The “Book Wheel” Renaissance Invention for Reading Books (1588).

Behold the “Book Wheel”: The Renaissance Invention Created to Make Books Portable and Help Scholars Study (1588).
Devotees of print may object, but we readers of the 21st century enjoy a great privilege in our ability to store a practically infinite number of digitized books on our computers.
What’s more, those computers have themselves shrunk down to such compactness that we can carry them around day and night without discomfort. This would hardly have worked just forty years ago, when books came only in print and a serious computer could still fill a room.
The paper book may remain reasonably competitive even today with the convenience refined over hundreds and hundreds of years, but its first handmade generations tended toward lavish, weighty decoration and formats that now look comically oversized.
These posed real problems of unwieldiness, one solution to which took the unlikely form of the bookwheel.
In 1588, The Various and Ingenious Machines of Captain Agostino Ramelli, the Italian engineer of that name “outlined his vision for a wheel-o-books that would employ the logic of other types of wheel (water, Ferris, ‘Price is Right’, etc.) to rotate books clockwork-style before a stationary user,” writes the Atlantic’s Megan Garber.
Source: Behold the “Book Wheel”: The Renaissance Invention Created to Make Books Portable & Help Scholars Study (1588) | Open Culture

Electrical Therapy in Medicine and Dentistry, 1910.

14714618191_d7fcb09c86_oA selection of images from High Frequency Electric Currents in Medicine and Dentistry (1910) by champion of electro-therapeutics Samuel Howard Monell, a physician who the American X-Ray Journal cite, rather wonderfully, as having “done more for static electricity than any other living man”.
Although the use of electricity to treat physical ailments could be seen to stretch back to the when the ancient Greeks first used live electric fish to numb the body in pain, it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries – through the work of Luigi Galvani and Guillaume Duchenne – that the idea really took hold.
Monell claims that his high frequency currents of electricity could treat a variety of ailments, including acne, lesions, insomnia, abnormal blood pressure, depression, and hysteria.
Although not explicitly delved into in this volume, the treatment of this latter condition in women was frequently achieved at this time through the use of an early form of the vibrator (to save the physician from the manual effort), through bringing the patient to “hysterical paroxysm” (in other words, an orgasm).
These days electrotherapy has been widely accepted in the field of physical rehabilitation, and also made the news recently in its use to keep soldiers awake (the treatment of fatigue also being one of Monell’s applications).
Please go to the Website to fully appreciate the other Images via High Frequency Electric Currents in Medicine and Dentistry (1910) | The Public Domain Review.

Macmillan’s Pedal Bicycle, circa 1840.

MacmillanBicycleMacmillan was a Scottish blacksmith who is credited with the invention of the pedal bicycle.
Kirkpatrick Macmillan was born in 1812 in Dumfriesshire, the son of a blacksmith.
He did a variety of jobs as a young man, before settling into working with his father in 1824. At around that time he saw a hobbyhorse being ridden along a nearby road, and decided to make one for himself.
Upon completion, he realised what a radical improvement it would be if he could propel it without putting his feet on the ground. Working at his smithy, he completed his new machine in around 1839.
This first pedal bicycle was propelled by a horizontal reciprocating movement of the rider’s feet on the pedals.
This movement was transmitted to cranks on the rear wheel by connecting rods; the machine was extremely heavy and the physical effort required to ride it must have been considerable.
Nevertheless, Macmillan quickly mastered the art of riding it on the rough country roads, and was soon accustomed to making the fourteen-mile journey to Dumfries in less than an hour.
His next exploit was to ride the 68 miles into Glasgow in June 1842. The trip took him two days and he was fined five shillings for causing a slight injury to a small girl who ran across his path.
He never thought of patenting his invention or trying to make any money out of it, but others who saw it were not slow to realize its potential, and soon copies began to appear for sale.
Gavin Dalzell of Lesmahagow copied his machine in 1846 and passed on the details to so many people that for more than 50 years he was generally regarded as the inventor of the bicycle.
However, Macmillan was quite unconcerned with the fuss his invention had prompted, preferring to enjoy the quiet country life to which he was accustomed.
He died on 26 January 1878.
via BBC History.

A Short History of “Gas Masks.”


Primitive respirator examples were used by miners and introduced by Alexander von Humboldt already in 1799, when he worked as a mining engineer in Prussia; long before that there was a Plague doctor’s bird beak shaped mask/face piece filled with herbs.
The forerunner to the modern gas mask was invented in 1847 by Lewis P. Haslett, a device that contained elements that allowed breathing through a nose and mouthpiece, inhalation of air through a bulb-shaped filter, and a vent to exhale air back into the atmosphere.


According to First Facts, it states that the “gas mask resembling the modern type was patented by Lewis Phectic Haslett of Louisville, Kentucky who received a patent on June 12, 1849.”  U.S. patent #6,529 issued to Haslett, described the first “Inhaler or Lung Protector” that filtered dust from the air.


Early versions were constructed by the Scottish chemist John Stenhouse (above) in 1854 and the physicist John Tyndall in the 1870s.



The Lanston Monotype, circa 1890.


This old-style description of  The Tolbert Lanston Monotype invention is from “The Advertiser,” Adelaide, South Australia. circa 1900.

The age of miracles has not, as some would have us believe, gone by.
The discoveries of science, the wonders of invention, are as astonishing in their way as any of the marvels dreamed of by men of old. In the matter of printing, for instance, what wonderful triumphs have been accomplished. So great are tbey that one would scarce imagine anything new could be invented.
Typeseting machines of marvellous speed and accuracy are already in use in hundreds of offices.
But the recent invention of an American engineer Tolbert Lanston  (1844-1913) is a marvel. This latest invention is the Lanston Monotype machine.
Its name indicates its essential difference from those typesetting machines which cast their type in whole lines, for tbe Monotype casts each letter singly, thus allowing ease of correction.
The Monotype is in two parts. The first is a keyboard, and the second is the typecasting machine proper. The keyboard is operated by a compositor, who strikes keys representing letters, points of punctuation, etc.
The pressing of a key does not, however, liberate the type, but simply perforates a ribbon of paper, which, when placed on the castng machine, governs all its movement.
Everything that can reasonably be required of a printing machine can be done by the Monotype. The perforated ribbon when put into the casting machine works backward, so that the last letter, quad, or point struck by the compositor is the first to be set by the machine. As the spool of ribbon is unwound the perforations govern the mechanism.
This consists brieffly of a pan of molten type metal kept liquid by a set of gas burners. A series of matrices  set in a die case into which the molten metal is injected, a carrier of type, and a maker of lines which is almost human in its action.
Although so complex in its parts, the working is so easy and methodical that one man can look after some 10 machines. All he has to do is to oil the machinery, occasionally put a block of metal into the melting pan and puts the lines of type onto a galley, which, when filled, is replaced by empty ones by the engineer.
Tbe type on the galley is then corrected, made up and dealt with by the compositor in precisely the same way as a galley of type set by hand. The superiority of the Monotype over most of its rivals is that instead of the line being cast solid, each letter is separate, and should any error have been made it can be remedied without the whole line having to be remade.
Another and obvious advantage of this is that the type, after being once used, can be distributed and used over and over again, just like the ordinary type bought from the type foundry. If the original type is not  wanted, it can be thrown into the melting pot and the metal used time and again.
The power required to drive the machine is claimed by the inventor Mr Lanston to be very small. The molten metal is forced into the matrices by pneumatic pressure, and is immediately cooled by cold water, which circulates through the mold. It is claimed that the types thus cast are equal to those made in the ordinary way at the type foundry.
Another advantage is that the Monotvpe requires so few men to attend to it. Thus eight operators and the machinist can work 10 machines. Yet another advantage is the small amount of space required for the plant, for the keyboard takes up no more room than a sewing machine, while the actual typesetter covers scarce a square yard.
From the foregoing facts and details some idea of the machine we have described may be gathered. But the Monotype must be seen to be appreciated.
Understood by the layman it cannot be, but appreciated it must be by all who witness its wonderful performance-
There is something almost uncanny about the way the thing works. A ribbon of perforated paper is put into a machine, and immediately types issue from it, words are spelled, lines are made and put into their place, and before the eyes of the spectator the column of type visibly grows. It will work day and night. It is useless to praise the inventive genius which created such a machine.
The Lanston “Monotype” type setting machine is one of the most wonderful inventions even of this age of wonderful things.

The Boeing 314 Clipper Flying Boat, 1938.

image002When the Boeing 314 flying boat made its appearance, it was the largest civil aircraft in service. 
The Yankee Clipper project dates back to 1935, with the start of a series of negotiations between Pan American World Airways and Boeing for the production of a flying-boat capable of guaranteeing transatlantic passenger flights with a high degree of safety, comfort and speed.
On July 21, 1936, Pan American signed a contract for six Model 314s, the first of which made its initial sea run on Puget Sound on May 31, 1938, and made its inaugural flight on June 7, 1938.
It outstripped all rivals in size, with twice the size of the Sikorsky S-42 and outweighed the Martin M-130 China Clipper by 15 tons. The 14-cylinder double-row Wright Cyclones were the first to use 100-octane fuel.
The Boeing 314 weighed 40 tons and the first block ordered cost $550,000 per aircraft.


It had a central hull and adopted the wing and engine assembly of the experimental Boeing XB-15 heavy bomber.
In the place of the traditional floating stabilizers at the wingtips, sponsons (flotation device)  mounted on the sides of the hull were used.
The sponsons were based on the formula developed by the German engineer Claude Dornier and incorporated into such aircraft as the Dornier Do X and Dornier Do 18.
The sponsons (flotation device) also contained fuel tanks, the capacity of which (together with those situated in the wings) totaled almost 3,525 gallons (16,000 liters).
Read more via Boeing 314 Clipper.