It could be argued that the most significant advances in the past two centuries have been made in the fields of science and technology, and that the defining objects of our culture are its mechanical devices. Rather than at looking at technology as a succession of generic inventions, 50 Machines that Changed the course of History identifies the most significant branded or one-off machines of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, placing them in their historical and technological contexts, and evaluating their impact on the development of human civilization.
The preeminent machines of the First Industrial Revolution, the “Age of Steam,” include the first locomotive designed for passenger transport, Stephenson’s Rocket (1829), and the Corliss steam engine (1849) that powered Britain’s “Satanic mills,” in which the Harrison power loom (1851) produced the bulk of the world’s cotton cloth. The turn of the twentieth century, and the Second Industrial Revolution, saw the invention of many of the technologies that have created modern lifestyles: the Westinghouse AC system (1887) brought electrical power and lighting to homes and workplaces; the Berliner gramophone (1892), Lumière cine projector (1896), and Marconi radio (1897) heralded the dawn of the media age; and the age of the mass-produced automobile began with the Model T Ford (1908).
Perfect for history buffs and anyone who is fascinated by complex and beautiful mechanical devices, Fifty Machines that Changed the Course of History is a celebration of 50 iconic machines, and of mechanical technology in general.
ERIC CHALINE is a professional journalist and writer specializing in history, philosophy, and religion. A graduate of Cambridge University and The School of African and Oriental Studies, London, he lived in Tokyo for seven years where he was English-language editor for Kodansha Publishers. More recently, he has published titles on philosophy, including The Book of Zen and The Book of Gods, and on history, including Traveler’s Guide to the Ancient World: Ancient Greece, History’s Worst Inventions, History’s Greatest Deceptions, and History’s Worst Predictions. He now lives and works in London, where he is conducting doctoral research in sociology at South Bank University.