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Wed, 09/12/2012 - 03:14

My father had a concept he called “gadget value”—the intrinsic interest of machinery unrelated to its use. I have found plenty of it over the years in steam locomotives, steamboats, theater organs, and interurban cars, but never so much as in the cable car. In graduate school at the University of Chicago, I became interested in the city’s cable-car system, which had been the biggest in the country.

Wed, 09/12/2012 - 03:14

During the summer of 1900 three fine new steam engines arrived in Brooklyn from the Ames Iron Works of Oswego, New York, and went into service spinning the generators that supply power to Pratt Institute. They’re still there.

Wed, 09/12/2012 - 03:14

On a shelf in a largely ignored basement display case at Rockefeller University sit a variety of medical devices that have been produced by that institution’s laboratories over the past half century. One of them is especially awkward looking —a glass cylinder that rises two feet before sprouting a seemingly haphazard array of tubes. Its glass innards of more tubes and smaller chambers suggest the workings of some unidentifiable life-form.

Wed, 09/12/2012 - 03:14
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The First Issue

We received more than two hundred letters commenting on our first issue, which appeared last summer. Here are a few:

 

The First Issue

What a superb first issue! The articles about Salk and Edison are gems. The interview with Elting E. Morison (I have had those two books of his on technology for some years) is most welcome. And the writing is remarkably lucid.

Burnett Cross
Hartsdale, N.Y

Wed, 09/12/2012 - 03:14
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We received more than two hundred letters commenting on our first issue, which appeared last summer. Here are a few:

 

Wed, 09/12/2012 - 03:14

IN 1929 BERN DIBNER , an electrical engineer living in the Bronx, New York, read a recently published book by Stuart Chase called Men and Machines .

Wed, 09/12/2012 - 03:14

On January 9, 1793, not quite ten years after the birth of aeronautics, the first manned flight above American soil took place. A French balloonist, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, lifted off from the jail yard of the Walnut Street Prison in Philadelphia and floated into New Jersey.

Wed, 09/12/2012 - 03:14

Back in the 1930s my father invented and named the Chicago boot, a device to prevent movement of an automobile if the adjacent parking meter had not been paid in full. That anyone in those troubled times would worry about people chiseling nickels out of the Chicago traffic administration seems, in retrospect, slightly balmy. Yet my dad was so fascinated with his idea that he announced he was going to patent it.

Wed, 09/12/2012 - 03:14

The era of the American independent, professional inventor extended from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the First World War—almost half a century. During this short period the United States became the world’s industrial leader, supplanting the United Kingdom, which had belittled the industry and technology of its former colony. Between 1880 and 1915 the United States moved ahead in the production of coal, pig iron and steel, heavy chemicals, electrical machinery, and electrical light and power.

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