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See also Chemistry and the Elements

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Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein, 1954.

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers”, Voltaire.

“Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret”, Horace. You can expel nature with a pitchfork, but she will keep returning.

“Perfection (in design) is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


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Scientific laws and principles

Telephonic communication


Military – see Appendix 1 below

Computing– see Appendix 2 below

Mathematics and Geometry – see Appendix 3 below

Light and Optics – see Appendix 4 below

Textiles, clothing and carpets – see Appendix 5 below


Technological innovations in TV broadcasting given here.

Click here for TV programmes and social developments in TV.


14/3/2018, The world famous astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, died of motor neurone disease, aged 76 (born 8/1/1942). He was famous for his work on Black Holes, and his book A Brief History of Time.

2013, Scientists cloned a cell from a human baby with a rare genetic disorder. This created a source of embryonic stem cells that cpuld be used in treatment.

20/5/2010, Craig Venter announced the creation of the world’s first synthetic organism.

29/6/2007, Apple launched the iPhone,

31/12/2004, The world’s tallest skyscraper, Taipei 101, 508 metres or 1.676 feet tall, was opened.

11/8/2004, The first licences for the cloning of human embryos were granted in Britain.

28/5/2003, The first horse cloned by Italian scientists, Prometea, was born

14/4/2003, The Human Genome Project, to completely map the human genome, was completed.

15/2/2001, An initial version of the Human Genome Sequence was released.

26/10/2000, Lord Phillips issued his report into BSE and variant-CJD; he was critical of UK government policy.

20/5/1999, Bluetooth was announced.

23/7/1998, A team of scientists at the University of Hawaii, led by Ryuzo Yanagimachi, announced they had produced three generations of cloned mice.

24/2/1997. The cloned sheep, Dolly, was presented to the public. She had been cloned from a single cell of her mother at the Royal Institute in Edinburgh. There was moral panic about the possibility of cloning humans, but some saw it as a useful way to create organs for transplant. Lamb 6LL3 was named after Dolly Parton. The animal died prematurely in February 2003.

19/10/1993, The UK Post Office began selling self-adhesive stamps that didn’t need licking.

7/11/1991, The first report on carbon nanotubes was reported in Nature.

28/9/1990, At the first ever Robot Olympics, held in Glasgow, an 8-legged machine called Penelope built at Edinburgh University won the flat race for robots without wheels, achieving 0.13 metres per second.

22/8/1989, British Telecom launched the first ‘pocket phones’ which worked within 100 metres of a base station.

21/4/1989, Nintendo began selling Game Boys in Japan.

23/2/1989, Stanley Pins and Martin Flieschmann announced Cold Fusion at the University of Utah.

1987, Two calves, called Fusion and Copy, were successfully cloned from embryonic cells.

2/9/1987, Philips introduced the CD-video.

5/1/1987, Genetic fingerprinting was first used to catch a murderer, Colin Pitchfork. Police asked all men in Narborough, Leicestershire, to take DNA tests after two 15 year old girls were killed.

30/12/1986, The use of canaries in UK coal mines was discontinued.

1/1/1985, The first mobile phone call in the UK was made, by Ernie Wise to Vodafone.

1984, An egg cell emptied of its nucleus was fused with a cell from a lamb embryo, resulting in the birth of three live cloned lambs.

23/10/1984. The end was announced for the old ‘H’ shaped TV aerials, used for the old 405-line service. The 43 transmitters broadcasting on this frequency were to be closed to make way for the growing number of mobile and car phones.

8/4/1984, Pyotr Kapitza, Soviet low-temperature physicist, died aged 89.

1983, The first Compact Discs were marketed, in Britain.

14/4/1983, The first cordless telephone was introduced in Britain.

29/7/1982, Vladimir Zworykin, Russian-born US pioneer of TV technology, died aged 92.

22/11/1981, Hans Krebs, British biochemist, died aged 81.

9/4/1981, Nature magazine published a paper with the longest-ever scientific word, with 207,000 letters.

1980, In the USA, the United States Synthetic Fuel Corporation was created, to attempt to ensure energy security.

6/4/1980. Art Fry invented the ‘Post-It’ note.

1979, The Japanese technology company Matsushita took out a patent for the first flat screen pocket television, using a liquid crystal display for the screen.

24/9/1979. A remote control cordless telephone, imported from the USA to UK stores, was declared illegal in Britain as it had not been allocated a radio frequency. It was on sale for £260.

9/2/1979, Dennis Gabor, physicist who invented holography, died aged 78.

31/5/1976, J L Monod, French biochemist, died aged 66.

17/5/1978. Compact Discs created by Philips.

11/2/1978, James B Conant,  US research chemist, died aged 84.

24/4/1976, Henrik Dam, Danish biochemist, died aged 81.

1975, The technique of cellular transfer of nuclear material was used to succesfuly transfer material in mammalian cell.

7/6/1975, Sony introduced the Betamax home videotape recorder.

8/4/1975, Pagers were launched in Britain.

13/7/1974, Peter Blackett, British physicist, died aged 76.

26/6/1974, The first use of barcodes in a supermarket. A pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit was scanned at a March’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio.

3/4/1973, The world’s first ever mobile phone call was made, in New York.

12/11/1968. One thousand people attended the first public meeting of the Greater London Council. Ideas discussed included a monorail down Oxford Street by 1972 and an ‘end to the architecture of totalitarianism’. The Milton Keynes Development Corporation announced that the first blueprint for the new city would be available by February 1969.

19/9/1968, Death of Chester Carlson, US inventor of the Xerox photocopier.

17/5/1968. The director of the Transport studies centre predicted that in the future people would be ‘piped’ in high speed pneumatic trains like oil and gas.

1967, The 13th General Conference on Weights and Measures changed the definition of a second from 1/86,400 of an average solar day to a number of readiation cycles produced by a Caesium-133 atom.

15/10/1967. In Tokyo the Nippon Electric Co was offering the world’s first commercial television telephone.

14/6/1967. At a telecommunications conference in London, the Postmaster General discussed the imminent arrival of household robots.

8/10/1965, The UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson made the first telephone call as the £2 million, 620 foot tall, Post Office Tower in London’s Tottenham Court Road opened.

1963, In Sweden, Aktiebolaget Flymo produced the first hover lawn mower, invented by Karl Dalhman.

18/11/1963. The push button phone was introduced.

21/1/1962  The Met Office started using Centigrade as well as Fahrenheit, and ring pull cans came into use.

7/12/1961, The London County Council approved the building of 300-foot high blocks of flats at Hammersmith, the tallest in Britain.

1960, Transistors made it feasible to construct very small TVs. Sony now pioneered an 8-inch ttransistorised TV set.

1960, The 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures replaced the physical metre with a definition based on radiation from Krypton-86. In 1983 this was changed again to the distance light travels in a specified time.

1960, Hitchin Council in the UK became the first to use black plastic polythene bin bags for refuse collection. Previously, rubbish was put loose straight into bins, causing smells and being scattered in the road when the bin was emptied.

20/8/1960, Plastic carrier bags were used for the first time, by a Swedish shoe retailer.

1/4/1960. The US launched the world’s first meteorological satellite, Tiros I. Launched from Cape Canaveral, it only orbited earth for 78 days, but proved that satellites could be useful for surveying global weather conditions. The satellite was 42 inches in diameter, 19 inches high, weighed 270 pounds, and had 9,200 solar cells to power it. It had two television cameras and could store pictures taken whilst out of range of the ground radar station. In total, Tiros I took 22,500 pictures of weather conditions.

9/10/1959, Henry Tizard, English inventor, died aged 74.

3/10/1959, The postcode system for sorting mail was first used in Britain, in Norwich.

28/7/1959. Postcodes were introduced to Britain by the Postmaster General, along with new postal sorting machines. They were used first in the Norwich area on 3/10/1959.

5/12/1958. The first STD telephone exchange in the UK opened.  It was in Bristol, and was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II calling up the Lord Provost of Edinburgh.

1957, The first twin-tub washing machine was produced.

14/4/1956,  The first videotape was demonstrated in Chicago.

1955, The first electronic musical synthesisiser was built. Operating on punched tape, it took up a whole room.

1955, The contraceptive pill was first manufavtured. Artificial diamonds were first made.

12/12/1955, Christopher Cockerell patented hit prototype of the hovercraft.

18/4/1955. Albert Einstein, born 14/3/1879, died in Princeton, New Jersey, of a stroke. He was born to a middle class German family of Jewish ancestry. Einstein graduated in 1900 from the Federal institute of technology in Zurich; he worked hard in the laboratory but skipped lectures. He completed his general theory of relativity in 1915 and received the Nobel Prize in 1922. He became an American citizen in 1940.

31/1/1955, RCA introduced the first musical synthesiser.

1954, The robotic arm was designed by George Devol.

1954, The 10th General Conference on Weights and Measures added a fourth basic unit, the Kelvin as unit of temperature (see 1889).

1952, A tadpole was cloned using the new technique of transfer of cellular nuclearnaterial to a new cell.

11/11/1952. John Mulin and Wayne Johnson at the Bing Crosby Enterprises Laboratory in Beverly Hills, California demonstrated the first video recorder.

31/8/1951. Long playing 33 rpm records went on sale in West Germany.

29/9/1950, The first automatic telephone answering machine was tested by the US Bell Telephone |Company.

26/12/1949. Einstein's Theory of Relativity was announced.

25/8/1949. The UK began experiments with colour TV transmission.

10/1/1949 33.3 and 45 rpm vinyl records went on sale in the USA.

1948, The transistor was discovered.

1948, The first disposable nappies were sold by Saks, Fifth Avenue, New York. Proctor and Gamble test marketed them in the 1950s, and launched the first mass-produced disposable nappies in 1961 under the brand name Pampers.

26/6/1948, Columbia officially released its new 33.3 rpm long playing records.

22/6/1948. Dr Peter Goldmark of Columbia Records unveiled the first successfully produced micro-groove, or long playing, record.

9/10/1947. The first radio-telephone call was made, from a car to a plane, above Wimington, Delaware, USA. However radio contact between a person in a car and a person on the ground had been made in 1922. This was at Brooklands motor circuit where a Morse message was transmitted from a racing car at 80mph. The aerial was on large poles propped up on the car.

4/10/1947, The German physicist, Max Planck, died at his home in Gottingen, aged 89. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1918 for his work on quantum physics and black-body radiation.

21/11/1946, The first commercial aerosol sprays were marketed in the US by Airosol Inc of Kansas. The US army had discovered the usefulness of aerosol insect sprays whilst fighting the Japanese in the rainforests of south east Asia.

14/6/1946. Death of John Logie Baird, at Bexhill on Sea, Sussex, aged 58. He was born on 13/8/1888 at Helensburgh, Scotland. In 1926 he demonstrated the first true television before the Royal Institution of Great Britain, following developments on the first prototype in his laboratory in Hastings in 1924. In 1939 Baird demonstrated colour television, and had reportedly developed stereoscopic television by April 1946.

17/4/1946, George Kohler, German biologist, was born (died 1995).

4/12/1945, T H Morgan, US biologist, died aged 79.

30/4/1944, Pre-fabricated houses went on show in London. 500,000 of them were planned as temporary housing for those who had lost their homes to Luftwaffe bombs.

23/2/1944, Leo Hendrik Baekeland, Belgian-born American chemist, inventor of a plastic called Bakelite, died.

10/6/1943. The ball point pen was patented by its inventor, a Hungarian called Laszlo Biro. He had devised a prototype pen that would not blot in 1938, but fled to Paris and then Argentina in 1940, to escape the Nazis. In 1944 the RAF began using the pens as they were not affected by low air pressure in aircraft.

30/3/1943, Silly Putty was patented in the USA.

1942, Soft toilet paper first appeared in Britain. It was made at the St Andrews paper mill, Walthamstow, London.

22/12/1942, Franz Boas, anthropologist, born 9/7/1858 in Minden, Germany, died in New York.

3/10/1941. The aerosol was patented by L D Goodhue and W N Sullivan.

See Fashions – Clothing for the new fashions and cosmetics that the newly invented plastics and other artificial materials made possible.

22/8/1940, Sir Oliver Lodge, pioneer of wireless telegraphy, died.

20/4/1940. The electron microscope was first demonstrated in America.

7/3/1938, David Baltimore, US biologist, was born.

24/2/1938, Manufacture began of the first commercially produced nylon product, toothbrush bristles, by DuPont in their Arlington, New Jersey, plant.

17/2/1938, John Logie Baird demonstrated a prototype colour television.

20/7/1937, Guglielmo Marconi, Italian scientist who pioneered the use of radio communications, died in Rome, aged 63.

29/4/1937, American chemist Wallace Hume Carothers committed suicide just two months after he patented nylon.

16/2/1937. Nylon was patented by the American chemical company E.I.Du Pont, having been developed under the direction of Dr Carothers. The material was first produced in Britain in Coventry on 23/1/1941. It was used for military needs only, mainly for parachute fabric; nylon stockings were made from December 1946.

19/7/1936, Herbert Boyer, biotechnologist, was born.

27/2/1936, Death of Ivan Pavlov (born 14/9/1849 in Ryazan, Russia). He is famous for his work on conditioned reflexes in dogs.

4/12/1935. The game of monopoly was born, invented by unemployed engineer Charles Darrow. It is the world’s most successful box game, having sold over 500 million sets.

26/2/1935. Radar (Radio Detection And Ranging) was tested at Daventry. Engineers had reported that passing aircraft distorted radio transmissions. The BBC transmitter at Daventry was used this day by Robert Watson Watt to detect a bomber 8 miles away at 10,000 feet. See 20/3/1934.

4/7/1934. The French physicist, Marie Curie, died.  She was born in Poland, and pioneered the medical uses of radioactivity.

20/3/1934, Radar was first demonstrated in Kiel Harbour, Germany. See 26/2/1935.

1933, In Germany, Ernst Ruska built the first electron microscope that was more powerful than a light microscope, magnification x 12,000.

1933, In Britain, ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) made the first commercially-produced synthetic detergent.

19/5/1933,  Edward de Bono, who developed the concept of lateral thinking, was born.

14/2/1933, The world’s first speaking clock became available to telephone users in the Paris area.

1932, In Germany the biochemist Hans Krebs described the citric acid cycle in cells, where sugars, fats and proteins are converted into carbon dioxide, water and energy,

10/7/1932, Richard Threlfall, English chemist and engineer, died aged 70.

26/12/1931, Melvil Dewey, inventor of a classification system for library books, died.

1/5/1931. The Empire State Building was opened by President Hoover in New York. 102 storeys and 1,245 feet high, it had a 220 foot TV antenna added in 1950. This total height of 1,472 feet was reduced to 1,454 feet when the antenna was replaced in 1985. In 2001 the world’s tallest building was the  twin Petronas Towers in Malaysia, 1,483 feet high.

11/2/1931, Sir Charles Pearsons, inventor of the first practical steam turbine, died in Kingston, Surrey.

8/9/1930, The first roll of Scotch Tape (Sellotape) was made. Although introducing a new product to US consumers during the recession was risky, in fact the mood of thriftiness at the time ensured the success of the product as it was used for mending and fixing things. The UK version, called Sellotape, was introduced in 1937.

3/8/1929, Emile Berliner, US inventor of the flat phonographic record, died.

30/10/1928, Static pictures were first transmitted by radio. Receivers required a special device called a Fultograph, attached to the radio set. This utilised a revolving drum upon which a stylus marked half-tone lines on special paper. The result was about as good as a mediocre picture in an underfunded local newspaper, and the device never became popular.

1927, The first petrol driven chainsaw was demonstrated in the forests of Thuringia, Germany. This greatly speeded up wood harvesting and forest clearance.

16/10/1927, The first remnant of Peking Man, a tooth, was found by paleontologist Anders Birger Bohlin at Chou K'ou Tien (Zhoukoudian), under sponsorship of Davidson Black, who gave it the scientific name Sinanthropus pekinensis. More remains would be discovered over the next ten years, and reclassified as Homo erectus pekinensis, estimated to be more than 300,000 years old.

12/11/1927. The first automatic telephone exchange opened, in Holborn, London.

29/1/1927. In London the Park Lane Hotel opened, the first with en-suite bathrooms.

6/8/1926, The first LP record discs, at 33.3 rpm, went on sale.

27/1/1926. Scottish inventor John Logie Baird, aged 38, demonstrated the principle of transmitting moving images by radio. The demonstration was to members of the Royal Institution, at his workshop in Soho, London. He called this ‘television’.

30/10/1925. In his workshop in London, John Logie Baird achieved the first TV pictures using a dummy’s head. He then persuaded a 15 year old office boy, William Taynton, to sit in front of the camera to become the first live person captured on TV.

1924, Kleenex, the first face tissues sold in Western countries, was introduced (the Japanese had been using them for centuries).

12/2/1924, Calvin Coolidge became the first US President to deliver a speech on radio.

30/11/1924, Radio photographs were first transmitted from Britain to the USA.

1/4/1924. The first gramophone to automatically change records went on sale, produced by HMV.

1920, The word ‘robot’ (worker) was coined by Czech playwright Karel Capek.

27/3/1923, Sir James Dewar, Scottish scientist, inventor of the vacuum flask, died aged 80.

23/2/1893, The diesel engine was patented by Rudolf Deisel.

2/8/1922. Death of Alexander Graham Bell, aged 75, at his home near Baddock, Nova Scotia. He was born on 3/3/1847 and patented the telephone on 7/3/1876. Many others had been working on the idea of sending speech by wire but Bell was the first to succeed. With his assistant Thomas Walsop, Bell began making improvements to the telegraph system, and formed the Bell Telephone Company in 1872. Bell also invented the photophone transmission of sound, precursor of fibre-optics, as well as techniques of teaching speech to the deaf.

14/2/1922. Marconi began first regular radio broadcasts from England (Writle, Essex). This invention had been patented by Marconi on 22/6/1896. See 14/11/1922.

1921, The first polygraph (lie detector) was built, by John Larson of the Berkely Police Department, California.

28/8/1919, Sir Godfrey Hounsfield, who invented the EMI scanner and winner of the Nobel prize for psychology in 1979, was born.

14/4/1917, Dr Zamenof, Polish linguist and inventor of Esperanto, died.

19/2/1916, Ernst Mach, Austrian scientist after whom the speed of sound in air is named, died the day after his 78th birthday.

21/3/1915, Frederick Winslow Taylor, the inventor of modern scientific time-management, died.

29/7/1914, The first test call was made on the new transcontinental telephone line between New York and San Francisco.

1913, 1) Formica was first produced, initially as a substitute ‘for-mica’. Mica being used for electrical insulation. Formica is made by compressing layers of paper impregnated with phenolic acid. Formica initially was always black or brown, but in the 1920s coloured versions became available, and were used for ‘modern’ furniture coveriings. It was easy to clean and water=resistant.

(2) The Brillo pad was patented and first sold. It was produced in response to complaints about how difficult it was to clean the aluminium pans which were becoming popular at that time.

(3) Richard Willstatter discovered the composition of chlorophyll. In the US, E McCollum isolated vitamin A.

20/8/1913. Harry Brearley of Sheffield cast the first stainless steel.

17/6/1912. Discovery of the production of synthetic rubber on a commercial scale.

1911, Advances in telegraphic technology meant that a message could be sent from New York to London in 30 seconds, at a cost just 0.5% of the 1866 level.

31/12/1911. Marie Curie received her second Nobel prize, unprecedented in the history of the award.

12/5/1910, Dorothy Hodgkin, British chemist, was born (died 1994).

9/2/1910, J L Monod, French biochemist, was born (died 1976).

28/2/1909, Professor Linus Pauling, American chemist and physicist, Nobel Prize winner, was born.

29/2/1908, Onnes, a Dutch scientist in Leyden, announced he had liquefied helium.

17/12/1907, Lord Kelvin, physicist and inventor, died.

1/7/1905, Albert Einstein propounded the Theory of Relativity.

14/1/1905, Ernst Abbe, German physicist (born 1840) died in Jena.

31/10/1904. The radio valve was invented by John Fleming at London University.

4/8/1904. The first Atlantic weather forecast was received by radio telegraph.

1902, The first automatic tea maker was produced, set by an alarm clock for morning tea.

1902, The first commercially-succesful petrol driven lawn mower was marketed.

1902, A salamander became the first vertebrate to be ‘cloned’ using the technique of splitting a two-celled embryo.

31/10/1902, The Pacific Cable was completed at Suva.

28/7/1902, Karl Popper, scientist, was born (died 1994)

10/7/1902, Kurt Alder, German chemist, was born.

23/6/1902. Albert Einstein began work in the Swiss Patent Office.

1901, Meccano was patented by Frank Hornby, England.

12/12/1901. The first transatlantic wireless message (the letter ‘S’, three dots in Morse, was continually transmitted) was sent from a164 foot aerial at Poldhu, Cornwall to Signal Hill, St John’s, Newfoundland, a distance of 1,800 miles, where it was received by Marconi on an aerial suspended from a kite.  Three previous transmission attempts, in which the aerial had been raised by balloon, were unsuccessful, thwarted by bad weather.

 10/12/1901. Nobel prize first awarded. Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel had invented a powerful new explosive, called dynamite. He thought that, if two armies could annihilate each other in an instant, war would become impractical, an idea similar to the MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) concept that kept the peace during the Cold War of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Nobel made a fortune from his new explosive and when he died in 1896 he left most of that fortune to a Foundation to award prizes annually to those who in the preceding year have most benefitted mankind. The first Nobel Prize was worth US$ 30,000. They are awarded in Stockholm and Oslo, in the categories of literature, chemistry, physics, medicine and peace. The first ever Nobel Prize was shared between Jean Henri Dunant (founder of the Red Cross) and Frederic Passy (founder of the French Society for the Friends of Peace).

1/12/1901. King Camp Gillette patented his first safety razor..

15/11/1901. The first hearing aid, the Acousticon, was patented by Miller Reese Hutchinson of New York.

30/8/1901. Scotsman Hubert Cecil Booth patented the vacuum cleaner. The motor and pump were so large they were mounted on a horse-drawn cart whilst a tube that might be over 200 metres long was used for suction. Booth later introduced a clear tube so clients could see the dirt being sucked out of their house.

8/8/1901, Ernest Lawrence, US physicist who invented the first subatomic particle accelerator and the first colour TV tube, and won the Nobel Physics prize in 1939, was born.

18/5/1901, Vincent du Vigneaud, US biochemist, was born.

28/2/1901, Dr Linus Pauling, American biochemist and twice winner of the Nobel Prize, was born in Portland, Oregon.

6/2/1901. Paris installed the first public telephones at railway stations.

1900, The paper clip was patented by Johann Vaaler, a Norwegian working in Germany.

10/12/1900. The first Nobel prizes were awarded.

16/4/1900. The world’s first book of stamps was issued, in the USA.

25/1/1900, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Russian-American biologist who studied population genetics, was born in Nemtrov, Russia.

16/8/1899. Death of the German chemist Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, inventor of the Bunsen burner.

12/1/1899, Paul Muller, the Swiss chemist who formulated DDT, was born.

15/3/1898, Sir Henry Bessemer, inventor of a process for converting cast iron into steel in 1856, died aged 85.

12/6/1897, Carl Elsener took out a patent for the Swiss Army Knife.

12/1/1897, Sir Isaac Pitman, who invented phonetic shorthand in 1837, died in Somerset aged 84.

12/12/1896, Guigliemo Marconi gave his first public demonstration of radio, at Tonybee Hall, east London.

10/12/1896. Alfred Bernhardt Nobel, Swedish chemist who invented dynamite, died in San Remo, Italy. See 14/7/1867.

2/6/1896, Marconi was granted patent no.12039 for his system of communication using radio waves. The maximum communications range was then about 12 miles.

22/12/1895, The physicist Wilhelm Roentgen made a radiograph (X-ray photograph) of his wife’s hand.

8/11/1895. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen discovered X rays, during an experiment at the University of Wurtzburg. He made the first radiograph, or X-ray, of his wife’s hand, on 22/12/1895.

14/4/1894, Edison’s kinetoscope, or moving pictures, were shown to the public for the first time.

30/1/1894. Charles King of Detroit received a patent for the pneumatic hammer.

13/11/1893, Adelbert Edward Doisy, US biochemist, was born in Hume, Illinois.

5/11/1892, John Haldane, pioneer in genetic research, was born.

15/3/1892. The world’s first ‘escalator’ was installed at Coney Island, New York. This had a continuous sloping surface. It was called the ‘Reno inclined elevator’.  The American inventor Charles A Wheeler patented the first escalator with flat steps on 2/8/1892.

15/4/1891. Thomas Edison publicly demonstrated his ‘kinetoscope’, or moving picture machine, in New York.

15/3/1891, Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, engineer, died.

10/3/1891, US undertaker Almon Brown Strowger patented the Strowger Switch, enabling automated dialling. He was motivated by the fact that the wife of a rival undertaker worked at the local phone exchange, and was diverting calls for his business to her husband.

7/5/1890, James Nasmyth, inventor of the first steam hammer, died in London.

17/2/1890, Christopher Sholes, American inventor of the typewriter, died in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

1889, The first General Conference on Weights and Measures established international prototypes for the metre and kilogramme. Together with the second as unit of time, these became the three base units of measurement. See 1954.

23/11/1889, The first jukebox was installed, in the Palais Royal Saloon in San Francisco.

11/10/1889, James Joule, who established the First Law of Thermodynamics, died.

13/8/1889. The coin operated phone was patented in the USA by William Gray of Hartford, Connecticut.

31/3/1889. The 300 metre Eiffel Tower was completed, in time for the Universal Exhibition in Paris, and opened by Premier Tirard on 6/5/1889..  Many people said it was ugly.

2/1/1889, Roger Adams, US chemist, was born.

30/10/1888, The first patent for a ball point pen was issued to the American, John H Loud.

13/8/1888. Birth of television pioneer John Logie Baird in Helensburgh, Firth of Clyde, Scotland.

16/5/1888, Emile Berliner demonstrated the first gramophone, to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

6/10/1887, Le Corbusier, who promoted the idea of a house as a ‘machine for living’, was born in Switzerland.

26/9/1887, The first gramophone player, invented by Emile Berliner, a German immigrant living in Washington DC, was patented.

22/1/1887, Sir Joseph Whitworth, the engineer who standardised screw threads, died at Monte Carlo.

1885, Two-celled seas urchins were split into single cells, which developed into the first pair of genetically-identical ‘cloned’ organisms.

1885, The first mechanical dishwasher was invented by Frenchman Eugene Daquin. The first electric dishwasher was made in 1922.

26/3/1885, The first cremation in modern times, of Mrs Pickersgill, took place at Woking.

13/10/1884. Greenwich was adopted as the universal time meridian from which world longitude is calculated.

13/3/1884, Standard time zones were established in the USA.

6/1/1884, Gregor Mendel, Augustine monk and botanist who pioneered the study of genetics, died in Brunn, Austria, aged 62.

17/2/1883, The vacant / engaged toilet sign was patented by Mr Ashwell of Herne Hill, London.

19/4/1882. Charles Darwin, who developed his theory of evolution, died aged 73 near Orpington, Kent. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

30/8/1881. Clement Ader of Germany patented the first stereo system, for a telephonic broadcasting service.

15/1/1880. The first telephone directory in Britain was published by the London Telephone Company. It contained 255 entries.

4/11/1879. James R Ritty of Dayton, Ohio patented the first cash register. Pilfering by bartenders from Ritty’s saloon so undermined his health that he went on a sea voyage to Europe to recover. On board the ship, Ritty saw a machine that recorded the number of revolutions made by the ship’s propellers, which gave him the initial idea. In 1884 he formed the National Cash Register Company.

6/9/1879, The first British telephone exchange opened, in Lombard Street, London.

27/8/1879, Sir Rowland Hill, pioneer of the postal service, died.  He devised the Penny Post in 1840.

14/3/1879. Albert Einstein, physicist and mathematician, was born in Ulm, Bavaria, to Jewish parents.

14/1/1878. Queen Victoria was given a demonstration of Alexander Graham Bell’s new invention, the telephone, at Osborne House.

22/12/1877. Liquid oxygen was made for the first time, in Geneva.

6/12/1877. Thomas Alva Edison made the first recording of a human voice. He spoke Mary had a little lamb into his phonograph. Edison was working to improve the efficiency of the telegraph transmitter, and noticed that the machine gave off sounds resembling the spoken word when played at high speed. He wondered if he could record a telephone message. He attached the diaphragm of a telephone receiver to a needle, using the needle to prick paper to record a message. He then progressed to using a cylinder wrapped in tinfoil instead of paper, which succeeded in playing back the nursery rhyme he had recorded.

17/5/1876, Nikolaus August Otto patented the world’s first four-stroke internal combustion engine. However the patent office uncovered earlier work done on the four stroke cycle by Frenchman Alphonse Beau de Rochas in 1862. Otto’s patent was deemed invalid and others were free to use his idea. Karl Benz refined the four stroke engine and made it run not on gas but liquid fuel, kerosene or gasoline, thereby making the engine mobile.

10/3/1876, Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first telephone message to his assistant, from 5 Exeter Place, Boston, Massachusetts. The words were ‘Come here Watson, I want you’.

7/3/1876. The first telephone was patented by the American Alexander Graham  Bell, who was born on 3/3/1847. Bell was just a few hours ahead of a similar patent by Elisha Gray.

18/2/1876. A direct telegraph link was set up between Britain and New Zealand.

19/10/1875, Sir Charles Wheatstone, English physicist who pioneered telegraphy, died in Paris.

25/4/1874, Guglielmo Marconi, Italian scientist and radio pioneer, was born in Bologna.

26/8/1873, Birth of Lee de Forest, inventor of the Audion vacuum tube which made broadcasting possible.

2/8/1875, Britain’s first roller skating rink opened, in Belgravia, London.

1873, James Clerk-Maxwell published his book, Electricity and Magnetism, explaining the transmission theough space of electrical forces and radiation.

1873, The principle of photo-electric cells was discovered by Mr May who noticed that the resistance of selenium varied according to the illumination it was under. In 1888 Mr W Hallwachs found that zinc lost its charge when under ultra-voilet illumination.

14/12/1873, Louis Agassiz, who developed the theory of Ice Ages, died –see 28/5/1807, when born.

2/4/1872, Samuel Morse, American inventor of the Morse Code for telegraphy, died in New York City aged 80.

1871, In the USA, toilet paper was first put on a roll.

1871, Pierre Colignon, French-American, invented the first folding deck chair.

23/11/1869, Valdemar Poulson, Danish inventor of the tape recorder, was born.

15/6/1869, A thermoplastic called celluloid, a technically-improved version of the plastic invented by the British chemist Alexander Parkes, was patented by American inventor John Wesley Hyatt of Albany, New York.

10/3/1869, The first scientifically-designed cremator was used, in Padua, Italy, by Dr L Brunetti to cremate the body of a 35-year-old woman

11/2/1868, Jean Foucault, French physicist who invented the gyroscope, died in Paris.

16/7/1867, Joseph Monier of Paris patented reinforced concrete.

14/7/1867. Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel first demonstrated the use of dynamite in Merstham Quarry, Redhill, Surrey.

1/4/1867. In Paris, the World Fair opened. The first hydraulic lift was demonstrated by the engineer Edoux, and Japanese art was on show in the West for the first time.

27/7/1866, The Atlantic Telegraph Cable was completed.

7/11/1865, The Repeating Light Company of Springfield, Massachusetts manufactured the first pocket lighter.

24/10/1865, Nobel was granted a patent in the USA for his new invention of dynamite.

19/12/1863. Frederick Walton of London patented linoleum.

14/11/1863. Leo Baekeland, US chemist who invented Bakelite, an early plastic, was born in Ghent, Belgium.

1861, The principle of dialysis was demonstrated for the first time, by Glasgow-born chemist Thomas Graham (1805-69). This led to the invention of the first kidney dialysis machine in 1943.

8/4/1861, Elisha Graves Otis, American inventor of the first safe elevator in 1852, died in Yonkers, New York.

1860, The floor covering, linoleum, was invented in England by Frederick Walton.

12/10/1860, Elmer Sperry, prolific inventor, notably of the gyroscopic compass, was born in Corland, New York State.

14/9/1860, Niagara Falls was illuminated for the first time.

1859, Glasgow opened its new water supply from Loch Katrine; this was a significant developemtn in the hygiene of the city.

24/11/1859. Charles Darwin, born 12/2/1809, published The Origin of the Species.

27/8/1859. The world’s first oil well was drilled at Titusville, Pennsylvania, by Edwin Drake of Seneca Oil. Oil had been known in this area for 300 years. It used to seep from the ground and was used for curing many ailments from blindness to rheumatism, colds, coughs, sprains, and baldness. It was also skimmed from creeks and used for lighting, although it gave off a foul smell when burned. Chemists turned the oil into a better lighting fuel. Drake drilled down 69 feet and got a steady flow of 25 barrels a day from his well. By the end of the year the well once called ‘Drake’s Folly’ had produced 2,000 barrels, and other prospectors joined in the search for more oil.

23/8/1859, The first hotel elevator was installed in the 6 storey building of Fifth Avenue Hotel, New York.

12/7/1859. (1) William Goodale patented the paper bag manufacturing machine.

(2) Robert Stephenson, engineer, died.

15/5/1859, Pierre Curie, French scientist, was born in Paris. He was the son of a physician.

19/2/1859, Svante August Arrhenius, Swedish physicist and chemist, was born near Uppsala.

28/7/1858. The first use of fingerprinting. William Herschel, a British civil servant in India, took the entire palm print of a Bengali hired to surface roads, to ensure that he did not back out of the contract.

1857, The first mass production of toilet paper began, in the USA, pioneered by Joseph Cayetty. Toilet paper had been in use at the Imperial Court of 14th century China, but most people in 19th century Europe and America simply used torn up newspaper. Cayett’s paper, at 50 cents for 500 sheets, was not cheap; it was impregnated with aloe as a supposed cure for piles. Gradually the cost fell and it became universally used. The term ‘toilet paper’ was first used by the New York Times in 1888.

1/7/1858. Charles Darwin first presented his theory of evolution, to the Linnean Society.

18/6/1858, Charles Darwin received a letter from Alfred Russell Wallace, who had formulated a theory of evolution through survival of the fittest. This was close to Darwin’s ideas in his as yet unpublished Origin of the Species.

23/3/1857, The first passenger lift was installed by Elisha Otis in a department store, in the 5-storey building of E V Haughwout and Co on Broadway, New York. The elevator system cost US$ 300.

10/7/1856, Nikola Tesla was born.  His father, the Reverend Milutin Tesla, was a Greek Orthodox priest, and his mother Duka Mandic was the daughter of a priest who made handcraft tools.

20/3/1856, Frederick Winslow Taylor, the inventor of modern scientific time-management, was born.

17/10/1855, Henry Bessemer patented a steel-making process.

11/4/1855, London’s first six ‘pillar boxes’ were installed, and were painted green.

5/1/1855, King Camp Gillette, American inventor of the safety razor, was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

27/9/1854, The Lady Isabella waterwheel at Laxey, Isle of Man was completed.  It was the largest in the UK, at 72 foot 6 inches in diameter, and was once used for draining a lead mine.

13/6/1854, Sir Charles Parsons, engineer who invented the steam turbine, was born in London.

20/9/1853, Elisha Graves Otis opened a factory in New York State for the production of the first modern lifts.

17/3/1853, Death of Austrian physicist Christian Doppler, who coined the term Doppler effect to explain the apparent change of frequency of a wave when the source is moving relative to the observer.

23/11/1852. Britain’s first pillar box was erected, in St Helier on Jersey.

15/10/1852, Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, founder of the gymnastic movement (Turnverein) in Germany, died at Freyburg aged 74.

2/10/1852, Lord Ramsay, who discovered the inert gases, was born in Glasgow.

11/2/1852. The first flushing public toilet for women opened in Fleet Street, London. The cost was 2d. See 2/2/1852.

2/2/1852, The first public convenience for men opened in Fleet Street, London. See 11/2/1852.

6/1/1852, Louis Braille, who invented the raised-dot system of writing used by the blind, died.

10/12/1851, Melvil Dewey, US librarian who devised a system of library cataloguing, was born in Adams Centre, New York State.

6/5/1851, Linus Yale patented the Yale lock.

17/3/1849. Elastic bands patented, by Stephen Perry’s London rubber company.

1848, William Thompson, Lord Kelvin, established absolute zero as -273 C.

3/3/1847, The inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, was born in Edinburgh.  He was the son of a teacher of elocution.

1845, Rubber bands were first made by Perry and Co of London.

27/3/1845, Wilhelm von Roentgen, German scientist and discoverer of X-Rays, was born in Lennep, Prussia.

27/7/1844, John Dalton, chemist and physicist, died.  He developed modern atomic theory and also made advances in meteorology.

24/5/1844. The inventor Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message, from his home in Washington to a friend in Baltimore, 40 miles away. The message was “What hath God wrought”.

1843, The typewriter was invented by Thurber.

24/7/1843, Sir William Abney, English chemist, was born in Derby (died in Folkestone 3/12/1920).

25/3/1843. The first tunnel under the Thames, the 1300 foot Wapping Tunnel, linking Wapping and Rotherhithe, opened. Work had begun on 2/3/1825.

1842, Sir William Herschel, astronomer, patented the blueprinting process, or cyanotyping. A sheet of paper was coated in chemical, dired to a bronze colour, then left in contact with the drawing to be copied under glasss in the sunlight. The paper turned blue with a white image of the drawing lines. The process was cheap, the prints lomg-lasting, and could be done by anybody.

1842, Engineer John A Roebling invented wire rope. This proved insidpensable for constructions such as New York’s Brooklyn Bridge.

12/11/1842, The physicist and Nobel Prize winner Lord Rayleigh was born at Witham, near Maldon, Essex.

18/10/1842. The first telegraph cable was laid by Samuel Morse. It ran from Governor’s Island to The Battery across New York Harbour, and lasted only 24 hours; 200 feet of it was wrecked when a ship weighed anchor.

20/9/1842. Sir James Dewar, Scottish physician and chemist, and inventor of the vacuum flask, was born at Kincardine on Forth, in Fife.

27/5/1842, The first public library was opened, in Frederick Street, Salford, Manchester.

30/9/1841. The stapler was patented by Samuel Slocum.

9/9/1841, Augustin Candolle, Swiss botanist (born 4/2/1778) died.

23/1/1840, Ernst Abbe, German physicist, was born in Jena (died 1905).

1/7/1838. Charles Darwin presented a paper on his evolutionary theory.

18/2/1838, Ernst Mach, Austrian scientist, was born in Moravia.

6/1/1838. Samuel Morse first publicly demonstrated the telegraph.

1837, The significance of chlorophyll to plant photosynthesis was realised by the French scientist Rene Joachim Henri Dutrochet, 61.

28/11/1837, John Wesley Hyatt, inventor of celluloid, was born in Starkey, New York State.

15/11/1837. Isaac Pitman’s stenographic shorthand, the first shorthand system, was published, price 4d.

25/8/1837. Henry William Crawford of London patented a process for galvanising iron.

23/12/1834. The English architect Joseph Hansom patented his safety cab, known as the Hansom Cab.

1/1/1833, The first fire brigade to have full time permanent staff was established in London.

1832, The water bed was developed by Scottish surgeon Neil Arnott as a means of improving the comfort of his patients.

15/12/1832, Gustave Eiffel, French engineer who designed the Eiffel Tower, built for the Paris Exhibition of 1889, was born in Dijon.

27/12/1831. The Admiralty survey ship The Beagle left Plymouth with Charles Darwin on board on a scientific voyage around the world. This led to Darwin’s controversial book, The Origin of the Species. Darwin was inspired by Professor Henslow (1796-1861), a renowned mineralogist at Cambridge, 13 years older than Darwin, who was elected unopposed to the Chair of Botany at Cambridge when that position fell vacant. Henslow supported ‘evolutionary’ theories, although retaining a strong religious faith.

16/5/1831, David Hughes, English-American inventor of the teleprinter and microphone, was born in London.

3/12/1830, Frederick, Baron Leighton, President of the Royal Society, was born.

18/5/1830. Edwin Budding of Stroud signed an agreement for the manufacture of his invention, the lawnmower. The first customer was Regents Park Zoo. See 27/4/1828.

18/12/1829, Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet Lamarck, French scientist, died aged 75. He believed that extra usage of  some feature of an animal strengthened it, and this enhancement could be passed down the generations.

29/5/1829. Sir Humphrey Davy, born 17/12/1778, inventor of the safety lamp (see 9/1/1816) died in Geneva.

1827, Brownian Motion, the rapid vibration of tiny particles suspended in water, was first noted by the botanist Robert Brown.

17/7/1827, Sir Frederick Augustus, English chemist, was born.

7/4/1827, Friction matches, the invention of Stockton on Tees chemist John Walker, went on sale. In 1826 Walker was mixing antimony and chlorate of potash with a stick; when he rubbed the stick to clean it, it caught fire. Such matchsticks would catch fire if rubbed on any rough surface, even each other, and in 1855 the first safety match was by the Swedish firm of Johan Edvard Lundstrom. In Britain, Bryant and May bought the rights to these matches where they went on sale in August 1855.

1826, First recorded usage of the word ‘steam’ as a metaphor for power, energy, progress.

3/11/1825, The Hungarian Academy of Sciences was founded.

1824, English physician Peter Mark Roger discovered that the human eye can retain an image for a fraction of a second after it has seen it. This became the basis for converting a rapid series of still images into an apparently animated film which the brain sees as continuous motion.

21/10/1824, Portland Cement was patented by Joseph Aspdin of Wakefield, Yorkshire.

26/6/1824, The physicist and mathematician Lord Kelvin was born in Belfast as William Thomson.

24/7/1824, The result of the first public opinion poll was published in the Harrisburg Pennsylvanian.  The poll was conducted at Wilmington to determine voters’ intentions in the 1824 Presidential election.

1822, Arago determined the velocity of sound.

1822, Steel coiled springs were patented in Austria by Georg Junigl.

22/7/1822, Gregor Mendel, Austrian monk and botanist who discovered the principles of modern genetics, was born at Heinzendorf near Odrau, in Austrian Silesia.

16/2/1822. Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, founder of a new science called eugenics, was born in Birmingham, England. Among his ideas was the systematic creation of a superior race of human beings, an idea later adopted by Hitler.

18/9/1819, Jean Foucault, French scientist, was born in Paris.

28/3/1819, The engineer Sir Joseph William Bazalgette was born.

14/2/1819. American inventor Christopher Latham Stokes, who invented an early typewriter, was born near Mooresburg, Pennsylvania.

24/12/1818, The physicist James Joule was born at Salford, Manchester.

17/2/1818, Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun patented the Draisine , forerunner of the bicycle.

9/1/1816. Sir Humphrey Davy’s safety lamp used in a coal mine for the first time.

31/10/1815, Sir Humphrey Davy patented the miner’s safety lamp.

5/3/1815, Friedrich Mesmer, Germen doctor who developed the theory of animal magnetism, or mesmerism, for curing diseases, died aged 80.

9/12/1814, Death of Joseph Bramah, English inventor of the beer pump.

25/8/1814, Benjamin Thompson, scientist who researched heat (born in North Woburn, Massachusetts, on 26/3/1753), died near Paris, France.

1/10/1813, Following the explosion at Brandling Main colliery (15/5/1812) the Sunderland Society was formed, to promote mine safety.

19/1/1813. Sir Henry Bessemer, inventor of the blast furnace for converting cast iron to steel, was born at Charlton, Hertfordshire.

4/1/1813, Isaac Pitman, who invented phonetic shorthand, was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

15/5/1812, Mine explosion at Brandling Main (Felling) colliery, Sunderland. See 1/10/1813.

1811, Amedeo Avogadro proposed what ios now known as Avogadro’s Law – that equal volumes of gas at the same temperature and pressure contain the same number of molecules.

3/8/1811, Elisha Graves Otis, US inventor, was born in Halifax, Vermont.

18/8/1809, Matthew Boulton, partner of James Watt, British engineer, died in Soho, London.

12/2/1809, Charles Darwin was born.  His father, Robert Darwin, was a doctor and financier, and his mother, Susannah Darwin, was the daughter of pottery magnate Josiah Wedgewood.

4/1/1809, Louis Braille, French benefactor of the blind, was born in Coupvray, near Paris.

19/8/1808, James Nasymth, Scottish engineer who invented the first steam hammer, was born in Edinburgh.

28/5/1807, Louis Agassiz, who developed the theory of Ice Ages, was born in Motier en Vully, Switzerland. His father, a Christian minister, wanted his son to become a medical doctor, although as a boy he showed a strong interest in zoology. Later, during his travels through the Alps, in 1836, he developed the theory that much of the Earth had once been underneath great ice sheets. He died on 14/12/1873.

28/1/1807. London’s Pall Mall became the first street in the world to be lit by gaslight. This was an initiative to publicise the new method of illumination by German migrant FA Winzer (later Anglicised to Winsor), and his company, the Gas Light and Coke Company, floated in 1812. In 1814 street gas lighting began in Westminister and by the end of 1816 London had 26 miles of gas mains. This rose to 122 miles by 1823 and 600 miles by 1834. By 1823 52 English towns had gas lighting and by 1859 Britain had nearly 1,000 gas works. The gas industry produced many useful by-products such as ammonia, naphtha and crude tar.

7/10/1806. Ralph Wedgewood of London patented carbon paper. In the 1820s Wedgwood had a successful business selling his invention at 4 Rathbone Place, near Oxford Street, London.

20/12/1805, Thomas Graham, chemist whose 1829 paper on gaseous diffusion introduced Graham’s Law, was born in Glasgow.

21/12/1803, Sir Joseph Whitworth, engineer, was born.

6/2/1802, Sir Charles Wheatstone, physicist and pioneer of telegraphy, was born in Gloucester.

1799, The Rosetta Stone was discovered in Egypt.

1799, The metric system of weights and measures was created, at the time of the French Revolution.

4/12/1798. Luigi Galvani, Italian scientist who researched animal electricity, died.

1796, William Bundy, British textile machine inventor, produced a machine with several parallel saws that could mass-produce combs. Prior to this the teeth on a comb had been cut individually.

3/12/1795. Sir Rowland Hill, who pioneered the postal service, was born in Kidderminster.

2/2/1793, William Aiton, Scottish botanist, born 17312, died.

3/8/1792, Sir Richard Arkwright, English inventor who developed a mechanical cotton spinning process, died.

21/6/1791, The Ordnance Survey, Britain’s mapping service, was created. On this day a payment of £373, 14 shillings was made to Jesse Ramsden for the construction of a ‘great theodolite’, 3 feet in diameter and weighing 200 pounds (90 kilogrammes) for the purpose of making precise military maps of Britain. The need for this had been foreseen in 1763 by William Roy, amidst fears of invasion from France and a lack of reliable maps for the military. By 1784 UK-France relations had improved and cross-Channel efforts were being made to establish the longitude and latitude of Greenwich and Paris. In 1800 the first cartographical unit of the British Army, the Corps of Royal Military Draughtsmen, was formed, based at the Tower of London.

27/4/1791, Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse Code, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts.

18/11/1789, Louis Daguerre, French artist and pioneer of photography, was born near Paris.

1785, Watt devised the ‘horsepower’ as a unit of work.

9/5/1785. Joseph Bramah patented the beer pump handle.

1784, The Inverse Square Law of Magnetism was announced by Coulomb.

17/3/1782, The Swiss physicist Edward Bernoulli died.

1778, In England, Joseph Bramah improved on Cumming’s design for a flushing toilet and begn commercial manufacture of them.

17/12/1778, Sir Humphrey Davy, inventor of the miner’s safety lamp, was born in Penzance (died 1829).  He was the son of a woodcarver. He also discovered the elements sodium, calcium, barium, magnesium, potassium and strontium by passing electricity through molten metal compounds.

6/12/1778, Joseph Gay-Lussac, French scientist, was born in St Leonard.

4/2/1778, Augustin Candolle, Swiss botanist (died 9/9/1841) was born.

10/1/1778, Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who devised the modern system of naming and classifying plants, died in Uppsala.

30/4/1777, Carl Friedrich Gauss, scientist, was born.  His father, Gerhard Gauss, was a labourer and bricklayer, and his mother, Dorothea Gauss, was a maid.

24/3/1776, John Harrison, watchmaker and inventor of the chronometer, died in London.

1775, In England, the first patent for a flushing toilet was granted to Alexander Cumming.

27/1/1773, Death of Philippe Buache, cartographer who invented contour lines on maps.

30/4/1772, The first dial weighing machine was patented by John Clais in London.

17/8/1771. The Birmingham scientist Joseph Priestley discovered that oxygen is released from growing plants.

11/12/1769, In London, venetian blinds were patented by Edward Beran.

25/9/1769, The first recorded cremation in Britain. The body of Honoretta Pratt was burnt in her open grave at  St Georges Burial Ground, London.

14/9/1769, Birth of Baron von Humboldt, German scientist who explored Central and South America, and founded the science of ecology.

6/9/1766, John Dalton, English chemist was born in Eaglesfield, near Cockermouth, Cumbria, the son of a Quaker weaver.

15/5/1765, James Watt invented the condenser, effectively trebling the energy output of the existing Newcomen steam pumps. The earlier Newcomen engine pumped steam into a cylinder, forcing back a piston; the cylinder was then sprayed with cool water, condensing the steam and creating a vacuum that pulled the piston back. Alternately heating and cooling the cylinder was inefficient. Watt’s idea was to attach a separate chamber off the main cylinder into which the steam could be allowed to enter, and cooled there by water, again creating the vacuum that pulled the piston back again. The main cylinder could be kept hot, saving considerable energy. The energy content of Britain’s coal reserves was effectively trebled.

20/4/1764, Rudolph Ackerman, German inventor, was born (died 30/3/1834).

31/3/1763, Abraham Darby (Junior), ironmaster, died.

1760, Black discovered latent heat of fusion and vapourisation, and specific heat.

22/4/1760. The first pair of roller skates were seen.

14/9/1759, The earliest dated English board game, A Journey Through Europe, or The Play of Geography, invented by John Jeffries, was sold by him at his London home.

21/8/1754, William Murdock, inventor of coal-gas lighting in 1792, was born at Auchinlek, Ayrshire.

3/9/1752. The date changed this day to 14/9/1752 with the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar. See 5/4/1753. See also 5/10/1582, start of Gregorian calendar. Crowds of people protested, believing their lives had been ‘shortened’ by 11 days (days 3-13 September 1752 inclusive did not exist).  The old calendar had a leap year every 4th year, and therefore was 365.25 days long.  However the calendar had now got out of step with the real year.  The new calendar omitted leap years every century, unless the year was divisible by 400.

31/7/1752. The oldest zoo in the world opened, in Vienna.

1/1/1752, Officially the first ‘new year’ to fall on 1st January; previously the new year had begun on 25th March.

13/4/1748, Joseph Bramah, inventor, was born.

1/8/1744, The Chevalier de Lamarck, naturalist, was born.

25/4/1744, Anders Celsius, Swedish astronomer who devised the Centigrade temperature scale in 1742, died.

28/5/1742. The first indoor swimming pool in England opened in London. The entrance fee was one guinea.

28/5/1738, Dr Joseph Guillotin, inventor of the Guillotine, was born.

9/9/1737, Luigi Galvani, Italian scientist and anatomist, was born in Bologna.

1736, Linnaeus classified the plant species.

16/9/1736, The German scientist Gabriel Fahrenheit, who devised a scale of temperature, died.

23/5/1734, Franz Anton Mesmer, Austrian doctor and founder of Mesmerism, was born near Constance. He was the son of a gamekeeper.

4/9/1733, The first lioness to be kept in Britain died of old age.

20/6/1726, The first municipal fire brigade was established, at Beverley, Yorkshire.

1720, Fahrenheit invented the mercury thermometer.

31/7/1718, John Canton, English scientist (died 22/3/1772) was born.

20/3/1717, Abraham Derby (senior), first ironmaster to use coke to smelt iron, died at Worcester.

12/3/1711, Abraham Darby, iron worker, was born.

23/5/1707, Carl Linnaeus, Swedish botanist who established principles for classifying living organisms, was born as Carl Linne, the son of the parish clergyman of Rashult.

3/3/1703, The scientist Robert Hooke died.

27/11/1701, Anders Celsius, Swedish astronomer who devised the Centigrade scale of temperature in 1742, was born in Uppsala.

1700, Fahrenheit invented the alcohol thermometer.

1700, To manufacture 1 tonne of iron, in pre-industrial times, required 10 hectares of forest to produce enough charcoal. The sema amount of iron could be made with 5 tonnes of coal.

2/7/1698, Thomas Savery patented an early steam engine. See also railways, 1699. This engine could be used to pump water out of mines, an increasing problem as miners went ever deeper.

8/6/1695, Christiaan Huygens, the Dutch scientist who invented the pendulum clock, died.

30/12/1691, Robert Boyle, scientist, died.  He formulated Boyle’s Laws on gases.

1687, Newton stated the Laws of Motion of bodies.

24/5/1686. Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, the German physicist who invented the mercury thermometer, was born in Danzig.

17/9/1683, The Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society to report his discovery of bacteria. See also Medical.

1682, Isaac Newton proposed the Law of Gravitation. See also astronomy.

1665, Isaac Newton worked out a system of ‘fluxions’ – precursor of modern calculus. He also began work on a theory of gravity.

1663, Pascal showed that the pressure of a liquid depended on its depth and density.

1662, Robert Boyle first proposed Boyles Law for gases; that the volume of a gas varies inversely to the pressure.

28/11/1660, The Royal Society was founded in England.

1657, The pendulum clock was invented by Huygens.

1648, Air pressure was shown to decrease as altitude increases.

25/10/1647, Evangelista Torricelli, Italian mathematician and scientist who devised the barometer or ‘Torricellian Tube’, died in Florence.

1643, From Galileo’s note that ‘water would not rise in a pump above 18 cubits’; his pupil, Torricelli deduced the existence of air pressure. In 1648 Pascal demonstrated that air pressure falls with increasing altitude. This led to the invention of the barometer.

1640, The term ‘gas’ first used, by van Helmont.

18/7/1635, Robert Hooke, English scientist, was born in Freshwater, Isle of Wight.

25/1/1627, Robert Boyle, Irish chemist and physicist, was born at Lismore Castle, Munster, Eire.

19/6/1623. Blaise Pascal, French mathematician, was born in Clermont. He invented the first calculating machine; other research of his led to the invention of the syringe and the hydraulic press; and so to Pascal’s law of pressure.

1/1/1622, In the Gregorian Calendar, January 1 was declared the first day of the year, instead of March 25.

15/10/1608, Evangelista Torricelli, Italian mathematician and scientist who invented the barometer in 1643, was born in Faenza.

5/12/1594, Gerard Mercator, Flemish geographer and cartographer, died in Duisberg, aged 82. He projected the world map onto a flat surface using lines of longitude and latitude.

1590, Galileo discovered that all bodies fall at the same rate, regardless of their mass.

1589, English writer Sir John Harrington had an early non gravity fed flushing toilet at his house in Kelston, Somerset.

1581. An earthquake in the Italian town of Pisa set the great chandeliers in the church swinging. A 17 year old student called Galileo noticed that, timed by his own pulse, the time of each swing was constant regardless of the range of the swing.

24/5/1519. Leonardo Da Vinci died, at the Chateaux Cloux near Amboise, aged 67.

5/3/1512, Gerardus Mercator, Flemish cartographer, was born in Flanders, as Gerhard Kremer.

24/12/1508, London houses received piped water for the first time.

1/7/1507, The earliest records of coal-mining at Nailsea, near Bristol. Coal was being transported to Yatton for household fireplaces. By the late 19th century coal mining had died out south of Bristol as the industry migrated to the richer seams of south Wales.

1495, John Tate set up England’s first paper mill, at Hertford. Spain and Italy had such mills from the 13th century.

17/12/1493, Paracelsus, scientist and occultist, was born. He died on 24/9/1541.

3/2/1468, Johann Gutenberg (born ca. 1395), German inventor of printing from moveable type, died.

30/9/1442, Johannes Gutenberg’s Bible became the first book to be printed using moveable metal type.

1337, William Merlee of Oxford attemoted the first scientifically-based weather foreasts.

360, Scrolls began to be replaced by books.

285, Pappus of Alexandria described ‘five machines’ in use.These were the cogwheel, lever, pulley, screw and wedge.

271, The compass began to be used in China.

60 AD, Hero of Alexandria invented the aeolopile (, a rotating ball full of water with tangential vents that would spin when heated as the steam escaped. It was effectively an early steam engine, but was not put to any practical use.

50 AD, Romans learnt the use of soap, from the Gauls.

159 BCE, The first water clock (clepsydra), in Rome.

212 BCE, Archimedes reputed to have used a concave mirror to use the Sun’s rays to set fire to the Roman fleet.

220 BCE,Archimedes discovered the force of buoyancy in liquids.

230 BCE, Oil lamps introduced in Greece.

250 BCE, Parchment was produced, at Pergamum.

260 BCE, Archimedes knew of the Law of Moments and the principle of the lever.

265 BCE, Archimedes invented the Archimedes Screw, a device for raising water.

323 BCE, Euclid published his work ‘Elements’, the standard text on geometry.

1400 BCE, First alphabets in use, in the Middle East.

1700 BCE, The Babylonians began using windmills to power irrigation.

2000 BCE, The Minoans possessed flushing toilets, using cisterns fed by streams, flushed by a lever.

3100 BCE, Cunieform writing developed in Mesopotamia; temple records and accounts kept.

4350 BCE, The horse was domesticated in Europe, providing agricultural power and transportation.


Appendix 1 -  Military

30/10/1979, The aeronautical engineer and  inventor Sir Barnes Wallis died aged 92. He invented the bouncing bombs for the Dambusters raid.

5/1/1951, Sir Ernest Swinton, British soldier and inventor of the military tank, died.

31/12/1927, The use of the lance was abandoned by the British Army, except for ceremonial purposes.

24/11/1916, Sir Hiram Maxim, English-born US inventor of the machine gun in 1883, died in London.

15/9/1916. Tanks went into battle for the first time, for the British Army at the battle of Flers on the  Somme.  They were invented by Sir Ernest Swinton, weighed 30 tons, and travelled at 4mph. It was hoped they would break the stalemate of trench warfare. Some German soldiers fled, thinking the Devil had come. The tank forces achieved their objective but infantry reserves could not arrive in time to consolidate the successes.

6/9/1915. The first military tank, the No.1 Lincoln, modified and renamed Little Willie, had its first run.

26/2/1903. Richard Gatling, US inventor of the rapid-fire gun, died aged 84.

1900, The revolver was invented by JM Browning.

21/10/1868, Sir Ernest Swinton, one of the inventors of the military tank, was born in Bamgalore, India.

4/11/1862. Richard Gatling, in Indiana, invented a gun that could fire hundreds of rounds a minute using rotating barrels.  Mounted on wheels, it had 10 parallel barrels and fired 1200 shots a minute.

10/1/1862, Samuel Colt, who invented the Colt revolver in 1835, died at Hartford, Connecticut.

5/2/1840, Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, American inventor of the first fully automatic machine gun, was born in

Sangersville, Maine.

25/2/1836, Samuel Colt was granted a patent for his new revolver firearm.

12/9/1818, Richard Gatling, US inventor of the revolving battery gun, was born in Winton, North Carolina.

19/7/1814, Samuel Colt, the inventor of the Colt revolver (patented 1835), was born.

30/4/1804, The British used shrapnel in warfare for the first time, against the Dutch in Suriname.

15/5/1718, The machine gun was patented by a London lawyer, James Puckle.

24/2/1525. The Battle of Pavia. Pavia, held by the French, had been under siege by Spanish forces since October 1524. Italy itself was a territory being fought over by the rival powers of France, Germany, Turkey and Spain. The French under King Charles VIII defended Pavia with cavalry and cannon, but the Spanish had adopted the arquebus or hackenbushe, an early version of the handgun; this weapon replaced the Spanish crossbow. The arquebus meant an unskilled infantryman could kill a skilled knight and Pavia was the start of the dominance of the handgun as a military weapon. By the 1740s the Prussians had imporved their military technology to achieve a fire rate of 5 rounds per minute per soldier. The proportion of cavalry in European armies declined sharply, falling to one third in 1650, one quarter in 1750 and one sixth in 1810. However armies still needed large numbers of horses, to pull guns and supplies. These horses need large quantities of fodder; along with limited agricultural productivity this limited the capability of an army to fight and sustain itself in the field by requisitioning food. Campaigns and conquests could often only be undertaken from April until October, when grass grew; the winter break enabled defeated armies to regroup. This restriction on European invaders was especially acute in areas like Spain; in more fertile areas such as central Europe the fighting season was longer. An aggressor backed by naval power could also be resupplied by ship, if the battlefields were near the sea or large rivers.

21/4/1503, The Battle of Cerignola.  The Spanish under Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba defeated the French under the Duc de Nemoura, who was killed.  This was the first battle considered to have been won by gunpowder and small arms.

1500, The pistol was invented.

1464, The increasing size of guns meant that castles were becoming redundant. Previously, the stone castles of the 130s were so strongly built that they could only be taken by means of prolonged siege.

1415, Lomngbowmen defeated mounted knights at Agincourt.

1370, Early small hand guns were in use to defend castles.

1314, At Bannockburn, Scottish spearmen showed they could defeat mounted knights in armour.

1300, The earlier chain mail armour of knights was becoming superseded by steel plate armour. However this greatly increased the expense of maintaining a knight, and the number of knights on Britain had fallen to 2,500, from 5,000 in 1150. By 1450 only a few hundred knights existed. By 1500 the knight was obsolete, due to developments in firearm technology. However plate armour was popular as a decorative feature only.

1297, Gunpowder was first used in siege warfare, by King Edward I against Stirling Castle.

851, Crossbows began to be used in France.


Appendix 2  – Computing and Mathematics

12/5/2017, A massive cyber-attack, the biggest in the world to date, hit almost 100 countries across the world. Computers were hit by ransomware, which encrypted their files and users could not recover them without paying several hundred pounds in Bitcoin. In the UK the NHS was badly affected; a vulnerability factor was the continued use of outdated software. The attack combined features of ransomware with a worm that enabled it to spread within computer networks. The identity of the attacker remains unknown.

2016, Google’s AlphaGo programme defeated Lee Sedol, a world Go champion.

2012, Google’s driverless cars succeeded in navigating autonomously through road traffic.

2011, Apple launched Siri, a voice-operated personal assistant that could answer questions, make recommendations, and carry out simple instructions such as ‘call home’.

2007, Google launched Translate, a statistical machine translation service.

23/4/2005, The first YouTube video, Me at the zoo, was uploaded at 8.27 pm by the site’s co-founder, Jawed Karim.

14/2/2005, The video sharing website YouTube was started by three workers at PayPal.

4/2/2004, Mark Zuckerberg and some Harvard roommates launched a social networking site called Facebook.

28/4/2003, The Apple company launched the iTunes music store.

31/12/2001, Microsoft ended support for Windows 1.0, Windows 2x, Windows 3x, and Windows 95.

25/10/2001, Microsoft released Windows XP.

23/10/2001, Apple Computers released the iPod.

15/1/2001, Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, was launched.

14/8/2000, Microsoft released Windows ME (Millennium Edition).

3/4/2000, Microsoft was found guilty by a US court of breaking US anti-trust laws by attempting to monopolise the Internet browser market.

14/1/2000, The height of the Dot-Com bubble; the Dow Jones Index reached an all-time high of 11,792.98.

1/6/1999, Napster was released, enabling users to share music files and changing forever the music industry.

5/5/1999, Microsoft released Windows 98 Second edition.

26/3/1999, The Melissa worm attacked the Internet.

18/9/1998, ICANN, the Internet naming company, was formed.

7/9/1998, Google was founded.

25/6/1998, Microsoft released Windows 98 (first edition).

8/5/1998, The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the Microsoft Corporation, claiming it had abused its monopoly power by tying its Web browser, Internet Explorer, to its operating system, Windows.

10/2/1996, The computer programme Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov at chess, the first victory by a computer over a human.

24/8/1995, Microsoft launched Windows 5.

1994, QR (Quick Response) codes were invented by the Denso Wave company, to facilitate high speed scanning ofvehicle components.

15/12/1994, The Web browser Netscape 1.0 was launched.

30/4/1993, CERN posted the source code for the Internet for free, for anyone to use.

25/8/1991, Linus Torvalds introduced the first version of the Linux operating system.

4/3/1991, A primitive version of the world wide web began operating.

13/1/1989, The ‘Friday the 13th’ virus hit hundreds of IBM computers across Britain.

16/8/1988, IBM introduced software for artificial intelligence.

19/1/1986, The first computer virus, called Brain, began to spread.

20/11/1985, Microsoft released its first version of Windows, Windows 1.0.

1984, Dell Computers was started by Michael Dell, a 19-year old student at the University of Texas.

24/1/1984, The first Apple Macintosh computer went on sale.

30/11/1983, Microsoft Word was first released.

29/3/1983. The first laptop computer went on sale, in the USA. It was the TRS-80 Model 100, and came with 8k or 24k of memory.

1981, Richard Feynman first proposed the idea of a quantum computer.

5/3/1981, Clive Sinclair launched the XZX81 computer in the UK, at a price of £69.95 fully assembled.

1979, Bubble memory was invented. Using tiny magnetised areas, it could store the equivalent of a 40-page book on 215 square millimetres.

5/6/1977, Apple 2 computers first went on sale.

1/1977, The first succesful mass-market personal computer, the Commodore PET, became available to order; deliveries commenced later in the year.

26/11/1976, An obscure company called Microsoft was officially registered in the US State of New Mexico.

1/4/1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded the Apple computer company. It sold its first Apple-1 computer in July 1976 for US$666.66, with 8 kB RAM.

1975, The first digital camera was constructed.

1974, Hewlett Packard (USA) produced the first programmable pocket calculator.

23/9/1974. The world’s first Ceefax service began, operated by the BBC.

1971, A small company called Intel released a microprocessor called the 4004. At 12 square millimetres it contained 2,300 transistors, with the gap between them measuring about 10,000 nanometres (billionths of a metre), the size of a red blood cell. In 2015 Intel was producing the Skylake chip, with the transistors just 14 nonometres apart, some 100 atoms across, smaller than the wavelength of visible light. However the continuous improvement in chip processing performance, known as Moore’s Law, may now (2016) be coming to an end as problems of heat and of electronic cross-talk between the closely packed tiny transistors rises.

1971, The first pocket calculators came on sale.

9/10/1971, Ray Tomlinson sent the first email.

11/1/1971, The first recorded use of the term ‘Silicon Valley’, in the weekly trade publication Electronic News. The term became widespread in the early 1980s as personal computers became more commonplace. The original name of the valley where the IT products are now made was ‘Valley of Heart’s Delight’, referring to the many orchards once present there.

17/11/1970. A US patent was granted to Doug Engelbart for his invention of the computer mouse – so called because of its long cable tail. He had invented the ‘mouse’ in 1964.

29/10/1969, The Arpanet went live.

1967, Texas Instruments produced the first hand-held electronic calculator.

15/10/1967. The Guardian offered its readers ‘the first binary computer kit’ called Digi-Comp 1, for £3 10 shillings.

14/6/1967. At a telecommunications conference in London, the Postmaster General predicted shopping by picture television and news reports by computer before the end of the century.

1965, Gordon Moore proposed Moore’s Law – stating that the number of transistors on a chip of given size would double every 2 years.

1965, The silicon chip was introduced, in the USA.

1964, The Sharp Corporation (Japan) launched the first all-transistor desktop calculator, the CS-10A Compet.

1960, Transistors replaced valves in computers.

1960, Ted Nelson invented hypertext, which allowed cross referencing (hyperlinks) between sections of text and to diagrams.

4/8/1959. Barclays Bank became the first to use computers for its branch accounts.

1956, First use of the term ‘artificial intelligence’ at a workshop at Dartmouth College.

1956, In the US, the first computer programming language, FORTRAN, was developed.

28/10/1955, Bill Gates was born. He founded Microsoft in 1975 and was the world’s richest man, 1995-2007.

24/2/1955, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, was born.

7/6/1954, Alan Turing, mathematician who broke the Nazi codes during World War Two, died.

24/5/1954. IBM announced the development of an ‘electronic brain’ and planned to rent the 30 models out to offices for US$ 25,000 a month. The computer used valves.

1950, The first mass-produced computer, Univac-1 (Universal Automatic Computer) was manufactured by the Eckert & Mauchly Computer Company in Philadelphia, USA.

21/6/1948, The first computer using stored programmes was built at Manchester University, UK

1946, John van Neumann, Institute of Advanced Studies, Princeton, USA, constructed the first binary computer.

1945, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator) was built at the University of Pennsylvania; the first completely electronic (valve-driven) computer.

1943, IBM stated that ‘there is probably a world market for maybe five computers’.

12/1943, The first electronic computer was built secretly at Bletchley Park; it began operations in December 1943 to crack the German Enigma codes ( ), also the far more complex Lorenz codes (  also ) . It worked with punched tape and could scan and analyse 5,000 characters a second. In 1946 the US military developed the first all-purpose, i.e. programmable, electronic computer. Called ENIAC, it weighed 30 tons and contained some 18,000 vacuum tubes. It was used for calculating trajectories of artillery shells, accounting for variables like wind velocity, air temperature, and type of shell.

1942, The first electronic digital calculator was built, by Professor John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry at Iowa State University

1931, Conrad Zuse of Germany produced the Z1 computer. It was the first to use a binary system, the absence of presence of electric charge to denote 0 or 1.

23/6/1912, Alan Mathison Turing, British mathematician who invented the Turing Machine, was born. He was the son of Julius and Sara Turing.

8/1/1889. The first electric computer for data processing was patented by Dr Herman Hollerith in New York. The company. Dr Hollerith formed to market his invention became the giant IBM. Charles Babbage had designed and partially built a mechanical ‘Analytical Engine’ between 1821 and 1871. The 1889 computer was designed to compute the results of the 1890 census, using punched cards. The inspiration for this machine came from a scheme on the US railways to enter the physical details of every passenger on their ticket by means of a punched hole card system – so that train robbers could be identified when they posed as ordinary travellers. The railway sceheme did not win wide acceptance.

18/10/1871, Charles Babbage, pioneer of computing, died.

1885, In the USA, Dorr Eugene patented the first ‘comptometer’, a key-driven adding machine.

1834, Charles Babbage, English mathematician, invented a programmable mechanical  computer. However the technologiy for manufacturing the components to the required precision did not yet exist (see 1801).

1801, The Flemish weaver  Joseph Jacquard developed a hole-punched card system for manufacturing elaborate patterns on fabrics. The holes allowed needles to pass through, or not, lifting corresponding threads of the warp. This systek inspired Charles Babbage (1834)

1642, Blaise Pascal, French mathematician, invented the first adding machine.

1622, English mathematician William Oughtred invented the slide rule.

1617, Scottish mathematician John Napier used ‘Napier’s Bones’ to demonstrate that multiplication and division can be preformed as a series of additions or subtractions. This paved the way for mechanical calculating machines.

3000 BCE, The abacus was in use by the Babylonians.


Appendix 3 – Mathematics and Geometry

14/10/2010, French-American mathematician who developed fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot, died aged 85.

16/5/1718, Maria Agnesi, Italian mathematician, was born (died 9/1/1799)

1665, Isaac Newton worked out a system of ‘fluxions’ – precursor of modern calculus. He also began work on a theory of gravity.

12/1/1665, French mathematician Pierre de Fermat (born 1601) died.

1631, First recorded used of the multiplication sign, by William Oughtred.

1614, Logarithms were invented by the Scottish mathematician, John Napier (1550-1617), who in that year published a 97-page work entitled ‘Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonia Descriptio’. He copined the word ‘logarithm from two Greek words meaning ‘ratio’ and ‘number’.

1489, The first recorded use of the mathematical symbols + and -, in the book Mental Arithmetic by Johann Wildmann, published in Leipzig. They were used for ‘excess’ and ‘deficiency’, and by the 1500s came to mean ‘add’ and ‘subtract’.

830, The Arabic text Hisab al jabr w’al muqabalah (The Science of Reunion and Opposition) became the basis of algebra in the West. Renaissance scholars sometimes preferred the Latin term ‘analysis’.

462, Birth of Aryabhata, Indian mathematician who wrote on the powers and roots of numbers.

250, Diophantes of Alexandria wrote the first known book on algebra.

545 BCE, Death of Thales of Miletus. He derived the ‘Thales Proposition’; that triangles over the diameter of a circle are always right-angled.

628 CE, The Indian astronomer amd mathematician Brahmagupta first described the concept of ‘zero’ as a true number.

876 BCE, First known use of a symbol for zero, in India.

3400 BCE, In Sumeria, clay counting tokens and written mathematical symbols first used.


Appendix 4 - Light and Optics

17/6/1970. Edwin Land patented the first Polaroid camera.

1965, Holography was first discovered by D Gabor.

1960, The laser was discovered by Thoedore Maiman.

1959, Xerox introduced the first reliable commercial photocopier. It weighed 300kg.

28/11/1948. The first Polaroid cameras went on sale, in Boston, USA. The price was US$ 89.75 – the equivalent of US$ 900, or UK£595 in 2015. All 37 had sold by the end of the day.

22/10/1938, Chester F Carlson made the first photocopy image.

27/8/1910. Thomas Edison, in New Jersey, demonstrated talking movie pictures for the first time in his New Jersey laboratory. He used a device that was part phonograph, part camera, to record sounds and pictures simultaneously. He predicted that moving pictures with sound in colour would soon be possible.

7/5/1909, Edwin Land, American inventor of the Polaroid lens and the instant camera, was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

1/12/1906. The world’s first purpose-built picture palace, the Cinema Omnia Pathe, opened in Paris.

17/10/1906. First transmission of a picture by telegraph.

8/2/1906, Birth of Chester Carlson, who invented the photocopier.

14/4/1904. The first attempt to produce ‘talking pictures’ was made at the Fulham Theatre, London, using cinematography and a phonograph.

22/3/1895, The first demonstration of celluloid cinema film was given in Paris by Auguste and Louis Lumiere.

7/11/1888, Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born. In 1931 he won the Nobel Physics Prize for his discovery of the changing wavelengths of light when it passed through a transparent material.

4/9/1888, George Eastman, founder of the Kodak film company, patented the first camera film roll.

9/11/1881, Dr Herbert Thomas Kalmus, US inventor of Technicolor, was born.

19/2/1878. Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.

11/12/1877, Englishman Eadward Muybridge, photographer of the American West, used a novel photographic technique to resolve a bet made by the Governor of California, rail magnate Leland Stanford. Stanford believed that all four legs of a racehorse left the ground simultaneously as it galloped. Muybridge proved Stanford right by stringing tripwires across a racecourse and galloping a horse down it, setting off camera shots to obtain a series of still shots. Muybridge then used the novel technique to study dancers and runners in action.

17/9/1877, William Henry Fox Talbot, English pioneer of photography, died at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire.

19/10/1862, Auguste Lumiere was born. With his brother Louis, he developed the motion picture projector.

17/5/1861. The first colour photograph was exhibited at the Royal Institution, London.

12/7/1854. George Eastman, USA photographic pioneer who founded Kodak, was born in Waterville, New York State. (see 7/5/1888).

12/7/1851, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, French pioneer in photography, died.

20/8/1839, In Paris, LJM Daguerre demonstrated a way of capturing images on a metallic plate; the birth of photography.

2/1/1839, Frenchman Louis Daguerre took the first photograph of the Moon.

5/7/1833, Nicorie Nie, pioneer in photography and creator of the first negative on paper,died.

1826. First directly fixed image with a camera onto a pewter plate was produced – see the year 1813.

1821, Fraunhofer invented the diffraction grating.

23/9/1819, Death of Armand Hippolyte, French physicist who was the first to measure the speed of light. Methods to find this speed include, 1) timing the eclipses of Jupiter’s satellites when at closest and furthest point from Earth, 2) Adjusting the speed of a rotating cog wheel so it turns just one tooth-breadth whilst light travels to a distant mirror and back, and 3) Send a light beam from a source to a rotating mirror and thence to a distant mirror and back, by which time the first mirror has rotated a little, and see how the beam direction has changed.

1813, Lithography (early photography) became fashionable in France. J N Niepce (born 7/3/1765) conducted experiments to produce light-dependent images, which he called Heliography. In 1826 he produced the first directly fixed image with a camera onto a pewter plate.

1801, Ultra-violet radiation was discovered in 1801 when the German physicist Johann Wilhelm Ritter observed that invisible rays just beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum darkened silver chloride-soaked paper more quickly than violet light itself. He called them ‘oxidizing rays’ to emphasize chemical reactivity and to distinguish them from ‘heat rays’, discovered the previous year at the other end of the visible spectrum.

2/3/1791. The worlds first optical telegraph, or semaphore machine, was unveiled in Paris.

23/5/1785, Benjamin Franklin announced his invention of bifocals.

1773, The achromatic lens was invented. It is made of glass of different refractive indeces, so refracts all colours of light equally.

7/3/1765, Joseph Niepce, French doctor who produced the first photograph from nature using a camera obscura, pewter plates, and an 8 hour exposure, was born.

14/2/1744, Joseph Hadley, optician who invented the reflecting octant, ancestor of the sextant, died in East Barnet in Hertfordshire.

1678, Huygens developed the wave theory of light.

1668, Isaac Newton built the first reflecting telescope.

1666, Newton investigated the spectrum of light.

1660, The microscope was greatly improved by Leeuwenhoek.

1608, In The Netherlands, Spectacle-maker Hans Lippershey made a demonstration of the telescope.

1590, In The Netherlands, spectacle-maker Hans Janssen and his son Zaccharias invented the microscope.

1286, A monk in Pisa is reported as having made the first pair of eye glasses – mentioned in a sermon of 1306.


Appendix 5 – Textiles, clothing and carpets, See also fashion

9/11/1950, ICI announced its to build a factory at Redcar to manufacture a new fabric, Terylene.

23/1/1941, Nylon was first produced in Britain, at Coventry.

20/2/1939. The first washing machine went on show in London at the British Industries Fair.

16/2/1937.Nylon stockings were made from December 1946.

29/4/1913, The improved version of the zip fastener, as we have it today, was patented by a Swedish engineer, Gideon Sundback, from New Jersey.

1907, The first electric washing machine was produced; the Thor, designed by Alva J Fisher of the USA.

6/6/1907 The first clothes washing powder was launched in Dusseldorf, Germany. It was called Persil, from two of its active ingredients, perborate and silicate.

30/9/1902. Rayon, or artificial silk, was patented by Samuel Slocum.

19/9/1876. Melville R Bissell of Grand Rapids, Michigan patented the Bissell carpet sweeper, the first practical way to sweep carpets of dust. He suffered from headaches caused by his allergy to straw dust which came from the straw packing he used in his china shop. He invented a sweeper with a sprung brush roller that responded to pressure on the handle.

23/7/1875, Isaac Singer, American inventor of the modern sewing machine, died in Torquay, Devon.

3/10/1867, Elias Howe, inventor of the first practical sewing machine in 1846, died. He made US$ 2 million from his invention.

10/4/1849. Walter Hunt of New York patented the safety pin. He made it in only three hours, then sold the rights for $400 to pay off debts.

10/9/1846, Elias Howe received the patent for his sewing machine. It could sew at 250 stitches per minute, five times faster than any human could.

25/7/1843, Charles MacIntosh, the chemist who patented waterproof fabric in 1823, died in Glasgow.

12/3/1838, Sir Henry Perkin, British chemist who synthesised the first artificial dye (aniline purple) was born.

18/4/1834. The world’s first launderette opened in Fort Worth, Texas.

12/2/1831, J W Goodrich of Boston, USA, invented the rubber galosh.

26/6/1827, Samuel Crompton, inventor of the spinning mule in 1779, died in Bolton.

8/1/1825, Eli Whitney, American inventor of the cotton gin, which made separating of fibre and seed easier, died in New Haven, Connecticut.

30/10/1823, Edmund Cartwright, inventor of the power loom in 1785, died at Hastings, Sussex, aged 80.

17/6/1823, Charles Macintosh patented a waterproof material for clothes.

9/7/1819, Elias Howe, inventor of the first practical sewing machine, was born in Spencer, Massachusetts.

27/11/1811, Isaac Singer, US inventor and sewing machine manufacturer, was born in Pittsdown, New York State.

11/3/1811, The Luddite Riots began as textile workers protested against new technology replacing jobs.

20/7/1793, Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin, a machine for separating cotton fibre from seeds.

17/7/1790, The sewing machine was patented by Thomas Saint, cabinet maker of Greenhill Rents, St Sepulchre parish, London.

9/10/1779. The first Luddite riots began in Manchester against the introduction of machinery for spinning cotton.

22/4/1778, James Hargreaves, inventor of the ‘spinning jenny’ in 1764, died in Nottingham.

26/5/1769. John Kay, Sir Richard Arkwright’s assistant, patented the Flying Shuttle to operate on Arkwright’s spinning frame. Arkwright was born at Preston, Lancashire, on 23/12/1732, the youngest of 13 children to a poor family. He became a barber in Bolton in around 1750. In 1767 he gave up this business to build a spinning frame. This was an improvement on Hargreave’s Spinning Jenny since it could spin threads of any degree of hardness or fineness, unlike the spinning jenny which could not spin any but fine thread. Now 20 or 30 threads could be spun with no more labour than was previously required to spin one thread.

29/12/1766, Charles Macintosh, inventor of waterproof fabrics, was born in Glasgow.

8/12/1765, Eli Whitney, American inventor of the cotton gin, which made cotton-growing much more profitable, was born in Westborough, Massachusetts.

3/12/1753, Samuel Crompton, inventor of the Spinning Mule which revolutionised the textiles industry, was born at Firwood, near Bolton.  He was the son of a farmer.

24/4/1743. Edward Cartwright, inventor of the power loom in 1785, was born at Marnham, Nottinghamshire.

1735, The first machine-made carpets were produced, at Kidderminster.

23/12/1732. Sir Richard Arkwright, inventor of the spinning frame, was born at Preston, the last of 13 children.


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