General Purpose Microprocessor

“…even though science and technology are wonderful, what really gets them out there for people to use is to have businesses built around them. It takes savvy businessmen as well as savvy technologists to make that work.” Tedd Hoff Background Ted Hoff had access to then state-of-the-art vacuum tube circuits in high school. In 1954, […]

Cordless Tools

In 1895, C&E Fein, a German company, invented the first electric tool. It was a handheld drill weighing 16.5 pounds. The drill was underpowered because it ran on DC electricity. It also required two people to operate. In 1910, Duncan Black sold his car for $600 and used the funds to open a machine shop […]

Electronic Desktop Calculator

Desktop calculators led the idea of computers small and cheap enough to sit on an individual’s desk. Eventually, they also became the impetus for the general-purpose microchip. History The first desktop electronic calculator is the ANITA Mark VII and ANITA Mark VIIII, both launched late 1961. The Bell Punch Co. of Britain designed the ANITA. […]

Mass-Scale Desalination

Reverse osmosis enables large-scale desalination of seawater, efficiently transforming it into drinking water. People have been trying to desalinate seawater into drinking water for millennia. Firstly, Aristotle and other ancient Greeks unsuccessfully attempted to desalinate seawater. Eventually, by the 16th century, ship-based evaporation desalination systems created potable water. In time, by 1955, the first multi-stage […]

Megawatt Windmill

Megawatt wind turbines are windmills capable of generating a megawatt or more of electricity and feeding it into the electrical grid. Background Palmer Putnam was an MIT geologist. Literature notes he has “no formal education or experience in wind power.” Of course, that was true for everybody in the 1930s. There was no such thing […]

Health Insurance

Background Germany has the oldest health insurance system, the Sickness Insurance Law of 1883. Employers paid one-third and employees two-thirds. The insurance covered both medical treatment and sick leave. In 1911, the UK created basic health insurance. Russia followed in 1912, nationalizing all healthcare after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Most countries rolled out some […]

Panama Canal

The 80 km. (50 mi.) long Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, avoiding the need to sail around South America. Background Unquestionably, the French were stoked after their completion of the Suez Canal. Given that the project took 3800 years from start to finish their enthusiasm is understandable. Subsequently, they decided to undertake […]

Prefabricated Housing Components

History Limited amounts of prefabricated components date back to ancient times. Mesopotamian’s used burnt clay bricks. Romans utilized concrete molds for aqueducts and tunnels and William the Conqueror conquered the concept. There were movable modular buildings for industry, defense, and even hospitals. However, hand construction was the norm for the vast majority of houses and […]