Here are some of the top technology breakthroughs in the 1800s that have changed people’s lives tremendously.
The internal combustion engine was poised to succeed steam which had been the chief source of power throughout the 19th century. It came both in the form of the gas-powered four-stroke engine and the diesel engine, which was more efficient. Though both had yet to be at their full potential, their emergence would eventually mean the ultimate end of the steam engine, but they were to give power for several industries that people during that time could only imagine, such as automobiles, factories, and aircraft.
In 1829, the steam-powered locomotive first made its appearance in the United States, and by the middle of the century hundreds of locomotives were in operation throughout the country. By the end of the 1800s, the whole United States could be crossed by rail in just a matter of days. It’s also one of the key aspects of the Industrial Revolution.
The steam engine had been first experimented by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Thousands of years later, the first experimental steam engines have been created by the late 17th century. It was not until the 19th century that steam engines became truly the practical source of energy that sparked the Industrial Revolution. Without it, there would be no locomotives which would facilitate the transportation of goods, cargo, and people. More importantly, the steam engine helped the United States on its path to become a regional power.
Actually, the telegraph was very much like the Internet of the 19th century, and it did change the quality of lives of the Americans during that time. Particularly, it connected the lives of people who lived in the West, far from the big cities and industrial towns of the east. Although the Europeans first developed the telegraph quite a number of years before, the United States independently developed its own telegraph by Samuel Morse and his assistant Alfred Vail, in 1837. The American congress — in a rare display of foresight — appropriated funds to make the entire country “wired” and the rest is history. Imagine without the telegraph — it would take people days or even weeks or months for messages to be sent from one location to a far-flung area. With the invention of the telegraph people would be able to send and receive messages in mere minutes.
The ancestor of our smartphones and phablets of today, the telephone, is considered one of the greatest inventions mankind has created. Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876, and it was once dubbed the “electric telegraph.” When the telephone first emerged, the idea that one’s voice could travel through a wire became a reality. And much more than that — it was to forever change not only the country, but the entire world as well.
Eli Whitney’s invention, the cotton gin, was a very efficient machine, capable of coughing up 20 balls of cotton compared to every one produced by slave labor. The cotton gin saved a lot of things including money (as it was efficient and economical) and more importantly, slavery.
The replacement of sails and wooden ships by seaward giants belching smoke and made of the more solid and sturdy iron. These iron-armored ships had made the wooden saling ships a quaint thing of the past, while even the smallest ships were being made out of iron and powered by vast steam-engines. With improved metallurgy and remarkably enhanced weapons — larger and even deadlier guns — ironclad ships even made a stronger impact on warfare, a far cry from the massive wooden, masted, cannon-hurtling ships of the past centuries.
Where would this world be without electricity, and Thomas Edison’s invention, the light bulb? We’d still be living in virtual darkness. It is clear that the arrival of technology during the closing years of the 19th century had a massive impact on society. Electricity and the electric light bulb not only reduced the risk of fires brought by kerosene lamps, but it also paved the way for everything from television, radio, refrigerator, and so much else.
Photography is one of the most crucial developments introduced during this century. It would revolutionize culture and communication in the world forever. Before, people would pay a lot to a portrait artist and instruct them to make themselves look less ugly and more flawless than in real life. With the introduction of photography though, people could be captured “in real flesh” — less-than-flawless, unsmiling, dour. But one of the greatest things about photography is that it makes documenting people’s lives easier and more graphic — our actions, the places, and everything around us.
With the advent of the rifle, it really became the cutting-edge invention in its era, a far cry from the old cannons and muskets, whose ammunition is loaded into the muzzle. First, the rifle enhanced both accuracy and range. Second, the invention of the cartridge eliminated the use of powder and flints as well as made it possible to boost the speed and rate of the fire. And finally, the emergence of the breech loading, which enabled users to load a rifle from behind, rather than from the front.