Saturday, June 11, 2011

Most Famous Inventions

The Light Bulb
Although we think of Thomas Edison as the inventor of the light bulb, the light bulb didn't begin or end with his contribution. The first patent for a light bulb was obtained by Henry Woodward and Matthew Evans. In 1879, Thomas Edison purchased the patent and improved on the light bulb with his invention of a carbon filament. That filament lasted for 40 hours, but by the time Edison was done he had a filament that could last for 1200 hours. Later improvements in the light bulb gave us bulbs that don't go black and the tungsten filament.

The Steam Engine
The steam engine was the most important invention idea of the industrial revolution. By mechanically producing energy out of steam, it effectively replaced traditional water and muscle power.

The Printing Press
The printing press is credited with changing all of Western civilization after being invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th Century. By making the Bible more widely available, this invention weakened the central authority of the state sponsored churches and led to the Reformation. Not many people realize that this famous invention was most likely invented several centuries earlier in China. Probably because Eastern languages contain significantly more characters than Western languages, the impact of movable type was not as great in China.

The Computer
Many invention ideas have contributed to the modern computer. As early as the 17th Century, scientists were building machines that could do basic mathematical equations. Today's computers can do everything from sending us to the moon to beating us at chess. Computers and computerized appliances have moved from being science fiction to being a necessity of modern life. They continue to be improved on and made more useful.
The Bicycle
Bicycles remain the most energy efficient mode of transportation available. There are currently over a billion bicycles at use in the world as children's toys, exercise equipment and means of travel. The technology that went into early bicycles was used as the basis for later innovations in the automobile and the airplane. Women's use of the bicycle in the late 19th Century led to the popularity of bloomers, the overall greater mobility of women and the women's movement.
The Airplane
In the 19th Century, most people would have considered it impossible that something heavier than air could fly. Yet every day, large groups of people fly in heavy airplanes for lengths of time up to fifteen hours. Like most new inventions, the airplane is the culmination of the work of many different inventors and inventions. Sir George Cayley between 1799 and 1809 is credited with being the first to have the idea to hold the wings still and to use propellers for thrusters. The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were the first inventors to build a working airplane in 1903.
The Telephone
It still isn't completely clear whether Elisha Gray or Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone. The two inventors applied for patents on the same day. They fought legally over the patent, but Bell ultimately won out. His invention was inspired by his love of music and financed by his father-in-law who was interested in breaking the monopoly held by the telegraph company. Bell's famous first words over his first successful telephone were to his assistant. He said, "Watson...come here...I want to see you."
The Automobile
The automobile is a culmination of thousands of ideas and patents beginning with rudimentary plans by Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton. Before the modern gasoline engine was made common, steam engines and electric engines were experimented with. It wasn't until 1885 that the first practical automobile was invented by Karl Benz. The French were the first to manufacture a complete motor vehicle with engine and chassis, but it wasn't until Henry Ford streamlined the car manufacturing process in 1913 that car ownership became affordable for many people.

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