History -Inventions/Discoveries

We live in an amazing world, but how did all these inventions that we take for granted actually appear, we have written a few stories about them.


A novel way to  invent

This is one of those amazing stories, so amazing you have to read it

On September 10th 1846 Elias Howe Jr was granted a patent for the sewing machine.

However, I am fascinated by the story as he of how he came up with the invention.

He claimed it came to him in a dream!

Basically, he dreamed he was building a sewing machine for ……….

A man looks for a cure for Malaria but ….

I wonder how often does this happens, you start looking for something, then find something totally different?

It happened to William Perking who by mistake found the first synthetic organic dye, he discovered, a colour we now call Mauve.  In 1856 he started looking for a cure for malaria.

He was an 18-year-old student at the Royal College of London, he was trying to come up with an artificial quinine as an anti-malaria drug.  He failed.    However, ……

The history of Glasses

The Venetians glass blowers produced in the 13th century, what they called reading stones.  They were made of solid glass that was held up in a single frame. These frames were made of horns, bones and of course wood, they were very similar to today’s handheld magnifying glasses.  Then it is believed that the first glasses, they called eye glasses, were actually produced by the monks in Pizza in Italy somewhere around 1285-1289.  They were rather clever, in that …….

The Galileo affair

Galileo Galilei was an unknown, north Italian professor of mathematics, a lover of good wines with a razor-sharp wit, until he got a telescope. It changed his and our lives for ever.  He learnt the world went round the sun!  The Catholic Church was not happy.  It led to “The Galileo Affair” with his trial by the Roman Catholic Inquisition. All because his telescope showed him the Earth revolving around the Sun. He saw that …………

Can you work out how big the world is?

Your children can work out how big the world is?

You see 2,000 years ago Eratosthenes worked it out.  It would be a superb exercise for your class to see if he was correct, which, of course, he was!

Well, nearly. He lived in Egypt around 240BC.  To him it was obvious that the sun was a long way away, therefore, he assumed that when its rays would be parallel.  He noticed that at midday …….. 

April 1, 1960: First Weather Satellite Launched the 1st TV pictures from space

It was only just over 60 years ago, when something that we today take for granted first happened.

On that day the first ever television picture, was sent from space.

It started a revolution in television journalism.  A revolution that three years later allowed me to watch an historic event on November 25, 1963.  That was the day we sat in front of our television and watched  …… 

The first self-propelling steam locomotive

Richard Trevithick built the first self-propelling steam locomotive at the Penydarren Ironworks, in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, which made the first locomotive-hauled railway journey.

Have you ever heard of him?  You will know of Robert Stephenson and his rocket, but that wasn’t until 1829, Richard Trevithick was 25years earlier!

Who was this forgotten man?  He was from Cornwall, a mining engineer, who had been immersed in mining and engineering all his life.  The bit ……

Who invented the telephone?

We know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, but actually there was a dispute as Elisha Gray also claimed to have invented the telephone, and he wasn’t the only one!

The question we should ask is did the two of them invent the telephone independently or did they helped each other and then fall out?

It ended up going to the lawyers and once you get lawyers involved it ……………..

The History of Recorded Music

Every school that puts on an History Portal  Musical used to use a CD with both with backing track and show tracks.  Today we all just accept it, even though we have now moved on to download our songs.

Until November 1877, when Thomas Edison invented the Phonograph, you could only listen to music live. Soon after others took up the challenge and quickly Alexander Graham Bell’s Volta Laboratory launched their graphophone, a machine that used …… 

The birth of the printing press

Imagine a world without the printing press and no internet, how would we learn about things?

An inventor was needed.

That person was Johannes Gutenberg who in 1452 invented the printing press.

Was he the most famous inventor ever?

Who was he and how did he invent the printing press?

Well, he was a political refugee from Mainz, Germany living in Strasbourg, France in 1440 when he began trying to create a printing machine. Basically, his incentive ………

Who invented the Compass?

We know that the Chinese were known to use a magnetic compass during the Han Dynasty between the 2nd century BC and 1st century AD. It wasn’t for navigation, no, they used them for fortune-telling!

Then for divination, a way of finding the unknown by supernatural means.

This first compass was used as a form of feng shui to point people in the right direction. It used lodestone, a natural permanent magnet, formed ……

It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread!

Otto Frederick Rohwedder, invented sliced bread and we are always telling people their idea is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Does that mean that Otto Frederick Rohwedder the greatest inventor?

He was born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1880, from a German family, he lived there for most of his life.

He was a jeweller with three shops.  But in his heart, he was an inventor, and he wanted to produce a bread slicing …….

The Mechanical Turk

Have you heard of the Mechanical Turk? It was a creation of Wolfgang von Kempelen.  In 1769 the French illusionist François Pelletier perform in Vienna at the court of Maria Theresa of Austria. The court was impressed with his illusions, except for one man, Wolfgang von Kempelen.

He vowed to create an even greater illusion, which he did! One year later he …….

The man who filled a small
wooden box with paper and light it!

That is exactly what Joseph Montgolfier did, and it led to him, along with his brother, Étienne Montgolfier, coming up with the first air balloon, which led to the first untethered manned hot-air balloon flight on November 21, 1783, in a balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers.

  It all started one evening in 1782 when he was sitting in front of his fire speculating as to what caused the embers to rise from the fire. He couldn’t decide ……

Did you know that
Fax machines came
before Telephones!

Did you anyone tell you that we had Fax Machines before there were telephones?

This fascinating story that starts with Alexander Bain, who invented the Electric Clock, unfortunately he had no money.  Desperate for money the editor of the Mechanics Magazine arranged for him to meet Charles Wheatstone and show him his inventions.  Alexander then learnt what a dog eat dog world it is. Yes, Wheatstone pop poo-ed his ideas, then 3 months later ……

Who invented the Wheel?

The wheel seems logical, but somebody had to invented it.

The first recorded use of a wheel and an axle was as a potter’s wheel, in Mesopotamia around 4000BC.  However, it was not until around 3100 in Ur  that there are records of wheeled vehicles.  It took nearly 300 years for the wheel to go from the potter to chariots!  These early wheels were simple wooden disks with ……

Who was the first man to
fly over the North Pole?

You would have thought that there wouldn’t have been any dispute over who the first man was to fly over the North Pole, but there was!

Frederick Cook In 1908

Robert Peary in 1909

Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett in 1926

All claimed to be the first!  They all claimed to have done it and are all disputed.   Why was there a problem?

Well, ……..

The Tin Can’s journey from France to Bermondsey, England

Would you believe it, the tin can’s journey started in France!

Napoleon was losing more troops from hunger and scurvy than in combat, therefore he offered a prize of 12,000 francs (£250,000 today) to anyone who could invent a method of preserving food for his armies.

Coincidently, a Frenchman, Nicholas Appert, had for 15 years been experimenting by partially cooking food, then sealing it in bottles with cork stoppers and plunging those bottles into ……..

The story of the Humble Stamp

The man who came up with the adhesive stamp was given a knighthood, just because he thought of the stamp!

It  goes back to “letter carriers”, they took letters around London, there were all sorts of delays and snags.

Therefore, in 1660, Charles II decided to solve the problem, he introduced the General Post Office and he put a guy called Henry Bishop in charge.  Henry soon realised that to make the system work they ……

Where did Coca Cola
come from?

It was invented by a morphine addict, John Stith Pemberton, he was experimenting with various painkillers to help him live with the sabre wound he had sustained.  He was an American biochemist and Confederate States Army veteran who had fought in the American Civil War.  To live with the pain, he became a morphine addict.  This led him to experiment with various painkillers and toxins, this eventually led to the recipe of Coca-Cola.   Pemberton went ……..

Why did the first horse
drawn tram fail?

The first horse drawn tram ran along Victoria Street in London on rails. It was popular with its passengers, but not with officialdom, so inevitably it ran into trouble.

It was the brainchild of an amazing American entrepreneur, George Francis Train. George organised the first clipper to sail around the Horne, was involved in setting up the Union Pacific Railway, as well as the Trans Continental Railway. He came to England during ….

The story of Hunley, the first Submarine

On February 17th, 1864 during the American Civil War “The Hunley”, a Confederate submarine, sank the “USS Housatonic”.

A date that started a new kind of warfare, one which over the next century caused havoc in two World Wars.

It was developed by the Confederate side in the American Civil War.  It was an incredibly risky venture, as, would you believe it “The Hunley” sank twice in trials, killing all the crew, then ……..

The Air War in WW1

World War 1 happened just nine years after the Wright brothers flew the first powered aeroplane, however, the benefit of air power was quickly recognised by both armies. Initially as spotters, which, inevitably led to the other side sending up aeroplanes to stop them.  The air war had begun!

Inevitably, air power became a tool of war, which as war always does, it sped up development, which eventually led to ……..

Where did coffee come from?

Yes, the little coffee bean originated from Ethiopia.  The coffee bean has been travelling around the globe for centuries, it has even been smuggled out of strict countries, stolen from royalty and, yes, it has even changed entire nations and economies.

The first question has to be, how did they discover this little bean?  A little bean that has achieved so much, a bean …….. 

The History of Recorded Music

Every school that puts on a History Portal Musical used to use a CD with both with backing track and show tracks.  Today we all accept this as part of our lives, even though we have now moved further on to downloading our songs.

However, until November 1877, when Thomas Edison invented the Phonograph, you couldn’t even hear recorded music, you had ……