Timeline of Science and Technology in the 19th Century

A list of major events selected by piero scaruffi

(STILL IN PREPARATION - Suggestions welcome)



1800: William Nicholson and Johann Ritter decompose water into hydrogen and oxygen
1800: Alessandro Volta invents the voltaic pile, the electrical battery
Aug 1801: Robert Fulton builds the "Nautilus" submarine and invents the torpedo
1802: Humphry Davy invents the incandescent light
1806: Humphry Davy invents the carbon arc light
1806: Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin and Pierre Jean Robiquet discover the first aminoacid, asparagine
1807: Humphry Davy discovers potassium, sodium, barium, calcium and magnesium
1808: John Dalton's atomic theory
1809: Lamarck's theory of evolution
1813: Carl-Friedrich Gauss develops non-Euclidean geometry
1816: Francis Ronalds invents the telegraph
1820: Hans Oersted discovers that an electrical charge in motion (an electric current) generates a magnetic field
1820: Johann Schweigger invents the galvanometer
1821: Michael Faraday publishes his theory on electromagnetic rotation, the principle behind the electric motor
1824: Sadi Carnot discovers the second law of Thermodynamics
1825: Pierre-Simon Laplace speculates that the future is fully determined
1827: Joseph Fourier proves that any periodic function can be represented as the sum of a series of sinusoidal and cosinusoidal waves
1827: Andre-Marie Ampere founds Electrodynamics
1827: Robert Brown discovers "Brownian motion"
1829: William Austin Burt invents the typewriter
1830: Nikolai Lobachevsky writes "The Foundations of Geometry"
1831: Cyrus McCormick invents the mechanical harvesting machine
1831: Michael Faraday's electromagnetic experiments prove the identity of electricity and magnetism and he invents the transformer
1833: Carl Gauss and Wilhelm Weber build the first electromagnetic telegraph
1835: Edward Davy invents the electrical relay
1836: Marc Dax speculates that language is localized in the left hemisphere of the brain
1837: Samuel Morse invents a code for the telegraph
1837: John Deere invents the steel plow
1838: Charles Wheatstone invents the stereoscope to view three-dimensional images
1838: The Great Western Railway in Britain installs the first commercial telegraph in the world, built by Charles Wheatstone
1839: Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan invents the bicycle
1839: Alexandre Becquerel discovers the photovoltaic effect
1839: Charles Goodyear develops a process to vulcanize rubber (to make it elastic)
1840: Justus von Liebig invents fertilizers and promotes Peruvian guano
1842: Julius Mayer discovers that heat can be converted into work (before Joule)
1843: James Joule establishes the equivalence of work and heat (energy can be transformed)
1844: The first telegraph line in the USA, stretching from Washington to nearby Baltimore, opens (Morse's "What hath God wrought")
1846: Abraham Gesner invents kerosene, based on coal
1848: Louis Pasteur discovers that the molecules of living organisms are asymmetric
1848: William Thompson "Kelvin" introduces a scale of absolute temperature
1849: James Francis' water turbine
1850: Rudolf Clausius discovers entropy
1851: Armand Fizeau measures the speed of light
1852: Leon Foucault invents the gyroscope
1852: William Thompson "Kelvin" discovers the second law of Thermodynamics ("On a Universal Tendency in Nature to the Dissipation of Mechanical Energy")
1854: Bernhard Riemann's "Habilition Dissertation" introduces manyfolds in a non-Euclidean geometry
1855: Henry Bessemer invents the Bessemer converter for mass-producing steel
1856: Bessemer converter for mass-producing steel
1856: William Perkin, still a teenager, invents the first synthetic dye, mauve
1857: George Pullman invents the bus
1858: August Moebius discovers the "Mobius Strip"
1858: The first transatlantic cable between the USA and Britain
1859: Charles Darwin publishes "The Origin of Species"
1859: Gaston Plante invents the lead-acid cell, the first rechargeable battery
1863: Dmitri Mendeleev's periodic table of elements (56 known elements and a law for discovering the next ones)
1863: Paul Broca proves that language is localized in the left hemisphere of the brain
1864: James Maxwell discovers the laws of electromagnetism
1865: Louis Pasteur discovers that diseases are caused by germs (birth of modern medicine)
1865: Giovanni Caselli launches the first commercial telefax service (between Paris and Lyon)
1865: Gregor Mendel discover the unit of transmission of traits in living beings (the gene)
1866: The first practical dynamo is developed by Siemens
1866: Ernst Haeckel argues that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"
1867: Georges Leclanche invents the zinc-manganese battery (forerunner of the alkaline battery)
1867: Alfred Nobel invents dynamite
1868: Christopher Latham Sholes invents the first practical typewriter
1869: John Hyatt's celluloid, the first industrial plastic
1873: Camillo Golgi's "On the Structure of the Brain Grey Matter" describes the body of the nerve cell with a single axon and several dendrites
1875: The first typewritten book (on a Remington typewriter) is published, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"
1878: Willard Gibbs' "On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances" on statistical mechanics and thermodynamics
1873: Christopher Latham Sholes invents the QWERTY keyboard (1873), which Remington begins to mass produce
1874: Wilhelm-Max Wundt founds experimental Psychology
1874: Karl Wernicke discovers that aphasia is caused by damage in the left temporal lobe
1876: Alexander Bell demonstrates the telephone (for the first time humans in distant places can talk to each other)
1876: Ferdinand Braun discovers semiconductors
1876: John Hughlings Jackson discovers that loss of spatial skills is related to damage to the right hemisphere
1876: Ferdinand Braun discovers semiconductors
1877: Thomas Edison invents the phonograph that records sound on a cylinder (for the first time humans can store and play sounds)
1877: Ludwig Boltzmann founds Thermodynamics and explains entropy
1879: James Ritty invents the cash register
1879: Georg Cantor invents Set Theory
1879: Siemens demonstrates the first electric railway
1879: Albert Michelson discovers that the speed of light in a vacuum is always 299,792,458 meters per second
1879: Walther Flemming discovers mitosis, the process by which living cells divide
1881: David Gestetner invents the stencil duplicator, the first office machine to make duplicates of documents
1882: Robert Koch discovers the bacterium of tuberculosis, which at the time was the cause of one in seven deaths
1882: Etienne-Jules Marey's chronophotography
1884: Charles Parsons' steam turbine (that will open the age of cheap electricity and fast sea travel)
1885: Daimler and Maybach invent the motorcycle
1885: Joseph Swan uses synthetic fiber to make fabrics
1885: John Kemp Starley invents the "safety" bicycle (with gearing, chain drive and low wheels)
1886: Karl Benz builds a gasoline-powered car
1886: Josephine Cochrane invents the dishwasher
1886: Ernst Mach formulates the principle that the inertia of an object is due to the interaction of that object with all the rest of the world's matter
1886: Heinrich Hertz discovers that electromagnetic waves can be generated by an electric circuit and detected by another circuit (in particular, waves at frequencies from 300 GHz down to 3 kHz, or "radio" waves)
1887: Heinrich Hertz discovers the photoelectric effect
1887: Emile Berliner invents the gramophone that records sound on a disc
1887: The first book is printed using Ottmar Mergenthaler's linotype (by the New York Tribune)
1888: Kodak introduces the first consumer camera (for the first time humans can reproduce an image without a painter)
1888: John Dunlop invents the pneumatic tire
1888: Nikola Tesla invents the alternating-current motor
1890: Herman Hollerith builds an electrical tabulating device (the first electrical calculator)
1890: London inaugurates the world's first electrical subway system
1890: William James's "Principles of Psychology"
1890: Henri Poincare proves the recurrence theorem
1891: Santiago Ramon y Cajal proves that the nerve cell (the neuron) is the elementary unit of processing in the brain
1892: Hendrik Lorentz discovers that the atom is not elementary but is made of smaller units that are electrical in nature
1892: Dmitri Ivanovsky discovers the first virus, a non-bacterial pathogen
1892: August Weismann's "germ plasma" theory of genetic heredity
1892: Henri Poincare` founds Chaos Theory
1893: Almirian Decker's alternate-current power plant (alternating current makes it easy to transmit electricity over long distances)
1893: Nikola Tesla holds the first public demonstration of radio communication
1895: The Lumiere brothers invent cinema (for the first time humans can replay what has happened in the past)
1895: Wilhelm Roentgen discovers X rays, light rays that are invisible to the human eye
1896: Antoine Becquerel observes the radioactive decay of atomic nuclei (birth of nuclear science)
1897: Karl Ferdinand Braun builds the first oscilloscope and invents the cathode ray tube
1897: Joseph-John Thompson discovers that electricity is due to the flow of tiny negatively charged particles (discovers the electron)
1897: Bayer's aspirin
1898: Valdemar Poulsen invents the telegraphone, the first magnetic recording device for voice
1898: Pierre Curie and Marie Curie isolate the radioactive elements polonium and radium (and coin the word "radioactivity")
1899: Valdemar Poulsen invents the magnetic recorder
Continues to Science of the 20th Century

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