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Wander Lord

Interesting on art, nature, people, history

Category Archive: Inventions

History of clothes washer

History of clothes washer

History of clothes washer

In the good old days, clothes were washed in a stream, by pounding the garments with rocks, stones and heavy sticks without any soap.
Fire added heat to the laundry mix, when clothes were washed in tubs with water heated over open fires and soap made at home from a combination of lye and ashes. Clothes were scrubbed on a corrugated board, wrung by hand, rinsed, then wrung again, and draped on lines or bushes to dry.
In 1797, a washboard was created. And already in 1851, American James King patented a washing machine with a rotating drum, which was very similar to the modern.
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Frisbee – flying sauce

Frisbee – flying sauce

Frisbee – flying sauce


The tradition of throwing disks for play or sport extends from ancient Greece to the modem Olympics. We also know that Roman soldiers used their shields as a Frisbee. Roman shields had razor-sharp edges. They threw them to the enemy in the same way as now we throw Frisbee.
However, in the 1940s, students at Yale University unintentionally put a twist on this tradition: they distracted themselves between classes by tossing around the shallow tin platters in which the popular pies of the nearby William R. Frisbie bakery were sold. The fad soon spread to other New England schools.
Meanwhile, in the 1950s, Walter F. Morrison of southern California created a toy disk that would fly and hover like the alien spacecraft made popular by Hollywood at that time. Soon after switching from metal to plastic material, Morrison reached an agreement with the Wham-O Company to produce and distribute these “Flyin’ Saucers” (1957), which were an instant success locally.
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History of helicopter

History of helicopter

History of helicopter


Although developed after the airplane, the helicopter grew out of an idea that is several hundred years old. In the late Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci drew up a plan for such a flying machine. He made the first sketch of the helicopter with a brief description in 1489.
Three hundred years after Leonardo Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov built the first model of the helicopter. It consisted of a fuselage and two screws rotate in opposite directions.
In the early 20th century experiments with vertical flight failed for lack of a powerful enough engine.
A French engineer named Paul Cornu designed and built a workable helicopter in 1907. It was powered by a 24-horsepower engine and actually flew for a few minutes. As a prototype it was interesting, but the design proved impractical, in subsequent years numerous other designers built helicopter-like machines. Some never got beyond the planning stage, while others flew for short periods.
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Microwave oven

History of microwave oven

History of microwave oven


Shortly after the end of World War II, Percy Spencer, already known as an electronics genius and war hero, was touring one of his laboratories at the Raytheon Company. He stopped momentarily in front of a magnetron, the power tube that drives a radar set. Feeling a sudden and strange sensation, Spencer noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket had begun to melt.
Spencer, who obtained 120 patents in his lifetime, knew how to apply his curiosity. So he did what any good inventor would – he went for some popcorn. Spencer didn’t feel like a snack, he asked for unpopped popcorn. Holding the bag of corn next to the magnetron, Spencer watched as the kernels exploded into puffy white morsels.
From this simple experiment, Spencer and Raytheon developed the microwave oven. The first microwave oven weighed a hefty 750 pounds and stood five feet, six inches. At first, it was used exclusively in restaurants, railroad cars and ocean liners – places where large quantities of food had to be cooked quickly. But culinary experts quickly noticed the oven’s shortcomings. Meat refused to brown.
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Vacuum cleaner

Vacuum cleaner

Vacuum cleaner

The idea of vacuum cleaner originates from the 19th century.
The first vacuum cleaners had to be operated manually. Two persons were needed for this: one to operate the bellows and the other to move the mouthpiece over the floor. The dust was blown into the air. Only in 1901 Hubert Booth changed the idea into something more useful. Until then the vacuum cleaners blew the dust away, but Booth came up with the idea of sucking away dust, instead of blowing. Furthermore, Booth equipped his cleaner with a filter, which kept the dust in the machine. All modem vacuum cleaners are based on Booth’s principle. In spite of the improvements made by Booth, the older vacuum cleaners were not very practical: they were hand-operated and very big and heavy. Some cleaners were left outside the house, and only the hose was led into the rooms through a window or door. Best known for the vacuum cleaner that bears his name, Jim Kirby’s life goal was to reduce or eliminate drudgery wherever it existed. After watching his mother’s cleaning effort result in the dust settling back onto everything in the house, he developed his concept of a vacuum cleaner.
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Television is developed

Television is developed

Television is developed

John Logie Baird (1888-1946) applied for a patent for a mechanical television in 1923.
He ran successful experiments in transmitting images in 1926, and in 1930 he worked with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to begin mechanical television broadcasting. He also tried, rather unsuccessfully, to mass-market his television transmitter.
In 1923 Vladimir Zworykin (1889-1982) also applied for a patent. His was for a television camera that converted optical images into electrical pulses. On November 18, 1929, at a convention of radio engineers, Zworykin demonstrated a television receiver containing his ‘kinescope,’ a cathoderay tube. That same year Zworykin joined the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in Camden, New Jersey. As the director of their Electronic Research Laboratory, he was able to critical improvements to his system. Zworykin’s ‘storage principle’ is the basis of modem TV.
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Wright brothers fly first motorized plane

Wright brothers fly first motorized plane

Wright brothers fly first motorized plane


Orville and Wilbur Wright were inspired by Otto Lilienthal, a German glider pioneer. Though he crashed to his death in 1896, the Wrights were obsessed by the technical problems involved in flight. They approached the issue methodically, working out ways to control a glider’s tendency to pitch up and down, roll side to side, or yaw left and right. By the third glider they built, they had solved most of these problems of steering and stability.
To make a self-powered airplane, they needed to develop a very light gasoline engine and an appropriate propeller. By December 1903, their first airplane (Flyer /, later renamed Kitty Hawk) was ready to test. It had a 12.3 meter wingspan, was 6.4 meters long, and weighed about 274 kilos without the pilot. It was powered by the Wrights’ home-made 12 horsepower gasoline engine. The Wrights returned to the site at Kill Devil Hill near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where they had tested their gliders. Their selection of this spot was based on national weather records which showed it to have consistently favorable conditions.
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