May 23, 2024

The Gilded Age was an era of dramatic shifts. Between the years 1870 and 1900, it was the time when the United States transformed from a predominantly agrarian community with small farmers and farmers to an industrial economy with its roots in large cities. Within those brief eras, there was also an explosion of inventions in the field of chemistry, engineering, and technology, which led to some of the world’s most innovative inventions.

Telephone (1876)

In the year 1860 in the year 1860, an Italian inventor by the name of Antonio Meucci demonstrated a “talking telegraph,” which he referred to as a Telettrofono, which was an electromagnetic device that transmitted messages over electrical wires. However, Meucci, who was an immigrant to the United States, fell on difficult times and was unable to renew his temporary patent for his invention that expired in 1874.

In 1876, two other innovators, Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray, Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray, were working to create a patentable concept to make a telephone. As per Patent Office records, Bell’s lawyers submitted his patent application only minutes prior to Gray on February 14th on the 14th of February, 1876. The two Gray and Meucci were suing Bell for stealing their ideas, and Bell, the Scottish inventor who was able to fend against a plethora of lawsuits against his patent — retained the sole credit.

Phonograph (1878)

Thomas Edison is by far among the best-known and famous and famous creators of the Gilded Age, and his fame began with the phonograph. It was the first machine to record and play back sounds. The 1870s were the year that Edison created a machine which could record messages sent by telegraph by indenting the surface of a tape roll that corresponded to electric impulses generated by the telegraph.

Edison’s second goal was even more ambitious. He wanted to make money from the success of Bell’s telephone by recording calls similar to how the telegrams he recorded. Edison realized that he could utilize a diaphragm that was flexible to capture the sounds of sound and then cut the sound waves into paraffin wax by using an embossing needle.

The first time Edison’s basic prototype functioned and he was able to use it, he experienced a “eureka” moment. This device didn’t require a phone in any way. It can serve as a recording device and play back all sorts of sound: audiobooks, music as well as language classes and many more.

In the spring of 1877, Edison improved the design and tried various recording mediums, eventually selecting a spinning cylinder made of metal covered with a thin layer that was made from aluminum foil. He was granted the patent for the phonograph on Feb 19, 1878, and also launched his company, the Edison Speaking Phonograph Company, a month after.

Although not a major commercial success, Edison’s phonograph was the catalyst for the subsequent invention of the gramophone. This provided the spark that eventually created the industry of music recording.

Incandescent Light Bulb (1879)

After the phonograph’s invention, Edison dedicated himself to the search for a long-lasting, practical electrical lightbulb. First, incandescent “arc lamps” were demonstrated around 1803, but years of research and experimentation were not enough to come up with a suitable filament material that would shine for hours without overheating or making the bulb black from soot or burning out.

In his brand new laboratory for research located in Menlo Park, New Jersey–the first research facility of its kind, Edison and his team meticulously evaluated thousands of filament materials to ensure that his bulbs burned longer and more efficiently, in line with his own motto: “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

It was in 1879 that Edison invented his first lightbulb that could be lit for 14.5 hours using carbonized cotton thread for the filament. When Edison changed the filament made of cotton with bamboo, the bulbs could be used for up to 1200 hours.

In addition to having invented the first light bulbs that were commercially successful, Edison went on to develop the first electric grid for urban use that was constructed in New York City, including an energy generation plant as well as a Central Power Station.

Automobile (1886)

German engineer Carl Benz is credited with patenting the first automobile powered by gas with three wheels, known as the Patent Motor Car No. 1, in 1886. The engine was the fruition of European exploration of engines that used internal combustion. It was which was a lighter and smaller alternative to the steam engines with heavy weights that were already powering ships and trains.

Previous inventors had fitted gas-powered engines on wheeled vehicles years before Benz; however, their inventions didn’t take off. His timing was better as he launched the Patent Motor Car No. 1 in the midst of the bicycle movement, at a time when there was a huge public interest in light self-propelled automobiles.

The first automobile of Benz’s tricycle design was powered by a four-stroke, 0.75-horsepower engine that could attain speeds that were just 10 m.p.h. It was equipped with three wooden, steel-spoked wheels that had small rubber brakes, leather-padded tires, as well as a vertically-operated crank-driven steering column.

To get publicity for the third version of the Patent Motor Car, Benz’s wife Bertha took her two sons, who were teenagers, on their first long-distance car journey that spanned 121 miles to her mother’s residence in 1888.

Kodak Camera (1888)

Photography was years older at the time George Eastman was born in 1854. However, the American businessman and inventor put his photography’s power in the hands of people everywhere through the groundbreaking Kodak Camera, patented in 1888.

Before the invention of Eastman’s camera, photos were made using huge expensive cameras that were loaded with glass plates made of a fragile material which could only be developed by professional photographers.

The first Kodak Camera, which cost the sum of $25, is a hand-held box which came with a 100-exposure roll of flexible film. (They changed to a celluloid film in the following years, following a string of legal battles with the person who invented the technology.) Kodak owners simply pointed the box’s lightweight at their target, pressed the shutter button, and turned a knob to move the film roll up to another frame. After the roll was completed and the film was rolled, they sent the entire camera back to the Kodak factory. For just $10, customers got 100 negatives, prints, and an unopened roll of film.

Kodak’s slogan used to be “You press the button, we do the rest.”

The tiny, circular images of our daily lives captured using cameras like the Kodak Camera changed the nature of photography from serious and serious to casual and enjoyable.

Electric Streetcars (1888)

Beginning in the 1830s, streetcars pulled by horses became the first mass transportation system in both the United States and Europe. In 1881 in 1881, it was the German engineer Werner von Siemens built the first electric streetcar located in suburban Berlin. The streetcar’s 10-horsepower engine got energy from overhead cables and could carry up to 50 people at a top velocity of twelve m.p.h.

Siemens dreamed of an electric streetcar with an elevated line in Berlin. However, the reality is that American engineer Frank Sprague is credited with establishing the first electric trolley line at Richmond, Virginia, in 1888.

The Richmond Union Passenger Railway became the model for over 110 electric trolleys that were built throughout the world in the 1880s and into the early 1890s. The Sprague system, which relied on overhead electrical cables powered by central generators, was able to convince a skeptical public to believe that trolleys powered by electricity were secure and reliable.

Electric trolley lines transformed the layout and design of cities, with houses and businesses being built along the lines of streetcars, which allowed the convenience of accessing downtown amenities from the suburbs.

Airplane (1903)

Wilbur And Orville Wright, Two bachelor brothers of Dayton, Ohio, both with no college degrees. They were an unlikely pair who would revolutionize the world. The Wright brothers were engineers with a vision determined to succeed where other engineers had failed and became the first to experience powered flight.

The Wright brothers based their designs on innovative glider experiments conducted by Samuel Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and the German engineer Otto Lilienthal, who died in a traumatic glider crash. Within the Dayton bicycle shop, the Wright brothers constructed wind tunnels for testing dozens of wing designs in order to maximize the lift and control.

They then built full-scale glider prototypes and took them to the dunes of the coast in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, which is home to the strongest and longest-lasting winds. Over the course of two years, they constructed and tested (and sometimes crashed) more and larger gliders which could eventually have an engine strong enough to turn two huge propeller blades made of wood.

In the early morning of 17 December 1903, Orville Wright laid on his stomach near the sputtering engine in the brothers’ prototype “flyer.” As the propellers accelerated, the machine sped 45 feet along a narrow track. Then it occurred: Orville and his machine were in the air. After just 12 minutes in the air, Orville smoothly brought the aircraft down only 120 feet away from the point where it started.


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