The new technology and inventions, and the mechanization of industry, transformed the United States from an agricultural to an industrial society.
US Industrial Revolution: 1793: Invention of the Cotton Gin
The US Industrial Revolution inventions started with the Eli Whitney Cotton Gin. This important invention led to the mass production of cotton and mechanized agriculture. The Cotton Gin was the name given to the machine, invented by Eli Whitney in 1793 that separated the fibers of cotton from the seeds.
US Industrial Revolution: 1798: Cotton Spinning Machinery
The next important inventions to the US Industrial Revolution were the new methods of cotton spinning and the new cotton spinning machinery introduced into America by Samuel Slater - the "Father of American Industry". .
US Industrial Revolution: Transportation Inventions - The Steamboats of the 1800's
The US Industrial Revolution inventions forged ahead with the invention of steam power. The idea of using steam power to drive boats occurred to American inventors after James Watt patented his latest version of the steam engine in 1769. John Fitch (1743-1798) was granted a United States patent for a steamboat on August 26, 1791 and his first Steamboats demonstrated the viability of using steam for water locomotion. The Steamboats of the 1800's revolutionized river travel and trade across the Southern rivers of the United States.
Transportation Systems - 1811 - The 'Macadam' Roads
The US Industrial Revolution and Industrialization was made possible by the transportation systems that enabled people to travel across the vast continent of North America. Men were employed by large companies to build the roads. The 600 mile Cumberland Road was the first federal highway in the United States of America and was built between 1811-1837 and gateway to the West for thousands of settlers. The construction method and inventions used to build the Cumberland Road was pioneered by a Scottish engineer called John Loudon MacAdam, hence the name of “macadam” roads.
1819 - Iron Bladed Plow
In 1819 Jethro Wood patented an iron-bladed plow that could plow a stony field without breaking, but it was less effective against the clay soils and prairie sod of the Midwest.
1831: The McCormick Reaper
The US Industrial Revolution Inventions moved on with the mechanical horse-drawn reaping machine invented by Cyrus McCormick in 1831. This famous McCormick Reaper invention saved farmers from hours of back-breaking labor, increased productivity and revolutionized farming methods in the United States Industrial Revolution period.
1819 - Steel Bladed Plow
In 1837, John Deere invented a self-scouring plow with sharp-edged steel blades that cut cleanly through the prairie sod of the Midwest without the need for frequent cleaning.
1817: The Erie Canal
The US Industrial Revolution inventions continued with the construction of the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal was a magnificent feat of U.S. engineering and more than twice the length of any canal in Europe. The Erie Canal was a source of great national pride to the United States of America and provided farmers and industrialists a relatively cheap and quick means of transporting their products to market.
1820: The Horse Car
The Horse car was an early form of streetcar that was drawn by horses that ran on iron tracks laid in city streets and used for public transport. The Horse car inventions (and the first rail roads they ran on) were developed in the 1820's about the same time as the steam locomotive was invented. John G. Stephenson designed the first horse car which he named the "John Mason".
1830: The Railroads
The US Industrial Revolution inventions speeded along with the Railroads in the 1800s. The American railroad era exploded in 1830 when the steam locomotive built by Peter Cooper, called the Tom Thumb, first steamed along Baltimore and Ohio railroad track. The first locomotive to pull a train of cars over an American railroad was the 1831 Best Friend of Charleston and John Bull was one of the first American locomotives to be fitted with the distinctive 'cow catcher'.
1837: Invention of the Telegraph
The US Industrial Revolution inventions turned to communications in 1837 when the Morse Code and the first telegraph line was invented and telegraph lines were erected alongside the railroads.
1842: Grain Elevators
The 1842 invention of steam-powered Grain Elevators, the "Prairie Skyscrapers" by Joseph Dart and Robert Dunbar made a tremendous contribution to the economy of the United States by enabling the fast transit of wheat and other grains to market during the American Industrial Revolution.
1844: Vulcanized Rubber
The 1844 Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber, revolutionizing the use and applications of rubber.
1846: Invention of the Elias Howe Sewing Machine
The US Industrial Revolution inventions turned to textiles once again with the invention of the Elias Howe Sewing Machine in 1846. Elias Howe invented and patented the first ever lockstitch sewing machine in the world. The invention of the Elias Howe Sewing Machine revolutionized the clothing and shoe industry.
1850: Invention of the Dishwasher
In 1850Joel Houghton was granted the first patent for a hand-powered wooden dishwasher.
US Industrial Revolution: 1863: The First Transcontinental Railroad
The US Industrial Revolution inventions caught the attention of the media when America built the world's First Transcontinental Railroad between 1863 and 1869 to join the east of the United States on the Atlantic coast with the west of the United States to the Pacific coast.
Invention of the Ironclads
Many of the inventions of the US Industrial Revolution were made during the period of the Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 10, 1865). The Ironclads were steam-propelled warships that had the parts, above water, covered and protected by large plates of iron or steel that were thick and strong to resist heavy canon fire. The development of the Ironclad warships also led to the innovation of the submarines and torpedoes - refer to the Civil War Technology and Inventions.
1861 – 1865: Invention of the Submarine and Torpedo Boats
The military strategy and tactics employed during the American Civil War were revolutionized during the Industrial Revolution by the many developments and inventions made possible by new advances in technology. These included the development of submarines and torpedoes. Submarines could be submerged and navigated under water. Torpedo-boats were capable of partially submerging. Under-water warfare required special explosive devices and the stationary mines and the propelled torpedoes were invented.
1861 – 1865: Weapon Inventions
Various new weapons were invented as part of the US Industrial Revolution during the Civil War. The new weaponry inventions included the Minie Ball, repeating rifles, hand grenades, machine guns (Gatling Guns), Rockets and Rocket launchers.
1861 – 1865: Invention of Limelights
The US Industrial Revolution inventions during the Civil War also saw the invention of Limelights. These Calcium floodlights, or 'limelights' were chemical lamps that were first used in 1863 to illuminate artillery targets whilst temporarily blinding the enemy.
Second US Industrial Revolution: Technical Revolution
The Second Industrial Revolution, also known as the Technological Revolution, refers to the period in United States history that covered important inventions in the latter half of the 19th century until 1914 and World War I.
US Industrial Revolution: 1855: Steel Mills and the Bessemer Process
During the US Industrial Revolution an important technological advancement was made in 1855 when Henry Bessemer invented a process to create steel from iron which produced steel cheaply and efficiently. The Bessemer Process was an extremely important invention because it helped made stronger rails for railroads and helped to make stronger metal machines and structures like skyscrapers. The impact of the Bessemer process led to the inventions and innovations of the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 1800's.
1855: The Singer Sewing Machine
In 1855 inventor Isaac Singer patents the sewing machine motor and his practical design could be adapted for home use.
1858: The Washing Machine
In 1858 inventor Hamilton Smith patented the first rotary washing machine.
1861: The Elevator
In 1853, American inventor Elisha Otis established a company for manufacturing elevators and patented a steam elevator in 1861. His brakes made skyscrapers a practical reality.
1867: The Typewriter
In 1867 Christopher Scholes invented the first practical and modern typewriter during the Second Industrial Revolution.
1873: Barbed Wire
In 1873 Joseph Glidden invented barbed wire. Barbed wire fencing changed farming and ranching and contributed to the end of the Cowboys of the Old West and the period in U.S. history known as the Wild West.
1876: The Telephone
In March 1876 Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone revolutionizing communication systems.
1877: The Phonograph
In 1877 Thomas Alva Edison invented the cylinder phonograph, or tin foil phonograph.
1879: The Electric Light
In 1879 Thomas Edison (1847-1931) filed for a US patent for an electric lamp using "a carbon filament or strip coiled and connected ... to platina contact wires."
1881: The Camera
In 1881 David Houston patented the roll film for cameras and in 1884 George Eastman patented paper-strip photographic film. He established the Eastman Kodak Company in 1892.
1883: Arc Lights
During the Industrial Revolution oil lamps and gas lamps in large areas were replaced by the Carbon Arc Lamp. Carbon Arc Lamps were used on the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the wonders of the Industrial Revolution that was opened in 1883 and heralded as one of the greatest engineering feats of all time. Lighting methods using electricity and incandescent lamps were an important feature of the Second Industrial Revolution.
1884: The Skyscrapers
The Home Insurance Building was the First Skyscraper built in 1884 and was designed by architect William Le Baron Jenney who utilized a steel frame for its construction. In 1889 - George Fuller (1851-1900) built the second skyscraper, the Tacoma Building in New York, during 1889 using Bessemer steel beams.
1886: The Daimler Automobile
During the Industrial Revolution the automobile was invented. In 1886 Gottlieb Daimler builds the world’s first four-wheeled motor vehicle.
1891: The Escalator
In 1891 Jesse W. Reno invented the escalator that made skyscrapers to be built even higher..
1892: The Diesel Engine
In 1892 Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel-fueled internal combustion engine. In 1898 Rudolf Diesel received a patent for an “internal combustion engine” he called the Diesel engine.
1893: The Ferris Wheel
The Ferris Wheel Invention was an engineering marvel designed by American engineer, George Ferris for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
1898: The Roller Coaster
In 1898 Edwin Prescott patented the roller coaster in America. The “Loop-the-Loop” roller coaster carried only four riders and proved a great success in Coney Island, New York.
1895: Motion Pictures
During the Industrial Revolution the Lumiere Brothers invent a portable motion-picture camera, film processing unit and projector called the Cinematographe in 1895. The Lumiere Brothers used their Cinematographe to present the first projected motion picture to an audience of more that one person. Refer to Hollywood in the 1920s.
1896: The Radio
In 1896 the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi sent and received Morse code-based radio signals at distances spanning nearly 4 miles. The same year, Marconi got the first patent in wireless telegraphy in England. In 1897 Serbian-American NikolaTesla invented the induction coil or Tesla coil, a device essential to sending and receiving radio waves and applied for his first patents in radio work in the United States. 1920's Radio and Advertising.
1898: The Roller Coaster
In 1898 Edwin Prescott patented the first roller coaster.
1899: The Vacuum Cleaner
In 1899 John Thurman patents the motor-driven vacuum cleaner.
1900: The Zeppelin Airship
In 1900 the Zeppelin Airship was invented by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin
1903: The Airplane
In 1853 George Cayley invented the first manned glider but in December 1903 the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, invent the first plane that is not powered by wind. Orville Wright flew the gas motored plane for 12 seconds over a beach in North Carolina. His invention revolutionized transportation systems.
1906: Gasoline-powered tractors
In 1906 Benjamin Holt developed gasoline-powered tractors
1908: The Ford Automobile
In October 1908 Henry Ford created the Model T. His automobile was much cheaper than other cars because it was made on an Assembly Line using mass production. The Model T revolutionized transportation, allowing many more Americans to buy cars.
Facts about Inventions and Inventors
For visitors interested in inventions and inventors refer to the following articles: