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History of Technology

A Fifteenth-Century Maritime Manuscript
Edited by Pamela O. Long

In the fifteenth century, a Venetian mariner, Michael of Rhodes, wrote and illustrated a text describing his experiences in the Venetian merchant and military fleets. He included a treatise on commercial mathematics and treatments of contemporary shipbuilding practices, navigation, calendrical systems, and astrological ideas. This manuscript, "lost," or at least in unknown hands for over 400 years, has never been published or translated in its entirety until now.

A Fifteenth-Century Maritime Manuscript
Edited by David McGee

In the fifteenth century, a Venetian mariner, Michael of Rhodes, wrote and illustrated a text describing his experiences in the Venetian merchant and military fleets. He included a treatise on commercial mathematics and treatments of contemporary shipbuilding practices, navigation, calendrical systems, and astrological ideas. This manuscript, "lost," or at least in unknown hands for over 400 years, has never been published or translated in its entirety until now.

Shaping an Industry and Its Technology

No company of the twentieth century achieved greater success and engendered more admiration, respect, envy, fear, and hatred than IBM. Building IBM tells the story of that company—how it was formed, how it grew, and how it shaped and dominated the information processing industry. Emerson Pugh presents substantial new material about the company in the period before 1945 as well as a new interpretation of the postwar era.

Americanization, Technology, and European Users

Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev's famous "kitchen debate" in 1958 involved more than the virtues of American appliances. Both Nixon and Khrushchev recognized the political symbolism of the modern kitchen; the kind of technological innovation represented in this everyday context spoke to the political system that produced it. The kitchen connects the "big" politics of politicians and statesmen to the "small" politics of users and interest groups.

Scientific Authority and the Creation of Practical Electricity Before Edison

In 1882, Thomas Edison and his Edison Electric Light Company unveiled the first large-scale electrical system in the world to light a stretch of offices in a city. This was a monumental achievement, but it was not the beginning of the electrical age. The first electric generators were built in the 1830s, the earliest commercial lighting systems before 1860, and the first commercial application of generator-powered lights (in lighthouses) in the early 1860s.

Why Columbus Sailed South to the Indies

Everyone knows that in 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed west across the Atlantic, seeking a new route to the East. Few note, however, that Columbus's intention was also to sail south, to the tropics. In The Tropics of Empire, Nicolás Wey Gómez rewrites the geographical history of the discovery of the Americas, casting it as part of Europe's reawakening to the natural and human resources of the South.

Technology, Culture, and Public Problems of Noise in theTwentieth Century

Since the late nineteenth century, the sounds of technology have been the subject of complaints, regulation, and legislation. By the early 1900s, antinoise leagues in Western Europe and North America had formed to fight noise from factories, steam trains, automobiles, and gramophones, with campaigns featuring conferences, exhibitions, and "silence weeks." And, as Karin Bijsterveld points out in Mechanical Sound, public discussion of noise has never died down and continues today.

The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City

Before the advent of the automobile, users of city streets were diverse and included children at play and pedestrians at large. By 1930, most streets were primarily motor thoroughfares where children did not belong and where pedestrians were condemned as "jaywalkers." In Fighting Traffic, Peter Norton argues that to accommodate automobiles, the American city required not only a physical change but also a social one: before the city could be reconstructed for the sake of motorists, its streets had to be socially reconstructed as places where motorists belonged.

Human and Machine in Spaceflight

As Apollo 11's Lunar Module descended toward the moon under automatic control, a program alarm in the guidance computer’s software nearly caused a mission abort. Neil Armstrong responded by switching off the automatic mode and taking direct control. He stopped monitoring the computer and began flying the spacecraft, relying on skill to land it and earning praise for a triumph of human over machine.

Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video

The first video cassette recorders were promoted in the 1970s as an extension of broadcast television technology—a time-shifting device, a way to tape TV shows. Early advertising for Sony's Betamax told potential purchasers "You don't have to miss Kojak because you're watching Columbo." But within a few years, the VCR had been transformed from a machine that recorded television into an extension of the movie theater into the home.