Innovation: Invention of the photograph
By: Joseph Nicephore Niepce
Before the first official photograph was taken, France was already engulfed in an emerging art of lithography. Lithography involved drawing a picture with an oily substance onto a lithographic stone and then applying a film of water to the stone. The stone was then covered with a greasy ink that would be repelled by the water, but attracted to the oily sketch. When a sheet of paper was pressed on the stone, the ink would be transferred to the paper replicating the sketch. Joseph Nicephore Niepce was fascinated with the art but not very skilled at drawing and so began to experiment with his own ways of creating art. His experiments eventually led him to leaving a camera obscura containing a metal plate covered in bitumen on his summer home window in France, which allowed for a full day’s sunlight to react with the bitumen and capture the countryside view as the first photograph of human history. Photography has been such a crucial innovation in history because it allows people to share ideas, inventions, and architecture without actually having to physically travel to the site. Photographs have become mankind’s largest medium of information, influence, and inspiration.
Innovation: First Electric Motor
By: Michael Faraday
An electric motor is simply a device that makes mechanical energy from electrical energy. The first person to create an electric motor was Michael Faraday in 1821. Faraday’s motor was designed so that two cups filled with mercury would contain a magnet and a wire with one being fixed and the other free to move. Whenever a current was passed through the wire, the free moving magnet or wire would revolve around its fixed partner due to the electromagnet forces being produced. Faraday’s motor proved that motion could be created by electricity and stimulated a world of research into electromagnetism. This motor led to the design of the advanced motors seen in the electric tools used in the construction field today.
Innovation: First Commercial Locomotive
Location: West Yorkshire, England
By: Matthew Murray
A locomotive is a mobile machine that provides the force needed to push or pull a train. Steam locomotives were first developed in 1804, but were not commercially successful until Matthew Murray created the Salamanca in 1812. The Salamanca was designed for use on the Middleton Railway and was the first locomotive to use the rack and pinion method. The rack and pinion method simply means that the locomotive would power a large gear that connected to a rack running the along the railway. The Salamanca was only in operation for six years, but is considered a historical engineering innovation because it paved the way for the development of other steam engines and locomotives.
Innovation: Invention of internal combustion engine
By: Niepce Brothers
In 1807 the first internal combustion engine was designed and constructed by the Niepce brothers, Claude Felix Abel Niepce and Joseph Nicephore Niepce. The Niepce brothers had been experimenting with ideas on their engine when they finally succeeded in powering a boat upstream a river and received a patent from Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The engine ran on a combustion process of lycopodium powder and later coal. This engine inspired others to continue to improve the design and has led to the complex engine systems used in modern vehicles to transport the construction materials necessary for today’s architecture.