History of Technology

Copyright © 1997, 1998 Richard R. Orsinger.


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2 million BCE to 10,000 BCE Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age). Humans develop from ape-like to homo sapien. Humans hunt animals and gathered plants. Use of bone and chipped-stone tools. No metals or pottery. Humans begin building the first shelters.
14,000 BCE Lascaux cave paintings
10,000 BCE to 2,700 BCE Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age). Glaciers recede. Humans began communal hunting, fishing and gathering food. Gradual progress from food collecting to food producing.
7,000 BCE Invention of fired clay pottery.
8,000 BCE to 2,000 BCE Neolithic Period (New Stone Age). Humans developed polished stone tools, domesticated plants and animals, and formed settled communities.
5,000 BCE Chinese started construction on the Grand Canal, with work to continue for 2,000 years.
4,800 B.C.E. Residents of Nabta Basin of Egypt construct stone calendar circles which target due north and the summer solstice.
4,000 B.C.E. Wheel invented in Mesopotamia. Bronze casting begins in area of modern Iraq.
3,500 BCE to 1,200 BCE Bronze Age. Humans began to smelt metals (copper and bronze), requiring specialization of labor between industry and agriculture (surplus food needed to support the artisan class). Humans developed urban centers. The search for raw materials for smelting of copper and tin into bronze spawned exploration and colonization.
3,500 BCE Bread invented in Egypt.
3,100 BCE Egyptians begin record-keeping incident to administrative government.
3,000 BCE Sumerians developed 2-wheeled carts, and divided the day into 24 hours, the hour into 60 minutes, the minute into 60 seconds, and the circle into 360 degrees. Cedar wood is exported from Byblos to Egypt for shipbuilding.
2,400 BCE Papyrus first used for writing in Egypt.
2,000 BCE Horses first used to pull chariots.
1200 to 550 BCE Iron Age. With the fall of the Hittite Empire, which had kept iron smelting secret and restricted the export of iron weapons, iron working techniques began to spread through the Middle East and Southern Europe. Celtic migration spread them to Western Europe and the British Isles. Ox-drawn plows were used, as were wheeled vehicles. Villages were fortified.
1100 Phoenicians develop an alphabet.
1,000 BCE Chinese constructed the first per manent road system.
750 BCE Horseriding developes.
600 BCE According to Herodotus, a crew of Phoenicians hired by Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II sails around Africa, from the Red Sea, through the Atlantic, into the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The journey takes 3 years. Along the way, sailors set up camp, sowed, grew and reaped grain which they took on the continuation of their journey.
600 B.C.E. Miners establish copper mine on Isle of Cyprus, in the Mediterranean Sea. The mine operates until about 150 B.C.E. More
500 B.C.E. Mycenaeans build firt triremes.
450 B.C.E. Carthaginians reach British Isles and begin buying tin.
221 BCE First emperor of China, Qin Shihuangdi, established a uniform system of law, government, taxes, currency and writing, and began a vast network of roads and canals in China.
200 to 0 BCE Chinese Han dynasty invented paper, movable type, and iron horseshoes. Also harnessed natural gas. [Movable type "invented" in Europe 1,500 years later.]
77 B.C.E. Roman Pliny (the Elder) published the first encyclopedia, Historia Naturalis.
46 BCE Julius Caesar institutes first news media, the Acta Diurna, posted daily in public places in Rome.
20 BCE Romans compile first general dictionary.
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___ Archimedes publishes Measurement of the Circle.
476 Fall of Western Roman Empire. Comprehensive road building ceases in Europe until early 18th century.
1400 Developed smelting of iron ores in northeast Anatolia.
1454 First document printed in Europe from movable type (Gutenberg). (At the time, there were 30,000 books in Europe. By the year 1500, there were 9 million.)
1455 Johannes Gutenberg produces a Bible by mechanical reproduction using movable type.
1476 William Caxton produces the first mechanically-printed English book, The Game and the Playe of the Chesse.
1543 Copernicus publishes book asserting that earth circles the sun.
1612 Jan A. Leeghwater drains Beemster Lake, Netherlands, using 26 water mills.
1657 Postal service established in England.
1698 Thomas Savery patents steam pump used to raise water.
1702 First daily newspaper started in England.
1709 Abraham Darby uses coke instead of charcoal to smelt iron in a blast furnace.
1712 Thomas Newcomen uses coal to drive a piston engine for raising water out of mines.
1716 France creates the Bridge and Highway Corps, the first modern government agency for building roads.
1733 John Kay invents the flying shuttle.
1769 James Watt patents steam engine using piston driven by steam.
1771 A Society of Gentlemen in Scotland pub lished the "Encyclopedia Britannica; or a Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, compiled upon a new plan in which the different sciences and arts are digested into distinct treatises or systems; and the various technical terms, etc. are explained as they occur in the order of the alphabet."
1774 Samuel Crompton invents the spinning mule.
1776 Adam Smith publishes The Wealth of Nations.
1779 Abraham Darby, III and John Wilkinson build the first iron bridge, over the Severn River, near Coalbrookdale, Tetford, England.
1783 First ascent by human in a balloon, in France.
1785 First balloon flight across the English Channel.
1792/3 American Eli Whitney perfects the cotton gin. First turnpike in USA built--the Lancaster Turnpike in Pennsylvania.
1793 Revolutionary France constructs an optical "télégraphe" network to speed up military communications.
1817 New York state begins construction of Erie Canal, linking Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean; completed in 1825.
1825 First public railroad initiated in England, using a steam engine.
1851 Great Exposition in London.
1826 World's first photograph.
1830 Steam-powered railroad established in USA.
1844 First telegraph message from Washington to Baltimore (40 miles); first book containing photo graphs published.
1845 England and France connected by submarine telegraphic cable.
1859 Colonel Edwin L. Drake drills the first successful oil well in the USA, near Titusville, Pennsylvania. Darwin publishes The Origin of Species.
1860 Start of Pony Express, carrying mail by horseback for the 2,000 miles between the western end of the telegraph line (St. Joseph, Mo.) and Sacramento, California, in 8 days.
1861 First telegram transmitted to San Francisco, California, effectively supplanting the Pony Express.
1866-1867 Transatlantic telegraph cable laid.
1869 Completion of transcontinental railroad in USA.
1876 Telephone patented.
1878 Edison patented the phonograph, the first device to record the human voice.
1881 Edison creates the first permanent central electric light power plant (the Pearl Street Plant, in New York City).
1887 Discovery of radio waves.
1894 Daimler Company in Germany manufactured the first modern car.
1895 Wireless telegraph demonstrated. Lumière Bros. in France show the first moving pictures (two 60-second reels).
1901 Letter "S" transmitted across the Atlantic Ocean by wireless telegraph.
1903 First manned, power-driven, airplane flight by human (12 seconds).
1906 First radio broadcast in USA.
1908 First color photograph; Henry Ford produces the first Model T automobile.
1909 First airplane flight across the English Channel.
1913 Receiver patented, permitting use of radio to transmit voice.
1918 First airmail service organized under the U.S. Postal Service. Between 1919 and 1926, 31 of the 40 pilots hired by the U.S. Postal Service were killed flying the mail.
1919 First trans-Atlantic flight. Passenger airplane service initiated between London and Paris.
1920 First regular broadcast radio station, KDKA, established in Pittsburgh, Pa.
1925 First electrical recording of voice.
1926 First liquid-fueled rocket flies.
1934 Transpacific airmail service established.
1936 First telephone message transmitted by coaxial cable from New York City to Philadelphia.
1938 William R. Hewlett and David Packard start Hewlett-Packard in a one-car garage in Palo Alto, California.
1939 Germans make first jet-powered airplane; transatlantic air mail and passenger service established.
1940 Opening of the first multilane superhighway in USA, the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
1945 First nuclear explosion; first televisions reached consumers. Vannevar Bush (President Roosevelt's Science Advisor during World War II) published As We May Think, in Atlantic Monthly, projecting devices which store and rapidly retrieve documents, and permit links between documents, constituting a personal "memory bank."
1946 ENIAC (first electronic digital computer) put into operation. ENIAC, which used punched cards for input and output data, contained 17,000 vacuum tubes, weighed over 30 tons, and occupied a 30' by 50' room. See http://www.kzoo.edu/~ab rady/CS400/bioW96/grizzell.html.
03-25-1948 First Tornado forecast occurs at Tinker Airforce Base in Oklahoma. Two US Airforce Weathermen [Capt. Robert Miller and Maj. Ernest Fawbush) noted that airflow and atmospheric conditions were nearly identical to what existed 5 days earlier when a tornado struck the base. Their prediction was accurate.
1948 Transistor invented at Bell Labs, in USA; replaces vacuum tubes; garners Nobel Prize.
1952 First commercial jet transportation, from London to Johannesburg.
1954 Texas Instruments starts commercial production of silicon transistors.
1956 IBM invents the first computer disk using random access storage. Construction begins on USA's interstate highway system.
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12-__-1969 The Advanced Research Projects Agency, in the USA, established interconnected computer network, between main frame computers at the University of California at Los Angeles, Stanford Research Institute, University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah.
1978 Bell Labs develops Unix-to-Unix Protocol, allowing the development of the Usenet.
1989 Archie, the first internet searching utility, developed.
1991 Gopher, the internet's first easily-employed user interface, developed at the University of Minnesotta.
1993 World Wide Web, graphical user interface for the internet, established.
1995 National Science Foundation ceases funding for the backbone of the internet.
2-1-1999 International Maritime Organization ceases to recognize Morse Code as a means of transmitting search-and-rescue messages at sea; the Organization switches to the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.
1999 Projected operational date of USA-China fiber-optic link.
1-1-2000 The so-called "Millennium Bug" will strike. The bug results from computer programs with date codes reflecting only the last two numbers in the 4-digit year. The programs assume the first two digits to be "19." It is expected that these computer programs will interpret the year 2000 (reflected in the data file as year "00") to be the year 1900, throwing off age calculations, expiration date calculations, interest calculations, etc. The problem is also expected to cause the BIOS on some computers to malfunction. Particularly vulnerable are mainframe systems with older COBOL programming, written during the days of 8-bit hardware, when shortening the number field increased program execution speed. Those older systems are still extensively used by government agencies and large corporations. Some theorists project malfunctions in the USA's Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, and Air Traffic Control System, as well as many financial institutions. Even systems that are "Y2K compliant" may be affected to the extent that they receive data from, or otherwise rely upon, systems that are not Y2K compliant. International banking is one such inter-connected area of concern.
2000 Projected operational date of Japan-U.S. Cable Network, fiber-optic cable between USA and Japan. Investors in the project are AT&T Corp., Sprint, SBC Corp., and Japan Telcom. The cable will be able to carry 1 million voice calls simultaneously, which is expected to expand to 7.7 million simultaneous voice calls.
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Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998 Richard R. Orsinger
Created Sunday, September 1, 1996
Most recent revision August 6, 1998