• THE LOCOMOTIVE

    Needless to say, for the steam engine to own any practical application, it had to operate a vehicle something, and that something—at least at first—was the locomotive. First appearing in the United States in 1829 with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Tom Thumb demonstration locomotive, by the center of the century literally hundreds of engines […]

  • THE TELEPHONE

    The idea that a person’s voice could travel via a wire was considered something comparable to witchcraft when it was proposed, but by the time Alexander Graham Bell patented his “electric telegraph” in March of 1876, it had been not just a reality, but was to forever change the country. Top Greatest Inventions of the […]

  • THE TELEGRAPH

    Though under development in Europe for quite a while, the telegraph was developed independently in the United States by Samuel Morse and his assistant, Alfred Vail, in 1837. (It was actually Vail who invented Morse code, which makes it difficult to understand why it isn’t called Vail Code.) By 1843 Congress—in an unusual moment of […]

  • THE INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE

    While steam remained the primary power source throughout the century, by the finish of the 1880’s its successor—the internal combustion engine—was making its first appearance, both in the shape of the gasoline powered four-stroke engine and the better diesel engine. Top Greatest Inventions of the 19th Century. Though both weren’t yet developed enough and remained […]

  • THE RIFLE

    Though the trusty old musket and front-loading cannon had been around for centuries, it wasn’t before the mid-nineteenth century that the firearm really came into its own to end up being the epitome of innovative technology for its era. First was the advent of rifling, which improved both accuracy and range; then it absolutely was […]

  • IRONCLAD SHIPS

    Alongside steam and breech-loading guns came the greatest revolution in shipping in thousands of years: the replacement of sail and wooden ships with great behemoths belching smoke and wrought in riveted iron. So swift and complete was this transformation that by the end of the century sail was considered a quant anachronism while even the […]

  • ELECTRICITY/LIGHT BULB

    Where would we be without electricity—or the light bulb? Probably sitting in the soft glow of our kerosene lantern wondering why the toaster isn’t working. Clearly, the advent of electricity in the waning years of the nineteenth century had an enormous impact on society, for this not just reduced the fire danger by replacing gas-fed […]

  • PHOTOGRAPHY

    ‘As much as the 1840s, you can pay a picture artist handsomely to create themselves appear less ugly and more heroic than they certainly were in true to life; with the introduction of photography, however, all that went the window. Suddenly people could be photographed while they really appeared: dour, unsmiling, grainy, and never happy […]

  • THE COTTON GIN

    Some may be surprised to see what is considered an inferior known invention to my list, but look at the impact Eli Whitney’s little invention had with this country: until then, slavery was just morally wrong. With his cotton-picking machine effective at producing twenty bails of cotton for every one created by slave labor, he […]

  • U.S.S.-Constitution

    Called “Old Ironsides” as a result of her sturdy construction, the oldest still intact ship in America serves as a museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Still afloat after 213 years, she’d an usually long service life, having remained in commission on and off between 1797 all the best way to the Civil War, after which it […]

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