 long tons of kerosene cargo in two iron tanks joined by pipes. The ship also featured a set of 21 vertical watertight compartments for extra buoyancy. The ship had a length overall of 184 feet (56 m), a beam of 27 feet (8.2 m), and a draft of 9 feet (2.7 m). (Ludwig & Robert Nobel). Category: Materials Handling
  • 1877: The first commercially viable district heating system was created by Birdsill Holly at Lockport, New York. Single steam-heating plant introduced. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[91] (Birdsill Holly, Lockport, N.Y.) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1877: Hydraulic dynamometer improved Reynolds' hydraulic brake; measured steam power. Froude was commissioned by the Admiralty to produce a machine capable of absorbing and measuring the power of large naval engines. He invented and built the world's first water brake dynamometer, also known as the hydraulic dynamometer, which led to the formation of Heenan & Froude Ltd. (William Froude) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1877: Direct air-pressure pump for sewage; includes Shone's ejector. (Shone, Britain) Category: Pumps
  • 1877: Overhead downfeed one-pipe steam-heating system designed. The idea that in a tall building, which was to have a one-pipe-steam system, it would be best to send the supply main straight up to the top of the building, then turn it horizontal to go around the perimeter of the attic, and finally downfeed all the radiators so that the steam and the condensate traveled in the same direction. (John H Mills) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1877: Successful refrigerator railcar patented. Tiffany did not patent the idea of a refrigerated car; only a means of circulating a variable amount of air to cool the already-insulated chamber within. Insulation was provided in ways already recognized; dead air spaces created by thin boards and felt paper, and then stuffed with hair or sawdust. (Joel Tiffany, US) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1877–1886: Incubators and chicken brooders patented; credited with creating chicken-farm industry. (Edward S Renwick, New York) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1877: Invention of the phonograph by Thomas Alva Edison. Thomas Alva Edison conceived the principle of recording and reproducing sound between May and July 1877 as a byproduct of his efforts to "play back" recorded telegraph messages and to automate speech sounds for transmission by telephone. He announced his invention of the first phonograph, a device for recording and replaying sound, on November 21, 1877 and demonstrated it to the public 8 days later. Edison's early phonographs recorded onto a tinfoil sheet phonograph cylinder using an up-down ("hill-and-dale") motion of the stylus and were hand cranked. ASME designated Edison's Experimental Recording Phonograph a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[92] Entertainment Industries
  • 1877: Elihu Thomson, an engineer and inventor invented Electric Welding. He filed for his invention on 14th June, 1890 and was issued the Patent Number; 451345 by April 28th, 1891. The prevalent method of Electric welding before the invention of Elihu Thomson involved the pressure, hammering, or other uniting force to be applied simultaneously with the application, of the heating electric current designed to bring the material to the proper plastic condition. Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1878: The two-stroke engine was completed on December 31, 1878, on New Year's Eve and was later patented in 1879. It would become the standard design for all two stroke engines in motorcycle engines and other small engines. (Karl Benz) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1878: Spur gears manufactured by mechanical process. The new gear-cutting machine that could generate and simultaneously cut the teeth of spur gears was the solution of the difficult problem in the interchangeable system of gearing. (Ambrose Swasey, Hartford, Conn) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1878: Dry-air compressor patented; reciprocating three-stage with water jackets, etc. (Peter Brotherhood, Britain) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1878–1879: Centrifugal milk-cream separator invented. a device that separates milk into cream and skimmed milk. Karl Gustaf Patrik de Laval, Sweden) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1878: Factory-made dry gelatin-emulsion photographic plates introduced into US; create emulsion industry. This process is far more practical than the preceding wet collodion process, and is the direct forerunner of roll film. One can pour the emulsion on the glass plate, allow it to dry, carry it about on expeditions, and develop it within a reasonable amount of time; no need for portable darkrooms (Europe to US) (Richard L. Maddox) Category: Communication
  • 1878: Alternator invented with Hippolyte Fontaine. In 1873, discovered that a dynamo can be operated in reverse as an electric motor; he was also the first to transmit electric energy. (Zenobe T Gramme, Paris) Category: Electric Power Plants
  • 1878: Dugald Clerk develops a two-stroke internal combustion engine. A patent is obtained in 1881. The Clerk engine used automatic 'poppet' type valves for inlet air and gas (one with spring assistance, one without), and a port in the cylinder uncovered by the piston for the exhaust valve. Clerk's significant contribution was introducing Otto-styled compression to the two-stroke engine, increasing its efficiency. Several manufacturers adopted the Clerk cycle. Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1879: Hydraulic testing machine. In 1873, the U.S. Congress appropriated money for the design and manufacture of a machine to test iron and steel to settle the question regarding the merits of iron vs. steel for use in cannons. The testing machine, capable of testing materials up to loads of 1,000,000 pounds, was delivered to Watertown Arsenal. A 5-inch diameter steel bar was inserted, the hydraulic pressure turned on, and the eyes of the experts watched the mounting pressure on the gauge. Finally, the needle indicated a load of 722,800 pounds, and the steel bar collapsed and broke under the load-more than 361 tons. (A H Emery, US) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1879: Experimental electric arc furnace for steelmaking built. (Sir Wm Stevens, Britain) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1879–1880: Small indirect electric-arc steelmaking pioneered; emerged in WW1 (ck Elihu Thomson P2). (Charles Siemens, Britain) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1879: Proto breathing apparatus produced; early gas-mask device for mining rescue work. (Fleuss) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1879: First successful demonstration of electric locomotive at the 1879 Berlin Trade Fair; operated in 1881 in Lichterfelde. The locomotive was driven by a 2.2 kW, series-wound motor, and the train, consisting of the locomotive and three cars, reached a speed of 13 km/hr. In four months, the train carried 90,000 passengers on a 300-metre-long circular track. The electricity was supplied through a third insulated rail between the tracks. A contact roller was used to collect the electricity. (Werner von Siemens, Berlin, Germany) Category: Railway
  • 1879: Chain-driven safety bicycle introduced; led to bicycle craze of 1890s. (Harry John Lawson, Britain) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1879: Brushed roller chain for bicycle devised. (Renold) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1879: First US dobby loom patented. (Horace Wyman, Massachusetts) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1879: While on a steamboat trip to Europe, James Ritty became intrigued by a mechanism that counted how many times the ship's propeller went around. He wondered if something like this could be made to record the cash transactions made at his saloon. As soon as he got home to Dayton, Ritty and his brother John, a skilled mechanic, began working on a design for such a device. After several failed prototypes, the third design operated by pressing a key that represented a specific amount of money. There was no cash drawer. James and John Ritty patented the design as Ritty's Incorruptible Cashier (James Ritty, Dayton, Ohio) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1879: George and James Weir's patent improves air removal system in steam condenser for turbines. (Weir, Britain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1879: Funicular Giessbach, designed by Carl Roman Abt, goes into service. It was the first funicular to employ a single, two-rail track, with a short side track for the two cars to pass at midpoint. The passing track used turnouts with no moving parts known as Abt Switches. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[93]
  • 1879: A long distance pipeline was in Pennsylvania by the TideWater Pipe Company. Tidewater improved the method in which oil was delivered. Oil previously was pumped in three-inch diameter pipes over relatively short distances and across level terrain. Tidewater, however, was the first to build over mountainous terrain. Working secretly, Tidewater craftily bought rights-of-way to cut a 109-mile pipeline swath to Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Six-inch pipe was laid on the ground surface in the dead of winter. As soon as the summer sun hit the exposed black pipe, it buckled and expanded but remarkably, the oil line never broke. Crews later buried the pipe underground to prevent any further problems due to exposure of the pipe to the elements. The construction of the pipeline ranks as one of the all-time great achievements in oil production and conveyance. Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes


  • 1880: Electricity first applied to elevator propulsion and demonstrated at the Mannheim Pfalzgau exhibition. Not considered reasonable until 1888. Siemens' electric elevator used a gearing system to climb wall shafts fitted with racks. Although novel, this electric elevator was still too crude to compete with the existing steam-driven, hydraulic elevator technology. (W von Siemens, Germany) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1880: Cable conveyor designed and built (one of first). (Allan Stirling, Deseronto, Ontario) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1880: Pelton waterwheel patented by Lester A. Pelson(impulse wheel); characterized by curved split buckets, high heads. A Collection of Pelton waterwheels was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[94] (Lester A Pelton, California) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1880: Thermostat sensitivity controlled; used for egg incubation. (C E Hearson, Britain) Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1880: Seismograph developed for quantitatively measuring earthquake phenomena. Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1880: Current balance dynamometer using sliding mass. (Kelvin (Wm Thomson)) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1880: Floris Osmond first to use microscope to test metals at Le Creusot works. (Floris Osmond, Birmingham, UK) Category: Observation
  • 1880: Principle of dynamic stability, cavitation, and wave profiles determined. (Raleigh (Strutt), Britain) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1880: Vertical direct-acting compound pumping engine introduced. (Moreland) Category: Pumps
  • 1880: Air-lift pump devised. (Frizzle, Britain) Category: Pumps
  • 1880–1888: First big steel furnace plant; large basic open-hearth plant with forty-eight furnaces, ea. 40–50 tonnage. Its history is both infamous and celebrated. It was the site of one of the nation's most dramatic and deadly labor conflicts, and until it shut down in 1986, it was also one of the world's largest steel mills and the flagship plant for U. S. Steel. (Andrew Carnegie, Homestead, Pa.) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1880–1900: Cadmium-alloy trolley wire developed because copper wire for electric traction too soft. Cadmium copper is used for trolley wire because it is extremely resistant to arc erosion. An extremely heat resistant cadmium oxide forms on the surface of the wire during arcing and protects it from eroding. This enables the cadmium copper wire to retain its strength under the high temperature conditions of the electric trains. (M. Wolke) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1880: Precision roll-grinding machine introduced; determined straightness and uniformity of finish. (J M Poole, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1880–1899: Standard cable-tool drilling developed; rotary grinding and drilling (oil production) is introduced in 1890s. Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1880: Open-cycle air machine made. A Brayton cycle that is driven in reverse, via network input, and when air is the working fluid, is the air refrigeration cycle or Bell Coleman cycle. Its purpose is to move heat, rather than produce work. This air-cooling technique is used widely in jet aircraft for air conditioning systems utilizing air tapped from the engine compressors (Bell and Coleman) Refrigeration
  • 1880: Isoprene isolated from rubber to create synthetic rubber; 1884, Tilden expands production. Converted by heating in a sealed tube into a mixture of polymers, including the indefinite substance named colophene.[95] (G Bouchardat, France) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1880–1889: Cotton-seed-oil mill is built and operates in Georgia; expands throughout South. (Erwin Wm Thompson, Thomasville, Ga) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1880: Direct-connected tangential waterwheel on air compressor invented; at iron works. (Edward A Rix, San Francisco) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1880–1889: High-head, impulse, and reactor-type water turbines developed by many. Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1880: Elasticity in impact of materials studied; later used to determine loads in ball bearings. (Heinrich Hertz, Berlin) Category: Tribology
  • 1881: Edison Machine Works founded by Thomas Edison to manufacture generators. The machine works produced the Edison 'Jumbo' engine-drive dynamo, used at the Pearl Street Station, which was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[96] (Thomas Edison, US) Category: Electric Power Plants
  • 1881: Aberdeen built; using a prototype of triple expansion steam engines designed by Alexander Kirk, the most important propulsion for decades, including for US Liberty ships. ASME designated the SS Jeremiah O'Brien a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark as one of only two operating survivors of the US emergency-cargo fleet known as Liberty Ships.[97] (Alexander Kirk, Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1881: Marc Thury's circular dividing machine for the Societe Genevoise. (Marc Thury, Geneva) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1881–1888: SS Alexander McDougall, a Whaleback freight ship, designed, 1881; built 1888, barge transportation for coal, grain, etc. Alexander McDougall was the only whaleback built a with traditionally shaped bow and the only whaleback to be outfitted with a quadruple expansion engine (Alex. McDougall, US) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1881: First automatic buttonhole machine patented. (J Reece) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1881: Willcox and Gibbs trimmed-seam machine patented. The invention took the place of the old-style hand and scissors trimming. (Charles Henry Willcox) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1881: In 1882 the Brush Electric Company supplied generating equipment for a hydroelectric power plant at St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis, among the first to generate electricity from water power in the United States. (Charles F. Brush, Brush Electric Company) Category: Electric Power Plants
  • 1881: First commercial supply of electricity becomes available from a central power station with Siemen's dynamo. On September 26th 1881, Siemens installed the world's first commercial power station, and also its first electric street lighting, in Godalming, Surrey, in 1881. It was not the first place to have electric street lighting but it was the first place in the world to have public electricity. (Godalming, UK) Category: Electric Power Plants
  • 1882: Pearl Street Station, designed by Thomas Edison including his steam-driven dynamo, begins operating; becomes prototype. The Pearl Street Station's steam-engine powered dynamo was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[98] (Thomas Edison, New York City) Category: Electric Power Plants
  • 1882: Solenoid-operated valve system applied as first servomechanism to regulate steam to electric generator. (P W Willans, Rugby, Britain) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1882–1899: Manganese steel developed (announced 1882). Manganese is usually alloyed with most modern steels because of its powerful ability to remove sulfur, phosphorus and oxygen, which are all common impurities in steel. Mangalloy was the first alloy created from carbon steel; nonmagnetic manganese steel patented 1883. (Robt Hadfield, Britain) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1882: Electromote, which was the world's first vehicle run like a trolleybus, appears along the Kurfüerstendamm in Berlin, Germany. The Elektromote operated on a 540 m (591 yard) trail-track starting at Halensee Railway station, and thence to "Straße No. 5", today's Joachim-Friedrich-Straße, and "Straße No. 13", today's Johann-Georg-Straße, crossing the upper Kurf:ürstendamm at former Kurfürstenplatz. (Siemens) Category: Railway
  • 1882: Knuckle-type automatic coupler, designed by Eli Janney, developed for US ralways; becomes North American standard. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[99] (Janney US) Category: Railway
  • 1882–1883: Single-wheel steam turbine invented; rotating at high speeds with helical gears in oil spray. Beginning of a concept of an impulse steam turbine (Karl G P de Laval, Sweden) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1883: A Treatise on Cranes published. (Henry R Towne, Connecticut) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1883: Modulating valve developed for steam heating systems. (Frederick Tudor) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1883: Morgan mill patented; continuous train of horizontal rolls (with R H Daniels). (Charles H Morgan, Massachusetts) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1883: Montgomery Glider produces the first heavier-than-air human-carrying aircraft to achieve controlled piloted flight. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[100]
  • 1883–1903: Fundamentals of space flight formulated; in Issledovani Mirovykh Pr Ostrovykh Reaktivnymi Priborami, Tsiolkovsky stated that he developed the theory of rocketry only as a supplement to philosophical research on the subject. He wrote more than 400 works including approximately 90 published pieces on space travel and related subjects. Among his works are designs for rockets with steering thrusters, multistage boosters, space stations, airlocks for exiting a spaceship into the vacuum of space, and closed-cycle biological systems to provide food and oxygen for space colonies. (Konstantin E Tsiolkovsky, USSR) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1883–1884: Solar engine invented using parabolic trough; large solar pyrometer with polygonal reflector erected. Ericsson had intended Californian agriculturists to take up his sun-motor for irrigation purposes but in the end, nothing came of the project. His new motor, as a pumping engine, was however a commercial success, but heated not the sun but by gas. (John Ericsson, US) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1883–1885: Light-oil, moderate speed internal combustion engine patented; with surface carburetor, enclosed crankcase, and splash lubrication. The 1885 Daimler-Maybach engine was small, lightweight, fast, used a gasoline-injected carburetor, and had a vertical cylinder. The size, speed, and efficiency of the engine allowed for a revolution in car design. On March 8, 1886, Daimler took a stagecoach (made by Wilhelm Wimpff & Sohn) and adapted it to hold his engine, thereby designing the world's first four-wheeled automobile. (Gottlieb Daimler, Wurttemberg, Germany) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1883–1886: Modern Category: Tribology science, especially fluid film lubrication, founded; fluid motion and quantifying methods demonstrated. (Osborne Reynolds, Univ of Manchester) Category: Tribology
  • 1884: Direct-casting linotype designed by Ottmar Mergenthaler; patented 1885 (linotype with justification patented). ASME designated one of the two surviving early Mergenthaler linotypes a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[101] (O Mergenthaler, Baltimore, Ohio) Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1884–1905: Vanadium added to steel to increase strength and toughness; earliest microalloyed steels. (Arnold, Hadfield, Guillet, France) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1884: Apparatus for radial-axis system of coal mining patented. (Wm L Saunders) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1884: Mallet's articulation principle patented; demonstrated at 1889 Paris exhibit by Decauville Aine (firm). (Anatole Mallet, France) Category: Railway
  • 1884: Pyrex invented by Carl Zeiss in Jena Germany; It was designed for use in railway signal lighting, in response to the switch from kerosene lamps to arc lamps. The latter generated much higher temperatures leading to thermal shocks when it was cold or rainy, and the shocks caused the soda lime glass to crack more frequently. A glass better able to handle thermal stress was needed. Later improved by Corning who cast a 200-inch disk of Pyrex for use in the Hale Telescope at the Mount Palomar Observatory. (1916). (Zeiss, Corning, Jena, Germany; US) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1884: Stefan-Dolzman law in kinetic phenomena of gases formulated; Josef Stefan. (L Boltzmann, Austria-Hungary) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1884: Central-valve high-speed steam engine patented. A central spindle with multiple piston valves covered and uncovered ports in the hollow piston rod. It was driven from an eccentric fixed between the two connecting rods. There appears to be no way to vary the cutoff, and governing was done by controlling the steam supply. Lubrication was by the "splash" system, with the cranks dipping into the oil at the bottom the crankcase, which was therefore enclosed to prevent oil splashing everywhere. Note also the two lubricators at the top, positioned above the valve trunks. These engines ran smoothly at 350 to 500 rpm, and were highly successful in the emerging electricity supply industry. (P W Willans, Britain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1884: Code for the conduct of trials of steam boilers formulated; first Performance Test Code. (ASME, Wm Kent, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1884: Steam turbine invented; multistage axial-flow reaction turbine. It was connected to a dynamo that generated 7.5 kW (10 hp) of connected the turbine was easy to scale up, the size of generators were later able to be increased to 50,000 kW capacity. The Turbine made cheap and plentiful electricity possible, revolutionized marine transport and naval warfare and was eventually adopted for all major world power stations. (Charles Parsons, Britain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1884: Charles Fritts develops the first working solar cell. Fritts coated the semiconductor material selenium with an extremely thin layer of gold. The resulting cells had a conversion electrical efficiency of only about 1% owing to the properties of selenium, which in combination with the material's high cost prevented the use of such cells for energy supply. Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1885–1893: Motor vehicles built with horizontal, single-cylinder Otto-cycle engine. It marks the first technical and commercial success of the automobile. (Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, Mannheim, Germany; France) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1885: Rogers-Bond universal comparator (early model) patented. (Wm Rogers, G M Bond, US) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1885: Seamless steel tube hot-forged by Reinhard and Max Mannesmann; patented. (Mannesmann, Remscheid, Germany) Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1885: Electrolysis method leads to commercial process for producing pure copper. (Faraday, Pembrey, So. Wales) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1885: Rover safety bicycle manufactured; replaces ordinary bicycle (1870) within a few years (produced by nephew of Starley). The safety bicycle had a rear-wheel-drive, chain-driven cycle with two similar-sized wheels, making it more stable than the previous high wheeler designs. It was heavier and more expensive than penny-farthings, but lighter and cheaper than tricycles of the day. In its original form it used indirect steering, later direct steering was adopted and the bicycle proved to be a hit. (John Kemp Starley) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1885: Paper bag manufacturing machine patented (first patent). (Wm Henry Honiss, Hartford, Conn) Category: Specialized Factory Tools and Systems
  • 1885: Electromagnetic tabulating system developed; an electromechanical machine designed to assist in summarizing information and, later, accounting. It was developed to help process data for the 1890 U.S. Census. (Herman Hollerith) The factory that manufactured his tabulating machines was located at 31st Street and the C&O Canal, where today there is a commemorative plaque installed by IBM. Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1885: Solar pumping system uses low boiling-point liquid and flat-plate collector. Tellier set up ten plates, each consisting of two iron sheets riveted together. Tubes filled with ammonia connected the plates. Tellier chose ammonia because it boils faster than water. Heat from sunlight striking the plates converted the ammonia-to-ammonia steam. The steam powered an engine for a water pump. Later Tellier enclosed the top of the device in glass and insulated the bottom, to increase efficiency. (Charles Tellier, Auteuil, France) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1885: Convergent-divergent nozzle for steam turbine mathematically described. Later discovered independently by De Laval for steam turbines (Osborne Reynolds, Manchester Univ) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1886: Venturi meter for flow measure developed; continuous record of flow through pipes possible by measuring the change in pressure. (Clemens Herschel, Holyoke, Mass) Category: Fluid-Pressure Measurement
  • 1886: Vertical triple-expansion pumping engine introduced in US. (E. P. Allis Co., West Allis, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1886: Air lift pump improved. An air lift pump consists of a vertical pipe immersed in a liquid, an air compressor, and a conduit to introduce the compressed air into the bottom of vertical pipe. As air flows from the conduit into the vertical pipe, a vertical flow of bubbles and liquid is created in the pipe. The buoyancy of the air bubbles lifts the liquid and ejects it from the upper end of the pipe above the surface of the liquid. (Julius G. Pohle) Category: Pumps
  • 1886: Inertia governor patented. The object of this invention was to simplify the construction and increase the operative efficiency of governors of the above type, by effecting a substantial reduction in the number of working parts, and by utilizing the force of inertia as a governing agent, thereby attaining more rapid and accurate adjustments than are practicable under the ordinary constructions of this type. (Francis M Rites) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1886: Direct electrolysis for commercially producing aluminum discovered. The Hall–Héroult process is the major industrial process for smelting aluminum. It involves dissolving aluminum oxide (alumina) in molten cryolite, and electrolyzing the molten salt bath, typically in a purpose-built cell. (Hall and Heroult, US and France) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1886: Electrical resistance welding process. (Elihu Thomson, Lynn, Mass) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1886: First patent for cracking. For manufacturing petroleum. (G.L. Benton, Titusville, Pa;) (US Patent #342564) Resource Preparation
  • 1886–1900: Apparatus to detect and record deadly gases patented; used worldwide, especially for mining. (Thomas Shaw, Pennsylvania) (US Patent #394215) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1886: The Gluckhauf was built. It was a German ship that represented a major step forward in oil tanker design. The 2700-ton tanker was built at the Armstrong Mitchell yard, Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Britain, with eight compartments for the cargo. It was the first ship in which oil could be pumped directly into the vessel hull instead of being loaded in barrels or drums. (Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1886: Mountain-rack railway line opens in Harz Mountains; improvement in rack designed by Roman Abt, becomes most widely used rack system. Designed and patented his rack railway system that enabled at least one tooth of the rack to be permanently engaged. (Roman Abt, Germany) Category: Railway
  • 1886–1887: Motor bicycle (1886) and motor car (1887) produced by Gottlieb Daimler, working with Wilhelm Maybach. (Gottlieb Daimler, Germany) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1886: Automatic dry-joint fire extinguisher patented. (William Kane, Philadelphia) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1886: Vacuum insulation invented; leads to Dewar flask (1892), now known as thermos bottle. (James Dewar, London) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1886–1903: Niagara Falls' hydroelectric plant (opens 1903); dynamos designed 1890 (McCormick turbine installed 1901). (Coleman Sellers, Canada, NY) The original construction was designed by Nicola Tesla and built in 1895; Adam's Station (Power House Number No. 3) is sole remaining building of the original station. Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1886–1889: Engine using the vapor of heavy oil patented 1886. The Priestman Oil Engine used a pressurized fuel tank, and fuel injection through a nozzle into a chamber heated by exhaust gasses in order to create a suitably combustible mixture in the cylinder. Incomplete vaporization of the fuel resulted in some condensation on the walls of the cylinder; as a result, the fuel both lubricated the cylinder as well as providing power. The engine also controlled the speed by connections between valves on the fuel inlets and a speed governor. (William Dent Priestman, Britain) One engine has been preserved as a stationary exhibit at the Streetlife Museum of Transport in Kingston upon Hull. Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1886: Josephine Garis Cochran invented and patented the first successful commercial dishwashing machine. In designing the device, she first measured the dishes and built wire compartments, each specially designed to fit either plates, cups, or saucers. The compartments were placed inside a wheel that lay flat inside a copper boiler. A motor turned the wheel while hot soapy water squirted up from the bottom of the boiler and rained down on the dishes. Her dishwasher was the first to use water pressure instead of scrubbers to clean the dishes inside the machine. She applied for the patent in 1886 and the factory business, Garis-Cochran Dish Washing Manufacturing Co., began in 1897. She showed her invention at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and won the highest prize for "best mechanical construction, durability and adaptation to its line of work". Garis-Cochran continued to improve the dishwasher design, obtaining several patents. Her company was later named the Crescent Dishwasher Manufacturing Company, which was eventually acquired by Hobart. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1887–1921: Automatic ore-loading machine developed by George Hulett. The Hulett's clear superiority over earlier mechanical unloaders revolutionized ore handling and led to its rapid adoption throughout the lower-lake ore ports. Through 1960, more than 75 were built by Cleveland's Wellman-Seaver-Morgan Co. and its predecessor and successor firms. With the advent of self-unloading ore boats, most have been dismantled. ASME designatd a Hulett Ore Unloader a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[102] (George Hulett, Cleveland, Ohio) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1887: Reciprocating steam engines for power generation installed at Pratt Institute of Brooklyn. The Pratt Institute Power Plant was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[103] (New York) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1887: Probe measurements introduced and cathode drop and anode drop established for arcwelding. (Lecher) Category: Measurement Apparatus and Testing
  • 1887: Water filtration system patented; adopted by cities and paper and woolen mills. Isaiah Smith Hyatt, older brother of John, obtained on February 19, 1884, a patent on simultaneous coagulation-filtration. He died leaving John with his two patents. (John Hyatt, New Jersey) Category: Centralized Distribution Systems
  • 1887: Arc welding developed in Soviet Union (—WRC). (USSR) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1887: Portable electric drills introduced; for shipbuilding. (F J Rowan, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1887: Spur-gear hobbing machine patented. (C B Grant, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1887–1903: US Navy modernized; water-tube boilers installed, triple-screw vessels designed, steam turbine reduction gear invented. (George W Melville, US) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1887: Engines for cable railway across Brooklyn Bridge designed. (Erasmus D Leavitt, New York) Category: Railway
  • 1887: Cable car system is established in San Francisco. The Clay Street line started regular service on September 1, 1873. In 1888, it was absorbed into the Sacramento-Clay line of the Ferries and Cliff House Railway, and it subsequently became a small part of the San Francisco cable car system. Today none of the original line survives. However, the San Francisco cable car system continues in service and grip car 8 from the original line has been preserved, and is now displayed in the San Francisco Cable Car Museum. The Ferries & Cliff Cable Railway Power House was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[104] (Andrew Hallidie, San Francisco) Category: Railway
  • 1887–1893: Carburetor invented by Wilhelm Maybach for Daimler; enables gas tank storage and introduces gas into engine. (Gottlief Daimler, Germany) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1887: Book-sewing machine patented; used at Smyth Manufacturing Company. (Arthur Jacobs, Hartford, Conn) Category: Specialized Factory Tools and Systems
  • 1887: Compound reaction turbine built; includes high- and low-pressure stages. (Charles Parsons, Britain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1887: German physicist Heinrich Hertz develops radar. Category: Observation
  • 1888: 36-inch telescope built for Univ of Calif Lick Observatory by Ambrose Swasey and Worcester R Warner. The two-element achromatic objective lens was the largest lens ever made at the time. The telescope is located atop Mount Hamilton at an elevation of 4,209 feet (1,283 m) above sea level. The instrument is housed inside a dome that is powered by hydraulic systems that raise and lower the floor, rotate the dome and drive the clock mechanism to track the Earth's rotation. The original hydraulic arrangement still operates today, with the exception that the original wind-powered pumps that once filled the reservoirs have been replaced with electric pumps. (Swasey and Warner Company, Chicago) Category: Observation
  • 1888: Steam-traction vehicles used for hauling and agricultural purposes. (Dodman, Britain) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1888: Floating dynamometer invented for measuring power delivered by dynamos and motors. (John Burkitt Webb, New Jersey) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1888–1891: Automatic gas water heater patented. (Edwin Rudd, Pennsylvania) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1888–1909: Heating and ventilating systems designed; introduces cheesecloth filter, humidistat developed. (Alfred R Wolff) Centralized Distribution Systems
  • 1888: Osmond on heat treatment and alloy steels. (F Osmond, Britain) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1888: Electric machinery for soft-coal mines manufactured; generators, locomotives, undercutters, etc. (Elmer A Sperry) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1888: Patent for polyphase induction motor (AC electrification) issued. (Nikola Tesla) Engine Auxiliaries
  • 1888: Electric streetcar perfected (from Edison's in Menlo Park, Siemens and Malske in Berlin). Sprague's inventions included several improvements to designs for systems of electric streetcars collecting electricity from overhead wires, devised a greatly improved mounting for streetcar motors and better gear designs and proved that regenerative braking was practical. After testing his trolley system in late 1887 and early 1888, Sprague installed the first successful large electric street railway system – the Richmond Union Passenger Railway in Richmond, Virginia, which began passenger operation on February 2, 1888. (Frank J Sprague, Richmond, VA) Category: Railway
  • 1888: Friction draft gear patented; 'Buffing Apparatus,' No. 391,997, first commercial application in 1896, this type of gear supersedes the spring gear by 1908. (George Westinghouse, Jr., USA) Category: Railway
  • 1888: Pneumatic tires patented for use on a tricycle; used on bicycles by 1893. (John B Dunlop, Belfast) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1888: Largest windmill in world built; compound field dynamo, 108 storage batteries. (Charles F Brush, Cleveland, Ohio) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1888: First turbine-driven generating set installed in public power station (turbo-alternators). (Charles Parsons, Newcastle, Britain) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1888: John Loud invents a ballpoint pen. However, it was not produced commercially. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1889: Two Otis elevators installed in Demarest Carriage building on 5th Avenue, New York; uses electric worm-drive drum machine. Installed by Norton Otis, son of the pioneering Elisha, it the first direct-connected geared electric elevator in the world. The elevator carried a load of 675 kilograms (1,488 lbs.) for passengers, 1,125 kilograms for freight (2,480 lbs.), and topped out at a speed of 30 meters per minute (98.4 ft./min.) along a vertical travel distance of 21 meters (68.9 ft.). (Otis, New York) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1889–1912: Hydraulic elevators seating forty persons on changing incline installed in Eiffel Tower. (Otis, T Brown Jr, Paris, US) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1889–1892: Improved water-tube boiler introduced, designed by Allan Stirling (12,000 lb. of steam at 160 psi in pressure). ASME designated a later (1906) Stirling water-tube boiler at the Crown Cotton Mills, now named the Elk Cotton Mill, in Cross Plains, Georgia, a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[105] (Allan Stirling, New York) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1889: Time recorders produced; first in world (eventually merged 1911 into IBM). (Bundy Company, US) Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1889: Vacuum brake used on British railroads for continuous braking system. (Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1889: Four-cylinder compound locomotive designed for Baldwin Locomotive Works; widely adopted. (Samuel Vauclain, Philadelphia) Category: Railway
  • 1889: Der Vogelflug Als Grundlage Des Fliegekunst (Birdflight as the Basis of Aviation) published. (Otto Lilienthal, Germany) Category: Aeronautics, except spacecraft
  • 1889–1899: Steel windmills and steel towers manufactured; Aeromotor Company, founded 1889. ASME designated a collection of steel windmills in Batavia, IL as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[106] The collection includes a windmill manufactured by Aeromotor Company. (La Verne Noyes, Chicago) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1889: Impulse turbine developed with nozzle; single-wheel turbine with reduction gearing for high speeds. (Karl G P deLaval, Stockholm, Sweden) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1889: V-type twin cylinder petrol engine patented; used in cars, stationary engine, and motor launches. (Gottlieb Daimler, Wurttemberg, Germany) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1889: Frederick H Lanchester develops the pendulum accelerometer. Category: General Instrument Making


  • 1890: Rix Compressed Air Machinery Company established; introduces air-lift test plant, supercharger air compressor. (Edward A Rix, San Francisco) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1890–1899: Tungsten alloy steels used for high-speed machine tools; replaces Mushet and air-hardening steel. (US) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1890: Arc welding, resistance welding, and oxyacetylene, welding develops. Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1890: Automated shoe-making machine patented (bought by US Shoe Machinery Company). (Jan E Matzeliger, Lynn, Mass.) Category: Automation
  • 1890: First electric underground railway. (London) Category: Railway
  • 1890: Singer safety bicycle incorporates features of modern bicycle; leads to 'most spectacular craze of all time,' advertising trend established. (US) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1890–1899: Serpollet steam car produced; uses superheated steam. (France) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1890: Lilienthal's first (hang) glider built. (Otto Lilienthal) Category: Aeronautics, except spacecraft
  • 1890: Hand-operated tabulating machines and sorters use Jacquard-type punch cards (for US Census). (Herman Hollerith, US) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1890–1915: Thermionic valve developed; evolving from filament lamp work with tungsten in vacuum bulb. (US) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1890: Enclosed high-speed steam engine, by Bellis and Morcom, invented. (A C Pain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1890: Oil engine using compression ignition principle patented; locomotive built 1896 by Hornsby. (Akroyd Stuart, Britain) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1890: Forced lubrication demonstrated; oil on journal bearing. (Beauchamp Tower, Britain) Category: Tribology
  • 1891: First British vertical triple-expansion pumping engine. (Britain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1891: Carborundum (silicon carbide) invented; made commercially for grinding wheels in * 1896. (E A Acheson, Niagara Falls) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1891: Wilkinson automatic mechanical stoker invented; used on ocean liners and in large factories. (Alfred Wilkinson, Philadelphia) Category: Engine Auxiliaries
  • 1891: Mechanical arrangement of modern car appears; Daimler and Levassor produce first car. •Panhard et Levassor sold their first automobile in 1890, based on a Daimler engine license. The Type P2D was equipped with 2 -cylinder engines and could exceed 20 km hr. (Emile C Levassor, France) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1891–1896: Gliding experiments begin (1891); more than 2,000 flights before his death (1896) from a fall. (Otto Lilienthal, Germany) Category: Aeronautics, except spacecraft
  • 1891: First zipper patented. (Whitcomb Judson, US) (Note: Judson is sometimes given credit as the inventor of the zipper, but he never made a practical device.) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1891: La Cour windmill is used to generate electricity. Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1892: The General Problem of the Stability of Motion published; includes nonlinear application (Univ Khar'kov). (Alex. M Liapunov, St Petersburg) Category: Kinematics
  • 1892: Viscous dynamometer invented. (John Burkitt Webb, New Jersey) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1892: Universal rolling mill patented; steel beams manufactured. (Abram Reese, St Louis) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1892: Quick-change gearbox invented; flexible lathe device. (W P Norton, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1892: Large-scale experimental plant to extract pure nickel erected. (Ludwig Mond, Smethwick) Category: Resource Preparation
  • 1892: First US steel-ship yard built; American Steel Barge Company. (Alex. McDougall, Everett, Wash) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1892: First power-driven mechanical underfeed stoker operates at Portland Cable Railway Company. (Evan Wm Jones, Portland, Oregon) Category: Railway
  • 1892: Pneumatic seed cotton machine patented; adopted worldwide. (Robert S Munger, Birmingham, Ala) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1892: Viscose rayon produced; earliest cellulose fibers for textile industry. (C F Cross and E JBevan) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1892: John Froelich, an American inventor from Waterloo, Iowa developed the first stable gasoline/petrol-powered tractor with forward and reverse gears. Designed by Mann and himself, Froelich was able to build a 16 horsepower (12 kW) tractor that could go both forward and backward by the year 1892. After completing the tractor Froelich and Mann brought it to Langford, South Dakota, where they would connect it to a J.I. Case threshing machine and thresh 72,000 bushels in 52 days. Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1892–1895: The Diesel engine was invented. A compression-ignition internal combustion engine using petrol oil achieved high thermal efficiency. In 1893, Rudolf Diesel published "Theorie und Konstruktion eines rationellen Wärmemotors zum Ersatz der Dampfmaschine und der heute bekannten Verbrennungsmotoren" [107], which formed the basis for his work on and invention of the engine named after him. (Rudolf Diesel, Augsburg, Germany) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1892: Moving picture/Kinectosope- On October 1888, Thomas Edison filed a preliminary claim to the US Patent office, outlining his plans for a motion picture device. On March 1889, he filed a second caveat naming this device the Kinetoscope. Around this time, Edison assigned William Kennedy Dickson and a team of inventors to turn the concept into a working model. On May 20, 1891, the first public demonstration of a prototype Kinetoscope was given at the laboratory for approximately 150 members of the National Federation of Women's Clubs. By autumn 1892, the design of the Kinetoscope was essentially complete. On February 21, 1893, a patent was issued for the system that governed the intermittent movement of film in the scope. The first public demonstration of the Kinetoscope was held at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences on May 9, 1893. Though Edison took full credit for the invention of the machine, most modern scholars assign Dickson and his team with the major credit for turning the concept into a practical reality. Category: Communication
  • 1893: The electric toaster is invented by Alan MacMasters in Scotland. Named the "Eclipse Toaster", it was manufactured and marketed by the Crompton Company. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1893: Digital micrometer invented; US rights acquired by Brown and Sharpe. (J Ciceri Smith, Edinburgh Univ, Britain) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1893–1895: First use of stability conditions in the design of practical control systems. (Stodola, Hurwitz, Zurich, Switzerland) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1893: German heat-unit system for ventilation introduced in US; combined plenum and exhaust system, thermostat. (Alfred Wolff, New York) Category: Ventilation
  • 1893: Experimental work on planing published; 'Rabota I Usilie Neobkhodimyya Dlya Oteleniya (K A Zvorykin, Moscow) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1893: Method for underground distribution and recovery of anhydrous ammonia patented. (John Edwin Starr, St Louis) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1893: Condensing apparatus patented by Frederick Wheeler; widely used in US and Europe and by US Navy. (Frederick Wheeler, New York) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1893: First US-manufactured motor vehicles built by bicycle mechanics; gasoline-powered. (C and F Duryea, Springfield, Mass) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1893: Float-feed carburetor patented; used in Daimler's and Maybach's 'Phoenix' gas-powered car. (Wilhelm Maybach, Germany) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1893: Box kite invented; basis for biplane structure. (L Hargrave, Australia) Category: Aeronautics, except spacecraft
  • 1893–1895: Superheated steam experiments to adapt small motor engines to power stations. (W H Patchell, Britain) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1893: The first dam designed specifically for generating hydroelectricity is built across the Colorado River in Austin Texas. (Note: A hydroelectric power plant was built on the Fox River in Appleton WI (the Vulcan Plant) in 1892). There may have been others that preceded this. However, this may indeed be the first dam built for a hydro-electric station; perhaps more civil engineering than mechanical) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1893: James Summer invents the first known lawn mower, although it was likely not a practical device. It was powered by a steam engine and weighed approximately two tons. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1893: George Washington Ferris designed and built an observation/entertainment ride consisting of a large vertical wheel on which individual compartments held passengers. It was first used at the World Fair at Chicago. In 1891, the directors of the World's Columbian Exposition issued a challenge to American engineers to conceive of a monument for the fair that would surpass the Eiffel Tower. Ferris responded with a proposed wheel from which visitors would be able to view the entire exhibition. The Ferris Wheel had 36 cars, each fitted with 40 revolving chairs and able to accommodate up to 60 people, giving a total capacity of 2,160. When the fair opened in 1893, it carried some 38,000 passengers daily, taking 20 minutes to complete two revolutions, the first involving six stops to allow passengers to exit and enter and the second a nine-minute non-stop rotation, for which the ticket holder paid 50 cents. It carried 2.5 million passengers before it was finally demolished in 1906. Entertainment Industries
  • 1894–1897: Tests of radial-flow turbine conducted in 1894, result in cavitation problems, but leading to a successful design, which was installed in the Turbinia turbine in 1897. Charles Algernon Parsons (1854–1931) invented (1884), developed, and promoted the steam turbine, as well as the design of the Turbinia. For this, he is considered among the outstanding technological innovators of all time. The Turbinia was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[108] (Charles A. Parsons, Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1894: The Leavitt Pumping Engine No. 3 goes in service at Boston's Chestnut Hill Station. Added to provide added capacity to the existing pumping units in order to meet the increased demand in the high service areas of Boston, this engine was of unusual design. Its performance attracted significant attention in the field of steam engineering and municipal water systems. The engine is still in its original location, retired in 1928 though kept in operating condition. The Smithsonian Institution, of Washington, D. C. considers this an outstanding example of steam engineering. Beside drawings and pictures of this engine, the Smithsonian has in its possession scale model.[109] The pumping engine was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.
  • 1894: Simple nickel steels become dominant general-purpose low-alloy steels; especially for carburizing and structures. Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1895: Hydrodynamics published. (Horace Lamb) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1895: Electromagnet for handling pig iron and scrap steel patented; used worldwide. (Samuel TWellman, Cleveland) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1895: Folsom Power House enters service. The historic Folsom Power House #l marks one of the first successful uses of hydroelectric power in the world and the first successful transmission of power long distance (twenty-two miles to Sacramento). The old Folsom Power House still shelters the machinery generated to drive streetcars and illuminate the city of Sacramento. Folsom Water Power Company and the General Electric Company required and, respectively, designed accessories to achieve long-distant transmission, though many were skeptical. Their gamble and the plans of Horatio P. Livermore made the success of the Folsom Power House possible. On July 13, 1895, Sacramento celebrated its full advent into the electrical age. The Folsom Power House was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[110] (GE and Folsom, Folsom, Calif.) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • Patent drawing of the automatic temperature control system of Walter Johnson.
    1895: The first multi-zone temperature control system that could be economically manufactured, installed and maintained is invented by Warren S. Johnson. The Johnson Controls Pneumatic Temperature control system became the standard for commercial and public buildings and launched the modern building controls industry. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[111] (Johnson Controls, Milwaukee, Wis.) Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1895–1903: Automatic bottle-making machine conceived and built (patented 1895). Michael J. Owens (1859–1923) devised the first commercially successful, fully automatic bottle-making machine in 1903, financed by Edward D. Libbey (1854–1925) and executed with the aid of engineers William Boch, C. William Schwenzfeier, and Richard LaFrance. As a result of nine years of refined design work, the "AR" machine was less limited in the design of molds than the "A" and permitted greater cooling facilities. The general-purpose "AR" had an average production of 50,400 bottles a day. The last two Owens machines in operation, the AQ, were operated at Gas City, Indiana, until December 17, 1982. ASME designated the 1903 Owens bottle-making machine as the world's first automated bottling machine that introduced cheap and plentiful supply of glass containers, ending child labor in those plants.[112] (Michael Owens, Toledo, Ohio) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1895–1903: Series of Macmillan and Company books on metallurgy, refining, etc., published. (A H Hoirns, Birmingham, UK) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1895–1898: Taylor-White process of heat treatment of high-speed tool steel developed (adds tungsten). (F W Taylor, White, US) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1895: Multi-spindle automatic lathe introduced for small pieces. (US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1895: Septic tank manufactured and patented; resulting gas used as fuel for illumination. (D Cameron, Britain) Category: Pollution Control
  • 1895: Machine for air liquefaction constructed; produces commercially pure oxygen. (Karl von Linde, Munich) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1895: First US mainline railway electrified; B & O line. (Baltimore and Ohio) Category: Railway
  • 1895: Paris-Bordeaux-Paris (752 miles) race touches off activities in automotive industry; won by Levassor, whose vehicle averaged 15 mph. (Emile C Levassor, France) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1895: Self-threading automatic loom with weft-fork mechanism and warp let-off and warp stop motions. (J H Northrup, Hopedale, Mass) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1895: Bucket-cutting machine for large steam turbines. (John Riddell (GE), Schenectady, N.Y.) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1895: Light high-speed petrol engine fit to motor-tricycle; precursor of single-cylinder air-cooled engine, produced by De Dion and Bouton. (de Dion and Bouton, Puteaux, France) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1895: The world's first bus powered by an internal combustion engine is introduced in Germany by Netphener Omnibusgesellschaft. It was a converted Benz truck capable of conveying eight passengers. Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1895: Wilhelm Roentgen experiments with high energy electromagnetic waves, determining that they are able to pass through many materials opaque to light. Because of his discovery, he was awarded the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901. Roentgen did not patent his work, wanting it to be widely available for public benefit. Category: Observation
  • 1895: Frank Hope-Jones devises the synchromone remontoire in 1895. The synchronome system was based on a central clock with a pendulum which ran on electricity, which then regulated the other clocks in the system. Category: Timekeeping-Clockwork-Astrolabes
  • 1891–1896: In 1891, Samuel Pierpont Langley began experiments with large, tandem-winged model aircraft powered by small steam and gasoline engines. He referred to his model airplants as 'aerodromes.' His early attempts were with designs that were either fragile or underpowered, but on May 6, 1896 his Aerodrome Number 5 made a successful flight. It is considered the first by an unpiloted, engine-driven, heavier-than-air craft of substantial size.[113]
  • 1896: Johansson blocks (precision block gauges) and slip-gauge system produced; by hand lapping method, introduced 1908. (Carl E Johansson, Eskilstuna, Sweden) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1896–1940: Heavy-duty precision, high-production rate grinding machine introduced, Brown and Sharpe. (Charles Norton (Ford), R.I. and Mass) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1896: Multistage impulse steam turbine patented (not in J6, pressure staged impulse turbine by 1900—Z6). (Auguste Rateau, France) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1896: Otto Lilienthal, a German inventor, is the first man to fly in a heavier than air machine – a glider. Category: Aeronautics, except spacecraft
  • 1897: Double-reduction helical gearing, for turbine-powered ships, developed; introduced 1900–40. (de Laval, Britain) Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1897: Gear-shaping and related cutters patented. (E R Fellows, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1897: Fixed platform for offshore drilling patented; S Lewis develops mobile platform. (Thomas F Rowland, off Calif.) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1897–1907: Leyner hammer drill introduced; replaces piston drills by 1907 (invented 1902, patented 1903–04—A2). (J George Leyner, Littleton, Colo) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1897: Steam turbine introduced into ship propulsion after Turbinia demonstrated at Queen Victoria naval review; in general use by 1910. (Charles Parsons, Britain) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1897: First geared-turbine vessel fitted out by Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company. (Wallsend) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1897: Automobile designed with pneumatic tires, Ackerman steering, and a petroleum engine. It was one of the first introduced in England. (F W Lanchester, Britain) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1897–1901: First practical two-wheel motorcycle (motored bicycle) produced by Paris journalists. In 1896, Michel and Eugene Werner attempt to use a De Dion-Bouton engine in a bicycle frame but ended in failure. In 1897, they succeeded in creating a moto bicycle called the Motocyclette with the engine mounted on the front steering head. The most significant success in moto bicycle design came in 1900–01 with the New Werner which used a patented frame design in which the engine is mounted at the bottom of the frame. The pattern of low-mounted engine inside some kind of motorcycle frame became the standard motorcycle layout for the 20th century. (Michel and Eugene Werner, Paris) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1897: Monotype printing established in US. (US) Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1897: Riesenrad, Vienna Austria site of one of the oldest Ferris wheels in the world – perhaps the oldest extant. Overlooks the city of Vienna and the Danube. The Wiener Riesenrad was constructed in 1897 by the English engineer Lieutenant Walter Bassett Bassett. It was the world's tallest extant Ferris wheel from 1920 until 1985 and is the oldest surviving example of a 19th century Ferris wheel. Category: Entertainment Industries
  • 1897: André-Jacques Garnerin began experiments with early parachutes based on umbrella-shaped devices and carried out the first parachute descent (in the gondola) with a silk parachute on 22 October 1797 at Parc Monceau, Paris. Garnerin's first parachute resembled a closed umbrella before he ascended, with a pole running down its center and a rope running through a tube in the pole, which connected it to the balloon. The white canvas parachute was umbrella-shaped and approximately 23 feet (7 m) in diameter. Category: Aeronautics, except spacecraft
  • 1898: International metric standard screw thread adopted in Zurich. (Switzerland) Category: Tools and Shop
  • 1898: Large rope-making machine, known as three-log, built and patented. (John Good, New York) Category: Construction Tools
  • 1898: First US Navy submarine, the Holland VI, designed; uses gasoline engine for surface running, battery-powered electric motors used for submersion. (John Holland, US) Category: Submersibles
  • 1898: Automatic center couplings developed by British railways (adopted 1948). (Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1898: Frank Hornby develops Mechanics Made Easy, later Meccano, in 1898. Category: Engineering in General
  • 1898: Taper roller bearing patented. (Henry Timken, St Louis) Category: Tribology
  • 1899: Vapor system for building heating developed. (James A Trane) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1899: Grinding machine produced for cones and cups of bicycle ball bearings; changeable templates adjust to various designs of the ball-race profile. (Pratt and Whitney, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1899: Open pit mining pioneered by Daniel Jackling and Robt Gremmel; adopted at Bingham copper mine in 1910. (Jackling, Gremmel, Utah) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1899–1906: Low-tension magneto ignition used in petrol engines; in early Lanchester and Arrol-Johnston cars. Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1899: First US gas turbine patented; impulse turbine developed 1895–96 adopting velocity compounding instead of pressure compounding. (Charles G Curtis, New York) Category: Steam Power and Devices

Twentieth Century

  • 1900: In 1899, Charles Seeberger, working with the Otis Elevator Company, produced the first commercial escalator at the Otis factory in Yonkers, N.Y. Together they unveiled the conveyance in 1900 at the Paris Exposition Universelle in France. Category: Materials Handling
  • 1900: Wind tunnel for aerodynamic study developed: earliest and most notable use was by the Wright brothers. An early example of a wind tunnel for aircraft-model testing, the Wright Field 5-foot Wind Tunnel, was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[114] (Wright brothers, Dayton, Ohio) Category: Laboratory-Model Instruments
  • 1900–1917: First tractors powered by internal combustion engine appear: grow into common use. ASME designated the Hart Parr Tractor, the earliest known internal-combustion-engined agricultural tractor in the US, as a historic mechanical engineering landmark.[115] Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1900: Dynomophone invented: twist of transmission shaft carrying power measured. (John Burkitt Webb, New Jersey) Category: Fluid-Pressure Measurement
  • 1900: Direct air pressure pump. (Harris) Category: Pumps
  • 1900–1910: Pickering centrifugal pendulum or knife-edge suspension governors replace Watt flyball. Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1900: Category: Steam Power and Devices-heat systems with fluid-operated thermostatic traps developed. Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1900–1929: Electrolytically refined copper makes hot-rolled brasses and new copper alloys possible: pioneered 1870 on. (UK) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1900–1905: Vanadium added to high-speed tool steel: patented in 1905, leads to present 18-4-1 in 1910. (Mathews, US) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1900–1906: Taylor-White's tool steel radically replaces Mushet's tool steel with forerunner of 18-4-1. (Taylor-White, US) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1900: Oxyacetylene welding develops and spreads throughout Europe. (France) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1900: Tools by Bethlehem Steel Company using Taylor-White steel exhibited at Paris World Exposition. (Taylor-White, Paris) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1900: Magnetic chucks introduced in machine tools. (US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1900: Drilling method for raising sulfur from deep deposits developed. (Herman Frasch, US) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1900–1914: Advances in coal cutting machinery, mostly chain type, developed. (Blackett, etc., Britain, US, and Germany) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1900–1932: First offshore drilling takes place in California off wooden piers. (California) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1900–1920: Rapid introduction of steel in rail car construction: increased lengths of trains, made heavy-tonnage freight trains possible. (USA) Category: Railway
  • 1900–1906: High-tension magneto ignition used in petrol engines (automobile): Bosch spark plug invented 1902 by G Honold. (Robt Bosch Company, Germany) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1900–1938: Ferdinand von Zeppelin flies an airship over Lake Constance (1900). His rigid airships was develop in Germany. Approximately 160 were produced by 1938. (Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, Germany) Category: Aeronautics
  • 1900: Cow-milking machine patented: bucket type (releaser developed in 1920). Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1900: Paperclip invented by Norwegian Johann Waaler: produced in Germany. (Waalen, Germany) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1900–1901: Quantum theory of heat radiation introduces beginning of quantum mechanics: Planck awarded Nobel prize for physics in 1918. (Max Planck, Berlin) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1900: Bifurcated bucket impulse turbine (Pelton) developed: improves nozzle. (Abner Doble, US) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1900: Simultaneous introduction of first tilting-pad thrust bearing: applies Reynolds' work. ASME designated the Kingsbury Thrust Bearing as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[116] (Kingsbury; Michell, Pittsburgh; Australia) Category: Tribology
  • 1901: Change in steel composition in US, Britain, and Germany, according to analysis of tool steels. (J A Mathews, ASTM, US) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1901–1903: Coal-mine shafts sunk using freezing process: at Washington and Dawdon collieries. (Durham, Seaham, Britain) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1901–1906: Epicycle gear patented for bicycle. (J J Sturmy, J Archer) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1901: Unverified flights by aircraft advocate Gustave Whitehead. (Gustave Whitehead, US) (Note: This claim is very contentious and might not be valid.) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1901: Sheet glass produced directly from furnace: patented 1901 and perfected 1913. (Fourcault) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1901: In 1901, after seeing a rather inadequate demonstration of a compressed air-based cleaning system for railway carriages at St Pancras station, James Murray Spangler invented the electric vacuum cleaner, reasoning that sucking air through a filter might be a better system. The success of his discovery laid the foundation for all modern vacuum cleaners in the industry. Spangler received British patents for his work on February 18 and August 30, 1901. The patent was eventually acquird by Hoover. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1901–1904: Theory of boundary layers introduced: presented at Gottingen University (1918). (Ludwig Prandtl, Hanover, Germany) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1901–1906: W H Nernst postulates third law of thermodynamics. (W H Nernst, Germany) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1901: Constant-pressure (Brayton or Joule) cycle on a gas turbine patented. (Charles Lemale, France) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1902–1903: Velocity-compounded steam turbine patented (1896) by Charles G. Curtis, with rights sold to General Electric 1901. ASME designated the a 500-kW Curtis vertical steam turbine as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. [117] (Charles G Curtis, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1902: Improved return-line system for venting of building-heating systems developed. (Frederick Tudor) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1902: Hydraulic drives and controls introduced for machine tools. (Brown and Sharpe, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1902: Mechanical face conveyor patented: endless scraper-chain conveyor laid along face. (Blackett, Britain) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1902–1923: First air-conditioning apparatus 1902 designed. In Buffalo, New York, on July 17, 1902, in response to a quality problem experienced at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company of Brooklyn, Willis Carrier submitted drawings for what became recognized as the world's first modern air conditioning system. The 1902 installation marked the birth of air conditioning because of the addition of humidity control, which led to the recognition by authorities in the field that air conditioning must perform four basic functions: (1) control temperature (2) control humidity (3) control air circulation and Category: Ventilation (4) cleanse the air. On January 2, 1906, Carrier was granted U.S. Patent 808,897 on his invention which was designed to humidify or dehumidify air by heating water for the first and cooling it for the second. Category: Refrigeration
  • 1902: Three-phase, 3,000-volt electric rail system for mainline use opens. (Italy) Category: Railway
  • 1902–1905: Compound rotary engine patented (12/30/1902): includes sleeve valve by 1905 (Knight-Davison Motor Company, N.Y.). (Margaret Knight, US) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1902: Prototype radial engine for airplanes invented: five-cylinder radial engine powered the flight of Langley's airplane in 1903. (Charles M Manly, USA) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1902–1910: Bliss-Leavitt torpedo developed. (Frank Leavitt) Category: Arms, Weapons, and Military
  • 1902–1903: First radial engine fit into aircraft (for Langley): specific power output 4.24 kW/kg. In order to build first purpose-designed aircraft engine, built in 1901 for the Langley Aerodrome project, Langley's chief assistant, Charles Manly, reworked Stephen Balzer's five-cylinder radial engine to produce a design that held the record for power-to-weight ratio for any engine for many years. Manly's engine produced 52 hp (39 kW) at 950 rpm. (Charles Manly, US) Category: Category: Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1903: Gyroscope-like flywheel device created to control damping the pitch and roll of ships. (Schlick, Germany) Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1903: Fluid-filled thermostatic trap for Category: Steam Power and Devices heating systems marketed. (C A Dunham) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1903: Lebaudy brothers fly first serviceable dirigible airship from Moisson to Paris for demonstration (11/13): semi-rigid hydrogen- filled ballonet powered by 40-hp Daimler engine, 25 mph, designed by H Julliot and D Simoni. (H Julliot and D Simoni, Moisson) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1903: First piloted, powered, sustained, controlled airplane flight: 12-hp petrol engine. (Wright brothers, Kitty Hawk) A slightly later version, the Wright Flyer III, was designatd a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[118] [119] (Wright brothers, Kitty Hawk) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1903: Machine-drawn glass cylinders produced. (John Lubbers, US) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1903: Hot-box flat-plate solar collector system patented: improvement on Tellier design (John Boyle). (H Willsie and Boyle, Needles, Calif.) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1903: Jens William Ægidius Elling (also Aegidus or Aegidius) was a Norwegian researcher, inventor and pioneer of gas turbine who is considered to be the father of the gas turbine. He built the first gas turbine that was able to produce more power than needed to run its own components. His first gas turbine patent was granted in 1884. In 1903 he completed the first turbine that produced excess power; his original machine used both rotary compressors and turbines to produce 11 bhp (8 kW; 11 PS) net. He further developed the concept, and by 1912 he had developed a gas turbine system with separate turbine unit and compressor in series, a combination that is now common. Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1903–1905: First (constant-pressure) gas turbine designed and operates: built 1905 by Rateau for Societe Anonyme des Turbomoteurs. (Charles Lemale, Rene Armengaud, Paris) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1903: First (US) large control-station turbine installed at Fisk Street Station. Fisk's original Unit 1 was an 11,000 horsepower – 5000-kilowatt (or 5 million watts abbreviated 5 MW) Category: Steam Power and Devices turbo-generator built by the General Electric Company. The new unit produced twice as much power as any Category: Steam Power and Devices engine ever built. The turbines achieved 80% energy efficiency, twice Chicago Edison's previous reciprocating unit technology at Harrison Street. They also spun ten times faster than the reciprocating units, were one-tenth the weight, and required less maintenance. The turbine's blades were the first man-made devices to move faster than the speed of sound. It made electricity more available, more reliable and cheaper. The original 5 MW turbine (1903) was returned to the Schenectady, New York headquarters of General Electric, "where it stands today as a monument to engineering genius". (Frederick Sargent, Chicago) Category: Power Plants
  • 1904: First gearless traction elevator installed by Otis in a Chicago theater: no drum. (Otis, Chicago) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1904: Lathe-tool dynamometer used to measure cutting forces: hydraulic pressure used. (J R Nicolson) Category: Fluid-Pressure Measurement
  • 1904: Kaiser Wilhelm Institute founded for study of fluid flow. (Ludwig Prandtl, Gottingen) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1904: Circulating gas hot-water heater patented. (Wm Kane, Philadelphia) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1904: Intermittent vertical retort system patented after test at Dessau Gas Works. (J Bueb, Britain) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1904: Two-story sedimentation tank developed for sewage treatment: Imhoff or Emscher tanks popular. (Harl Imhoff, Germany) Category: Pollution Control
  • 1904: First turbine-engined ship for transatlantic service, the Virginia, is placed in service. Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1904: Safety razor patented. (King Gillette) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1904: Thermionic diode patented: based on earlier work by Edison and Fleming. (John Ambrose Fleming, US) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1905: Pit-Cast jib crane improved with use of electric motors. (American Cast Iron Pipe, Birmingham, Ala) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1905–1950: First development of electrical generation from geothermal source at Larderello: named for French engineer F de Larderel who conducted experiments in 1818. (Tuscany Valley, Italy) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1905: Wright Flyer III The first practical airplane. Part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1905: Control theory, especially Stodola's methods, published: Die Regelung der Kraftmaschinen. (M Tolle, Berlin) Category: Valves-Control Mechanisms
  • 1905–1907: Category: Ventilation theories for removing heat and odors from buildings formed. (Karl Flugge) Category: Ventilation
  • 1905: Stanley gas machine (vapor burner) patented. (Francis E Stanley) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1905: Rayon yarn manufactured commercially through viscose process. Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1905: Self-oiling mechanism for Category: Steam Power and Devices engine patented. (Le Grand Skinner) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1905: (First supercharging) turbocharger patented (while in Belgium working for Carels Bros). (Alfred J Buchi, Winterthur, Switzerland) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1905–1908: Gas turbine built 1905 (or 1908): tested by Brown Boveri 1909–13, credited as first economically practical. Developed from 1906 onwards for experimental purposes. It worked without a compressor and with periodic combustion. (Hans Holzwarth, Mannheim, Germany) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1906; Alloys of nickel and chromium (with and without iron) patented: used in heat equipment. (A L Marsh, UK and US) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1906: Iron carbon diagram showing critical points of Tschernoff and F Osborn. (H W B Roozeboom) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1906: Zinc-equivalence factor developed for alloying work, especially important to manganese bronze. (Guillet) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1906–1910: Ductile tungsten wire produced for lamp filament: starts modern powder metallurgy. (W D Coolidge, GE, US) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1906: 14 'bis,' Europe's first successful powered flight: piloted for less than 200 feet. (Alberto Santos-Dumont (Brazilian), Europe) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1907: New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad established as proving ground for AC electrification. Designated by ASME as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark for pioneering venture in mainline railroad electrification. The Cos Cob plant operated until October 1986. [120](Connecticut) Category: Railway
  • 1907: International angstrom adopted as unit measurement in spectroscopy (ten thousand millionth of one meter). Category: Measurement Apparatus and Testing
  • 1907–1931: Boiler efficiency increases from 70 to 89 percent: credited to pulverized coal, automatic combustion control. Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1907–1913: Chromium alloys, including cobalt, tungsten, and molybdenum, patented: cutlery and medical instruments. (Elwood Haynes, Kokomo, Indiana) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1907: Spray gun introduced for paint application. Category: Construction Tools
  • 1907: Aerodynamics textbook published: theoretical treatment of aircraft design. (F W Lanchester, Britain) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1907: Voisin Standard pusher biplane built: more than 100 produced and promoted by Henri Farman who added fitted ailerons to replace the rudder. (Gabriel and Charles Voisin, English Channel) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1907: Bakelite invented: commercially produced 1909, marks beginning of plastic-age mass production (simultaneous development by James Swinburne in England). (Leo H Baekeland, New York) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1907: Ferdinand Porsche designs the Mixte, the first recorded petroleum electric hybrid vehicle on record. It uses a petrol motor to power a generator, which in turn powers a hub motor, with a battery pack for backup. It has a top speed of 35mph. Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1907: The Thor washing machine was the first electric clothes washer sold commercially in the United States. Produced by the Chicago-based Hurley Electric Laundry Equipment Company, the 1907 Thor is believed to be the first electrically powered washer ever manufactured, crediting Hurley as the inventor of the first automatic washing machine. Designed by Hurley engineer Alva J. Fisher, a patent for the new electric Thor was issued on August 9, 1910, three years after its initial invention. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1907: Lincoln Electric Company of Cleveland Ohio began by manufacturing the first variable voltage DC welding machine; introduced the first welding machines to the public in 1912. In 1925, Lincoln Electric Co. started production of heavy coated electrodes (Fleetweld 5) and sold the electrodes to the public. Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1907: On 29 September, Gyroplane No. I, an early French experimental quadcopter, was flown for the first time, albeit to an elevation of only 2.0 ft. It was not a free flight, as four men were used to steady the structure and it was neither controllable nor steerable, but it was the first time a rotary-wing device had lifted itself and a pilot into the air. It later flew up to 5 ft above the ground. It was designed by French brothers Jacques and Louis Breguet. Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1908–1927: Record production of Ford Model T; 15 million eventually produced and sold; assembly line introduced 1914. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[121] (Henry Ford, Detroit, MI) Category: Vehicle Production
  • 1908: Alden Research Laboratory boom. Early 20th-century test facility for current meters, aircraft propellers, ships' logs, pitot tubes, and mine-sweeping paravanes. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[122] (Massachusetts) Category: Laboratory-Model Instruments
  • 1908: Active stabilizer (gyrostabilizer) patented: becomes basic patent. (Elmer A Sperry, US) Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1908: Tensile and shearing strength computed (in American Machinist grinding book). (F H Colvin and F A Stanley, US) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1908–1928: Corrosion in condenser tubes investigated by Institute of Metals soon after its formation. (Institute of Metals, UK) Category: Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1908: Panel (radiant) heating rediscovered (from Roman hypocaust heating): used chimneys. (A H Barker, Britain) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1908: Helium first liquefied. (Kamerlingh Onnes) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1908: AEA No. 3 aerodrome, June Bug, demonstrated to public: launches Curtiss engine. (Glenn Curtiss, Hammondsport, N.Y.) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1908–1912: Cellophane manufacturing process invented by Edwin Bradenberger: perfected in 1910. (Bradenberger, Switzerland) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1908: Conveyor-belt assembly for automobile production begun: includes continuous-feed plate glass and high-speed metalwork. (Ford Factory, US) Category: Vehicle Production
  • 1908: Automatic Train Control is introduced by the Great Western. Category: Railway
  • Patent drawing filed by Ole Evinrude for his "marine propulsion mechanism," a detachable outboard internal combustion engine
    1909: Evinrude outboard motor invented by Ole Evinrude of Milwaukee. It was the first successful outboard-motor marine engine. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[123] (Ole Evinrude, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares.
  • 1909: Industrial measurement machine built: scale comparison to International Prototype Metre. (Societe Genevoise, Geneva) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1909: Humphrey gas explosion pump invented: uses oscillating column of water in U-shaped tube rather than piston and crankshaft, never achieved general acceptance. (H A Humphrey) Category: Pumps
  • 1909: Aluminum alloy hardening process discovered accidently: (Durener Metalwerke) Duralumin. (Alfred Wilm, Duren, Germany) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1909: Drill sharpening machine patented: adopted worldwide (rights sold to Ingersoll-Rand). (J George Leyner, Littleton, Colo) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1909–1912: First experimental Diesel locomotive built by firm of Klose and Sulzer: tested 1913 on Hessian-Prussian State Railroad, 1,000-hp Diesel engine. In 1906, Rudolf Diesel, Adolf Klose and the Category: Steam Power and Devices and Diesel engine manufacturer Gebrüder Sulzer founded Diesel-Sulzer-Klose GmbH to manufacture Diesel-powered locomotives. The Prussian State Category: Railways ordered a Diesel locomotive from the company in 1909, and after test runs between Winterthur and Romanshorn the Diesel-mechanical locomotive was delivered in Berlin in September 1912. Sulzer and Diesel developed the steady improvements in diesel design which gradually reduced its physical size and improved its power-to-weight ratio to a point where one could be mounted in a locomotive. (Rudolf Diesel, Winterthur, Switzerland) Category: Railway
  • 1909: Bleriot XI crossed the English Channel: 'wing warping' used. (Louis Bleriot, Britain) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1909: Triplex produced as safety glass for windshields: uses celluloid between sheet glass. (E Benedictus, France) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1909: Analytic engine (computing machine) designed. (Ludgate, Ireland) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1909: Dimensional analysis applied to convection heat transfer. (Wilhelm Nusselt, Germany) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1909-1916: The Childs-Irving Hydroelectric Project goes into service with the first unit. The location of the two plants in a very desolate area demanded many innovations in design, transportation and construction. Among these were steel transmission towers, forged penstocks and the transport of every component by muleteams. The electrical energy from the plants was used to help explore and develop the region's rich deposits of copper. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[124]
  • 1909–1966: Experiments on friction coefficient: major contribution in elastohydrodynamic lubrication. (Mayo Dyer Hersey, US) Category: Tribology


  • 1910–1924: Adjustable, axial turbine perfected: especially for run-of-river, low-head application. ASME Designated a Kaplan-Turbine hydroelectric power plant at York Haven, one of the first three Kaplan-type hydraulic turbines in the United States, as a Historic Mechanical Engineering landmark.[125] (Victor Kaplan, Brunn, Czechoslovakia) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1910: Water elevator developed and patented by H. Bessonnet-Fawre of France. He filed for a US patent in 1910, which was granted the following year. His device was titled a "Lifting Chain with multiple concentric spirals for raising liquids". [126] Category: Pumps
  • 1910–1915: Full-scale sewage treatment plant using activated sludge process built. (Milwaukee, Wis) Category: Pollution Control
  • 1910: Superheated Category: Steam Power and Devices introduced into rail industry: cuts fuel consumption by 25 percent, return bend element design makes slide valve obsolete. (Wilhelm Schmidt, USA) Category: Railway
  • 1910: Axial turbine designed and patented by Forrest Nagler and manufactured by Allis-Chalmers of Milwaukee WI and installed in 1916.[127] However a hydraulic turbine by Kaplan's resulted in general use. (Forrest Nagler, Waukesha WI) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1911–1938: Classical R&D in alloy development at National Physical Laboratory leads to alloys designated by letters. (W Rosenhain, NPL) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1911–1912: First practical electric self-starter for automobiles developed at Delco Labs for General Motors: installed 1912 in Cadillac. (Charles Kettering, Dayton, Ohio) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1911: On December 3, 1911, Carrier presented the most significant and epochal document ever prepared on air conditioning—his "Rational Psychrometric Formulae"—at the annual meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. It became known as the "Magna Carta of Psychrometrics". This document tied together the concepts of relative humidity, absolute humidity, and dew-point temperature, thus making it possible to design air-conditioning systems to precisely fit the requirements at hand. Category: Climatic Control
  • 1911: Scientific management principles published (1910 – E3, U3). (F W Taylor, Philadelphia) Category: Management Science and Policy
  • 1911: Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company established, called International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation in 1924 (Tabulating Machine Co. established 1896 by Hollerith). (Hollerith is ASME member.) (Herman Hollerith, US) Category: Commercial Organization
  • 1911: Demonstration solar plant built: low temperature and pressure Category: Steam Power and Devices for Egyptian pumping station. (Frank Shuman, US and Egypt) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1911: Refrigerator for domestic use introduced by General Electric; selling for around $1,000—nearly twice as much as an automobile at the time. (Abbe Audiffren) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1911–1916: Steel ball bearings manufactured with high accuracy using new lathe: Fafnir and SKF. (E G Hoffmann) Category: Tribology
  • 1912: Iron and steel predominant metallic alloys: followed by copper then lead, tin, and zinc. (US) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1912–1926: Liquid coal produced through hydrogenation (receives 1931 Nobel Prize in Chemistry). (Friedrich Bergius, Germany) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1912–1955: Burton's thermal cracking process for refining crude oil developed. (Wm Burton) Category: Resource Preparation
  • 1912–1920: Rocketry experiments with solid propellants conducted. (Robt H Goddard, Worcester, Mass) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1912–1920: Two-apron drafting system developed: cotton textile manufacture. (F Casablancas) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1913: Methanol-from-synthesis (water)-gas process patented: uses high pressures. (Badische Anilin and Soda Fabrik, Germany) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1913: Functional household Category: Refrigeration manufactured. (Chicago) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1913–1920: Cooker with reel and spiral invented to sterilize food in canning; pressure-lock valve 1920. (A R Thompson, San Jose, Calif.) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1913: Shuman-Boys solar plant built: Shuman design uses parabolic modification. (F Shuman, C Boys, Meadi, Egypt) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1913: Zowski's high speed Francis runner Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1914–1920: Gyropilot (automatic pilot) patent is filed 1914 and granted 1920. (Elmer A Sperry, US) Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1914: First commercial use of stainless steel as high alloy or carbon steel. (H Brearley, Sheffield, Britain) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1914–1915: Square kelly rotary rig introduced: mining and oil exploration. Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1914–1918: Submarine technology develops rapidly: German and British navies use in World War I; innovations include early designs of antisubmarines and sonar (1918). (Germany and Britain) Category: Submersibles
  • 1914: A.B. Wood screw pump system installed to drain New Orleans. It was the most advanced low-lift drainage pump in use in the early 20th century, later used worldwide. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[128] (A B Wood, New Orleans) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1914: Holzwarth turbine incorporates precompression and is built but never used (Z6). (Thyssen, Muhlheim, Ruhr) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1914: The world's first automated car wash was introduced in Detroit, Michigan. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1915: ASME Boiler Code published: finalized 12/1914 and adopted 3/12/1915. (John A Stevens, US) The first comprehensive standard for the design, construction, inspection, and testing of boilers and pressure vessels, greatly influencing public safety. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME. Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1915: Optical projectors used for gauge measurement. (E M Eden, Britain) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1915–1935: Permalloy series of nickel alloys developed for electric-electronic equipment. (Yensen, Arnold, Elmen, Ziegler, et al, US) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1915–1920: Manganese-chromium steels for heat treatment available commercially. Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1915: Centerless grinding introduced. (L R Heim, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1915–1916: ASME safety codes published: 1915 abrasive wheels, 1916 cranes, 1916 transmission machinery. (ASME, US) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1915: National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) forms. (US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1915–1924: Lillian and Frank Gilbreth establish basic elements of motion studies: especially flowchart process. (Gilbreths, New York or R.I.) Category: Management Science and Policy
  • 1915: ASME Boiler Code stamp established: certified boilers to indicate compliance with code. (Buffalo, N.Y.) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1916: Film condensation theory. (Wilhelm Nusselt, Germany) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1916–1950: Major developments in Category: Steam Power and Devices condenser tube corrosion and evolution of copper alloys. (UK) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1916: Gas turbine with a single-stage centrifugal compressor built and tested. (Auguste Rateau, France) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1916–1917: Turbine-driven supercharger for high-altitude aircraft engine patented and exported to US (GE). (Auguste Rateau, France) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1917: Engineer Gideon Sundback of Hoboken, N.J. receives a US patent for a 'separable fastener' – later known as the zipper. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1917–1918: 100-inch Hooker telescope built with deflection force mirror support and mercury flotation. (George Hale, Pasadena, Calif.) Category: Observation
  • 1917–1939: Gear and hob measuring machines designed: includes pantograph mechanism and sine arm, and 1939 surface finish recorder. (George Tomlinson, NPL, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1917: The HMS Argus, the world's first aircraft carrier, was launched. Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1917: Corrosion fatigue studied: used for pump and blower design. (A P Haigh) Category: Tribology
  • 1918: Mass production of gas-powered track-type tractor—the Holt. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. (Benjamin Holt, Stockton, Calif.) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1918: Machine lapping method introduced for producing precision block gauges. (W E Hoke, NBS, Washington, DC) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1918: Eden-Rolt millionth comparator designed. (E M Eden, NPL, Britain) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1918: Molybdenum added to steels: especially for high-strength welded tubes for air-frame construction. Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1918: First turbosupercharger tested atop Pikes Peak: GE device fit to Liberty airplane engine. (John A Macready, Sanford Moss, Colorado) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • Diagram of boiler modifications made to the Oneida Street plant to allow pulverized coal firing. Plant later renamed 'East Wells Street.'
    1918–1920: Successful tests are conducted at the Oneida Street Station of the use of pulverized coal. The chief engineer for The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company directed experiments to determine whether replacing the coal stokers with pulverized coal would conserve fuel and reduced the cost of electrical power. The resulting higher combustion temperatures required a good deal of experimental work in order to capture the energy without damaging the boiler. A "water screen" was developed—eventually leading to modern boiler practice of wrapping the combustion chamber with water tubes. The water screen also reduce the temperature of the waste ash, preventing it from fusing as slag on the floor of the boiler. The experiments were widely published and soon boilers all over the world began using pulverized coal. The process significantly increased efficiency. The Oneida Street Station, which was eventually renamed the East Wells Street Power Plant, was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[129]
  • 1919: Caruelle water elevator. (Caruelle) Category: Pumps
  • 1919: 'A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes' published in Smithsonian: Miscellaneous Collections. (Robt H Goddard, Worcester, Mass.) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1919: The first airship crosses the Atlantic. It was the R34, built in England. It arrived in New York after a flight lasting over 108 hours. Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1919: The pop-up toaster is designed by Charles Strite. It was patented in 1921 and introduced commercially in 1926. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares


  • 1920: Hydraulic torque converter (Vulcan hydraulic coupling) devised before precision gearing. (Dr. H Fottinger, Hamburg) Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1920: Fluid coupling, or fluid flywheel, developed for automobile and railcar transmissions. Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1920: Williams Janney's variable-speed gear incorporates hydrostatic transmission. Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1920: Workable postage meter developed by Pitney, Bowes, Wheeler, and accepted by Postal Service. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[130] (Pitney, Bowes, Wheeler, Stamford, Conn) Category: Business-Office-Postal Industries
  • 1920: Free fall experiments made from Eiffel tower: involves boundary layer approach to fluid machine. Most accurate to date drop-test device and wind tunnel to measure drag on falling objects of various shapes. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[131] (Alexandre G Eiffel, Paris) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1920–1927: Holland Tunnel built: prototype ventilation system for underground vehicular tunnels. The ventillation system for the tunnel was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[132] (US Bureau of Mines, New York, New Jersey) Category: Ventilation
  • 1920–1929: Diamond Pyramid and Rockwell hardness testers first used to control heat in alloy production. Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1920–1939: Two-dimensional photo-elastic stress analysis becomes popular. (E G Coker, London) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1920: Boundary-layer analyses prove basis for heat transfer in furnaces, boilers, evaporators, condensers, and heat exchangers. Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1920–1929: Fluid mechanics methods applied to calculate heat transfer surfaces. Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1920–1929: Welded steel pipelines increase production of natural gas in US. (US) Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1920–1925: Unit heaters and unit ventilators developed: convection heating equipment. (US) Category: Heaters-Furnaces, Boilers
  • 1920–1930: Stainless steels and Forty series low-alloy steels introduced: for aerospace and auto industries. Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1920: Keller milling machine introduced: die-sinking for three-dimensional copying of template, used for large steel dies in automobile manufacturing. Category: Machine Tools
  • 1920–1929: Liquid fuels created by synthesizing hydrocarbons. (Fischer, Tropsch, Germany) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1920–1929: Piggy backing and other container systems for freight rail transport begun (grew in 1950s). (US) Category: Railway
  • 1920–1929: Higher octane gasolines for automobiles produced by thermal cracking process. Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1920–1929: Wind tunnel experiments advance aeronautics. Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1920: Continuous ribbon production for glass manufacturing invented by Ford Motor Company. Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1920–1933: Tank-furnace and ribbon production for flat-glass manufacturing developed: also grinding and polishing. (Pilkington Brothers, St Helens, Britain) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1920: Scotch Tape invented. (Richard Drew) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1920: Electromechanical analytical engine demonstrated by producing typewriter-controlled calculating machine. (Torres and Quevedo) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1920: High-speed piston engine using petrol fuel becomes popular for planes and automobiles. Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1920–1929: Bosch high-pressure injection pumps. (Robt Bosch) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1920: Gilkes axial-flow (single-jet) impulse turbine designed. Developed by Gilkes as a modification of the Pelton wheel, the Turgo has some advantages over Francis and Pelton designs for certain applications. (Eric Crewdson, Kendal, Britain) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1920: Focus on lubrication and fluid-film bearings produce well-stated principles and design guide. (Ludwig Gumbel, Germany) Category: Tribology
  • 1921: First elevator code issued. (ASME, US) Category: Materials Handling
  • Automated frame assembly plant designed and used by AO Smith in Milwaukee. Almost fully automatic, it became known as the "Mechanical Marvel."
    1921: First automatic chassis factory begins production. Early automated robotic manufacturing greatly reduced the cost of automotive frame production. (A O Smith Corporation, Milwaukee, Wis) Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[133] Categories: Robotics and Vehicle Production
  • 1921: Ribbon machine for high-speed production of light bulbs developed. Earliest example of the machine that automated light-bulb manufacture. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering landmark by ASME.[134] (Will Woods, D Gray, Corning, N.Y.) Category: Specialized Factory Tools and Systems
  • 1921: Sintered carbide materials developed for tool steels: work resumed after war: Osram predecessor. (Schroeter, Germany) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1921: First industrial jig borer made for precision machining: based on 1912 single-point tool. (Societe Genevoise, Switzerland) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1921–1926: Direct-heated fluidized-bed gasifier developed: coarse solids, first commercial unit operated in 1926. (Fritz Winkler, Germany) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1921: Code for construction of locomotive boilers adopted. (ASME, US) Category: Railway
  • 1921: Principles of turbojet engine explored by Guillaume (France); patented. (Charles Guillaume, France) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1922: Ethyl gasoline introduced: uses tetraethyl lead in fuel to reduce knock for General Motors. (Charles Kettering, Thomas Midgley Jr, T A Boyd, Dayton, Ohio) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1922: Centrifugal refrigeration machine invented: for industrial air-conditioning installation. (Willis Carrier, US) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1922: Stephen Poplawski of Racine WI is credited with inventing the blender – was the first to put spinning blades at the bottom of a food container. Blenders have become an indispensable way to process food and drinks. Rights purchased by Osterizer. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1922: First helicopter flight. On 11 November 1922, the first helicopter which could be successfully controlled by the pilot few one kilometer along a pre-set circular route. This was probably the first reliable flying helicopter capable of carrying a person. (Étienne_Oehmichen) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1923: 3-point linkage developed: mounted tractor implements controlled by oil hydraulic servo mechanism. (Harry Ferguson) Category: Transmission Elements
  • 1923: Curtis steam turbine generator advances capacity of steam turbines: improves efficiency. (Curtis) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1923: Interference comparator for gauge blocks manufactured by Zeiss. (Berndt and Kosters, Germany) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1923: Optical engine indicators developed for aircraft. (Hopkinson) Category: Fluid-Pressure Measurement
  • 1923: Balanced-pressure-engine indicator for aircraft introduced: led to development of electronic engine indicators by 1940. (Farnboro) Category: Fluid-Pressure Measurement
  • 1923: V-4 engine used in Lancia Lambda automobile: multiple-cylinder engine using V-shaped arrangement of cylinders. Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1923: Projection planetarium (machine) built: for instruction and entertainment in plantaria, used worldwide. (Walther Bauersfeld, Munich) Category: Entertainment Industries
  • 1923: Low-pressure heating boiler code adopted. (ASME, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1923–1924: Asiatic petroleum study tested internal combustion engine knock: toluene number scale established. (Harry R Ricardo, London) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1924: Semicontinuous hot-strip steel mill operates: 58-in wide and 30-ft long sheets produced. (Ashland, Ky) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1924: Bubble-cap fractionating tower for petroleum refining developed. Category: Resource Preparation
  • 1924: Series of landmark publications appear: includes design, manufacturing, and control of standard machinery. (Ralph Flanders) Category: Management Science and Policy
  • 1924: Felix Wankel develops the world's first rotary engine, commonly referred to as the Wankel engine. Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1925: Edgar Station, Boston Edison, installs first high-pressure (1,200 psig) cycle including steam turbines; greatly increases efficiency of electricity production and is eventually adopted worldwide. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[135] Category: Steam Power and Devices turbine. (Weymouth, Mass) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1925: Payne's thermostat uses metallic bellow (1844, L Vidie, France) for automobile cooling. Category: Recording-Temperature-Control
  • 1925: Seamless electrically welded steel pipe makes long-distance transportation of oil and gas economical. Category: Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1925: Brickwork furnace overcomes refractory wall limitations. Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1925: Beryllium and beryllium alloys developed: findings published 1928–29. (Siemens Halske Company) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1925: Aluminum-brass alloy developed: becomes important seawater condenser tube alloy, pre-diesel. (BNFMRA (1921), Woolwich, UK) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1925: Tool-tip temperature measurements established through independent work of E G Herbert, H Shore, and K Gottwein. (London, Mass, USSR) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1925: Modern-type stabilizer introduced by Japanese. (Japan) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1925: The Pratt & Whitney R1340 Wasp engine goes into service. It was a significant improvement to the radial aircraft engine design, making commercial aviation viable as early as the 1920s. The Wasp R1340 engine was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[136]
  • 1925–1957: First commercially successful diesel-electric switching locomotive in service. (ALCO, US) Category: Railway
  • 1925: British Moth establishes flying-cub following: two-seat biplane with 60-hp Cirrus engine, widely used as light aircraft. (G de Havilland, Britain) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1925: Individual-section (IS) machine developed for bottle making, replacing Owens' rotary system. Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1925: X-ray examination of steel castings by Boston Edison Company reported to ASME Boiler Code Committee. (US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1926–1939: Oil rigs progress to large steel structures. Category: Resource Preparation
  • 1926: Michelson interferometer devised (check 1881, Albert A Michelson, US: used in 1887 Michelson-Morley experiment—V9). Category: Observation
  • 1926: Columbia Steel Company built strip steel mill: four-high mill with correlated roll speeds. (Townsend and Naugle, Butler, Pa.) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1926: Single-stage process for liquefaction and coal hydrogenation for motor fuel begins in Germany. (Bergius, Germany) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1926: Induction method of nondestructive testing of rails developed: uses detector car systems. (Elmer A Sperry, US) Category: Railway
  • 1926: Frameless tanker developed: for carrying fuel oil, milk, vermouth, molasses, chemicals, etc. (Scammell) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1926: World's first liquid-fuel rocket, designed by Robert Goddard, is launched. Previously (in 1914), Goddard received two U.S. patents for rocket propellants. One was for a rocket using liquid fuel. The other was for a two- or three-stage rocket using solid fuel. Toward the end of his 1920 report, A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes., Goddard outlined the possibility of a rocket reaching the moon and exploding a load of flash powder there to mark its arrival. On March 16, 1926, Goddard had constructed and successfully tested the first rocket using liquid fuel at Auburn, Massachusetts. His rocket flight in 1929 carried the first scientific payload, a barometer, and a camera. (Robt H Goddard, Worcester, Mass) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1926–1949: De-airing pug mill introduced: increases workability of plastic masses, especially affects ceramic whiteware. Plant-Factory Operation
  • 1926: American Marine Standards Committee adopts code for marine boilers using rules of the American Bureau of Shipping. (ASME, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1927: Hardmetal (sintered alloy of tungsten carbide and cobalt: cemented carbide) for tool metal. (Fried. Krupp AG, Essen, Germany) Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1927–1949: Accuracy of large-turbine gear-teeth finish improves greatly over 20-year period. (IMechE) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1927: Iron lung respirator developed by Philip Drinker and Louis A Shaw. The iron lung, often referred to in the early days as the "Drinker respirator", was invented by Philip Drinker and Louis Agassiz Shaw, Jr. The machine was powered by an electric motor with air pumps from two vacuum cleaners. The air pumps changed the pressure inside a rectangular, airtight metal box, pulling air in and out of the lungs maintaining respiration artificially until a person could breathe independently. The first clinical use of the Drinker respirator on a human was on October 12, 1928, at the Boston Children's Hospital. The subject was an eight-year-old girl who was nearly dead as a result of respiratory failure due to polio. She recovered almost immediately. (Drinker and Shaw, US) Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1927: John W. Hammes invents the garbage disposal. Patent received in 1935. Resulted in In-Sink-Erator line of garbage disposal products. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1927: Octane number supersedes toulene number in as standard antiknock fuel measurement. Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1927: American pilot Charles Lindbergh completed the first transatlantic aircraft flight, landing successfully in Paris. Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • First commercial CFR engine used to determine the 'knock' rating of various fuels.
    1928: First commercial cooperative-fuel-research (CFR) engine built: for testing fuels (early detonation, or 'knock testing') and lubrication in internal combustion engine. Used variable compression. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[137] Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1928: Pumped-storage hydroelectric system installed on the Rocky River in Connecticut. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[138] Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1928: Quartz crystal clock invented. (Horton and Marrison, US) Category: Timekeeping-Clockwork-Astrolabes
  • 1928: Precision pneumatic micrometer invented to measure internal dimensions of objects. (Marcel Mennesson, France) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1928: Low-carbon tubes for boilers use molybdenum steel (important application). Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1928: Tysland-Hole furnace invented: most widely used electric iron-smelting furnace in world. (G Tysland, I Hole, Norway) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1928: Hot-pressing of powders in graphite molds patented and used to manufacture large hardmetal pieces. (O Diener, Germany, Britain) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1928–1943: Engine studies on oil rig pumping action and loading leads to innovations in oil production. (US) Category: Resource Preparation
  • 1928: Carpet Tufting Apparatus invented by Ernest Moench—used to make carpeting. The machinery featured a durable needle that punched loops of thick fabric through a web of backing material, resulting in the reliable, high-speed tufting of carpet. Descendants of the apparatus fabricate more than three-quarters of the carpets produced in the US. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering landmark by ASME.[139]
  • 1928: Otto Frederick Rohwedder develops and introduces the first commercially successful bread slicer. He made a prototype as early as 1912.
  • 1928: Nordberg Adzing machine introduced; first self-powered machine for railway right-of-way maintenance. Led to the eventual introduction of machines for virtually all aspects of rail bed construction and maintenance. Railroads no longer had to periodically replace the rails due to the wear and increase of loads it carried The Nordberg Adzing machine was essentially a milling head with a vertical shaft, belt driven from a small gasoline engine and cleverly mounted on a frame supported by flanged wheels which were positioned by guide rollers on each side of the rail head. It was quickly adopted by the rail industry. This machine was the first to be used in railway maintenance and was the first self-lowered machine for railway maintenance equipment field.[140] (Milwaukee, Wis.) Category: Railway
  • 1928: Electric razor patented. (Jacob Schick) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1928: First walk-in hyperbaric chamber introduced by J. C. Fischer at the Milwaukee Country Emergency Hospital—used for medical research and treatment and diver de-compression. Studies at this chamber led to three world record dividing depths. Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1928: Practical diathermy machine built at GE. (Willis Whitney, Schenectady, N.Y.) Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1928–1930: Fusion welding of steel plate in boilers (significant to Codes and Standards). (US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1928: Holzwarth turbine design modified and installed in German steel plant in 1933. (Brown, Boveri, Germany) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1929: State Line station installs a triple-cross compound steam turbine of 208 megawatts; largest of its kind at the time. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[141] (US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1929: First austenitic steel plant erected at ICI Works. (Birmingham, UK) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1929: Oil shale retorting starts. (Fushun, Manchuria) Category: Resource Preparation
  • 1929: Practical fuel injection pump and nozzle system developed. (Robt Bosch) Category: Railway
  • 1929: Graf Zeppelin (built 1927–28) flies around the world in three weeks (1928—E2). (Zeppelin, Germany) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1929: Aeronca C-2, successful light plane, produced: opens private-ownership market (check Piper Cub). (Aeronca, Cincinnati, Ohio) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1929–1930: The invention of jet propulsion by gas turbine (turbojet) with centrifugal compressor. The idea of the motor jet (a motor using a conventional piston engine to provide compressed air to a combustion chamber whose exhaust was used directly for thrust) was filed for patent in January 1930 and granted in 1932. The powerjet W.U. (Whittle Unit) engine ran successfully on 12 April 1937. In January 1940, the Ministry placed a contract with the Gloster Aircraft Company for a simple aircraft specifically to flight-test the W.1, the Gloster E.28/39. The "Whittle Supercharger Type W.1" engine was developed in the early 1940s. The E.28/39 was delivered to Brockworth for ground tests beginning on 7 April 1941 and continued flight tests until 1944. Experience with the E.28/39 made Britain's first operational jet fighter aircraft, the Gloster Meteor, possible. (Frank Whittle, Britain) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)


  • 1930: Self-contained room air conditioner introduced. Despite conflicting report, General Electric rolled out the first room air conditioner in 1930 (instead of 1928) perhaps as a response to Frigidaire introducing the split-system room cooler in 1929. The unit used suffer dioxide refrigerant and had a capacity of one ton and was designed to be located outside the house or in the basement. Both inventions helped make air conditioning more affordable. (General Electric, US) (Note: Specific information on this subject was very disjointed and sometimes conflicting. Recommend more solid research.) Category: Climatic Control
  • 1930–1939: Automobile door-lock mechanism handles diecast: zinc alloy used. (W Breeden, Parkes, Britain) Category: Machine Elements
  • 1930: Internal combustion engine led to development of mobile cranes, stackers, and fork-lift trucks in factories and warehouses. Category: Materials Handling
  • 1930: Fusion-welded drum tested: leads to improved fabrication of boiler drums (replaces riveting). Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[142] (Combustion Engineering, Chattanooga, TN) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1930: Geiger torsiograph used for continuous recording of vibration on a rotating drum. Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1930: Blind-flying instruments developed for safe air flight: artificial horizon, turner indicator, etc. Category: Observation
  • 1930: Work on cavitation boundary conditions and dynamically loaded bearing pioneered. (Herbert Swift, Britain) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1930–1939: Boundary layer research continues at California Institute of Technology: after he emigrates from Hungary. (Theo von Karman, Calif, Hungary) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1930: Copper-nickel alloys used in tubing for marine steam engines, especially British warships. (Allen Everitts, UK) Category: Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1930: Manganese-molybdenum steels available. Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1930: Zinc produced more economically using horizontal retorts than Champion's process. (Belgium) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1930–1939: Electric arc welding machines for piping used in US. (US) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1930–1939: Connolly 'hot oil' act sets oil production capacity. (US) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1930–1939: Synthesis gas manufactured from coal: for gas and oil production. (Fischer-Tropsch, Germany) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1930: Freon (dichlorodifluormethane) refrigerants introduced. (Thomas Midgley Jr, US) Category: Climatic Control
  • 1930–1939: Nonevaporative cooling towers used for small Category: Steam Power and Devices electric power plants. Category: Engine Auxiliaries
  • 1930–1939: Hydraulic brakes replace mechanical brake system in automobile. The first four-wheel hydraulic brake system was introduced into a commercial vehicle by Duesenberg. Pending ASME Landmark. Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1930: Northrop Alphas demonstrates multicellular wing and stress-skin construction for all-metal plane. (John K Northrop, US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1930: All-metal airplanes in use: especially aluminum. (US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1930–1939: Rocket experimental station produces A series (V2): developed propulsion technology, proved feasibility (V2 was tested 3/5/1942, used 1944). (von Braun, Ley, Riedel, Germany) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1930–1935: Suter-Webb comb sorter introduced: measures cotton fiber length and length distribution. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1930: Continuous absorption apparatus (Electrolux refrigerator) invented: cooled by water and mixture of hydrogen and ammonia, heat that caused circulation called 'the flame that freezes'. (Platen and Munters, Switzerland) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1930–1939: Binary analytical engine designed. (Couffignal, France) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1930–1939 Diesel engine refined, resulting in widespread use for railroad: improvements include fuel injection, prevent piston overheating, and improve its efficiency. (Charles Kettering, Dayton, Ohio) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1930–1939: Detroit Diesel Allison's DDEC system (ASME gave it an award 1986 – DES). Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1930: The 'Quick Freeze Machine' was patented by Clarence Birdseye. His multi-plate device enabled flash freezing, which froze food in a few minutes. Previously (in 1922), Birdseye developed an entirely new process for commercially viable quick-freezing: packing fish in cartons, then freezing the contents between two refrigerated surfaces under pressure. Birdseye created a new company, General Seafood Corporation, to promote this method. In 1925, Birdeye's General Seafood Corporation employed his newest invention, the double belt freezer, in which cold brine chilled a pair of stainless-steel belts carrying packaged fish, freezing the fish quickly. His invention was subsequently issued as US Patent #1,773,079, marking the beginning of today's frozen foods industry. Category: Refrigeration
  • 1931: Gasification of coal pioneered and demonstrated. (USSR) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1931: Organization Engineering published: fundamental management exposition. (Henry Dennison, US) Category: Management Science and Policy
  • 1931: Neoprene developed at du Pont de Nemours. (Wallace Carothers, Wilmington, Del) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1931: The Balaklava wind generator is opened in Russia; the first large scale wind turbine. It was rated at 100kW. Located along the Caspian Sea it operated for two years. Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1932: Submersible drilling barge designed: patented 1928 by Louis Giliasso, for swamp oil. (Texas Company, US) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1932: The Regeneration Theory published: control systems for predetermined disturbance frequencies from combustion. (N Nyquist, US) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1932: Patent granted for Whittle's jet engine: first jet engine developed 1929–30, but not built until 1938–41; called a turbojet because it used gas turbine. (Frank Whittle, Britain) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1932: Velox boiler developed: with axial compressor to supercharge the boiler. (Brown Boveri, Switzerland) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1933: Vertical metroscope designed for industrial measuring: for Zeiss. (Otto Eppenstein, Germany) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1933: Donnell equations for thin, shallow shell theory developed: the study of stress and displacements of thin shells (e.g., for airplane fuselage or satellite casings) under any loadings or motions. (Lloyd H Donnell, Calif Inst of Technology) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1933: Continuous filing and band-saw machine (Do-All) introduced in US. (US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1933: First Soviet underground coal gasification field experiments begin: probably continue until 1970s. (USSR) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1933: First controlled direction drilling of oil wells developed at Huntington Beach. (California) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1933: Chrome-nickel steel available: improved turbine life. Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1933–1939: Welded rail laid on Delaware and Hudson railroad (adopted worldwide in 1950s). (US) Category: Railway
  • 1933: Boeing 247, Douglas DC 1, and Lockheed Electra introduced in succession. (US)Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1933–1948: Allis-Chalmers Model WC tractor brought mechanization to small US farms, eventually European farms. It was a tractor made by Allis-Chalmers of Milwaukee, Wis. The WC was designed from its start as a nimble, low-cost, but well-powered row-crop tractor that would make the best use of pneumatic rubber tires, which Allis-Chalmers had just introduced to agriculture in 1932. With its minimalist design and low price, about 178,000 WCs were made from 1934 to 1948 WC was the best-selling tractor model that Allis-Chalmers ever built. The WC was the first farm tractor to have rubber tires as standard equipment, and the first tractor tested on rubber in the Nebraska tractor tests. The pneumatic-rubber-tire-on-steel-wheel combination was more expensive to make than a steel wheel with cleats. To make rubber tires standard equipment while also keeping the cost of the tractor low, the WC's designers, C.E. Frudden and Walter Strehlow, gave the WC drop gearing at the rear (bull-gear-with-pinion final drives), which allowed row-crop ground clearance while having smaller-diameter drive wheels. Drop gearing had appeared many times before on earlier tractors, but never yet for this new reason—to minimize the amount of rubber needed for the tires. (Note: Some information copied from Allis-Chalmers Model WC; see that page's history for attribution.)(Milwaukee, Wis., US, then Europe) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1934: Pioneer Zephyr of Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Category: Railway begins: first US diesel-electric power in main-line, averaged 78 mph, powered by light-weight Diesel engine built by General Motor's Electro-Motive Corp., Edward G. Budd Co. builds train. (US) Designated a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME[143] Category: Railway
  • 1934: Series of aluminum, nickel-iron alloys developed: modified into Alnico, Cunico, and Cunife. (T Mishima, W Ruder, Japan, US, respectively) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1934: First twin-spool engine built: also, the first Ljungstrom turboprops. (F and B Ljungstrom, Sweden)
  • 1935: Laszlo Biro successfully introduced a ballpoint pen into the market. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[144] Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1935–1939: Lead added to steels: first change in machining practices in years, pre-WWI. Category: Materials in Tooling
  • 1935: Commercial coal hydrogenation plant starts in England. (Britain) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1935: Lysholm gas turbine patents issued: later taken up by Svenska Flygmotor AB (Volvo). (Alf Lysholm, Sweden) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1935–1936: Turbofan developed: patented 1935 by von Ohain; patent filed 1936 by Whittle in Britain. (Hans von Ohain, Germany) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1935: High-speed, streamlined Silver Jubilee railroad introduced between London and Newcastle. (Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1935: Nylon patented for du Pont: introduced 1938, first major synthetic fiber. (Wallace Carothers, US) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1935: First automatic clothes dryer introduced by the Hamilton Manufacturing Company of Two Rivers, Wis. It was invented by J. Ross Moore. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1935: Frederick McKinley Jones designed a portable air-cooling unit for trucks carrying perishable food, and received a patent for it on July 12, 1940. With a partner, started the U.S. Thermo Control Company (later the Thermo King Corporation) which became a $3 million business by 1949. Portable cooling units designed by Jones were especially important during World War II, preserving blood, medicine, and food for use at army hospitals and on open battlefields. Category: Refrigeration
  • 1936: First practical helicopter for the US, the VS 300, flown June 26 (check 1939, 9/14). (Igor Sikorsky, US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1936: First high-pressure gasifier, the Lurgi dry ash gasifier, introduced (commercially). (Germany) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1936: Catalytic cracking developed: reaches commercial status and replaces thermal cracking after WWII. (Eugene J Houdry, France) Category: Resource Preparation
  • 1936: Time lag studies published on control system operations for combustion systems. (A Callendar, D R Hartree, and A Porter, Britain) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1936: Radiographic examination of welds approved by ASME for boiler inspection. (ASME, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1936: Turboprop engine first patented (single-shaft engine): later interested Gustav de Laval. (Ljungstrom brothers, Sweden) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1936: First commercially successful turboshaft engine (industrial gas turbine) developed at Brown Boveri. (Adolf Meyer, Baden, Switzerland) (Note: According to David R. Greatrix in "Powered Flight: The Engineering of Aerospace Propulsion" pg. 169, the first Turbo Shaft Engine appeared in 1948 by the French engine firm Turbome Some tests with the Turboshaft were done by the Germans during WWII but those were mainly with tanks and armored vehicles. Finally, only 3 Adolf Meyers exist in Wikipedia, an anthropologist, a psychiatrist, and an architect.) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1936: American Douglas DC-3 produced: brought commercial airlines into public domain (160 mph, twin engines). Based off its earlier predecessors the DC-1 and the DC-2, the DC-3 prototype first flew on December 17, 1935, and the design was soon being produced in two versions for American Airlines, the 14-passenger DST sleeper and a 21-seat 'daytime' airliner. Services with DC-3s began in June 1936. During World War II, the DC-3 (named Dakota by Britain) was mass produced as a utility transport in C-47, C-53, and other versions, known also as Skytrains and Skytroopers, and was license-built in large numbers in Russia as the Lisunou Li-2. Used in all imaginable roles, from freight and personnel transport to glider tug and ambulance, the type was active in all theaters of war, notably during the D-Day landings in Normandy, and subsequent assaults by Allied airborne forces. After the war, military flying continued and production of the civil version was restarted. DC-3s became the mainstay of worldwide passenger and freight services for many years. As larger capacity piston and jet airliners became available, DC-3s were gradually turned over to smaller operators but are still in service today, more than 80 years after it was first introduced. (Raymond and Burton, American Airline, US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1936: Public demonstration of fully controllable helicopter, Focke-Achgelis Fa 61. (Hanna Reisch, Berlin) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1936–1937: World's first natural gas fueled diesel reportedly installed in Lubbock, Texas by Nordberg. Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1937: First liquid-fuel aircraft gas-turbine test: Whittle's first test stand engine, with single U-shaped combustor. (Frank Whittle, Britain) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1937–1940: Category: Gas Turbines for industrial and electric power generation introduced: experimental ship and rail. ASME designated the first gas turbine designed for electric power service a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[145] (Whittle, von Ohain, world trend) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1937: Magma Mine air conditioner designed for underground use (based on South Africa design). (Carrier, Superior, Ariz) Category: Ventilation
  • 1937: Copper-nickel-tungsten alloys produced by liquid-phase sintering: from medical radiation shield. (Price, Smithells, Institute of Metals, UK) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1937: Babcock and Wilcox forged steel Category: Steam Power and Devices and water drums approved by ASME Boiler Code Committee. (ASME, US) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1937: The first turbine invented by Ernest Heinkel is tested: originally based on Max Hahn's front-combustor gas turbine design. (Hans von Ohain, Rostock, Germany) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1937: Cyclone R-3350 turbocharged aircraft engine produced: lightweight, low fuel consumption, better mechanical reliance. (Wright Aeronautical) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1937–1944: Harvard Mark 1 (electromechanical computer) conceived by Aiken and developed at IBM: called first US computer. General purpose electro-mechanical computer that was used in WWII by providing vital calculations for the U.S. Navy calculating the implosion of the first atomic bomb. The Mark I was eventually disassembled, although portions of it remain at Harvard in the Science Center. It is part of the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. (Howard Aiken, Endicott, New York) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1937: In 1935, Bombardier assembled a vehicle that ran on caterpillar tracks similar to a tank's tracks. The first snowmobile, the vehicle was steered by skis and could hold two or three passengers. With his first patented mechanical system—the snowmobile's sprocket wheel and track drive system, patented 29 June 1937—Bombardier brought his seven-seat B7 snowmobile to the market in 1937. (Armand Bombadier, Canada) Category: Other Terrain Vehicles
  • 1938: Hamilton's Manufacturing Company produces the first commercial tumble dryer, invented by J Ross Moore as an electrical spinning drum with hot air blasting through it. The prototype was designed in 1936.[146] Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1938–1947: Chester F Carlson demonstrates Xerography, a dry photocopying technique in 1938 for which he was awarded the patent in October 6, 1942. In 1944, Battelle Memorial Institute, a non-profit research organization, became interested, signed a royalty-sharing contract with Carlson, and began to develop the process. Through subsequent contracts with Battelle, Haloid introduced in 1949 its first xerographic machine-the XeroX (with a capital ""X"") Copier. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[147] Category: Business-Office-Postal Industries
  • 1938: Solid solutions of carbides produced by process using menstruum process of 1898. (McKenna, US) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1938: Machine tool tests and alignments published by IMechE. (G Schlesinger, Britain) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1938–1939: Fine powders fluidized: fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) powder blown in upward flow. (Warren Lewis and Edwin Gilliland, MIT, Mass) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1938: First US installation of practical industrial gas turbine imported from Brown Boveri. (Imported through Allis-Chalmers, US, Germany) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1938: Large four-engine airliners such as the Boeing 307 Stratoliner designed and used. (US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1938: Fiberglas produced by Owens Corning Fiberglas Company. (US) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1938–1946: Pilot plant developed for continuous processing of chemical pulp for paper making. (Kamyr AB, Sweden) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1939: Electronic engine indicators for aircraft introduced. Category: Fluid-Pressure Measurement
  • 1939: Lost-wax process developed to cast complete turbine wheels rather than individual blades. (General Electric, US) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1939: Research begins for Wayne State tolerance curve for head injury criterion. (New Mexico) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1939: Nimonic alloys (nickel-based alloys) for gas turbine blades produced: results in increase of temperature-strength properties, especially Nimonic 80. (Mond Nickel Co (in US 1941—Z6)) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1939: Fully automated transmission in automobiles (used planetary gears). Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1939: Jet aircraft, the Heinkel He 178 powered by a gas turbine engine (turbojet) flies successfully. It was the world's first aircraft to fly under turbojet power, and the first practical jet aircraft. It flew on 27 August 1939, piloted by Erich Warsitz. (Hans von Ohain, Marienehe, Germany) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1939: Successful flight of single-main-rotor helicopter made: went into production (VS300A) in 1941 (first French flight was 7/1935, but it never went into production). The first experimental machine, the VS-300, had a single three-blade rotor originally powered by a 75 horsepower (56 kW) engine. In developing the concept of rotary-wing flight, Sikorsky was the first to introduce a single engine to power both the main and tail rotor systems. (Note: In 1943, the VS-300 was retired to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan where it has been on display there ever since.) The VS-300 was the first successful single lifting rotor helicopter in the United States and the first successful helicopter to use a single vertical tail rotor configuration for antitorque. It was test flown by Sikorsky on 14 September 1939 tethered by cables. The first ""free"" flight of the VS-300 was on 13 May 1940. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[148] (Igor Sikorsky, Michigan) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1939: Polyethylene invented: polytetraethelene invented and produced in 1954. (Roy Plunkett) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1939: Polythene commercially made by International Chemical Industries. (Britain) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1939: Erich Warsitz piloted a rocket-powered aircraft, the He176. It was the first aircraft to be propelled solely by a liquid-fueled rocket. Category: Aeronautics (air travel)


  • 1940: Automatic transmission installed in Oldsmobiles by GM: hydromatic transmission system. the Hydra-Matic combined a fluid coupling with three hydraulically controlled planetary gearsets to produce four forward speeds plus reverse. The transmission was sensitive to engine throttle position and road speed, producing fully automatic up- and down-shifting that varied according to operating conditions. (GM) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1940–1949: Electrical resistance strain gauges develop in US to measure structures under loading. •A strain gauge takes advantage of the physical property of electrical conductance and its dependence on the conductor's geometry in order to measure strain on an object. Invented separately by Edward E. Simmons and Arthur C. Ruge in 1938 but was but was credited to both as a shared patent. (US) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1940–1945: Direct chill or semicontinuous method of casting aluminum-manganese alloy introduced. Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1940–1950: Blast furnace process for producing zinc perfected: replaces retort furnaces. (Avonmouth, UK) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1940: Design and performance standards series devised for development of synthetic rubber and new alloys. (NBS, US) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1940: Welding adopted as manufacturing process following development of testing such as x ray and gamma rays. Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1940–1945: Electrostatic spray gun introduced for paint application: soon known as American Ransburg electrostatic painting. (US) Category: Construction Tools
  • 1940–1949: Hot-water-extraction process developed: recovers bitumen from tar sands of Athabasca area. (Karl Clark, Alberta, Canada) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1940–1959: Continuous coal-cutting machine developed (1934 machine with conveyor belt installed in Britain). (Consolidated Coal) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1940: Seat belt developed. Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1940: Aircraft deicing systems developed. Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1940: Non-evaporative cooling tower used for process cooling. Category: Refrigeration
  • 1940: Advances in heat information aid development of several servomechanisms and improve communications. (C E Shannon) Category: Thermodynamics—Theory
  • 1940: Autogyro developed: with wings rotating forward by traction propeller. (Juan de la Cierva, Spain) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1940: Plastics like PTFE discovered to have lower coefficient of friction than journal metals. Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1940: Pressley bundle test introduced: measures cotton fiber strength. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1941: Union Pacific's Big Boy built: world's largest steam locomotive, designed for mountain service, 6,000 hp, 70 mph. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[149] (USA) Category: Railway
  • 1941–1944: Wind tunnel to test jet engine built: drives a 24-ft-dia single-stage 16-blade fan. (Boeing, US) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1941: Test plant for gas turbine compressors established. (Rolls-Royce, Derby, Britain) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1941: The Gloster E28/39 is flown. It was the test bed for the turbojet engine (W-1 tested 12/40; outperforms Spitfire 1942). (Frank Whittle, Britain) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1941: Polyurethanes commercially produced by I G Farbenindustrie (discovered 1937–39 by Bayer). (Germany) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1941: Dacron developed by ICI in Britain in 1941: introduced in US in 1953. (du Pont, US) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1941: In 1936 Zuse finished the plan for his first computer and the Z1 and the prototype was ready in 1938. Z1 was a machine of about 1000 kg weight, which consisted from some 20000 parts. It was a programmable computer, based on binary floating-point numbers and a binary switching system. It consisted completely of thin metal sheets, which Kuno and his friends produced using a jigsaw. The only electrical unit was an electrical engine with power 1kW, which was used to provide a clock frequency of one Hertz. The manufacturing of Z2 began in 1938 and the prototype was ready next year. Z3 was ready in the spring of 1941, and in May, 1941, it was presented to the scientists in Berlin. Built completely out of 2,300 relays, the Z3 used floating point binary arithmetic and had a 22-bit word length. (Konrad Zuse, Germany) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1942: Triplett and Barton automatic industrial x-ray unit (Model 40-1) patented (developed 1940 ca). (Ralph H Swaisgood, US) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1942: Fine-powder fluid-bed production of ingredients for 100-octane aviation gasoline. (Standard Oil of New Jersey, Baton Rouge) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1942: World's first experimental nuclear reactor starts. Enrico Fermi demonstrates the first self-supporting nuclear chain reaction. The experiment was performed at the University of Chicago and carried out by the Metallurgical Laboratory at the Eckhart Hall and built around Mansueto Library. Category: Nuclear
  • 1942: First flight of a US jet, with engine designated the 1-A: Bel Airacomet (XP-59A) by Bell Aircraft Company (Buffalo, N.Y.) equipped with Whittle engine. (GE (Lynn, Mass), Muroc, Calif.) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1943: Aberdeen Aerodynamic Range begins operations: experiments in ballistic measures for projectiles for military and aeronautical applications, innovations include high-speed spark photography. (Maryland) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1943: Steel cast continually. (S Junghans, Germany) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1943: Electro-discharge machining (spark erosion) developed for machine tool manufacturing. Category: Machine Tools
  • 1943: Rolls-Royce Merlin engine from Hurricane used to build Spitfire: Supermarine Aviation Works. (R J Miller, Britain) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1943: First forged impellers made of Hiduminium-RR.58 alloy fit to Whittle engine: G Meteor Mark 1. (UK) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1943: Silicone manufactured commercially (discovered 1904 by Kipping). (Dow Corning Corp, US) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1943–1950: Whirlwind program simulating aircraft performance developed at MIT. (MIT, Cambridge, Mass) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1943: An artificial kidney dialysis machine is developed and tested for the first time. Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1944: Jumo 004 designed at Junkers Engine Company: first axial flow turbojet and first mass-produced jet engine; development begun 1936. On March 15, 1942, a Junkers Jumo 004 prototype was tested on a Messerschmitt Bf 110 making it the world's first successful axial-flow turbojet engine. It would be the first jet engine to go into volume production and would power the world's first operation jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262, and the world's first operational bomber, the Arado Ar 234. (included work by Helmut Schelp). (Anselm Franz, Dessau, Austria) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1944: Icing research wind tunnel designed: uses unique heat exchanger and spray system. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[150] (NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland) Category: Climatic Control
  • 1944: Sonigage patented and demonstrated: NDT, basic patent on ultrasonic resonance testing (General Motors). (Wesley S Erwin, US) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1944: Supersonic reflectoscope manufactured by Sperry Products Inc: begins NDT instrumentation. (Floyd A Firestone) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1944: Baseboard radiators introduced: reduced floor-to-ceiling temperature stratification. Category: Centralized Distribution Systems
  • 1944–1947: Centerless thread-grinding machine patented. (A Scrivener (British), Britain, US) Category: Machine Tools
  • 1944: Polysar plant begins production of synthetic rubber. (Sarnia, Ontario, Canada) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1945: Rotating-arm ship-model test facility experiments with forces and control measurements. (Kenneth Davidson, Hoboken, Stevens Institute) Category: Laboratory-Model Instruments
  • 1945: Joint development of pressure vessels withstanding high loads. (Vickers Anderson) Category: Pumps
  • 1945: Oil pipelines converted to natural gas lines: processes develop for liquefication, etc. (US) Category: Category: Pipes, Pipelines, Tubes
  • 1945: Lurgi process for gasification applied on large scale (to lignites). Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1945: T-2 oil tankers produced (480 built): replenishes fleet and designs for large tankers become standardized. Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1945: Quiet propeller developed for jet propulsion. (US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1945: Alan Turing develops an electromechanical machine to decipher the German codes (the so-called 'enigma codes'). It was referred to as the Turing-Welchman Bombe and used at Bletchley Park. Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1945: Doppler radar developed. (US) Category: Engineering in General
  • 1946: Fruit juice extractor with 24-head rotary action operates experimentally: uses grapefruit. Eventually adopted universally. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[151] (Sunkist, Tempe, Ariz) Category: Agriculture-Food Production
  • 1946: Audigage thickness tester demonstrated: tests (NDT) tetraethyl lead tanks in Texas and Calif also. (Norman Branson, New York) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1946–1953: Ultrasonic immersion tester developed: for NDT of turbine blade, welding, inspection, etc. (Donald Erdman) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1946–1953: First fast reactor Clementine operates at Los Alamos. (New Mexico) Category: Nuclear
  • 1946–1955: Viking research rocket series becomes first large US rocket effort at White Sands Proving Ground: tests telemetry instruments. (New Mexico) (US Navy, New Mexico) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1946: Micronaire method of measuring diameter of cotton fiber introduced. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1946–1948: Williams tube memory developed at Manchester University. (Fred C Williams, Britain) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1947: Hypersonic research tunnel built at Lewis Research Center. (Lewis Research Center, Cleveland) Category: Laboratory-Model Instruments
  • 1947: Supersonic wind tunnel built at Langley Aeronautical Laboratory of NASA. (Langley, Virginia) Category: Laboratory-Model Instruments
  • 1947: Floating drilling tender with equipment that withstands severe ocean environment demonstrated. (Kerr-McGee Oil Industry, Gulf of Mexico) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1947: Philips hot-air engine developed: with coiled wire heat exchanger. (Philips) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1947: Calandria-type nuclear research reactor at Chalk River commissioned: best for decade. (Anglo-French-Can, Canada) Category: Nuclear
  • 1947: First gas-turbine driven warship, MGB 2009, fitted: displacing steam Power and Devices turbine and diesel engine. Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1947: British Transport commission established, followed by nationalization of British rails. (Britain) Category: Railway
  • 1947: KCH-2 Beaver airplane built. (De Havilland Air, Canada) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1947: Chuck Yeager flies the aircraft X-1, breaking the speed of sound in level flight for the first time. Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1947: Olgierd Zienkiewicz developed the Finite Element Method. The finite element method originated from the need for solving complex elasticity and structural analysis problems in civil and aeronautical engineering. Category: Engineering in General
  • 1948–1960: Krypton wavelength and vacuum wave length of cadmium red adopted to define meter. Category: Measurement Apparatus and Testing
  • 1948: Electronic comparator (measuring machine) introduced into machine tool shops. Craig Thomson Elihu filed a patent for the "Electronic comparator densitometer" in 1944. Adaptable for a very wide range of non-destructive industrial testing and inspecting work. Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1948: Palomar Observatory operates 200-inch telescope. Category: Observation
  • 1948: Spot transition from laminar to turbulent flow demonstrated: early demonstration and no comprehensive theory published yet. (Howard W Emmons, Cambridge, Mass (Harvard)) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1948: A heat pump system is installed in the Equitable Building—now known as the Commonwealth Building (Portland, Oregon). It was the first heat pump system used in a modern-style sealed-window office building, and the largest in the United States at the time. It was designated as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME. The landmark brochure notes its features: "Year around air conditioning is provided by automatic switch-over from heating and cooling as required. Special features include heat recovery from ventilation exhaust air and heating of incoming ventilation air with waste cooling water. Water at two different temperatures is supplied by wells of different depths. No provision is made for auxiliary heating." [152] (Portland, Oregon)
  • 1948: First industrial gas turbine built in Scotland: open cycle, drives air compressor. (John Brown and Company, Scotland) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1948: US Navy chooses pressurized water reactor design for submarine NAUTILUS (launched 1955). (H G Rickover, US) Category: Nuclear
  • 1948: Teflon produced commercially: PTFE discovered by Roy Plunkett in 1938. (du Pont, US) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1948: CBS Laboratories develops long-playing (microgroove) record: technology later developed for lunar orbiter's photography transmissions (including rotating anode and metallic-solid lubricant). (Peter C Goldmark, New York) Category: Communication
  • 1949: Gas turbine-generator produces electricity at Belle Isle Station: first in US for power generation. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[153] (Oklahoma) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1949–1953: Pilot plant using Bergius method (1912–26) operated in US for direct coal liquefaction. (Bureau of Mines, US) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1949: Stratified-charge, spark-ignition engine developed: spurred by emission requirements. (Texaco, US) Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1949: Continuously variable stator nozzle-blades angle patented: for Gas Turbines. (Richard Barr, Britain) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1949: Closed-cycle gas turbo-generator works in Paris. (Escher-Wyss, Paris) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1949: USSR begins construction on a 5 MW (electrical) demonstration reactor (operates 1954). (USSR) Category: Nuclear
  • 1949: First hydrogen-cooled alternators operate in England, at Littlebrook B Power Station. (Britain) Category: Power Plants
  • 1949: The de Havilland DH106 Comet flys for the first time. It was the world's first production commercial jetliner. It is responsible for numerous advances in aircraft design and its tragic accident investigations. The inquiries into the accidents that plagued the Comet 1 were perhaps some of the most extensive and revolutionary that have ever taken place, establishing precedents in accident investigation. Many of the deep-sea salvage and aircraft reconstruction techniques employed have remained in use in the aviation industry. Despite its rigorous testing, pressurization and the dynamic stresses involved were not thoroughly understood at the time of the aircraft's development, nor was the concept of metal fatigue. These lessons could be implemented on the drawing board for future aircraft and corrections could be retroactively applied to the Comet. Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1949: Invention of the bar code by N. Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver for labeling nearly every commercially available product Category: Business-Office-Postal Industries


  • 1950–1955: Extensive research in cryogenic engineering for liquid hydrogen production and handling supported. (US Atomic Energy Commission, US) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1950–1959: Nuclear development of fast breeder, boiling water, and pressurized water reactors. The Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 in Idaho was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME. [154] Category: Nuclear
  • 1950: Photo elastic properties of plastics lead to frozen stress technique and stress analysis. Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1950: Ultrasonic Hitt blocks devised: calibrated distance amplitude measurements (aerospace NDT). (ALCOA, US) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1950: Gigantic radio telescope built at Jodrell Bank: capable of tracking space flights. Category: Observation
  • 1950: Vortex flow theory applied to design of turbine blading (vortex generators develop—C1). Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1950: Fluid flow phenomena studies lead to gas turbine and hovercraft development. The studies resulted in general use of air-lubricated bearings for machines and to use of vortex flow theory to turbine blade design Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1950: Cold forming operations improve accuracy: reduce waste in metal finishing, finned tubing. Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1950: Hydro-blast replaces sand blasting in iron castings: reduces danger. Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1950: Portable chain tooth saw replaces manual tree-cutting tools. Category: Machine Tools
  • 1950–1959: Numerically controlled machines introduced. (US) Punched card and magnetic tape control results in digital machining, speed, and accuracy in casting shapes. Category: Automation
  • 1950: Gas produced by North Thames Gas Board (Southend Works) from partial combustion of oil. (Britain) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1950–1955: Koppers-Totzek gasifier introduced. Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1950: Rocket-sled safety tests developed. Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1950: First ejection seat used: flight safety initiative. (US) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1950–1955: NACA crash fire research. (US) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1950: Philips refrigerating machine makes liquid air at atmospheric pressure by Philips Co. (Holland) Category: Refrigeration
  • 1950: Kaplan turbines (up to 60-foot heads), Francis 60–900 ft, Pelton wheel 800-plus foot reach between 88–92 percent efficiency. Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1950: BEA standardizes turbo-alternator size and steam conditions (example: Stourport station). (Britain) Category: Steam Power and Devices
  • 1950: Free-piston diesel engine developed: originally by Pescara in France, applied as gas generator for Gas Turbines. Category: IC Piston Engines
  • 1950: Series of satellites put into orbit around the earth. (USSR) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1950: Sulzer's shuttle-less automatic loom produced commercially. (Sulzer) Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1950: Clamp technology, electronic controls, and hydraulic and pneumatic operation affect garment manufacturers. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1950–1955: Wool scourer improved: Wool Industry Research Association – Petri improved scourer. Category: Textile Industry Mechanization
  • 1950: A cardiac pacemaker was developed by John Hopps of Canada. The device was not small enough to be installed internal to the human body. Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1950: The first microwave oven is patented by Percy Spencer. (Massachusetts, USA) Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1951: Experimental 100 kW windmill runs with diesel electricity generating plant in the Orkneys. (Costa Hill) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1951: Closed-cycle gas turbine tested: 12,500 kW, first large plant of this type operating. (Escher-Wyss (1947), Paris) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1951–1964: Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 (EBR-1) operates. It was the first nuclear reactor to produce electrical power and to demonstrate the feasibility of breeding more fuel than was used. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[155] (Argonne National Laboratory, West, National Reactor Testing Station, now the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory) Category: Nuclear
  • 1951: French-made electric locomotives demonstrated: 25,000-volt single-phase AC current, reaches 205 mph (then world record) in 1955, became standard in Europe, Japan, and India. Category: Railway
  • 1951: Flow-Matic computer programming language developed: applied to Univac I in 1951. Grace Hopper developed a compiler to allow incorporation of a programming language that could instruct a computer using English codes. In her words, "I decided data processors ought to be able to write their programs in English, and the computers would translate them into machine code."[156] Her innovation led to the eventual development of the COBOL computer language (COBOL is short for "common business-oriented language). It became the first standardized general business computer language and continues in use today (2021). (While a significant advance, this innovation might not belong in the mechanical engineering innovation category.) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1951: The National Reactor Station in Idaho produces usable electricity from Nuclear fission for the first time. Arco, a neighboring town, was the first to receive power from nuclear energy (in 1955). Category: Nuclear
  • 1952: Linz-Donawitz produces steel with new oxygen process; McLouth Steel BOP developed in 1955. One of the three Oxygen-Process steel-making vessels at the McLouth Steel Plant in Trenton, MI, was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.[157] (Linz-Donawitz, Austria) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1952–1953: Electric power produced from experimental breeder reactor at Arco, achieved fuel in 1953. (Arco, Idaho) Category: Nuclear
  • 1952: First NC machine operated: a standard 3-geared milling machine, uses 3-D coordinates. July 1949 to June 1950, an MIT team was led by William Pease began developing a system that would operate by precisely programmed commands encoded on a storage medium rather than be controlled manually via hand wheels or levers, or mechanically automated via cams alone. MIT filed for a patent for a "Numerical Control Servo-System" on 14 August 1952 but John T. Parsons received the US Patent on 14 January 1958 despite the fact he had been frozen in development by the Air Force (who funded the project). MIT's system was an outstanding success by any technical measure, quickly making any complex cut with extremely high accuracy that could not easily be duplicated by hand. However, the system was terribly complex, including 250 vacuum tubes, 175 relays and numerous moving parts, reducing its reliability in a production environment. (MIT, US) Category: Automation
  • 1952: Oxygen-hydrogen fuel cell patented: gives 650 milliamps per sq cm at .79 volts. (F T Bacon) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1952: Float glass process developed for flat-glass manufacturing. (Pilkingtons, St Helens, Britain) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1952: First parallel computer work station designed: built by J H Bigelow for the Institute for Advanced Study. (John von Neumann, Princeton, N.J.) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1952: The most popular ballpoint pen, the Bic, is first produced by French manufacturer Marcel Bich. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1952: Mechanical heart valve. On September 1952, Dr. Charles A. Hufnagel implants the first mechanical heart valve into a 30-year-old woman Georgetown University Medical School. A plastic ball encased in a tube forced the valve to open and close, permitting blood to flow into and out of the heart as it would through a normal artery. The patient to receive the plastic implant had rheumatic fever, which had severely damaged her aortic valve to the point where she was given little chance to live. Shortly after the implant, she was able to resume a normal life and lived for almost a decade with the implanted valve before dying of unrelated causes. Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1952: The Dodrill–GMR machine was the first operational mechanical heart successfully used while performing open heart surgery. It was developed by Dr. Forest Dewey Dodrill, a surgeon at Harper University Hospital in Detroit, and General Motors Research. On July 3, 1952, 41-year-old Henry Opitek suffering from shortness of breath made medical history at Harper University Hospital in Michigan. The Dodrill–GMR heart machine, considered by some to be the first operational mechanical heart was successfully used while performing heart surgery. The machine allowed doctors to detour blood and stop the heart of a patient during an operation. The machine was external of the body. Henry Opitek's left ventricle was bypassed for 50 minutes while he opened the patient's left atrium and worked to repair the mitral valve. In Dodrill's post-operative report he notes, "To our knowledge, this is the first instance of survival of a patient when a mechanical heart mechanism was used to take over the complete body function of maintaining the blood supply of the body while the heart was open and operated on." Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1953: Taper gauges for ultrasonic thickness evaluation and hand-scan system for immersion testing developed (NDT). (Wm C Hitt, Van Nuys, Calif.) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1953: Small, quiet fan designed: forerunner of compact fan heater of 1937. (Bruno Eck, Cologne) Category: Ventilation
  • 1953: John Gibbon and his staff develops the heart-lung machine. On May 6, 1953 at Jefferson Medical College Hospital, Dr. John Heysham Gibbon, Jr. and his staff, with the help of his latest-designed heart-lung machine "Model II", closed a very serious septal defect between the upper chambers of the heart of eighteen-year-old Cecelia Bavolek. This was the first successful intracardiac surgery of its kind performed on a human patient. Bavolek was connected to the device for three-quarters of an hour and for 26 crucial minutes, she totally depended upon the machine's artificial cardiac and respiratory functions. Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1953–1968: John Hetrick, American engineer, obtains a patent for the airbag. Fifteen years later, American inventor, Allen K Breed, perfects the device. Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1954–1957: Boeing 707 prototype demonstrated: powered by Pratt & Whitney turbojets, swept-back wing design. The prototype was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[158] (Boeing, Seattle -Baltimore) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1954: Maser (microwave spectrum) device built and operated as spectrometer. (Gordon, Zeiger, and Townes) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1954: Friction welding of dissimilar metals invented. (USSR) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1954: Electronically programmed milling machine introduced (numerically controlled). (MIT, Cambridge, Mass) Category: Automation
  • 1954–1955: Slagging Lurgi gasifier developed: initially in Germany, then sporadically in Britain. (Germany, Britain) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1954: Submersible mobile drilling unit operates in Gulf of Mexico for shallow water installations. (Odeco) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1954: Silicon photovoltaic cell generates 1 kW by Chapin, Fuller, and Pearson: 6% conversion efficiency. (Bell Telephone, US) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1954: Atomic Power Station (pressurized water reactor) starts up in Obninsk, USSR. Category: Nuclear
  • 1954: USS Nautilus, first Nuclear-powered submarine, launched: revolutionizes submarine technology. (Groton, Conn) Category: Submersibles
  • 1954–1957: Polypropylene invented: replaces jute and hemp. (Natta, Milan) Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1954: Parametron, capable of storing one binary digit, invented; begins digital technology in Japan. (Japan) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1955: Hot isostatic process developed: bonds complex alloy and ceramic parts. (Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1955: General Electric's high pressure diamond group produces the first artificial diamond in 1955. Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1955–1959: A-, B-, and C-scan systems for ultrasonic (NDT) testing developed (Saltronics Company). (Ultransonic Testing and Research Laboratory, Van Nuys, Calif.) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1955: Sasol plant produces motor fuels (Fischer-Tropsch method) through indirect coal liquefaction. (M W Kellogg Company, South Africa) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1955: First jack-up oil drilling rig designed. (US) Category: Resource Recovery
  • 1955–1959: Model developed for correlating how new technology relates to productivity. (W E Salter) Category: Management Science and Policy
  • 1956–1957: Random access method of accounting and control (RAMAC) developed for disk drive storage capacity: later applied technology to early supercomputers. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME, jointly with IEEE.[159] Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1956: Pump turbine demonstrates pumped storage in hydroelectric power plant, the Hiwassee hydro facility by Tennessee Valley Authority. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME. [160] (Allis-Chalmers, North Carolina) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1956: Tanker designs influenced when Nylon proofed with rubber is used for a deflatable oil tank on Dacrone barge. (W R Hawthorne, Cambridge, England) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1956: APT computer language developed for machine tool control. (Douglas Ross, MIT, Cambridge, Mass) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1956: FORTRAN developed for scientific and engineering problems. (John Backus, IBM) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1956: Kidney dialysis machine invented: improved in 1976 with use of polythene. Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1956: The world's first large-scale commercial nuclear power station at Calder Hall is connected to England's national grid. However, the production of weapons-grade plutonium was the main reason behind this power station. (5 MW) Category: Nuclear
  • 1957: Philo 6 Steam-Electric Generating Unit goes into service. It was the world's first commercial supercritical steam-electric generating unit and significantly increased the efficiency of electric generation. Philo Unit 6 was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[161] The landmark nameplate states, in part, "Using steam at the supercritical pressure of 4,500 psi, almost twice that of previous units and at 1,150 °F", along with other innovations, allowed this unit "to achieve a thermal efficiency of 40%—a one-third increase over its contemporaries. It became the trailblazer for many that followed, advancing the technology in numerous areas including steam-generator and turbine design, metallurgy and feed-water chemistry."
  • 1957: Atlas intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) launched. (US (California)) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1957: The first monorail trail is built at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. Category: Other Terrain Vehicles
  • 1957: Vallecitos boiling water reactor connected with utility grid: operational 8/3/57. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[162] (GE, Bechtel, etc., Pleasanton, Calif.) Category: Nuclear
  • 1957: (PWR) Nuclear reactor tested for commercial central electric generation. The Shippingport Atomic Power Station was the first commercial central electric-generating station in the United States to use nuclear energy. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[163] (Westinghouse Electric, Shippingport, Pa.) Category: Nuclear
  • 1957: Blood heat exchanger developed by Duke University Medical Center and GM engineers. It was the first commercial human-blood heat exchanger for controlling hyperthermic temperatures during open-heart surgery. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME. [164] (Brown and Emmons, Buffalo) Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1957: Electronic beam welding performed in a vacuum at French Atomic Energy Commission. (J A Stohr, France) Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1957: Mercury dry cell developed. (PR Mallory and Co) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1957: Candu (Canadian deuterium-uranium) reactor designed: heavy water reactor. (Canada) Category: Nuclear
  • 1957: Jake Brake invented—a diesel engine brake retarder developed with hydraulic valve mechanism as air compressor. (Clessie Cummins, Connecticut) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1957: Wankel engine used in vehicles: developed in 1888, patented 1929, used in production car 1963 (NSU Spyder, Japan). (Felix Wankel, Germany) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1957: Boron fuels developed for jet propulsion. (US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1957: Sputnik 1 launched: first spacecraft. The first artificial Earth satellite was launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957. Public reaction to the Sputnik crisis led to the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA in 1972), NASA and an increase in U.S. government spending on scientific research and education. Not only did the launch of Sputnik spur America to action in the space race, it also led directly to the creation of N.A.S.A. through the space act bill. Sputnik also contributed directly to advancement in science and technology. (USSR) (Note: ' A model of Sputnik 1 was given to the United Nations and now decorates the Entry Hall of its Headquarters in New York City. Other replicas are on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.; at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas; at the Science Museum, London; at the World Museum in Liverpool; and hanging in the Noble Planetarium at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Fort Worth, Texas.) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1957: Sputnik 2 launched: first craft with life support systems. (USSR) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1957: Phototypesetting process makes it possible to eliminate metal typesetting. Category: Printing and Publishing Mechanization
  • 1958: Inertial guidance used as sole navigation aid: USS Nautilus travels under polar icecap. (US) Category: Observation
  • 1958: Laser, called infrared and optical maser at first, invented. Category: Observation
  • 1958: Numerically controlled machine center for finishing introduced. (Kearney and Trecker, US) Category: Automation
  • 1958: Turbofan engine rebuilt from turbojet engine for quieter and more economical fuel consumption. (Pratt and Whitney, US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1958: Pioneer 1 space probe launched toward moon. (US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1958: Vanguard 1 launched: first craft with solar power. (US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1958: Algol 58 (international algebraic language) developed for university and industry use by Americans and Europeans. (ACM and GAMM, US, Europe) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1958: The first transatlantic air passenger service begins in October 1958. Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1959: Container crane introduced for shipping by Paceco: reduces unloading time substantially. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[165] (Note: In 1987 it was purchased by and relocated in Port of Nanjing, China. The landmark was rededicated in conjunction with Chinese Mechanical Engineering Society the following year.) (Paceco, Alameda, Calif.) Category: Materials Handling
  • 1959: Electronic coordinate measuring machine (CMM) measures large complex objects at Ferranti. (Britain) Category: Linear Measurement and Gauges
  • 1959: Schlieren photography method used to observe flow phenomena in water tunnel. Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1959: Magnetohydrodynamic generator built by Avon Research Laboratory: based on Alfven's work. (Avco, Massachusetts) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1959–1960: Dresden Nuclear Power Station generates electricity commercially: first Nuclear power station to use boiling water reactor. (Morris, Ill) Category: Nuclear
  • 1959: Pioneer 5 launched: deep-space probe. (US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1959: Japan demonstrates new computer systems at first IFIP Congress. (Paris) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1959: COBOL developed by US Department of Defense for business data processing. (DOD, US) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1959: LISP computer language developed at MIT: for artificial intelligence programming. (John McCarthy, Cambridge, Mass) (Note: This might not belong in the mechanical engineering innovation category.) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1959: A Soviet spacecraft named 'Luna 1' is launched on a flight to the moon. Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles


  • 1960–1969: Single Crystal Turbine Blade technology is developed by Pratt & Whitney. Single crystal turbine blades have no crystalline boundaries, resulting in greater resistance to fracture and corrosion as well as vastly improved creep performance than conventional multi-crystaline nickel-cobalt alloy blades. The technology was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[166]
  • 1960: Eddystone Station Unit #1 goes into service. It was the second U.S. (earliest extant) supercritical steam-electric generating unit. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[167]
  • 1960: Comparator with interferometer and photoelectric scanning microscopes introduced. (Societe Genevoise, Europe) Category: Observation
  • 1960–1962: Helium-neon laser created: emits continuous beam of light (researched 1958). (A Javan, Bennett, Bell Labs, US) Category: Observation
  • 1960: Shape memory alloys made from titanium and nickel developed. (Wm Buehler, Silver Spring, Md) Category: Metallurgy-Materials Fabrication
  • 1960–1965: Manufacturing data collected and industrial processes controlled by computer. Category: Automation
  • 1960: FAA aircraft crash-fire tests. (US) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1960: NASA survivability criteria established. (US) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1960–1971: Large-scale magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) plant, called U25, conceived and built. (USSR) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1960: Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Station goes into service. It employed a pressurized water reactor. It was decommissioned in 1992. The plant was commonly referred to as Yankee-Rowe, or simply 'Rowe,' to avoid confusion with another nearby nuclear facility—Vermont Yankee. (Rowe, Mass) Category: Nuclear
  • 1960: Nuclear-powered aircraft project launched in the United States, in part due to rumors that the Soviet Union was working on similar technology. The US program resulted in built prototypes, which would have required extremely large aircraft designs in order to accommodate the weight. (US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1960–1965: Computer Aided Design software (CAD) developed by IBM and aerospace industry. Includes finite element analysis (FEA). IBM made the technology available via personal computers in 1981. (US) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1960: First implantable heart pacemaker produced: uses high performance materials and electricity. It was patented by Wilson Greatbatch. (Medtronic) Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1960: Bubble wrap is invented. The Sealed Air Corporation is formed by US engineers, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, in order to market their new invention. Category: Commercial Inventions and Wares
  • 1961: Freedom 7 with Alan Shepard Jr piloting, is launched: exercised manual control. (Shephard, US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1961: Vpstok 1 is launched with with Yuri Gagarin on board. He became the first human in space. The successful voyage demonstrated life support, communications, and automatic control systems in space. (Gagarin, USSR) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1961: First golf-ball typewriter introduced by IBM. The Selectric typewriter took seven years to develop and featured a spherical head with letters that moved across the page as users typed and rotated to strike the selected letter or number against paper.[168] Category: Communication
  • 1961: The Niagara Falls hydroelectric project, the largest hydroelectric project in the world at that time, begins generating in 1961. It is part of a longer history of hydroelectric generation at the site. Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1962: NS Savannah built. It was the first civilian maritime (cargo-passenger) ship in world powered by a nuclear reactor. Designated as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[169] (George Sharp, Camden, N.J.) Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1962: Stanford Linear Accelerator built: subatomic particles and forces studied. It incorporated unique electromechanical devices and systems in the longest accelerator in the world. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[170] (California) Category: Laboratory-Model Instruments
  • 1962: Industrial robotic manipulators with pick-and-place functions produced (F8, p 87). (Unimation, Danbury, Conn) Category: Automation
  • 1962: Prototype of advanced gas-cooled reactor fueled by enriched uranium built at Windscale England. (Cumbria, Britain) Category: Nuclear
  • 1962: Alouette I satellite launched (by US): Canadian scientific remote sensing satellite. (NASA, Canada, US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1962: Friendship 7 with John Glenn launched by Atlas booster: achieves orbit (Project Mercury). (Glenn, US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1962: Communications satellite Telstar I launched: remained in geosynchronous orbit. (Bell Labs, US) Category: Communication
  • 1962: American Nuclear submarines Skate and Seadragon rendezvous at North Pole: use inertial guidance. (US) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1963: Holograms demonstrated with laser: holographic interferometry applied to precision measuring. (Univ of Michigan, US) Category: Observation
  • 1963: Lamb dip for high-resolution spectroscopy discovered. (Willis E Lamb, Jr, US) Category: Observation
  • 1963: Section III code released by ASME for nuclear vessels: drafted 1961. (ASME, US) Category: Nuclear
  • 1963–1971: Boeing SST study leads to materials, digital, noise-control, structural, and propulsion technology. (Boeing for NASA, US) Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1964–1975: Integrated circuits and large-scale integration (LSI) developed: called third generation computers. Following up on work by Jack Kilby, Texas Instruments developed integrated circuit wire-bonders, which played a major part in bringing the integrated circuit from an expensive electronic specialty to the ubiquitous microchip of today. Using heat and pressure, the device bonded fine gold wire to microscopic contacts on the silicon chip and pin-connections on the package. Following the success of the prototype, almost 1,000 ABACUS II wire bonders were built, making the economical mass production of integrated circuits a reality. The ABACUS-II Integrated Circuit wire bonder was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[171] (US) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1964–1972: Apollo program develops aerospace technology: command and lunar modules, thruster engines, radio equipment, Saturn Vs, space suits, and control and guidance equipment; all for the successful missions to the moon. ASME has designated several items from the Apollo program as Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks, to include the Lunar landing module, the command module, and the spacesuits developed for the program.[172][173][174] (NASA, Kennedy, Fla, Texas, Ala) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1964: Photovoltaic pumping system installed and tested: near Gelendzhik, produced 250 watts. (Lidorenko, USSR) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1964–1964: High-speed passenger train, Shinkansen colloquially known as the 'Bullet Train', begins full service between Tokyo and Osaka. Designed in 1957, it averages 130 mph and has been a demonstration of a commercially successful system. It is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan operated by four Japan Railway companies that has expanded to currently consist of 2,615.7 km (1,625.3 mi) of lines with maximum speeds of 240–320 km. To enable high-speed operation, Shinkansen uses a range of advanced technology compared with conventional rail. Shinkansen trains which are electric multiple unit style, offering high acceleration and deceleration, and reduced damage to the track because of lighter vehicles. The coaches are air-sealed to ensure stable air pressure when entering tunnels at high speed. Shinkansen's success has influenced other railways in the world and the importance and advantage of high-speed rail has consequently been reevaluated. It was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME. (Japan) Category: Railway
  • 1964: The BASIC computer language is developed by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz at Dartmouth College. It can be used in batch or interactive mode and simplified the ability to program computers. (Kemeny and Kurtz, Dartmouth College) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1964: Portable and desk-top computer reach market (chip power) with IBM 360 system. (IBM, US) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1965: Acoustic-emission (stress-wave analysis technique, SWAT) NDT of solid rocket motor case developed. (US Navy, R K Steele, US) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1965: Radio telescope at Jodrell Bank tracks space flights. (Britain) Category: Observation
  • 1965–1969: Circulating fluid-bed (CFB) calcinator developed for aluminum industry at Lurgi Gesellschaft. (Lothar Reh) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1965: McDonnell-Douglas collision avoidance system developed. (US) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1965: Boeing windshield anti-rain fluid developed. (US) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1965: James Bay hydroelectric project begins operation: uses first Canadian (possibly world) kilovolt transmission line. (Montreal, Canada) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1965–1966: Enrico Fermi fast breeder reactor is built (first experiments in Scotland). Category: Nuclear
  • 1965: Gemini 3 launched by modified Titan 2 booster. (US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1965: Gemini 5 launched for pre-Apollo endurance mission: includes fuel-cell electrical power system. (US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1965: Voskhod 2: first spacewalk, with autonomous life support system. (USSR) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1965: Expert system Dendral determines chemical structure from mass spectral data. (Stanford Univ, Stanford, Calif.) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1966–1969: Computer-controlled industrial machines used in Britain and US. (Shell UK, ICI, etc., Britain and US) Category: Automation
  • 1966: First superconducting motor developed: built for Fawley power station in 1969. (International R&D Company, Newcastle, Britain) Category: Engine Auxiliaries
  • 1966–1967: Tidal power station completed on the River Rance (operating 1966, 11 —X6). (Normandy, France) Category: Water-Hydraulic Power
  • 1966: Electronic fuel injection system to replace carburetor is developed. (Britain) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1966: The Soviet Luna 9 makes the first unmanned soft landing on the moon. Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1967: Pilot plant built for extraction-hydrogenation process: produces synthetic oil. (Cresap, W VA) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1967: Auto industry whiplash test standards developed and tests conducted. (US) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1967: Shell foam research: relating to flight safety. (US) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1967: Anti-skid brakes introduced: relating to flight safety. (US) Category: Safety Devices-Public Safety
  • 1968: Apollo 7 launched by Saturn 1B: engineering test flight of command service modules. (US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1968: Field inspection using acoustic-emission NDE truck perfected: based on SWAT (1965 ca). (Carroll Morais, US) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1968: Direct numerical control (DNC) introduced to drive machinery by computer. Category: Automation
  • 1968: Vacuum-cast precipitation-hardened nickel-base alloy introduced: for automotive gas turbine. (International Nickel Company) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1968: Clayton Jacobsen patents the jet ski. Kawasaki acquires the rights. Category: Ships and Boats
  • 1969: Apollo 11 launched: achieves first 'manned' lunar landing. Neil Armstrong becomes the first to walk on the moon. (US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1969: ISO adopted uniform, worldwide rating point for Gas Turbines, using ASME Gas Turbine Performance Test Code. Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1969: Turbofan engine fit to aircraft and put in service; sets standards (1963 Rolls Royce). (Pratt & Whitney, US) Category: Gas Turbines
  • 1969: Soyuz 4 launched to dock with Soyuz 5: first experimental space station. (USSR) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1969: Soyuz 6 launched: tests welding techniques in space. (USSR) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles


  • 1970: Tunable laser (form of saturation spectroscopy) introduced, independently. (C Borde, T W Hansch) Category: Observation
  • 1970: Carbon dioxide lasers cut and weld metals, plastics, wood, paper, and cloth. Category: Forging and Fabrication
  • 1970: CNC introduced. The history of numerical control (NC) began when the Automation of Machine Tools first incorporated concepts of abstractly programmable logic, and it continues today with the ongoing evolution of computer numerical control (CNC) technology. The first NC machines were built in the 1940s and 1950s, based on existing tools that were modified with motors that moved the controls to follow points fed into the system on punched tape. These early servomechanisms were rapidly augmented with analog and digital computers, creating the modern CNC Machine Tools that have revolutionized the machining processes. Category: Automation
  • 1970–1979: Winchester drive technology provides higher computer memory capacity: avoids 'head crash'. Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1971: Prototype space station Salyut 1 launched: crew boarded from Suyuz 11 (6/6-30), re-entered 10/11/71. (USSR) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1971: Apollo 15 launched: lunar roving vehicle (LRV) driven on surface. (US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1971: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers forms a History and Heritage Committee devoted to recognize and celebrate the significant contributions of mechanical engineers in creating a better society.
  • 1972–1977: Voyager Spacecraft Interplanetary Exploration Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1972: Acoustic emission NDT equipment demonstrated at Experimental Beryllium Oxide Reactor. (Edison Electric Institute, Idaho Falls, Id) Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1973: Nuclear magnetic resonator introduces new generation of diagnostic equipment. Device patented by Dr. Raymond Damadian. Category: Material and Structure Testing
  • 1973: Experimental space station Skylab 1 launched by Saturn 5: crew boarded 5/25 to 6/22, re-entered 7/11/79. (US) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1973: 'Prolog' language developed: selected by Japan's Fifth Generation computer program. (A Colmerauer, France) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1974: Pilot plant built and indirectly-heated COGAS charcoal gasifier developed by British Coal Utilization Research Association. (Britain) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1974: Alberta tar sands synthetic fuel project starts (produces oil 1979). (Canada) Category: Fuels Processing
  • 1974: Hydrogen fuel cells developed. Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1974: First US domestic communications satellite launched. (US) Category: Communication
  • 1974: The catalytic converter is developed and used by General Motors. It reduces certain emissions from automotive engines. Category: Pollution Control
  • 1975–1976: Supersonic jetliner, the Concorde, begins passenger service: tested 1970, cruises at 1,350 mph. Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1975: Apollo and Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) link-up in space. (US and USSR) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1976: Beams, Plates and Shells published: includes complete theory of general shells (extension of Donnell's work on thin cylindrical shell theory throughout the 1960s). (Lloyd H Donnell, US) Category: Fluid Mechanics—Theory
  • 1976–1977: Several large solar-powered systems installed in southwest US as demonstrations. (US) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1976: Viking spacecraft lands on Mars. (US, Mars) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1976: Cray I supercomputer built and CYBER 205 created for commercial use. (Seymour Cray, CDC) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1976–1980: Simple rules and concepts formed for very large-scale integrated (VLSI) performance. (C Mead, L Conway, Cal Tech, Xerox; Calif.) Category: Mechanical Computation
  • 1977: Prototype orbiter Enterprise (space shuttle) made first atmospheric test flight: led to first flight of Columbia launched 1981, 4/12-14. (NASA, Rockwell) Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1978: PUMA robot demonstrated: designed for assembly. (Unimation) Category: Automation
  • 1978: Solar One experimental solar power station goes into operation. (New Mexico) Category: Alternative-Natural Sources
  • 1978: A regenerative braking system is patented by David Arthurs. Category: Road Vehicles


  • 1981: Ligne a Grande Vitesse (LGV) French high-speed rail line reaches 236 mph in trial runs. (France) Category: Railway
  • 1981: The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk was the first aircraft to use stealth capability. It was produced by Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Co. Category: Aeronautics (air travel)
  • 1981: Space Shuttle Columbia is launched, the first space shuttle flight. It is also the first time that solid rocket fuels were used in a US manned launch. The innovative craft could land onto a runway as a glider, and be re-used multiple times. Category: Aerospace and Lunar Vehicles
  • 1983–1987: Stereolithography is invented by Chuck Hull; the first commercial 3D solid printer system. Hull developed both the device and the required software to print 3d solids layer-by-layer. His company, 3D Systems continues to produce 3D printers. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[175] Category: Manufacturing Processes
  • 1983: A train operating between Birmingham's airports uses magnetically levitating technology; the first such commercial use in the world. It was later replaced. Category: Railway
  • 1986: The first use of a coronary stent is typically attributed to Jacques Puel and Ulrich Sigwart when they implanted a stent into a patient in Toulouse, France in 1986. It was used as a scaffold to prevent the vessel from closing and to avoid restenosis in coronary surgery—a condition where scar tissue grows within the stent and interferes with vascular flow. Shortly thereafter in 1987, Julio Palmaz (known for patenting a balloon-expandable stent) and Richard Schatz implanted their similar stent into a patient in Germany. The use of these bare-metal stents helped reduce the incidence of restenosis from 30–40% in coronary surgery to 20–30%. Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries


  • 1993: The first bus powered by a fuel cell is completed by Geoffrey Ballard, a Canadian entrepreneur. It was a proton-exchange membrane fuel cell, using hydrogen to run the bus's electric motor while creating water as a byproduct. Keith Prater, Paul F. Howard and others assisted Dr. Ballard in the project.[176][177] Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1996: Digital Micromirror Device; Texas Instruments Develops Modulating digital light pulses using up to 2 million micromirrors. Chip Projectors based on digital light processing provided advantages over their analog counterparts including picture reliability (stable image quality over time), functional reliability (long lifetime), and versatility. Designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[178] Category: Entertainment Industries
  • 1997: The Toyota Prius goes on sale in Japan. It was the first commercial hybrid automobile. It was eventually introduced worldwide. The goal was creating a car that is resource and environmentally friendly while retaining the benefits of modern cars. The team was tasked with building a car that bridged the gap between electric and gasoline powered vehicles. In its fuel efficiency tests, the Prius rated 42-41 mpg—almost double the fuel efficiency of the average American car at 21.5 mpg. Category: Road Vehicles
  • 1997: The Thrust Supersonic Car breaks the speed of sound. It is the first land-based vehicle to do so. The ThrustSSC was designated a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by ASME.[179]
  • 1998: Dr. Ralph Damiano performs the first robot assisted heart bypass operation, USA.[180] Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 1999: The London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, was placed onto its supports to be ready for operation for the new millennium. It transformed the London skyline. It is currently Europe's tallest Ferris wheel and was formerly the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. Its height was surpassed by the 160 m (520 ft) Star of Nanchang in 2006. The London Eye is supported by an A-frame on one side only, unlike the taller Nanchang and Singapore wheels. The Eye is described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered wheel. Category: Observation wheel. Category: Entertainment Industries

Twenty-first Century

  • 2001: AbioCor artificial heart is invented by AbioMed. It was introduced into a total of 15 patients. Although the effort was eventually abandoned because of "insufficient evidence of its efficacy, it was a major advance in the technology. Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 2003: The Renault Kangoo Elect'road is produced. It was the first modern plug-in hybrid automobile, which can be recharged from the mains, and did not require conventional fuel for short trips. In addition to its engine, it could be plugged into a standard outlet and recharged to 95% range in about 4 hours. After selling about 500 vehicles, primarily in France, Norway and the UK, the Elect'road was redesigned in 2007. (Note: The Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid, produced as early as 1899, was the first hybrid electric car. Early hybrids could be charged from an external source before operation. However, the term "plug-in hybrid" has come to mean a hybrid vehicle that can be charged from a standard electrical wall socket.) Category: Road Vehicles
  • 2004: SonoPrep is invented by bioengineer Robert S. Langer. The device delivers medication by sound waves rather than injection.[181] Category: Medical-Biomechanical Industries
  • 2006: BMW develops prototype turbosteamer technology. It uses a heat exchanger to capture exhaust heat and then use that energy in a secondary thermodynamic cycle. The company reported that "when this design was laboratory tested on the four-cylinder gasoline engines produced by BMW at the time, the dual system boosted the performance of these engines by 15%."[182] Category: Road Vehicles
  • 2006: AquaSciences develops technology to extract water from the atmosphere. The device works virtually anywhere that is inhabited by human beings. Category: Resource Recovery
  • 2008: Singapore Flyer, opened on 11 February 2008 with an overall height of 165 meters (541 ft), was formerly the world's tallest Ferris wheel in Marina Bay Singapore. It was beaten by the High Roller (Ferris wheel) in Las Vegas US in March 2014 by 9 ft (2.7 m) Category: Entertainment Industries


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  • Timeline prepared by the IMechE Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is available at imeche.org/about-us/imeche-engineering-history/mechanical-engineering-history-timeline.[1]
  • List of Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks

ASME Engineering History: 140 Years and Counting, published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers at asme.org.[2]

  • [3] with associated landmark brochures and additional information
  • Chronicles of Mechanical Engineering, Thomas H. Fehring, P.E. and Terry S. Reynolds, Ph.D., editors, ASME 2021
  • Billington, David P. The innovators: the engineering pioneers who made America modern. New York, Wiley, c1996.
  • Black, Jennifer M. Machines That Made History: Landmarks in Mechanical Engineering. New York: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2014.
  • Burstall, Aubrey Frederic. A history of mechanical engineering. London, Faber and Faber, 1963.
  • De Camp, L. Sprague. The ancient engineers. Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1970, c1963.
  • Finch, James Kip. Engineering and Western Civilization. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1951.
  • Hill, Donald Routledge. A history of engineering in classical and medieval times. London, New York, Routledge, 1996.
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London. Engineering heritage. London, Heinemann, on behalf of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1964, c. 1963 – 1966. 2 v.
  • Landmarks in mechanical engineering. ASME International History and Heritage. West Lafayette, Ind., Purdue University Press, c1997.
  • Needham, Joseph, Science and Civilization in China, v. 4, pt. 2, Mechanical Engineering. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd., 1965.
  • Rae, John, and Rudy Volti. The engineer in history. rev. ed. New York, Peter Lang, 2001.
  • The Seventy wonders of the modern world. Edited by Neil Parkyn. New York, Thames & Hudson, 2002.
  • Usher, Abbott Payson, A History of Mechanical Inventions, revised edition. New York: Dover, 1954.
  • Zhang, Ce, and Jianming Yang, A History of Mechanical Engineering. Singapore: Springer, 2020.