Advances in Technology

18th-20th Century

Special Edition! November 4, 1834

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New Concepts:


Eli Whitney was the inventor of the cotton gin. The cotton gin is a machine that separates cotton fibers from its seeds. Eli Whitney thought of the idea while visiting a farm in the South. The product was mainly designed to help the south. The product was invented in 1793 and patented in 1794. Eli Whitney was already quite an inventive kid. A little known fact about him, he made a violin at the age of 15. A farmer was describing the slow process of picking cotton when he had an epiphany. The way the cotton gin works is by using a large drum with tiny wires to pick the cotton fibers apart. This affected the economic side of things by making production quicker and profit’s higher.


Interchangeable parts were concepts developed by multiple people; however, the key player in this idea was Eli Whitney. Interchangeable parts are parts that can be mass produced and used in a multitude of different products of the same type. The first major concept of interchangeable parts was thought of by Eli Whitney in 1801. The demonstration of this concept was before the United States Congress. The demonstration involved ten guns. They were disassembled and put into a pile. Then, Eli Whitney reassembled them. This helped make the cost of the replacements parts lower. Also, it made it easier for people to find the parts themselves. The way this became a major concept was when Congress ordered a standard way to make all guns. This promoted the concept into reality. This improved the social portion of life because people no longer had to go out of the way to get extra parts.


The factory system is the process in which machines and humans divide up tasks to end up at the final good. One of the first factories was a silk mill in England in 1721. This was made by John Lombe. Richard Arkwright was the one who accelerated the growth of factories. The factory system made life worse socially. The factories had rough working conditions and this led to laws being set in place to protect people. The reason for factories can be attributed to the lower cost of goods and production in more massive quantities. These factories were made possible by rivers.


Clermont was the first steamboat. It was built by Charles Browne. However, it was owned by the rich investor, Robert Livingston. The boat was built in New York in 1807. This boat was built because Livingston was able to get a monopoly on the Hudson River. Also, he wanted to find a new way to power ships and boats. He used the engine design from Robert Fulton and Charles Browne helped build it. This affected life economically. Steam boats allowed for better transportation. Also, this affected Robert Livingston politically because he now had a monopoly over the Hudson River.


Bessemer process is in which steel is mass produced from molten pig iron. This removed impurities from the iron. This process was discovered by Henry Bessemer in 1856. This process was discovered in England. This process uses oxidation to remove the impurities from the steel. Then, the molten steel would be transferred to ladles and molds. This process was needed because there was no way to currently mass produce steel. All the processes were only meant for small scale projects. This affected life economically because it made large scale steel processing possible.


Tom Thumb was the first steam engine locomotive. It was demonstrated in a race. It was competing against a horse. Even though it lost, people saw the importance of it. It was first built in 1830. Peter Cooper built the Tom Thumb. The race was in Ohio. Peter thought of this idea because he wanted the trains to be machine powered not animal powered. The steam engine had already been invented; however, he was the first to put it in a locomotive. This impacted life socially because it made travel more efficient.


This political cartoon explains how big business owners exploit children. The children are helping the big boss move forward, while they don’t get anything. The children’s work makes the boss richer and richer. He is exploiting the children out of their work. To exploit means to treat someone poorly to benefit from their work. That’s exactly what’s happening. The children are getting exploited and for the benefit of the rich boss.

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