Most of us think that 20th or 21st century to be the golden era of engineering and inventions. But we overlook the most important point. Whatever we do today, is due to yesterday’s contribution. Advances in science and technology were not only astonishing but also very complicated as they had to start from the scratch of the technology.
Thus it is very important to recognize and give deserving respect to these brilliant scientists who have laid the foundation for the exponential growth of 20th century. Without them, we would be riding in horse carriages and also struggling hard to keep kerosene lanterns lit throughout the journey instead of flying from one continent to other!
Given below are ten such significant inventions of 19th century not in any particular order. It is worth mentioning that inventions are not always the brainchild of a single person overnight. It takes time and requires idea and concepts of more than one brain! Thus the name of the inventors given below may not be solely responsible for the work, but the work is patented with this inventor’s name. Even the year of recognition given might not be the year the technology was thought and produced, but the year of its first massive audience appearance or year of patent.
- René Laennec and his stethoscope in 1816!
This French physician was consulted by a young lady who was suffering from very common symptoms of a diseased heart and due to her fatness, percussion and application of hand were no feasible options. The other method which involved placing ear over the chest is embarrassing for a woman and is of no benefit if the person is overweight, which is in this case.
Laennec then remembered a simple and common fact that in acoustics a scratch of a pin at one far end of a wood is being distinctively heard at the other end. Thus he stuck on the brightest of all ideas!
What he did was very simple and clever and you would find most of the kids playing this game. He rolled a quire of paper into some cylindrical shape and placed this on top of the left side of her chest, right where the heart resides and put his ear to listen over the other end. He could perceive heartbeats in a clearer manner than he perceived by directly placing g ear on chest.
Thus the world’s first stethoscope was invented by René Laennec!
- Thomas Alva Edison and his electric bulb in 1897!
This American scientist and businessman developed many devices that changed the lives of people all across the world. This not only includes electric bulb, but also phonograph, distribution of electric lines and motion picture camera!
In 1878 Edison had started his experiments with a system of electrical illumination which could replace gas and oil based burning. There were other scientists who devised this electric bulb but they were commercially impractical! Edison understood the problem and came up with a lamp using a high resistance so that less current is drawn. By 1897 he made the first public demonstration of this electric bulb and blessings of this bulb are still upon us!
- Charles Babbage and his computer in 1833!
Charles Babbage was a genius English mechanical engineer. He conceptualized and made the first handmade computer that too by early 19th century! The machine was ahead of its time, perhaps a century ahead. All the parts this computer had were made by hand and this was another challenge faced by him and his team.
He is called “father of the computer” due to his marvelous contribution. He had also built the first ever electromagnetic generator, also called Faraday disk!
- Graham Bell and his telephone in 1876!
Alexander Graham Bell was a Scottish scientist, inventor and also an innovator who had patented his discovery, the first practical telephone!
What would we without him?
Bell had a tragic family life. His mother and wife were born deaf. His grandfather, father and brother were associated with elocution and speech. His research on hearing devices gradually led him to this invention. But this scientist took this invention as impedance in his real research and refused to have any telephone in his study. And we even sleep without smartphones beside our pillows! How Bell would have reacted to this only God knows!
- Samuel Morse and his electric telegraph in 1838!
Samuel Morse is known for being an American painter and inventor. He was a reputed portrait painter much before he was known as an inventor.
Middle-aged Morse had very significant contribution to invention of single wired telegraph technique. He was not only the co-developer of Morse code, but also helped to commercially develop and use telegraphy.
He got the spur of creating a faster mode of communication after he could meet his wife for one last due to slow communication systems.
- Guglielmo Marconi and his radio in 1894!
Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian inventor and also an electrical engineer who is known worldwide for his miraculous work on long distance radio transmission and also for his contribution in developing Marconi’s law and a radio telegraph technique.
After the thrilling discovery of Heinrich Hertz in electromagnetic radiation or radio waves, Marconi got interested in this discipline. He began his experiments with his own equipments to use the radio waves for creation of a practical system of “wireless telegraphy”! He used a simple oscillator or a radio transmitter, a wire which is placed above the ground, a coherer receiver with increased sensitivity and reliability, a telegraph key for operating and sending short and long pulses and a telegraph register which is activated by the coherer and this recorded the Morse code onto a roll of paper.
He was eventually successful which led to the discovery of radio in 1894.