-----------------------------------------------------------------------------FILE CONTAINED: INVENT.TXT ACTUAL TOPIC: Inventions of the early nineteenth century.

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The art of inventing has been around since remedies have been needed and solutions have been required to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. From the time our

forefathers colonized the shores of a new land, up till the time of the modern day super-conductor: people have created devices and made discoveries on our behalf to make life easier for everyone.

Before the early nineteenth century communications were inadequate. The limitations of our hearing meant that

distant events were known long after they had occurred. Systems of communication existed which were quicker then the

speed of a messenger - smoke signals, fires lit on hills, signalling flags. But these methods could only be used for communicating in code with pre-established sayings rather than out-right communication. These methods also required certain meteorological or geographical conditions in order to function properly. In the nineteenth century conditions were present that made the need for new forms of communications indispensable. Industrial society needed a method of communicating information quickly, safely and accurately. Artist-inventor Samuel F.B. Morse holds credit for devising American's first commercially successful electromagnetic telegraph (patented in January 1836). The telegraph was a device used to

electrically send signals over a wire for long distances allowing an established communication link to be made from one city to another. (And everything in-between.) The basic

principle of the telegraph was the opening and closing of an electrical circuit supplied by a battery: the variations of the current in the electromagnet would attract or repel a small arm connected to a pencil which would trace zigzag signs onto a strip of paper running under the arm at a constant speed. This early plan didn't offer great practical

possibilities, mainly because the batteries then available

could not produce a current strong enough to push the signal great distances. As an artist and sculptor, Morse had the personal qualities to succeed as inventor of the telegraph: intelligence, persistence, and a willingness to learn. What he lacked was: knowledge of recent scientific developments, adequate funds, mechanical ability, and political influence. Like all successful inventors of the nineteenth century, Morse exploited his strengths and worked on his weaknesses. Morse used Professor Leonard D. Gale's suggestions of improving both his battery and electromagnet by following the suggestions of Joseph Henry. Together they incorporated Henry's suggestions and stepped up the distance they could send messages from fifty feet to ten miles. This invention, no less important than the telegraph itself, was the socalled relay system, widely used today for automatic controls and adjustments. Morse introduced a series of electromagnets

along the line, each of which opened and shut the switch of a successive electric circuit, supplied by it's own battery. At the same time Morse improved the transmitting and receiving devices and perfected the well-know signalling system based on dots and dashes, which is still in use today. The first telegraph line, connecting Baltimore to New

York, was inaugurated in 1844. Before this however, on May 24th, 1843 wires were strung between Washington and Baltimore where Morse sent the first message from the Supreme Court room in Washington to Alfred Vail, Morse's assistant who was in Baltimore at a railroad depot (41 miles away): "What hath God wrought?" On May 29th, 1844 word flashed by wire from the democratic convention in Baltimore that James K. Polk had been nominated for the Presidency. People were fascinated by the "Magic key" and it was decided that the telegraph would be used for now to report congressional doings. By 1848 every state east of the Mississippi except Florida was served be the telegraph; by the end of the civil war more than 200,000 miles of line were used for business communications and personal messages as well as news of battles, politics, and sports results. The telegraph was a success. Samuel F. B. Morse died in 1872.

While communications were important in the nineteenth century, there were some other inventions that made life a little easier. In April of 1849, Walter Hunt patented his

invention which to this day we probably wouldn't get by without. Hunt invented the safety pin, patented it, and then

without hesitation sold all rights to the pin for $400. 1846, Elias Howe invented the sewing machine which "was


becoming a fixture in the homes of [all] American newlyweds." Soon to be followed by industry turning it's attention to the home by producing labor-saving appliances - novelties that soon became necessities.

Charles Goodyear, one of the nineteenth century's greatest inventors and father of today's vast rubber industry discovered vulcanization, the process that toughens rubber and rids it of stickiness, in January of 1839. The riddle of rubber - how to prevent the stuff from becoming sticky in the summer, brittle in the winter and horrid-smelling in between. After years of anguish, Goodyear discovered quite by accident that by adding sulphur to raw rubber and heating the material from four to six hours at about 270 degrees F. the rubber would be cured by the sulphur resulting in increased strength and stiffness while preserving its flexibility. After spending many hundreds of hours, Goodyear, in his make-shift lab adding one substance after another to rid the rubber of it's natural stickiness using every ingredient he could get his hands on to put into the rubber mixture, (He used salt, paper, talcum powder, anything...) one afternoon when all else had failed, Goodyear dropped by accident a

mixture of sulphur and rubber onto his hot stovetop. Goodyear looked at the blob in disbelief because it didn't melt as "gum elastic" always had in the past. Instead, it solidified and "[the rubber] charred like leather". Before Goodyear's discovery, rubber's bad qualities permitted few uses. French savants had studied the new substance for waterproof qualities; someone had found that the gray gum rubbed out pencil marks on paper, and thus the word "rubber" was born. By 1839 British manufacturers had learned a few other uses for uncured rubber. Charles Macintosh, a chemist, patented in 1823 a fabric that included a thin layer of rubber. From this he made raincoats that in England, the climate helped satisfy purchasers. In American winters they hardened like armor, in American summers it they softened like taffy. Eldest son of Amasa Goodyear, a New Haven merchant and sometimes inventor, Charles helped his father sell a "Patented Spring Steel Hay and Manure Fork" invented by his father. Amasa manufactured the first pearl buttons made in

America and metal buttons that U.S. soldiers wore in the war of 1812. Goodyear foresaw many products - rubber gloves, toys, conveyor belts, watertight seals, water-filled rubber pillows, balloons, printing rollers, and rubber bands were among some of the brainstorms he would jot down, one after the other into his notebook.

Also envisioned were rubber banknotes, musical instruments, flags, jewelry, "imitation buffalo-robes," vanes or "sails" for windmills, and ship's sails, even complete ships. While the automobile tire did escape his imagination, it was not without reason - the auto hadn't been invented yet!

From barbed wire to keep our railways safe, to revolvers to keep our country safe, the nineteenth century marked a big boom in inventive history. Soon following all of these inventions, the civil war became a full blown testing field for all these inventions. Whether it was the coin operated hairbrush meant for public restrooms, or the automatic hat tipper (for when women are near and your hands are occupied,) the inventions of this time proved to be both interesting and useful. Well, most of them. Today, we still use a lot of the inventions of the early nineteenth century, but technology is passing us by at a pace we may not be ready for. Inventions are no longer just there to make life easier, safer, more enjoyable, and more entertaining, but they give us something to keep us occupied in this never-ending quest for - "perfectness?" Maybe in a hundred years someone will be looking back

through their history books, searching though the libraries of the future and seeing our super-conductors, our computers, our High Definition t.v.s, our Super VHS video recorders, and our Digital Audio Tape players. Could they be saying "isn't

that silly" just like the coin operated hairbrush, or the combination food masher/rat and mouse trap (?) Time will tell.

__________________________________________________________ Bibiliography: Men Of Science and Invention - Editors of American Heritage Published American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc. Harper & Row (c)1960 Those Inventive Americans - Poduced by National Geographic Society Publications Div. Published N.G.S N.G.S. (c)1971 Big Brother - The Works (617) 861-8976 Largest Text File Base (FBBS) (c)1990 Homework Helper!

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The Picture History of Inventions - Umberto Eco & G.B. Zorzoli (Translated from italian by Anthony Lawrence) Malmillan Co., NY. (c)1963 Various photocopied charts and pictures from other references were also used.

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