Science, Technology and Innovation

Page last modified 6/4/2019


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See also Astronomy and Space Travel

See also Atomic power and electricity

See also Chemistry and the Elements, also for substances invented.

See also Clothing and Fashion, also for clothes technology e.g. washing machines.

See also Computing and IT

See also Environment and Conservation

See also Medical

See also Maritime Innovations

See also Road Vehicle Technology


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


Biology and Pyschology – see Appendix 1 below See also Medicine.

Cartography – see Appendix 2 below

Construction, Buildings, Lifts, Escalators -  see Appendix 3 below

Geology and Mining – see Appendix 4 below See also Economics and Coal

Hygiene  see Appendix 5 below

Light and Optics – see Appendix 6 below

Mathematics and Geometry – see Appendix 7 below See also Computing

Metrology – see Appendix 8 below

Military – see Appendix 9 below

Music Video Entertainment and Sound  -see Appendix 10 below

Postal Services – See Appendix 11 below

Robotics – see Appendix 12 below

TV Telephone and Radio – see Appendix 13 below, Click here for TV programmes and social developments in TV.

Writing, Books, Pens, Paper – see Appendix 14


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.

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

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

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.

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

30/1/1975, The Rubik Cube was patented by Erno Rubik in Hungary.

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

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.

20/7/1965, The McLaren baby buggy was patented by Owen Findlay, Banbury, UK. It replaced much more cumbersome and heavier prams, and its easy folding made it very easy to take on board public transport.

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

21/1/1962  Ring pull cans came into use.

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.

28/1/1958, Lego building bricks were patented by Godtfred Christiansen in Billund, Denmark. Lego is short for the Danish for ‘play well’, Leg-Godt.

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.

11/6/1954, The game Scrabble was patented in the USA.

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

17/6/1948, The transistor was patented in New Jersey for Bell Telephones.

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.

1/11/1945, The Slinky coil was patented by Richard James in Pennsylvania.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

7/7/1923, John Harwood patented the first self-winding wristwatch. Self-winding watches already existed but they were bulky fob-watches. The concept was to use a small swinging weight to wind the timepiece.

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

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

26/6/1916, Peter Nissen (1871-1930) patented the Nissen Hut. He noticed that there was a lack of easy to build housing for the troops in World War One. 100,000 of these huts were built by the end of the War; each one taking 6 men 4 hours to build. Their main drawback was they were very cold in the winter.

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

1915, The start of the General Theory of Relativity was derived from the Special Theory of Relativity.

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

16/9/1910, Ole Evinrude patented the outboard motor.

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

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

1/7/1905, Albert Einstein propounded the Special 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.

16/9/1904, Willis Carrier filed US patent no. 808897 for air conditioning. The basic idea of air conditioning had been known since Roman times, when it was noted that cool vapour rose from water thrown on hot stones. In 1902 a Brooklyn printer, Sackett-Williams, told Carrier that he had a problem with changing heat and humidity altering the colours unpredictably on his printing. Willis Carrier designed the first air conditioning unit, which weighed 30 tons. Dust control was added in 1906.

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.

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

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

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.

9/1/1901, Meccano was patented by Frank Hornby (1863-1936), England.

1900, The paper clip was patented by Johann Vaaler, a Norwegian working in Germany. In 1989 a gaint statue of a paperclip was erected in his honour in Oslo.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

1887, The first semi-automatic glass bottle making machine was invented by John Ashley in Yorkshire, UK. It could produce 200 bottles an hour, but required manually feeding with molten glass, In 1898 MJ Owens of the USA imvented a fully auromatic bottle making machine. This in turn was improved on by Henry W Ingle of the US in 1925. Bottles could now be made faster and lighter than before.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

28/8/1845, The first edition of Scientific American was published.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

1827, Brownian Motion, the rapid vibration of tiny particles suspended in water, was first noted by the botanist Robert Brown (1773-1858). He also noted that small particles of inorganic matter such as carbon and metal dust were subject to this motuon, but he could not explain the phenomenon.

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.

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.

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

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.

9/12/1814, 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.

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

1811, Amedeo Avogadro proposed what is 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.

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.

28/1/1807. 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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

1683, In Oxford, Britain, the Ashmolean Museum was opened as a centre for experimental science.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

2/5/1519. Leonardo Da Vinci died, at the Chateaux Cloux near Amboise, aged 67.

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

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

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.

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.

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


Appendix 1 – Biology and Pyschology See also Medicine

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

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

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.      

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.

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

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.

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.

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

1977, Genetech began to synthesis medicines by use of recombinant DNA.

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

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.

1973, Stanley Cohen (Stanford University) and Herbert Boyer (University of California) inserted recombinant DNA into a bacteria which then cloned this new DNA. This was the start of genetic engineering.

1972, Paul Berg, st Stanford University, combined the DNA from two different viruses.

1970, At John Hopkins University, Hamilton Smith and Daniel Nathans discovered restriction enzymes, chemical scissors that snipped RNA molecules.

1965, RNA synthesis of protein was achieved in a test tube; the code of three bases for each amino acid was discovered.

25/4/1953, James Watson and Francis Crick described the double-helix structure of DNA in Nature magazine.

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

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

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

1944, O A T Overy of Rockerfeller University, working with the pneumonia bacterium, established that genes were made from DNA.

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

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

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.

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

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,

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.

1913, Richard Willstatter discovered the composition of chlorophyll. In the US, E McCollum isolated vitamin A.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1869, Gregor Mendel’s experiments with pea plants helped establish the mechanisms of heredity.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

1736, Linnaeus classified the plant species.

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

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.

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


Appendix 2 – Cartography

1989, The Ordnance Survey began using a computerised system for updating their maps.

1858, The Ordnance Survey chose the scale of 1:2,500 for mapping England and Wales.

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.

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

1675, English mapmaker John Ogilby produced Britannia, the firsr road map of Britain showing rivers, bridges and towns.

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.

1550, The first street map of London was produced.

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

1314, The Mappa Mundi was produced, a map of the world with Jerusalem at its centre.


Appendix 3 – Construction, Buildings, Lifts Escalators

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

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.

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

12/12/1951, The geodesic dome was patented by Richard Buckminster Fuller in New York, USA.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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


Appendix 4 – Geology and Mining See also Economics and Coal

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.


Appendix 5 - Hygiene

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.

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.

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

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

30/8/1901. Scotsman Hubert Cecil Booth patented the vacuum cleaner. Houses often had no electricity then, and  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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Appendix 6 - Light and Optics, See also Electricity

1965, Holography was first discovered by D Gabor.

18/3/1964, The Lava Lamp was patented by David George Smith for Crestworth Ltd, Poole, UK.

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.

3/2/1948, The instant Polaroid camera was patented by Edwin Herbert Land in Massachusetts.

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

8/9/1938, Chester Carlson patented the first photocopier.

4/7/1932, The Anglepoise adjustable desk lamp was patented by George Geraldine in England.

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.


79,000 BCE, Early stone lamps in use, fuelled by animal fat with grass or moss for a wick.


Appendix 7– Mathematics and Geometry For Computing, coding, events see Computing.

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.

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

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 8 – Metrology

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.

21/1/1962  The Met Office started using Centigrade as well as Fahrenheit.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

1720, Fahrenheit invented the mercury thermometer.

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.

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

1657, The pendulum clock was invented by Huygens.

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

1613, Pierre Vernier invented the Vernier Measure, in which a slider is used to increase the accuract of the distance measured by a factior of ten,

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

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


Appendix 9 -  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.

28/2/1912, The Austrian, Gunter Burstyn, patented an armoured vehicle that preceded the Tank. Although it did not have the continuous track that enabled Tanks to traverse trenches and shell-holed ground, it did have front and rear ancillary wheels on long pivots held above ground. These could be lowered to lever the vehicle up and over steep edges.

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 10 – Music Video Entertainment  and Sound

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

8/12/1924, The Theremin, the world’s first electronic musical instrument, was patented in Germany by Lev Sergievitch Termen, a Russian cellist and electronic engineer, born in St Petersburg in 1896 (died 1993). It worked on the heterodyne principle, that a combination of two radio high frequency sound waves could combine to produce a lower frequency audible sound equal to the difference, As the high frequency waves varied, so did the audible sound. The presence of a human body altered the radio waves, which was how the machine could produce changing sounds as a hand was waved over it. The machine was later superseded by the Moog Synthesiser.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Appendix 11 – Postal Services

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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


Appendix 12 - Robotics

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.

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

1954, The robotic arm was designed by George Devol.

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


Appendix 13 – TV, Terlephone and Radio, Click here for TV programmes and social developments in TV

29/6/2007, Apple launched the iPhone,

20/5/1999, Bluetooth was announced. See also Computing

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

26/7/1923, John Logie Baird patented a system for transmitting pictures by ‘mechanical television’. The transmitter and receiver both had a spinning disc with 24 holes; pictures were sent by photoelectric cells. The principle was the same as making repeated static images ‘move’ by rapidly flicking the pages of a book; the persistence of images in the human eye gives the illusion of motion. Unfortunately the picture quality was mediocre, the flickering gave viewers a headache, and the intense light needed to film anything was exhausting for the cast.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

1887, Heinrich Hertz proved the existence of radio waves,

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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”.

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.

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

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

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


Appendix 14 – Wrtiing, Books, Pens, Paper

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

1843, The typewriter was invented by Thurber.

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

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

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

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

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.

1799, The Rosetta Stone was discovered in Egypt.

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

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.

360, Scrolls began to be replaced by books.

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


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