engineering

Ray Dolby and the Noise Reduction System

Ray Dolby and the Noise Reduction System

On January 18, 1933, American engineer and inventor Ray Milton Dolby was born. Dolby is best known for the invention of his eponymous analogue noise reduction technology and played a key role in the development of the first commercial video tape recorders. Early Years Ray Dolby was born in Portland, Oregon, and was raised in San Francisco and attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California. Ray Dolby learned piano and clarinet in…
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William Hedley – Puffing Billy and the Rise of Railway Transportation

William Hedley – Puffing Billy and the Rise of Railway Transportation

On January 9, 1843, British coal-mine official and inventor William Hedley passed away. Hedley was probably the first to build a commercially useful steam locomotive dependent on friction between wheels and rails as opposed to using a geared track. In 1813, he constructed the famous Puffing Billy, the world’s oldest surviving steam locomotive. Early Railways There have been ruts to guide carts on roads since prehistoric times. The development that led to the railway, however,…
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Wilhelm Bauer and the Brandtaucher

Wilhelm Bauer and the Brandtaucher

In December 23, 1823, Bavarian inventor and engineer Wilhelm Bauer was born. Bauer was a submarine pioneer and constructed several hand-powered submarines, among them the famous blockade-breaking incendiary ship, the Brandtaucher. Wilhelm Bauer was born in Dillingen in the Kingdom of Bavaria. His father was a sergeant of a Bavarian cavalry regiment. Because of this, Wilhelm Bauer, after an apprenticeship as a wood turner, joined the military as well. Working as an…
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James Rumsey’s Steam Boat

James Rumsey’s Steam Boat

On December 21, 1792, American mechanical engineer James Rumsey passed away. He is chiefly known for exhibiting a boat propelled by machinery in 1787 on the Potomac River at Shepherdstown in present-day West Virginia before a crowd of local notables. James Rumsey was born in Calvert County Maryland in 1743. His family moved to Berkeley Virginia (now West Virginia) when he was a teenager. Rumsey became a millwright, a builder of water mills. It is…
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Cornelis Drebbel and the first navigatable Submarine

Cornelis Drebbel and the first navigatable Submarine

On November 7, 1633, Dutch innovator and inventor Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel passed away. Drebbel contributed to the development of measurement and control systems, optics and chemistry, but he is best known for having built the first navigatable submarine in 1620. Cornelis Drebbel was born in Alkmaar, Holland in 1572. After some years at the Latin school in Alkmaar, around 1587, he attended the Academy in Haarlem, also located in North-Holland.There, Drebbel became…
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The Dornier Do X – the World’s Largest Seaplane

The Dornier Do X – the World’s Largest Seaplane

On November 5, 1930, the Dornier Do X, the largest, heaviest, and most powerful flying boat in the world took off for a demonstration test flight to the Netherlands, England, France, Spain, and Portugal. After a delay due to technical problems, the Do X continued her journey to Cape Verde and Brazil to finally reach New York on August 27, 1931. The Flugschiff (flying ship) Dornier Do X was launched for its…
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Elmer Sperry and the Gyrocompass

Elmer Sperry and the Gyrocompass

On October 12, 1860, American inventor and entrepreneur Elmer Ambrose Sperry was born. Sperry is best known for his significant role in the development of the gyrocompass, a type of non-magnetic compass which is based on a fast-spinning disc and rotation of the Earth to automatically find geographical direction. Elmer Sperry attended Cornell University starting from 1878 and became interested in dynamos during his time there. Sperry then moved to Chicago, Illinois and founded the…
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Karl Ludwig Nessler and the Permanent Waves

Karl Ludwig Nessler and the Permanent Waves

On October 8, 1906, German inventor Karl Ludwig Nessler presents his newly invented apparatus to produce permanent waves in his hairdresser salon in Oxford Street, London. The first known practical thermal method was invented by Marcel Grateau around 1872. Grateau applied a pair of specially manufactured tongs which were heated over a gas or alcohol flame. However, due to the high temperatures, the hair tended to degrade. When women became more independent…
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Christiaan Huygens and the Pocket Watch

Christiaan Huygens and the Pocket Watch

On October 4, 1675, prominent Dutch mathematician and scientist Christiaan Huygens patented a pocket watch. Huygens was a leading scientist of his time, who established the wave theory of light and made outstanding astronomical discoveries. He also patented the first pendulum clock in 1656, which he has developed to meet his need for exact time measurement while observing the heavens. Youth and Education Christiaan Huygens was born on 14 April 1629 in…
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Reaching the edge of outer space – the X-15 Rocket Plane

Reaching the edge of outer space – the X-15 Rocket Plane

On October 3, 1967, the X-15 rocket plane achieved a world record speed of Mach 6.7, which is 7,274 km/h (4,520 mph or over a mile per second) with U.S. Air Force pilot Pete Knight. As by today, this record still holds for the highest speed ever reached by a manned, powered aircraft. Among the notable pilots of the X-15 was also Neil Armstrong, later a NASA astronaut and first man to set…
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