In the technology ranking of Human Accomplishment, the instrument maker and mechanical engineer James Watt (1736-1819) of Scotland and the prolific inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) of the USA, who created an early research laboratory, are tied for the maximum score of 100. There is a large gap from them down to Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), who is then followed by Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) from the Netherlands, one of the greatest polymaths in all history; Archimedes of Syracuse (ca. 290-212 BC); the Italian radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937); the Roman engineer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio – Vitruvius – from the first century BC, author of the celebrated multivolume work De Architectura (“On Architecture”); John Smeaton (1724-1792), a great civil engineer from Leeds, England and a member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham; the English inventor and steel manufacturer Henry Bessemer (1813-1898); and Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729), an English ironmonger and creator of the atmospheric steam engine, the first version engine that did useful work.
After them follows Charles Babbage (1791-1871), the English inventor of the mechanical computer; the innovative German-born inventor and engineer Carl Wilhelm Siemens (1823-1883), whose brother Werner von Siemens (1816-1892) founded the telecommunications company Siemens in Berlin in 1847; the dynamic English industrialist and ironmaster John Wilkinson (1728-1808); Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the prolific scholar, writer, publisher, diplomat and statesman from North America who also invented the lightning rod, bifocal eyeglasses and the Franklin stove; the English physicist and inventor Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875); the industrial chemist and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) from Sweden, who invented dynamite and used his wealth to found and fund the famous Nobel Prizes; the great English naturalist and electrical engineer Michael Faraday (1791-1867); Denis Papin (1647-1712), the French-born engineer who invented the steam digester and the pressure cooker in 1679, major stepping-stones in the evolution of the steam engine; the English civil engineer George Stephenson (1781-1848), who together with his son Robert built the world’s first inter-city public railway line employing steam locomotives between Liverpool and Manchester in 1830; and finally the American painter Samuel Morse (1791-1872), one of the main creators of the electric telegraph and co-inventor of Morse code.
Names such as Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, Jean Lenoir, Nikolaus Otto and Rudolf Diesel are listed for their contributions to the development of internal combustion engines and cars, the English entrepreneur Richard Arkwright for aiding the development of a modern factory system during the Industrial Revolution, and Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, Louis Daguerre, William Fox Talbot, George Eastman and others for the creation of photography. But why is a first-rate scientific instrument maker like Jesse Ramsden not mentioned at all?
Read the rest at Tundra Tabloids.
Previously: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.