History of Innovation

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1440: Invention of the Printing Press

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Innovation: Printing Press
Location: Roman Empire
Year: 1440
By: Johannes Gutenberg

The printing press was invented by the German Johannes Gutenberg in the Roman Empire around 1440. Gutenberg’s press was a hand cranked press that rolled ink over the raised surfaces of movable metal type and pressed against a sheet of paper. Prior to the printing press all texts had to be hand written or done by typographic hand-printing, which could produce about 40 to 50 pages per day. The earliest printing press could produce 3,600 pages per day, dramatically increasing the amount of printed text available to the world. By the year 1500, printing presses had produced over 20 million volumes of text. The printing press opened the door for the mass production of books, and lead to the widespread sharing of knowledge around the world. For the first time the average person had access to books and the knowledge they brought with them. The printing press has been considered one of the most important inventions in human history. The first major book printed by the press was the Gutenberg Bible and was completed in 1454.

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Written by Clint Woods

October 7, 1440 at 7:35 pm

Posted in Communication

1420: Duomo – S. Maria del Fiore – Florence, Italy

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Innovation: Largest brick dome in the world
Location: Florence, Italy
Year: 1420
By: Filippo Brunelleschi

The construction for the S. Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy began in 1296 and was finished in 1462. Originally the cathedral had a wooden dome, but in 1419 Filippo Brunelleschi won a design competition for a new dome to be built.  Construction on the dome began in 1420 and was completed in 1436. The dome is 176 feet in diameter and 295 feet in height. It weighs 37,000 metric tons and is made up of over 4 million bricks.  At the time of its completion it was the largest cathedral in Europe and had room for up to 30,000 people. Today it still holds the record for the largest brick dome in the world.

Brunelleschi had many innovative solutions that made this dome possible to build. His double-walled design of the dome came from the Pantheon in Rome. The double-walled dome rests on a drum which allowed for the dome to be constructed without using scaffolding from the ground. The use of horizontal support from tension chains of iron and stone helped construct the massive dome. This carved the path for ideas of structural reinforcement, such as reinforced concrete.

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Written by Clint Woods

October 8, 1420 at 10:22 am

1088: Lincoln Cathedral – Lincoln, England

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Innovation: Lincoln Cathedral
Location: Lincoln, England
Year: 1088
By: Bishop Remigius

The Lincoln Cathedral began its construction in the year 1088 and was completed in 1311. The cathedral was the tallest building in the world for 238 years at a height of 525 feet from 1311-1549 until its central spire blew down during a storm. The spire was never reconstructed and presently the cathedral stands at a height of 484 feet. In order to construct the cathedral many architectural advancements of the time had to be implemented into its design. Pointed arches, flying buttresses and ribbed vaulting were all used to support the large windows of the building. The shape of the cathedral is a cross with the entrance being at the west and the altar being at the east. Its design and appearance follows the Early English Gothic style cathedrals and is made primarily of stone. Currently around $1.6 million is spent on the upkeep of the cathedral.

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Written by Clint Woods

October 7, 1088 at 8:01 pm

587: 5-Story Pagoda – Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, Japan

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Innovation: 5-story Pagoda (Earthquake Design)
Location: Ikaruga, Nara Precfecture, Japan
Year: 587 AD
By: Emperor Yomei

In 587 AD, the Emperor Yomei of Japan ordered for the construction of a Buddhist temple in belief that it would cure his illness. Emperor Yomei died shortly after construction began, however the temple continued to be built under his heir Empress Suiko. The five-story pagoda located in the temple is considered to be one of the oldest wooden structures still in existence today. The pagoda is believed to have burnt down in 670 AD but was reconstructed and completed in 711 AD [1]. Japan is a hotspot for earthquake activity and the 122 foot tall pagoda has survived for around 1,300 years suffering very little damage from earthquakes. The pagoda and many others like it have been able to survive for so long due to the structure’s resistance to earthquakes.

The pagoda contains a wooden central column that is independent of the main structure of the building. Its purpose is to provide support to the structure from the swaying motion buildings undergo during earthquakes. No columns secure the stories of the building together, making them independent of one another. This allows for each story of the building to “act like a balancing toy, cancelling the inertia force of each story out among them” [2]. The pagoda’s structural design has been used to help solve many design issues concerning buildings located in earthquake regions.  `

Sources: [1] , [2]

Written by Clint Woods

October 7, 0587 at 6:00 pm