Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Age of Invention, A Chronicle of Mechanical Conquest by Holland Thompson

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

fireroom, which they applied to their own vessels, was afterwards
adopted by all navies. Robert designed and projected an ironclad
battleship, the first one in the world. This vessel, called the
Stevens Battery, was begun by authority of the Government in
1842; but, owing to changes in the design and inadequate
appropriations by Congress, it was never launched. It lay for
many years in the basin at Hoboken an unfinished hulk. Robert
died in 1856. On the outbreak of the Civil War, Edwin tried to
revive the interest of the Government, but by that time the
design of the Stevens Battery was obsolete, and Edwin Stevens was
an old man. So the honors for the construction of the first
ironclad man-of-war to fight and win a battle went to John
Ericsson, that other great inventor, who built the famous Monitor
for the Union Government.

Carlyle's oft-quoted term, "Captains of Industry," may fittingly
be applied to the Stevens family. Strong, masterful, and
farseeing, they used ideas, their own and those of others, in a
large way, and were able to succeed where more timorous inventors
failed. Without the stimulus of poverty they achieved success,
making in their shops that combination of men and material which
not only added to their own fortunes but also served the world.

We left Eli Whitney defeated in his efforts to divert to himself
some adequate share of the untold riches arising from his great
invention of the cotton gin. Whitney, however, had other sources
of profit in his own character and mechanical ability. As early
as 1798 he had turned his talents to the manufacture of firearms.
He had established his shops at Whitneyville, near New Haven; and
it was there that he worked out another achievement quite as
important economically as the cotton gin, even though the
immediate consequences were less spectacular: namely, the
principle of standardization or interchangeability in

This principle is the very foundation today of all American
large-scale production. The manufacturer produces separately
thousands of copies of every part of a complicated machine,
confident that an equal number of the complete machine will be
assembled and set in motion. The owner of a motor car, a reaper,
a tractor, or a sewing machine, orders, perhaps by telegraph or
telephone, a broken or lost part, taking it for granted that the
new part can be fitted easily and precisely into the place of the

Though it is probable that this idea of standardization, or
interchangeability, originated independently in Whitney's mind,
and though it is certain that he and one of his neighbors, who
will be mentioned presently, were the first manufacturers in the
world to carry it out successfully in practice, yet it must be
noted that the idea was not entirely new. We are told that the
system was already in operation in England in the manufacture of
ship's blocks. From no less an authority than Thomas Jefferson we
learn that a French mechanic had previously conceived the same
idea.* But, as no general result whatever came from the idea in
either France or England, the honors go to Whitney and North,
since they carried it to such complete success that it spread to
other branches of manufacturing. And in the face of opposition.
When Whitney wrote that his leading object was "to substitute
correct and effective operations of machinery for that skill of
the artist which is acquired only by long practice and
experience," in order to make the same parts of different guns
"as much like each other as the successive impressions of a
copper-plate engraving," he was laughed to scorn by the ordnance
officers of France and England. "Even the Washington officials,"
says Roe, "were sceptical and became uneasy at advancing so much
money without a single gun having been completed, and Whitney
went to Washington, taking with him ten pieces of each part of a
musket. He exhibited these to the Secretary of War and the army
officers interested, as a succession of piles of different parts.
Selecting indiscriminately from each of the piles, he put
together ten muskets, an achievement which was looked on with

* See the letter from Jefferson to John Jay, of April 30, 1785,
cited in Roe, "English and American Tool Builders", p. 129.

** Roe, "English and American Tool Builders", p. 133.

While Whitney worked out his plans at Whitneyville, Simeon North,
another Connecticut mechanic and a gunmaker by trade, adopted the
same system. North's first shop was at Berlin. He afterwards
moved to Middletown. Like Whitney, he used methods far in advance
of the time. Both Whitney and North helped to establish the
United States Arsenals at Springfield, Massachusetts, and at
Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in which their methods were adopted.
Both the Whitney and North plants survived their founders. Just
before the Mexican War the Whitney plant began to use steel for
gun barrels, and Jefferson Davis, Colonel of the Mississippi
Rifles, declared that the new guns were "the best rifles which
had ever been issued to any regiment in the world." Later, when
Davis became Secretary of War, he issued to the regular army the
same weapon.

The perfection of Whitney's tools and machines made it possible
to employ workmen of little skill or experience. "Indeed so easy
did Mr. Whitney find it to instruct new and inexperienced
workmen, that he uniformly preferred to do so, rather than to
combat the prejudices of those who had learned the business under
a different system."* This reliance upon the machine for
precision and speed has been a distinguishing mark of American
manufacture. A man or a woman of little actual mechanical skill
may make an excellent machine tender, learning to perform a few
simple motions with great rapidity.

* Denison Olmstead, "Memoir", cited by Roe, p. 159.

Whitney married in 1817 Miss Henrietta Edwards, daughter of Judge
Pierpont Edwards, of New Haven, and granddaughter of Jonathan
Edwards. His business prospered, and his high character,
agreeable manners, and sound judgment won. for him the highest
regard of all who knew him; and he had a wide circle of friends.
It is said that he was on intimate terms with every President of
the United States from George Washington to John Quincy Adams.
But his health had been impaired by hardships endured in the
South, in the long struggle over the cotton gin, and he died in
1825, at the age of fifty-nine. The business which he founded
remained in his family for ninety years. It was carried on after
his death by two of his nephews and then by his son, until 1888,
when it was sold to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company of New

Here then, in these early New England gunshops, was born the
American system of interchangeable manufacture. Its growth
depended upon the machine tool, that is, the machine for making
machines. Machine tools, of course, did not originate in America.
English mechanics were making machines for cutting metal at least
a generation before Whitney. One of the earliest of these English
pioneers was John Wilkinson, inventor and maker of the boring
machine which enabled Boulton and Watt in 1776 to bring their
steam engine to the point of practicability. Without this machine
Watt found it impossible to bore his cylinders with the necessary
degree of accuracy.* From this one fact, that the success of the
steam engine depended upon the invention of a new tool, we may
judge of what a great part the inventors of machine tools, of
whom thousands are unnamed and unknown, have played in the
industrial world.

* Roe, "English and American Tool Builders", p. 1 et seq.

So it was in the shops of the New England gunmakers that machine
tools were first made of such variety and adaptability that they
could be applied generally to other branches of manufacturing;
and so it was that the system of interchangeable manufacture
arose as a distinctively American development. We have already
seen how England's policy of keeping at home the secrets of her
machinery led to the independent development of the spindles and
looms of New England. The same policy affected the tool industry
in America in the same way and bred in the new country a race of
original and resourceful mechanics.

One of these pioneers was Thomas Blanchard, born in 1788 on a
farm in Worcester County, Massachusetts, the home also of Eli
Whitney and Elias Howe. Tom began his mechanical career at the
age of thirteen by inventing a device to pare apples. At the age
of eighteen he went to work in his brother's shop, where tacks
were made by hand, and one day took to his brother a mechanical
device for counting the tacks to go into a single packet. The
invention was adopted and was found to save the labor of one
workman. Tom's next achievement was a machine to make tacks, on
which he spent six years and the rights of which he sold for five
thousand dollars. It was worth far more, for it revolutionized
the tack industry, but such a sum was to young Blanchard a great

The tack-making machine gave Blanchard a reputation, and he was
presently sought out by a gun manufacturer, to see whether he
could improve the lathe for turning the barrels of the guns.
Blanchard could; and did. His next problem was to invent a lathe
for turning the irregular wooden stocks. Here he also succeeded
and produced a lathe that would copy precisely and rapidly any
pattern. It is from this invention that the name of Blanchard is
best known. The original machine is preserved in the United
States Armory at Springfield, to which Blanchard was attached for
many years, and where scores of the descendants of his copying
lathe may be seen in action today.

Turning gunstocks was, of course, only one of the many uses of
Blanchard's copying lathe. Its chief use, in fact, was in the
production of wooden lasts for the shoemakers of New England, but
it was applied to many branches of wood manufacture, and later on
the same principle was applied to the shaping of metal.

Blanchard was a man of many ideas. He built a steam vehicle for
ordinary roads and was an early advocate of railroads; he built
steamboats to ply upon the Connecticut and incidentally produced
in connection with these his most profitable invention, a machine
to bend ship's timbers without splintering them. The later years
of his life were spent in Boston, and he often served as a patent
expert in the courts, where his wide knowledge, hard common
sense, incisive speech, and homely wit made him a welcome

We now glance at another New England inventor, Samuel Colt, the
man who carried Whitney's conceptions to transcendent heights,
the most dashing and adventurous of all the pioneers of the
machine shop in America. If "the American frontier was
Elizabethan in quality," there was surely a touch of the
Elizabethan spirit on the man whose invention so greatly affected
the character of that frontier. Samuel Colt was born at Hartford
in 1814 and died there in 1862 at the age of forty-eight, leaving
behind him a famous name and a colossal industry of his own
creation. His father was a small manufacturer of silk and woolens
at Hartford, and the boy entered the factory at a very early age.
At school in Amherst a little later, he fell under the
displeasure of his teachers. At thirteen he took to sea, as a boy
before the mast, on the East India voyage to Calcutta. It was on
this voyage that he conceived the idea of the revolver and
whittled out a wooden model. On his return he went into his
father's works and gained a superficial knowledge of chemistry
from the manager of the bleaching and dyeing department. Then he
took to the road for three years and traveled from Quebec to New
Orleans lecturing on chemistry under the name of "Dr. Coult." The
main feature of his lecture was the administration of nitrous
oxide gas to volunteers from the audience, whose antics and the
amusing showman's patter made the entertainment very popular.

Colt's ambition, however, soared beyond the occupation of
itinerant showman, and he never forgot his revolver. As soon as
he had money enough, he made models of the new arm and took out
his patents; and, having enlisted the interest of capital, he set
up the Patent Arms Company at Paterson, New Jersey, to
manufacture the revolver. He did not succeed in having the
revolver adopted by the Government, for the army officers for a
long time objected to the percussion cap (an invention, by the
way, then some twenty years old, which was just coming into use
and without which Colt's revolver would not have been
practicable) and thought that the new weapon might fail in an
emergency. Colt found a market in Texas and among the
frontiersmen who were fighting the Seminole War in Florida, but
the sales were insufficient, and in 1842 the company was obliged
to confess insolvency and close down the plant. Colt bought from
the company the patent of the revolver, which was supposed to be

Nothing more happened until after the outbreak of the Mexican War
in 1846. Then came a loud call from General Zachary Taylor for a
supply of Colt's revolvers. Colt had none. He had sold the last
one to a Texas ranger. He had not even a model. Yet he took an
order from the Government for a thousand and proceeded to
construct a model. For the manufacture of the revolvers he
arranged with the Whitney plant at Whitneyville. There he saw and
scrutinized every detail of the factory system that Eli Whitney
had established forty years earlier. He resolved to have a plant
of his own on the same system and one that would far surpass
Whitney's. Next year (1848) he rented premises in Hartford. His
business prospered and increased. At last the Government demanded
his revolvers. Within five years he had procured a site of two
hundred and fifty acres fronting the Connecticut River at
Hartford, and had there begun the erection of the greatest arms
factory in the world.

Colt was a captain of captains. The ablest mechanic and
industrial organizer in New England at that time was Elisha K.
Root. Colt went after him, outbidding every other bidder for his
services, and brought him to Hartford to supervise the erection
of the new factory and set up its machinery. Root was a great
superintendent, and the phenomenal success of the Colt factory
was due in a marked degree to him. He became president of the
company after Colt's death in 1862, and under him were trained a
large number of mechanics and inventors of new machine tools, who
afterwards became celebrated leaders and officers in the
industrial armies of the country.

The spectacular rise of the Colt factory at Hartford drew the
attention of the British Government, and in 1854 Colt was invited
to appear in London before a Parliamentary Committee on Small
Arms. He lectured the members of the committee as if they had
been school boys, telling them that the regular British gun was
so bad that he would be ashamed to have it come from his shop.
Speaking of a plant which he had opened in London the year before
he criticized the supposedly skilled British mechanic, saying: "I
began here by employing the highest-priced men that I could find
to do difficult things, but I had to remove the whole of these
high-priced men. Then I tried the cheapest I could find, and the
more ignorant a man was, the more brains he had for my purpose;
and the result was this: I had men now in my employ that I
started with at two shillings a day, and in one short year I can
not spare them at eight shillings a day."* Colt's audacity,
however, did not offend the members of the committee and they
decided to visit his American factory at Hartford. They did; and
were so impressed that the British Government purchased in
America a full set of machines for the manufacture of arms in the
Royal Small Arms factory at Enfield, England, and took across the
sea American workmen and foremen to set up and run these .
machines. A demand sprang up in Europe for Blanchard copying
lathes and a hundred other American tools, and from this time on
the manufacture of tools and appliances for other manufacturers,
both at home and abroad, became an increasingly important
industry of New England.

* Henry Barnard, "Armsmear", p. 371.

The system which the gunmakers worked out and developed to meet
their own requirements was capable of indefinite expansion. It
was easily adapted to other kinds of manufacture. So it was that
as new inventions came in the manufacturers of these found many
of the needed tools ready for them, and any special modifications
could be quickly made. A manufacturer, of machine tools will
produce on demand a device to perform any operation, however
difficult or intricate. Some of the machines are so versatile
that specially designed sets of cutting edges will adapt them to
almost any work.

Standardization, due to the machine tool, is one of the chief
glories of American manufacturing. Accurate watches and clocks,
bicycles and motor cars, innumerable devices to save labor in the
home, the office, the shop, or on the farm, are within the reach
of all, because the machine tool, tended by labor comparatively
unskilled, does the greater part of the work of production. In
the crisis of the World War, American manufacturers, turning from
the arts of peace, promptly adapted their plants to the
manufacture of the most complicated engines of destruction, which
were produced in Europe only by skilled machinists of the highest


It may startle some reader to be told that the foundations of
modern electrical science were definitely established in the
Elizabethan Age. The England of Elizabeth, of Shakespeare, of
Drake and the sea-dogs, is seldom thought of as the cradle of the
science of electricity. Nevertheless, it was; just as surely as
it was the birthplace of the Shakespearian drama, of the
Authorized Version of the Bible, or of that maritime adventure
and colonial enterprise which finally grew and blossomed into the
United States of America.

The accredited father of the science of electricity and magnetism
is William Gilbert, who was a physician and man of learning at
the court of Elizabeth. Prior to him, all that was known of these
phenomena was what the ancients knew, that the lodestone
possessed magnetic properties and that amber and jet, when
rubbed, would attract bits of paper or other substances of small
specific gravity. Gilbert's great treatise "On the Magnet",
printed in Latin in 1600, containing the fruits of his researches
and experiments for many years, indeed provided the basis for a
new science.

On foundations well and truly laid by Gilbert several Europeans,
like Otto von Guericke of Germany, Du Fay of France, and Stephen
Gray of England, worked before Benjamin Franklin and added to the
structure of electrical knowledge. The Leyden jar, in which the
mysterious force could be stored, was invented in Holland in 1745
and in Germany almost simultaneously.

Franklin's important discoveries are outlined in the first
chapter of this book. He found out, as we have seen, that
electricity and lightning are one and the same, and in the
lightning rod he made the first practical application of
electricity. Afterwards Cavendish of England, Coulomb of France,
Galvani of Italy, all brought new bricks to the pile. Following
them came a group of master builders, among whom may be
mentioned: Volta of Italy, Oersted of Denmark, Ampere of France,
Ohm of Germany, Faraday of England, and Joseph Henry of America.

Among these men, who were, it should be noted, theoretical
investigators, rather than practical inventors like Morse, or
Bell, or Edison, the American Joseph Henry ranks high. Henry was
born at Albany in 1799 and was educated at the Albany Academy.
Intending to practice medicine, he studied the natural sciences.
He was poor and earned his daily bread by private tutoring. He
was an industrious and brilliant student and soon gave evidence
of being endowed with a powerful mind. He was appointed in 1824
an assistant engineer for the survey of a route for a State road,
three hundred miles long, between the Hudson River and Lake Erie.
The experience he gained in this work changed the course of his
career; he decided to follow civil and mechanical engineering
instead of medicine. Then in 1826 he became teacher of
mathematics and natural philosophy in the Albany Academy.

It was in the Albany Academy that he began that wide series of
experiments and investigations which touched so many phases of
the great problem of electricity. His first discovery was that a
magnet could be immensely strengthened by winding it with
insulated wire. He was the first to employ insulated wire wound
as on a spool and was able finally to make a magnet which would
lift thirty-five hundred pounds. He first showed the difference
between "quantity" magnets composed of short lengths of wire
connected in parallel, excited by a few large cells, and
"intensity" magnets wound with a single long wire and excited by
a battery composed of cells in series. This was an original
discovery, greatly increasing both the immediate usefulness of
the magnet and its possibilities for future experiments.

The learned men of Europe, Faraday, Sturgeon, and the rest, were
quick to recognize the value of the discoveries of the young
Albany schoolmaster. Sturgeon magnanimously said: "Professor
Henry has been enabled to produce a magnetic force which totally
eclipses every other in the whole annals of magnetism; and no
parallel is to be found since the miraculous suspension of the
celebrated Oriental imposter in his iron coffin."*

* Philosophical Magazine, vol. XI, p. 199 (March, 1832).

Henry also discovered the phenomena of self induction and mutual
induction. A current sent through a wire in the second story of
the building induced currents through a similar wire in the
cellar two floors below. In this discovery Henry anticipated
Faraday though his results as to mutual induction were not
published until he had heard rumors of Faraday's discovery, which
he thought to be something different.

The attempt to send signals by electricity had been made many
times before Henry became interested in the problem. On the
invention of Sturgeon's magnet there had been hopes in England of
a successful solution, but in the experiments that followed the
current became so weak after a few hundred feet that the idea was
pronounced impracticable. Henry strung a mile of fine wire in the
Academy, placed an "intensity" battery at one end, and made the
armature strike a bell at the other. Thus he discovered the
essential principle of the electric telegraph. This discovery was
made in 1831, the year before the idea of a working electric
telegraph flashed on the mind of Morse. There was no occasion for
the controversy which took place later as to who invented the
telegraph. That was Morse's achievement, but the discovery of the
great fact, which startled Morse into activity, was Henry's
achievement. In Henry's own words: "This was the first discovery
of the fact that a galvanic current could be transmitted to a
great distance with so little a diminution of force as to produce
mechanical effects, and of the means by which the transmission
could be accomplished. I saw that the electric telegraph was now
practicable." He says further, however: "I had not in mind any
particular form of telegraph, but referred only to the general
fact that it was now demonstrated that a galvanic current could
be transmitted to great distances, with sufficient power to
produce mechanical effects adequate to the desired object."*

* Deposition of Joseph Henry, September 7, 1849, printed in
Morse, "The Electra-Magnetic Telegraph", p. 91.

Henry next turned to the possibility of a magnetic engine for the
production of power and succeeded in making a reciprocating-bar
motor, on which he installed the first automatic pole changer, or
commutator, ever used with an electric battery. He did not
succeed in producing direct rotary motion. His bar oscillated
like the walking beam of a steamboat.

Henry was appointed in 1839. Professor of Natural Philosophy in
the College of New Jersey, better known today as Princeton
University. There he repeated his old experiments on a larger
scale, confirmed Steinheil's experiment of using the earth as
return conductor, showed how a feeble current would be
strengthened, and how a small magnet could be used as a circuit
maker and breaker. Here were the principles of the telegraph
relay and the dynamo.

Why, then, if the work of Henry was so important, is his name
almost forgotten, except by men of science, and not given to any
one of the practical applications of electricity? The answer is
plain. Henry was an investigator, not an inventor. He states his
position very clearly: "I never myself attempted to reduce the
principles to practice, or to apply any of my discoveries to
processes in the arts. My whole attention exclusive of my duties
to the College, was devoted to original scientific
investigations, and I left to others what I considered in a
scientific view of subordinate importance--the application of my
discoveries to useful purposes in the arts. Besides this I
partook of the feeling common to men of science, which
disinclines them to secure to themselves the advantages of their
discoveries by a patent."

Then, too, his talents were soon turned to a wider field. The
bequest of James Smithson, that farsighted Englishman, who left
his fortune to the United States to found "the Smithsonian
Institution, for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among
men," was responsible for the diffusion of Henry's activities.
The Smithsonian Institution was founded at Washington in 1846,
and Henry was fittingly chosen its Secretary, that is, its chief
executive officer. And from that time until his death in 1878,
over thirty years, he devoted himself to science in general.

He studied terrestrial magnetism and building materials. He
reduced meteorology to a science, collecting reports by
telegraph, made the first weather map, and issued forecasts of
the weather based upon definite knowledge rather than upon signs.
He became a member of the Lighthouse Board in 1852 and was the
head after 1871. The excellence of marine illuminants and fog
signals today is largely due to his efforts. Though he was later
drawn into a controversy with Morse over the credit for the
invention of the telegraph, he used his influence to procure the
renewal of Morse's patent. He listened with attention to
Alexander Graham Bell, who had the idea that electric wires might
be made to carry the human voice, and encouraged him to proceed
with his experiments. "He said," Bell writes, "that he thought it
was the germ of a great invention and advised me to work at it
without publishing. I said that I recognized the fact that there
were mechanical difficulties in the way that rendered the plan
impracticable at the present time. I added that I felt that I had
not the electrical knowledge necessary to overcome the
difficulties. His laconic answer was, 'GET IT!' I cannot tell you
how much these two words have encouraged me."

Henry had blazed the way for others to work out the principles of
the electric motor, and a few experimenters attempted to follow
his lead. Thomas Davenport, a blacksmith of Brandon, Vermont,
built an electric car in 1835, which he was able to drive on the
road, and so made himself the pioneer of the automobile in
America. Twelve years later Moses G. Farmer exhibited at various
places in New England an electric-driven locomotive, and in 1851
Charles Grafton Page drove an electric car, on the tracks of the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, from Washington to Bladensburg, at
the rate of nineteen miles an hour. But the cost of batteries was
too great and the use of the electric motor in transportation not
yet practicable.

The great principle of the dynamo, or electric generator, was
discovered by Faraday and Henry but the process of its
development into an agency of practical power consumed many
years; and without the dynamo for the generation of power the
electric motor had to stand still and there could be no
practicable application of electricity to transportation, or
manufacturing, or lighting. So it was that, except for the
telegraph, whose story is told in another chapter, there was
little more American achievement in electricity until after the
Civil War.

The arc light as a practical illuminating device came in 1878. It
was introduced by Charles F. Brush, a young Ohio engineer and
graduate of the University of Michigan. Others before him had
attacked the problem of electric lighting, but lack of suitable
carbons stood in the way of their success. Brush overcame the
chief difficulties and made several lamps to burn in series from
one dynamo. The first Brush lights used for street illumination
were erected in Cleveland, Ohio, and soon the use of arc lights
became general. Other inventors improved the apparatus, but still
there were drawbacks. For outdoor lighting and for large halls
they served the purpose, but they could not be used in small
rooms. Besides, they were in series, that is, the current passed
through every lamp in turn, and an accident to one threw the
whole series out of action. The whole problem of indoor lighting
was to be solved by one of America's most famous inventors.

The antecedents of Thomas Alva Edison in America may be traced
back to the time when Franklin was beginning his career as a
printer in Philadelphia. The first American Edisons appear to
have come from Holland about 1730 and settled on the Passaic
River in New Jersey. Edison's grandfather, John Edison, was a
Loyalist in the Revolution who found refuge in Nova Scotia and
subsequently moved to Upper Canada. His son, Samuel Edison,
thought he saw a moral in the old man's exile. His father had
taken the King's side and had lost his home; Samuel would make no
such error. So, when the Canadian Rebellion of 1837 broke out,
Samuel Edison, aged thirty-three, arrayed himself on the side of
the insurgents. This time, however, the insurgents lost, and
Samuel was obliged to flee to the United States, just as his
father had fled to Canada. He finally settled at Milan, Ohio, and
there, in 1847, in a little brick house, which is still standing,
Thomas Alva Edison was born.

When the boy was seven the family moved to Port Huron, Michigan.
The fact that he attended school only three months and soon
became self-supporting was not due to poverty. His mother, an
educated woman of Scotch extraction, taught him at home after the
schoolmaster reported that he was "addled." His desire for money
to spend on chemicals for a laboratory which he had fitted up in
the cellar led to his first venture in business. "By a great
amount of persistence," he says, "I got permission to go on the
local train as newsboy. The local train from Port Huron to
Detroit, a distance of sixty-three miles, left at 7 A.M. and
arrived again at 9.30 P.M. After being on the train for several
months I started two stores in Port Huron--one for periodicals,
and the other for vegetables, butter, and berries in the season.
They were attended by two boys who shared in the profits."
Moreover, young Edison bought produce from the farmers' wives
along the line which he sold at a profit. He had several newsboys
working for him on other trains; he spent hours in the Public
Library in Detroit; he fitted up a laboratory in an unused
compartment of one of the coaches, and then bought a small
printing press which he installed in the car and began to issue a
newspaper which he printed on the train. All before he was
fifteen years old.

But one day Edison's career as a traveling newsboy came to a
sudden end. He was at work in his moving laboratory when a lurch
of the train jarred a stick of burning phosphorus to the floor
and set the car on fire. The irate conductor ejected him at the
next station, giving him a violent box on the ear, which
permanently injured his hearing, and dumped his chemicals and
printing apparatus on the platform.

Having lost his position, young Edison soon began to dabble in
telegraphy, in which he had already become interested,
"probably," as he says, "from visiting telegraph offices with a
chum who had tastes similar to mine." He and this chum strung a
line between their houses and learned the rudiments of writing by
wire. Then a station master on the railroad, whose child Edison
had saved from danger, took Edison under his wing and taught him
the mysteries of railway telegraphy. The boy of sixteen held
positions wt small stations near home for a few months and then
began a period of five years of apparently purposeless wandering
as a tramp telegrapher. Toledo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis,
Memphis, Louisville, Detroit, were some of the cities in which he
worked, studied, experimented, and played practical jokes on his
associates. He was eager to learn something of the principles of
electricity but found few from whom he could learn.

Edison arrived in Boston in 1868, practically penniless, and
applied for a position as night operator. "The manager asked me
when I was ready to go to work. 'Now,' I replied." In Boston he
found men who knew something of electricity, and, as he worked at
night and cut short his sleeping hours, he found time for study.
He bought and studied Faraday's works. Presently came the first
of his multitudinous inventions, an automatic vote recorder, for
which he received a patent in 1868. This necessitated a trip to
Washington, which he made on borrowed money, but he was unable to
arouse any interest in the device. "After the vote recorder," he
says, "I invented a stock ticker, and started a ticker service in
Boston; had thirty or forty subscribers and operated from a room
over the Gold Exchange." This machine Edison attempted to sell in
New York, but he returned to Boston without having succeeded. He
then invented a duplex telegraph by which two messages might be
sent simultaneously, but at a test the machine failed because of
the stupidity of the assistant.

Penniless and in debt, Edison arrived again in New York in 1869.
But now fortune favored him. The Gold Indicator Company was a
concern furnishing to its subscribers by telegraph the Stock
Exchange prices of gold. The company's instrument was out of
order. By a lucky chance Edison was on the spot to repair it,
which he did successfully, and this led to his appointment as
superintendent at a salary of three hundred dollars a month. When
a change in the ownership of the company threw him out of the
position he formed, with Franklin L. Pope, the partnership of
Pope, Edison, and Company, the first firm of electrical engineers
in the United States.

Not long afterwards Edison brought out the invention which set
him on the high road to great achievement. This was the improved
stock ticker, for which the Gold and Stock Telegraph Company paid
him forty thousand dollars. It was much more than he had
expected. "I had made up my mind," he says, "that, taking into
consideration the time and killing pace I was working at, I
should be entitled to $5000, but could get along with $3000." The
money, of course, was paid by check. Edison had never received a
check before and he had to be told how to cash it.

Edison immediately set up a shop in Newark and threw himself into
many and various activities. He remade the prevailing system of
automatic telegraphy and introduced it into England. He
experimented with submarine cables and worked out a system of
quadruplex telegraphy by which one wire was made to do the work
of four. These two inventions were bought by Jay Gould for his
Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company. Gould paid for the
quadruplex system thirty thousand dollars, but for the automatic
telegraph he paid nothing. Gould presently acquired control of
the Western Union; and, having thus removed competition from his
path, "he then," says Edison, "repudiated his contract with the
automatic telegraph people and they never received a cent for
their wires or patents, and I lost three years of very hard
labor. But I never had any grudge against him because he was so
able in his line, and as long as my part was successful the money
with me was a secondary consideration. When Gould got the Western
Union I knew no further progress in telegraphy was possible, and
I went into other lines."*

* Quoted in Dyer and Martin. "Edison", vol. 1, p. 164.

In fact, however, the need of money forced Edison later on to
resume his work for the Western Union Telegraph Company, both in
telegraphy and telephony. His connection with the telephone is
told in another volume of this series.* He invented a carbon
transmitter and sold it to the Western Union for one hundred
thousand dollars, payable in seventeen annual installments of six
thousand dollars. He made a similar agreement for the same sum
offered him for the patent of the electro-motograph. He did not
realize that these installments were only simple interest upon
the sums due him. These agreements are typical of Edison's
commercial sense in the early years of his career as an inventor.
He worked only upon inventions for which there was a possible
commercial demand and sold them for a trifle to get the money to
meet the pay rolls of his different shops. Later the inventor
learned wisdom and associated with himself keen business men to
their common profit.

* Hendrick, "The Age of Big Business".

Edison set up his laboratories and factories at Menlo Park, New
Jersey, in 1876, and it was there that he invented the
phonograph, for which he received the first patent in 1878. It
was there, too, that he began that wonderful series of
experiments which gave to the world the incandescent lamp. He had
noticed the growing importance of open arc lighting, but was
convinced that his mission was to produce an electric lamp for
use within doors. Forsaking for the moment his newborn
phonograph, Edison applied himself in earnest to the problem of
the lamp. His first search was for a durable filament which would
burn in a vacuum. A series of experiments with platinum wire and
with various refractory metals led to no satisfactory results.
Many other substances were tried, even human hair. Edison
concluded that carbon of some sort was the solution rather than a
metal. Almost coincidently, Swan, an Englishman, who had also
been wrestling with this problem, came to the same conclusion.
Finally, one day in October, 1879, after fourteen months of hard
work and the expenditure of forty thousand dollars, a carbonized
cotton thread sealed in one of Edison's globes lasted forty
hours. "If it will burn forty hours now," said Edison, "I know I
can make it burn a hundred." And so he did. A better filament was
needed. Edison found it in carbonized strips of bamboo.

Edison developed his own type of dynamo, the largest ever made up
to that time, and, along with the Edison incandescent lamps, it
was one of the wonders of the Paris Electrical Exposition of
1881. The installation in Europe and America of plants for
service followed. Edison's first great central station, supplying
power for three thousand lamps, was erected at Holborn Viaduct,
London, in 1882, and in September of that year the Pearl Street
Station in New York City, the first central station in America,
was put into operation.

The incandescent lamp and the central power station, considered
together, may be regarded as one of the most fruitful conceptions
in the history of applied electricity. It comprised a complete
generating, distributing, and utilizing system, from the dynamo
to the very lamp at the fixture, ready for use. It even included
a meter to determine the current actually consumed. The success
of the system was complete, and as fast as lamps and generators
could be produced they were installed to give a service at once
recognized as superior to any other form of lighting. By 1885 the
Edison lighting system was commercially developed in all its
essentials, though still subject to many improvements and capable
of great enlargement, and soon Edison. sold out his interests in
it and turned his great mind to other inventions.

The inventive ingenuity of others brought in time better and more
economical incandescent lamps. From the filaments of bamboo fiber
the next step was to filaments of cellulose in the form of
cotton, duly prepared and carbonized. Later (1905) came the
metalized carbon filament and finally the employment of tantalum
or tungsten. The tungsten lamps first made were very delicate,
and it was not until W. D. Coolidge, in the research laboratories
of the General Electric Company at Schenectady, invented a
process for producing ductile tungsten that they became available
for general use.

The dynamo and the central power station brought the electric
motor into action. The dynamo and the motor do precisely opposite
things. The dynamo converts mechanical energy into electric
energy. The motor transforms electric energy into mechanical
energy. But the two work in partnership and without the dynamo to
manufacture the power the motor could not thrive. Moreover, the
central station was needed to distribute the power for
transportation as well as for lighting.

The first motors to use Edison station current were designed by
Frank J. Sprague, a graduate of the Naval Academy, who had worked
with Edison, as have many of the foremost electrical engineers of
America and Europe. These small motors possessed several
advantages over the big steam engine. They ran smoothly and
noiselessly on account of the absence of reciprocating parts.
They consumed current only when in use. They could be installed
and connected with a minimum of trouble and expense. They emitted
neither smell nor smoke. Edison built an experimental electric
railway line at Menlo Park in 1880 and proved its practicability.
Meanwhile, however, as he worked on his motors and dynamos, he
was anticipated by others in some of his inventions. It would not
be fair to say that Edison and Sprague alone developed the
electric railway, for there were several others who made
important contributions. Stephen D. Field of Stockbridge,
Massachusetts, had a patent which the Edison interests found it
necessary to acquire; C. J. Van Depoele and Leo Daft made
important contributions to the trolley system. In Cleveland in
1884 an electric railway on a small scale was opened to the
public. But Sprague's first electric railway, built at Richmond,
Virginia, in 1887, as a complete system, is generally hailed as
the true pioneer of electric transportation in the United States.
Thereafter the electric railway spread quickly over the land,
obliterating the old horsecars and greatly enlarging the
circumference of the city. Moreover, on the steam roads, at all
the great terminals, and wherever there were tunnels to be passed
through, the old giant steam engine in time yielded place to the
electric motor.

The application of the electric motor to the "vertical railway,"
or elevator, made possible the steel skyscraper. The elevator, of
course, is an old device. It was improved and developed in
America by Elisha Graves Otis, an inventor who lived and died
before the Civil War and whose sons afterward erected a great
business on foundations laid by him. The first Otis elevators
were moved by steam or hydraulic power. They were slow, noisy,
and difficult of control. After the electric motor came in; the
elevator soon changed its character and adapted itself to the
imperative demands of the towering, skeleton-framed buildings
which were rising in every city.

Edison, already famous as "the Wizard of Menlo Park," established
his factories and laboratories at West Orange, New Jersey, in
1887, whence he has since sent forth a constant stream of
inventions, some new and startling, others improvements on old
devices. The achievements of several other inventors in the
electrical field have been only less noteworthy than his. The new
profession of electrical engineering called to its service great
numbers of able men. Manufacturers of electrical machinery
established research departments and employed inventors. The
times had indeed changed since the day when Morse, as a student
at Yale College, chose art instead of electricity as his calling,
because electricity afforded him no means of livelihood.

From Edison's plant in 1903 came a new type of the storage
battery, which he afterwards improved. The storage battery, as
every one knows, is used in the propulsion of electric vehicles
and boats, in the operation of block-signals, in the lighting of
trains, and in the ignition and starting of gasoline engines. As
an adjunct of the gas-driven automobile, it renders the starting
of the engine independent of muscle and so makes possible the
general use of the automobile by women as well as men.

The dynamo brought into service not only light and power but
heat; and the electric furnace in turn gave rise to several great
metallurgical and chemical industries. Elihu Thomson's process of
welding by means of the arc furnace found wide and varied
applications. The commercial production of aluminum is due to the
electric furnace and dates from 1886. It was in that year that H.
Y. Castner of New York and C. M. Hall of Pittsburgh both invented
the methods of manufacture which gave to the world the new metal,
malleable and ductile, exceedingly light, and capable of a
thousand uses. Carborundum is another product of the electric
furnace. It was the invention of Edward B. Acheson, a graduate of
the Edison laboratories. Acheson, in 1891, was trying to make
artificial diamonds and produced instead the more useful
carborundum, as well as the Acheson graphite, which at once found
its place in industry. Another valuable product of the electric
furnace was the calcium carbide first produced in 1892 by Thomas
L. Wilson of Spray, North Carolina. This calcium carbide is the
basis of acetylene gas, a powerful illuminant, and it is widely
used in metallurgy, for welding and other purposes.

At the same time with these developments the value of the
alternating current came to be recognized. The transformer, an
instrument developed on foundations laid by Henry and Faraday,
made it possible to transmit electrical energy over great
distances with little loss of power. Alternating currents were
transformed by means of this instrument at the source, and were
again converted at the point of use to a lower and convenient
potential for local distribution and consumption. The first
extensive use of the alternating current was in arc lighting,
where the higher potentials could be employed on series lamps.
Perhaps the chief American inventor in the domain of the
alternating current is Elihu Thomson, who began his useful career
as Professor of Chemistry and Mechanics in the Central High
School of Philadelphia. Another great protagonist of the
alternating current was George Westinghouse, who was quite as
much an improver and inventor as a manufacturer of machinery. Two
other inventors, at least, should not be forgotten in this
connection: Nicola Tesla and Charles S. Bradley. Both of them had
worked for Edison.

The turbine (from the Latin turbo, meaning a whirlwind) is the
name of the motor which drives the great dynamos for the
generation of electric energy. It may be either a steam turbine
or a water turbine. The steam turbine of Curtis or Parsons is
today the prevailing engine. But the development of
hydro-electric power has already gone far. It is estimated that
the electric energy produced in the United States by the
utilization of water powers every year equals the power product
of forty million tons of coal, or about one-tenth of the coal
which is consumed in the production of steam. Yet
hydro-electricity is said to be only in its beginnings, for not
more than a tenth of the readily available water power of the
country is actually in use.

The first commercial hydro-station for the transmission of power
in America was established in 1891 at Telluride, Colorado. It was
practically duplicated in the following year at Brodie, Colorado.
The motors and generators for these stations came from the
Westinghouse plant in Pittsburgh, and Westinghouse also supplied
the turbo-generators which inaugurated, in 1895, the delivery of
power from Niagara Falls.


The most popular man in Europe in the year 1783 was still the
United States Minister to France. The figure of plain Benjamin
Franklin, his broad head, with the calm, shrewd eyes peering
through the bifocals of his own invention, invested with a halo
of great learning and fame, entirely captivated the people's

As one of the American Commissioners busy with the extraordinary
problems of the Peace, Franklin might have been supposed too
occupied for excursions into the paths of science and philosophy.
But the spaciousness and orderly furnishing of his mind provided
that no pursuit of knowledge should be a digression for him. So
we find him, naturally, leaving his desk on several days of that
summer and autumn and posting off to watch the trials of a new
invention; nothing less indeed than a ship to ride the air. He
found time also to describe the new invention in letters to his
friends in different parts of the world.

On the 21st of November Franklin set out for the gardens of the
King's hunting lodge in the Bois de Boulogne, on the outskirts of
Paris, with a quickened interest, a thrill of excitement, which
made him yearn to be young again with another long life to live
that he might see what should be after him on the earth. What
bold things men would attempt! Today two daring Frenchmen,
Pilatre de Rozier of the Royal Academy and his friend the Marquis
d'Arlandes, would ascend in a balloon freed from the earth--the
first men in history to adventure thus upon the wind. The crowds
gathered to witness the event opened a lane for Franklin to pass

At six minutes to two the aeronauts entered the car of their
balloon; and, at a height of two hundred and seventy feet, doffed
their hats and saluted the applauding spectators. Then the wind
carried them away toward Paris. Over Passy, about half a mile
from the starting point, the balloon began to descend, and the
River Seine seemed rising to engulf them; but when they fed the
fire under their sack of hot air with chopped straw they rose to
the elevation of five hundred feet. Safe across the river they
dampened the fire with a sponge and made a gentle descent beyond
the old ramparts of Paris.

At five o'clock that afternoon, at the King's Chateau in the Bois
de Boulogne, the members of the Royal Academy signed a memorial
of the event. One of the spectators accosted Franklin.

"What does Dr. Franklin conceive to be the use of this new

"What is the use of a new-born child?" was the retort.

A new-born child, a new-born republic, a new invention: alike dim
beginnings of development which none could foretell. The year
that saw the world acknowledge a new nation, freed of its ancient
political bonds, saw also the first successful attempt to break
the supposed bonds that held men down to the ground. Though the
invention of the balloon was only five months old, there were
already two types on exhibition: the original Montgolfier, or
fireballoon, inflated with hot air, and a modification by
Charles, inflated with hydrogen gas. The mass of the French
people did not regard these balloons with Franklin's serenity.
Some weeks earlier the danger of attack had necessitated a
balloon's removal from the place of its first moorings to the
Champ de Mars at dead of night. Preceded by flaming torches, with
soldiers marching on either side and guards in front and rear,
the great ball was borne through the darkened streets. The
midnight cabby along the route stopped his nag, or tumbled from
sleep on his box, to kneel on the pavement and cross himself
against the evil that might be in that strange monster. The fear
of the people was so great that the Government saw fit to issue a
proclamation, explaining the invention. Any one seeing such a
globe, like the moon in an eclipse, so read the proclamation,
should be aware that it is only a bag made of taffeta or light
canvas covered with paper and "cannot possibly cause any harm and
which will some day prove serviceable to the wants of society."

Franklin wrote a description of the Montgolfier balloon to Sir
Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society of London:

"Its bottom was open and in the middle of the opening was fixed a
kind of basket grate, in which faggots and sheaves of straw were
burnt. The air, rarefied in passing through this flame, rose in
the balloon, swelled out its sides, and filled it. The persons,
who were placed in the gallery made of wicker and attached to the
outside near the bottom, had each of them a port through which
they could pass sheaves of straw into the grate to keep up the
flame and thereby keep the balloon full . . . . One of these
courageous philosophers, the Marquis d'Arlandes, did me the honor
to call upon me in the evening after the experiment, with Mr.
Montgolfier, the very ingenious inventor. I was happy to see him
safe. He informed me that they lit gently, without the least
shock, and the balloon was very little damaged."

Franklin writes that the competition between Montgolfier and
Charles has already resulted in progress in the construction and
management of the balloon. He sees it as a discovery of great
importance, one that "may possibly give a new turn to human
affairs. Convincing sovereigns of the folly of war may perhaps be
one effect of it, since it will be impracticable for the most
potent of them to guard his dominions." The prophecy may yet be
fulfilled. Franklin remarks that a short while ago the idea of
"witches riding through the air upon a broomstick and that of
philosophers upon a bag of smoke would have appeared equally
impossible and ridiculous." Yet in the space of a few months he
has seen the philosopher on his smoke bag, if not the witch on
her broom. He wishes that one of these very ingenious inventors
would immediately devise means of direction for the balloon, a
rudder to steer it; because the malady from which he is suffering
is always increased by a jolting drive in a fourwheeler and he
would gladly avail himself of an easier way of locomotion.

The vision of man on the wing did not, of course, begin .with the
invention of the balloon. Perhaps the dream of flying man came
first to some primitive poet of the Stone Age, as he watched,
fearfully, the gyrations of the winged creatures of the air; even
as in a later age it came to Langley and Maxim, who studied the
wing motions of birds and insects, not in fear but in the light
and confidence of advancing science.

Crudely outlined by some ancient Egyptian sculptor, a winged
human figure broods upon the tomb of Rameses III. In the Hebrew
parable of Genesis winged cherubim guarded the gates of Paradise
against the man and woman who had stifled aspiration with sin.
Fairies, witches, and magicians ride the wind in the legends and
folklore of all peoples. The Greeks had gods and goddesses many;
and one of these Greek art represents as moving earthward on
great spreading pinions. Victory came by the air. When Demetrius,
King of Macedonia, set up the Winged Victory of Samothrace to
commemorate the naval triumph of the Greeks over the ships of
Egypt, Greek art poetically foreshadowed the relation of the air
service to the fleet in our own day.

Man has always dreamed of flight; but when did men first actually
fly? We smile at the story of Daedalus, the Greek architect, and
his son, Icarus, who made themselves wings and flew from the
realm of their foes; and the tale of Simon, the magician, who
pestered the early Christian Church by exhibitions of flight into
the air amid smoke and flame in mockery of the ascension. But do
the many tales of sorcerers in the Middle Ages, who rose from the
ground with their cloaks apparently filled with wind, to awe the
rabble, suggest that they had deduced the principle of the
aerostat from watching the action of smoke as did the
Montgolfiers hundreds of years later? At all events one of these
alleged exhibitions about the year 800 inspired the good Bishop
Agobard of Lyons to write a book against superstition, in which
he proved conclusively that it was impossible for human beings to
rise through the air. Later, Roger Bacon and Leonardo da Vinci,
each in his turn ruminated in manuscript upon the subject of
flight. Bacon, the scientist, put forward a theory of thin copper
globes filled with liquid fire, which would soar. Leonardo,
artist, studied the wings of birds. The Jesuit Francisco Lana, in
1670, working on Bacon's theory sketched an airship made of four
copper balls with a skiff attached; this machine was to soar by
means of the lighter-than-air globes and to be navigated aloft by
oars and sails.

But while philosophers in their libraries were designing airships
on paper and propounding their theories, venturesome men,
"crawling, but pestered with the thought of wings," were making
pinions of various fabrics and trying them upon the wind. Four
years after Lana suggested his airship with balls and oars,
Besnier, a French locksmith, made a flying machine of four
collapsible planes like book covers suspended on rods. With a rod
over each shoulder, and moving the two front planes with his arms
and the two back ones by his feet, Besnier gave exhibitions of
gliding from a height to the earth. But his machine could not
soar. What may be called the first patent on a flying machine was
recorded in 1709 when Bartholomeo de Gusmao, a friar, appeared
before the King of Portugal to announce that he had invented a
flying machine and to request an order prohibiting other men from
making anything of the sort. The King decreed pain of death to
all infringers; and to assist the enterprising monk in improving
his machine, he appointed him first professor of mathematics in
the University of Coimbra with a fat stipend. Then the
Inquisition stepped in. The inventor's suave reply, to the effect
that to show men how to soar to Heaven was an essentially
religious act, availed him nothing. He was pronounced a sorcerer,
his machine was destroyed, and he was imprisoned till his death.
Many other men fashioned unto themselves wings; but, though some
of them might glide earthward, none could rise upon the wind.

While the principle by which the balloon, father of the
dirigible, soars and floats could be deduced by men of natural
powers of observation and little science from the action of
clouds and smoke, the airplane, the Winged Victory of our day,
waited upon two things--the scientific analysis of the anatomy of
bird wings and the internal combustion engine.

These two things necessary to convert man into a rival of the
albatross did not come at once and together. Not the dream of
flying but the need for quantity and speed in production to take
care of the wants of a modern civilization compelled the
invention of the internal combustion engine. Before it appeared
in the realm of mechanics, experimenters were applying in the
construction of flying models the knowledge supplied by Cayley in
1796, who made an instrument of whalebone, corks, and feathers,
which by the action of two screws of quill feathers, rotating in
opposite directions, would rise to the ceiling; and the full
revelation of the structure and action of bird wings set forth by
Pettigrew in 1867.

"The wing, both when at rest and when in motion," Pettigrew
declared, "may not inaptly be compared to the blade of an
ordinary screw propeller as employed in navigation. Thus the
general outline of the wing corresponds closely with the outline
of the propeller, and the track described by the wing in space IS
TWISTED UPON ITSELF propeller fashion." Numerous attempts to
apply the newly discovered principles to artificial birds failed,
yet came so close to success that they fed instead of killing the
hope that a solution of the problem would one day ere long be

"Nature has solved it, and why not man?"

From his boyhood days Samuel Pierpont Langley, so he tells us,
had asked himself that question, which he was later to answer.
Langley, born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1834, was another
link in the chain of distinguished inventors who first saw the
light of day in Puritan New England. And, like many of those
other inventors, he numbered among his ancestors for generations
two types of men--on the one hand, a line of skilled artisans and
mechanics; on the other, the most intellectual men of their time
such as clergymen and schoolmasters, one of them being Increase
Mather. We see in Langley, as in some of his brother New England
inventors, the later flowering of the Puritan ideal stripped of
its husk of superstition and harshness--a high sense of duty and
of integrity, an intense conviction that the reason for a man's
life here is that he may give service, a reserved deportment
which did not mask from discerning eyes the man's gentle
qualities of heart and his keen love of beauty in art and Nature.

Langley first chose as his profession civil engineering and
architecture and the years between 1857 and 1864 were chiefly
spent in prosecuting these callings in St. Louis and Chicago.
Then he abandoned them; for the bent of his mind was definitely
towards scientific inquiry. In 1867 he was appointed director of
the Allegheny Observatory at Pittsburgh. Here he remained until
1887, when, having made for himself a world-wide reputation as an
astronomer, he became Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution at

It was about this time that he began his experiments in
"aerodynamics." But the problem of flight had long been a subject
of interested speculation with him. Ten years later he wrote:

"Nature has made her flying-machine in the bird, which is nearly
a thousand times as heavy as the air its bulk displaces, and only
those who have tried to rival it know how inimitable her work is,
for the "way of a bird in the air" remains as wonderful to us as
it was to Solomon, and the sight of the bird has constantly held
this wonder before men's minds, and kept the flame of hope from
utter extinction, in spite of long disappointment. I well
remember how, as a child, when lying in a New England pasture, h
watched a hawk soaring far up in the blue, and sailing for a long
time without any motion of its wings, as though it needed no work
to sustain it, but was kept up there by some miracle. But,
however sustained, I saw it sweep in a few seconds of its
leisurely flight, over a distance that to me was encumbered with
every sort of obstacle, which did not exist for it . . . . How
wonderfully easy, too, was its flight! There was not a flutter of
its pinions as it swept over the field, in a motion which seemed
as effortless as that of its shadow. After many years and in
mature life, I was brought to think of these things again, and
to. ask myself whether the problem of artificial flight was as
hopeless and as absurd as it was then thought to be"... In three
or four years Langley made nearly forty models. "The primary
difficulty lay in making the model light enough and sufficiently
strong to support its power," he says. "This difficulty continued
to be fundamental through every later form; but, beside this, the
adjustment of the center of gravity to the center of pressure of
the wings, the disposition of the wings themselves, the size of
the propellers, the inclination and number of the blades, and a
great number of other details, presented themselves for

By 1891 Langley had a model light enough to fly, but proper
balancing had not been attained. He set himself anew to find the
practical conditions of equilibrium and of horizontal flight. His
experiments convinced him that "mechanical sustenation of heavy
bodies in the air, combined with very great speeds, is not only
possible, but within the reach of mechanical means we actually

After many experiments with new models Langley at length
fashioned a steam-driven machine which would fly horizontally. It
weighed about thirty pounds; it was some sixteen feet in length,
with two sets of wings, the pair in front measuring forty feet
from tip to tip. On May 6, 1896, this model was launched over the
Potomac River. It flew half a mile in a minute and a half. When
its fuel and water gave out, it descended gently to the river's
surface. In November Langley launched another model which flew
for three-quarters of a mile at a speed of thirty miles an hour.
These tests demonstrated the practicability of artificial flight.

The Spanish-American War found the military observation balloon
doing the limited work which it had done ever since the days of
Franklin. President McKinley was keenly interested in Langley's
design to build a power-driven flying machine which would have
innumerable advantages over the balloon. The Government provided
the funds and Langley took up the problem of a flying machine
large enough to carry a man. His initial difficulty was the
engine. It was plain at once that new principles of engine
construction must be adopted before a motor could be designed of
high power yet light enough to be borne in the slender body of an
airplane. The internal combustion engine had now come into use.
Langley went to Europe in 1900, seeking his motor, only to be
told that what he sought was impossible.

His assistant, Charles M. Manly, meanwhile found a builder of
engines in America who was willing to make the attempt. But,
after two years of waiting for it, the engine proved a failure.
Manly then had the several parts of it, which he deemed hopeful,
transported to Washington, and there at the Smithsonian
Institution he labored and experimented until he evolved a light
and powerful gasoline motor. In October, 1903, the test was made,
with Manly aboard of the machine. The failure which resulted was
due solely to the clumsy launching apparatus. The airplane was
damaged as it rushed forward before beginning to soar; and, as it
rose, it turned over and plunged into the river. The loyal and
enthusiastic Manly, who was fortunately a good diver and swimmer,
hastily dried himself and gave out a reassuring statement to the
representatives of the press and to the officers of the Board of
Ordnance gathered to witness the flight.

A second failure in December convinced spectators that man was
never intended to fly. The newspapers let loose such a storm of
ridicule upon Langley and his machine, with charges as to the
waste of public funds, that the Government refused to assist him
further. Langley, at that time sixty-nine years of age, took this
defeat so keenly to heart that it hastened his death, which
occurred three years later. "Failure in the aerodrome itself," he
wrote, "or its engines there has been none; and it is believed
that it is at the moment of success, and when the engineering
problems have been solved, that a lack of means has prevented a
continuance of the work."

It was truly "at the moment of success" that Langley's work was
stopped. On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made the first
successful experiment in which a machine carrying a man rose by
its own power, flew naturally and at even speed, and descended
without damage. These brothers, Wilbur and Orville, who at last
opened the long besieged lanes of the air, were born in Dayton,
Ohio. Their father, a clergyman and later a bishop, spent his
leisure in scientific reading and in the invention of a
typewriter which, however, he never perfected. He inspired an
interest in scientific principles in his boys' minds by giving
them toys which would stimulate their curiosity. One of these
toys was a helicopter, or Cayley's Top, which would rise and
flutter awhile in the air.

After several helicopters of their own, the brothers made
original models of kites, and Orville, the younger, attained an
exceptional skill in flying them. Presently Orville and Wilbur
were making their own bicycles and astonishing their neighbors by
public appearances on a specially designed tandem. The first
accounts which they read of experiments with flying machines
turned their inventive genius into the new field. In particular
the newspaper accounts at that time of Otto Lilienthal's
exhibitions with his glider stirred their interest and set them
on to search the libraries for literature on the subject of
flying. As they read of the work of Langley and others they
concluded that the secret of flying could not be mastered
theoretically in a laboratory; it must be learned in the air. It
struck these young men, trained by necessity to count pennies at
their full value, as "wasteful extravagance" to mount delicate
and costly machinery on wings which no one knew how to manage.
They turned from the records of other inventors' models to study
the one perfect model, the bird. Said Wilbur Wright, speaking
before the Society of Western Engineers, at Chicago:

"The bird's wings are undoubtedly very well designed indeed, but
it is not any extraordinary efficiency that strikes with
astonishment, but rather the marvelous skill with which they are
used. It is true that I have seen birds perform soaring feats of
almost incredible nature in positions where it was not possible
to measure the speed and trend of the wind, but whenever it was
possible to determine by actual measurements the conditions under
which the soaring was performed it was easy to account for it on
the basis of the results obtained with artificial wings. The
soaring problem is apparently not so much one of better wings as
of better operators."*

* Cited in Turner, "The Romance of Aeronautics".

When the Wrights determined to fly, two problems which had beset
earlier experimenters had been partially solved. Experience had
brought out certain facts regarding the wings; and invention had
supplied an engine. But the laws governing the balancing and
steering of the machine were unknown. The way of a man in the air
had yet to be discovered.

The starting point of their theory of flight seems to have been
that man was endowed with an intelligence at least equal to that
of the bird; and, that with practice he could learn to balance
himself in the air as naturally and instinctively as on the
ground. He must and could be, like the bird, the controlling
intelligence of his machine. To quote Wilbur Wright again:

"It seemed to us that the main reason why the problem had
remained so long unsolved was that no one had been able to obtain
any adequate practice. Lilienthal in five years of time had spent
only five hours in actual gliding through the air. The wonder was
not that he had done so little but that he had accomplished so
much. It would not be considered at all safe for a bicycle rider
to attempt to ride through a crowded city street after only five
hours' practice spread out in bits of ten seconds each over a
period of five years, yet Lilienthal with his brief practice was
remarkably successful in meeting the fluctuations and eddies of
wind gusts. We thought that if some method could be found by
which it would be possible to practice by the hour instead of by
the second, there would be a hope of advancing the solution of a
very difficult problem."

The brothers found that winds of the velocity they desired for
their experiments were common on the coast of North Carolina.
They pitched their camp at Kitty Hawk in October, 1900, and made
a brief and successful trial of their gliding machine. Next year,
they returned with a much larger machine; and in 1902 they
continued their experiments with a model still further improved
from their first design. Having tested their theories and become
convinced that they were definitely on the right track, they were
no longer satisfied merely to glide. They set about constructing
a power machine. Here a new problem met them. They had decided on
two screw propellers rotating in opposite directions on the
principle of wings in flight; but the proper diameter, pitch, and
area of blade were not easily arrived at.

On December 17, 1903, the first Wright biplane was ready to
navigate the air and made four brief successful flights.
Subsequent flights in 1904 demonstrated that the problem of
equilibrium had not been fully solved; but the experiments of
1905 banished this difficulty.

The responsibility which the Wrights placed upon the aviator for
maintaining his equilibrium, and the tailless design of their
machine, caused much headshaking among foreign flying men when
Wilbur Wright appeared at the great aviation meet in France in
1908. But he won the Michelin Prize of eight hundred pounds by
beating previous records for speed and for the time which any
machine had remained in the air. He gave exhibitions also in
Germany and Italy and instructed Italian army officers in the
flying of Wright machines. At this time Orville was giving
similar demonstrations in America. Transverse control, the
warping device invented by the Wright brothers for the
preservation of lateral balance and for artificial inclination in
making turns, has been employed in a similar or modified form in
most airplanes since constructed.

There was no "mine" or "thine" in the diction of the Wright
brothers; only "we" and "ours." They were joint inventors; they
shared their fame equally and all their honors and prizes also
until the death of Wilbur in 1912. They were the first inventors
to make the ancient dream of flying man a reality and to
demonstrate that reality to the practical world.

When the NC flying boats of the United States navy lined up at
Trepassey in May, 1919, for their Atlantic venture, and the press
was full of pictures of them, how many hasty readers, eager only
for news of the start, stopped to think what the initials NC
stood for?

The seaplane is the chief contribution of Glenn Hammond Curtiss
to aviation, and the Navy Curtiss Number Four, which made the
first transatlantic flight in history, was designed by him. The
spirit of cooperation, expressed in pooling ideas and fame, which
the Wright brothers exemplified, is seen again in the association
of Curtiss with the navy during the war. NC is a fraternity badge
signifying equal honors.

Curtiss, in 1900, was--like the Wrights--the owner of a small
bicycle shop. It was at Hammondsport, New York. He was an
enthusiastic cyclist, and speed was a mania with him. He evolved
a motor cycle with which he broke all records for speed over the
ground. He started a factory and achieved a reputation for
excellent motors. He designed and made the engine for the
dirigible of Captain Thomas S. Baldwin; and for the first United
States army dirigible in 1905.

Curtiss carried on some of his experiments in association with
Alexander Graham Bell, who was trying to evolve a stable flying
machine on the principle of the cellular kite. Bell and Curtiss,
with three others, formed in 1907, the Aerial Experimental
Association at Bell's country house in Canada, which was fruitful
of results, and Curtiss scored several notable triumphs with the
craft they designed. But the idea of a machine which could
descend and propel itself on water possessed his mind, and in
1911 he exhibited at the aviation meet in Chicago the
hydroaeroplane. An incident there set him dreaming of the
life-saving systems on great waters. His hydroaeroplane had just
returned to its hangar, after a series of maneuvers, when a
monoplane in flight broke out of control and plunged into Lake
Michigan. The Curtiss machine left its hangar on the minute,
covered the intervening mile, and alighted on the water to offer
aid. The presence of boats made the good offices of the
hydroaeroplane unnecessary on that occasion; but the incident
opened up to the mind of Curtiss new possibilities.

In the first years of the World War Curtiss built airplanes and
flying boats for the Allies. The United States entered the arena
and called for his services. The Navy Department called for the
big flying boat; and the NC type was evolved, which, equipped
with four Liberty Motors, crossed the Atlantic after the close of
the war.

The World War, of course, brought about the magical development
of all kinds of air craft. Necessity not only mothered invention
but forced it to cover a normal half century of progress in four
years. While Curtiss worked with the navy, the Dayton-Wright
factory turned out the famous DH fighting planes under the
supervision of Orville Wright. The second initial here stands for
Havilland, as the DH was designed by Geoffrey de Havilland, a
British inventor.

The year 1919 saw the first transatlantic flights. The NC4, with
Lieutenant Commander Albert Cushing Read and crew, left
Trepassey, Newfoundland, on the 16th of May and in twelve hours
arrived at Horta, the Azores, more than a thousand miles away.
All along the course the navy had strung a chain of destroyers,
with signaling apparatus and searchlights to guide the aviators.
On the twenty-seventh, NC4 took off from San Miguel, Azores, and
in nine hours made Lisbon--Lisbon, capital of Portugal, which
sent out the first bold mariners to explore the Sea of Darkness,
prior to Columbus. On the thirtieth, NC4 took off for Plymouth,
England, and arrived in ten hours and twenty minutes. Perhaps a
phantom ship, with sails set and flags blowing, the name
Mayflower on her hull, rode in Plymouth Harbor that day to greet
a New England pilot.

On the 14th of June the Vickers-Vimy Rolls-Royce biplane, piloted
by John Alcock and with Arthur Whitten Brown as
observer-navigator, left St. John's, Newfoundland, and arrived at
Clifden, Ireland, in sixteen hours twelve minutes, having made
the first non-stop transatlantic flight. Hawker and Grieve
meanwhile had made the same gallant attempt in a single-engined
Sopwith machine; and had come down in mid-ocean, after flying
fourteen and a half hours, owing to the failure of their water
circulation. Their rescue by slow Danish Mary completed a
fascinating tale of heroic adventure. The British dirigible R34,
with Major G. H. Scott in command, left East Fortune, Scotland,
on the 2d of July, and arrived at Mineola, New York, on the
sixth. The R34 made the return voyage in seventy-five hours. In
November, 1919, Captain Sir Ross Smith set off from England in a
biplane to win a prize of ten thousand pounds offered by the
Australian Commonwealth to the first Australian aviator to fly
from England to Australia in thirty days. Over France, Italy,
Greece, over the Holy Land, perhaps over the Garden of Eden,
whence the winged cherubim drove Adam and Eve, over Persia,
India, Siam, the Dutch East Indies to Port Darwin in northern
Australia; and then southeastward across Australia itself to
Sydney, the biplane flew without mishap. The time from Hounslow,
England, to Port Darwin was twenty-seven days, twenty hours, and
twenty minutes. Early in 1920 the Boer airman Captain Van
Ryneveld made the flight from Cairo to the Cape.

Commercial development of the airplane and the airship commenced
after the war. The first air service for United States mails was,
in fact, inaugurated during the war, between New York and
Washington. The transcontinental service was established soon
afterwards, and a regular line between Key West and Havana.
French and British companies began to operate daily between
London and Paris carrying passengers and mail. Airship companies
were formed in Australia, South Africa, and India. In Canada
airplanes were soon being used in prospecting the Labrador timber
regions, in making photographs and maps of the northern
wilderness, and by the Northwest Mounted Police.

It is not for history to prophesy. "Emblem of much, and of our
Age of Hope itself," Carlyle called the balloon of his time, born
to mount majestically but "unguidably" only to tumble "whither
Fate will." But the aircraft of our day is guidable, and our Age
of Hope is not rudderless nor at the mercy of Fate.



A clear, non-technical discussion of the basis of all industrial
progress is "Power", by Charles E. Lucke (1911), which discusses
the general principle of the substitution of power for the labor
of men. Many of the references given in "Colonial Folkways", by
C. M. Andrews ("The Chronicles of America", vol. IX), are
valuable for an understanding of early industrial conditions. The
general course of industry and commerce in the United States is
briefly told by Carroll D. Wright in "The Industrial Evolution of
the United States" (1907), by E. L. Bogart in "The Economic
History of the United States" (1920), and by Katharine Coman in
"The Industrial History of the United States" (1911). "A
Documentary History of American Industrial Society", 10 vols.
(1910-11), edited by John R. Commons, is a mine of material. See
also Emerson D. Fite, "Social and Industrial Conditions in the
North During the Civil War" (1910). The best account of the
inventions of the nineteenth century is "The Progress of
Invention in the Nineteenth Century" by Edward W. Byrn (1900).
George Iles in "Leading American Inventors" (1912) tells the
story of several important inventors and their work. The same
author in "Flame, Electricity and the Camera" (1900) gives much
valuable information.


The primary source of information on Benjamin Franklin is
contained in his own writings. These were compiled and edited by
Jared Sparks, "The Works of . . . Franklin . . . with Notes and a
Life of the Author", 10 vols. (1836-40); and later by John
Bigelow, "The Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin; including His
Private as well as His Official and Scientific Correspondence,
and Numerous Letters and Documents Now for the First Time
Printed, with Many Others not included in Any Former Collection,
also, the Unmutilated and Correct Version of His Autobiography",
10 vols. (1887-88). Consult also James Parton, "The Life and
Times of Benjamin Franklin", 2 vols. (1864); S. G. Fisher, "The
True Benjamin Franklin" (1899); Paul Leicester Ford, "The
Many-Sided Franklin" (1899); John T. Morse, "Benjamin Franklin"
(1889) in the "American Statesmen" series; and Lindsay Swift,
"Benjamin Franklin" (1910) in "Beacon Biographies. On the Patent
Office: Henry L. Ellsworth, A Digest of Patents Issued by the
United States from 1790 to January 1, 1839" (Washington, 1840);
also the regular Reports and publications of the United States
Patent Office.


The first life of Eli Whitney is the "Memoir" by Denison Olmsted
(1846), and a collection of Whitney's letters about the cotton
gin may be found in "The American Historical Review", vol. III
(1897). "Eli Whitney and His Cotton Gin," by M. F. Foster, is
included in the "Transactions of the New England Cotton
Manufacturers' Association", no. 67 (October, 1899). See also
Dwight Goddard, "A Short Story of Eli Whitney" (1904); D. A.
Tompkins, "Cotton and Cotton Oil" (1901); James A. B. Scherer,
"Cotton as a World Power" (1916); E. C. Bates, "The Story of the
Cotton Gin" (1899), reprinted from "The New England Magazine",
May, 1890; and Eugene Clyde Brooks, "The Story of Cotton and the
Development of the Cotton States" (1911).


For an account of James Watt's achievements, see J. Cleland,
"Historical Account of the Steam Engine" (1825) and John W.
Grant, "Watt and the Steam Age" (1917). On Fulton: R. H.
Thurston, "Robert Fulton" (1891) in the "Makers of America"
series; A. C. Sutcliffe, "Robert Fulton and the 'Clermont'"
(1909); H. W. Dickinson, "Robert Fulton, Engineer and Artist; His
Life and Works" (1913). For an account of John Stevens, see
George Iles, "Leading American Inventors" (1912), and Dwight
Goddard, "A Short Story of John Stevens and His Sons in Eminent
Engineers" (1905). See also John Stevens, "Documents Tending to
Prove the Superior Advantages of Rail-Ways and Steam-Carriages
over Canal Navigation" (1819.), reprinted in "The Magazine of
History with Notes and Queries", Extra Number 54 (1917). On
Evans: "Oliver Evans and His Inventions," by Coleman Sellers, in
"The Journal of the Franklin Institute", July, 1886, vol. CXXII.


On the general subject of cotton manufacture and machinery, see:
J. L. Bishop, "History of American Manufactures from 1608 to
1860", 3 vols. (1864-67); Samuel Batchelder, "Introduction and
Early Progress of the Cotton Manufacture in the United States"
(1863); James Montgomery, "A Practical Detail of the Cotton
Manufacture of the United States of America" (1840); Melvin T.
Copeland, "The Cotton Manufacturing Industry of the United
States" (1912); and John L. Hayes, "American Textile Machinery"
(1879). Harriet H. Robinson, "Loom and Spindle" (1898), is a
description of the life of girl workers in the early factories
written by one of them. Charles Dickens, "American Notes",
Chapter IV, is a vivid account of the life in the Lowell mills.
See also Nathan Appleton, "Introduction of the Power Loom and
Origin of Lowell" (1858); H. A. Miles, "Lowell, as It Was, and as
It Is" (1845), and G. S. White, "Memoir of Samuel Slater" (1836).
On Elias Howe, see Dwight Goddard, "A Short Story of Elias Howe
in Eminent Engineers" (1905).


The story of the reaper is told in: Herbert N. Casson, "Cyrus
Hall McCormick; His Life and Work" (1909), and "The Romance of
the Reaper" (1908), and Merritt F. Miller, "Evolution of Reaping
Machines" (1902), U. S. Experiment Stations Office, Bulletin 103.
Other farm inventions are covered in: William Macdonald, "Makers
of Modern Agriculture" (1913); Emile Guarini, "The Use of
Electric Power in Plowing" in The "Electrical Review", vol.
XLIII; A. P. Yerkes, "The Gas Tractor in Eastern Farming" (1918),
U. S. Department of Agriculture, Farmer's Bulletin 1004; and
Herbert N. Casson and others, "Horse, Truck and Tractor; the
Coming of Cheaper Power for City and Farm" (1913).


An account of an early "agent of communication" is given by W. F.
Bailey, article on the "Pony Express" in "The Century Magazine",
vol. XXXIV (1898). For the story of the telegraph and its
inventors, see: S. I. Prime, "Life of Samuel F. B. Morse" (1875);
S. F. B. Morse, "The Electro-Magnetic Telegraph" (1858) and
"Examination of the Telegraphic Apparatus and the Process in
Telegraphy" (1869); Guglielmo Marconi, "The Progress of Wireless
Telegraphy" (1912) in the "Transactions of the New York
Electrical Society", no. 15; and Ray Stannard Baker, "Marconi's
Achievement" in McClure's Magazine, vol. XVIII (1902). On the
telephone, see Herbert N. Casson, "History of the Telephone"
(1910); and Alexander Graham Bell, "The Telephone" (1878). On the
cable: Charles Bright, "The Story of the Atlantic Cable" (1903).
For facts in the history of printing and descriptions of printing
machines, see: Edmund G. Gress, "American Handbook of Printing"
(1907); Robert Hoe, "A Short History of the Printing Press and of
the Improvements in Printing Machinery" (1902); and Otto
Schoenrich, "Biography of Ottmar Mergenthaler and History of the
Linotype" (1898), written under Mr. Mergenthaler's direction. On
the best-known New York newspapers, see: H. Hapgood and A. B.
Maurice, "The Great Newspapers of the United States; the New York
Newspapers," in "The Bookman", vols. XIV and XV (1902). On the
typewriter, see Charles Edward Weller, "The Early History of the
Typewriter" (1918). On the camera, Paul Lewis Anderson, "The
Story of Photography" (1918) in "The Mentor", vol. vi, no. 19.;
and on the motion picture, Colin N. Bennett, "The Handbook of
Kinematography"; "The History, Theory and Practice of Motion
Photography and Projection", London: "Kinematograph Weekly"


For information on the subject of rubber and the life of Charles
Goodyear, see: H. Wickham, "On the Plantation, Cultivation and
Curing of Para Indian Rubber", London (1908); Francis Ernest
Lloyd, "Guayule, a Rubber Plant of the Chihuahuan Desert",
Washington (1911), Carnegie Institute publication no. 139;
Charles Goodyear, "Gum Elastic and Its Varieties" (1853) ; James
Parton, "Famous Americans of Recent Times" (1867); and "The
Rubber Industry, Being the Official Report of the Proceedings of
the International Rubber Congress" (London, 1911), edited by
Joseph Torey and A. Staines Manders.


J. W. Roe, "English and American Tool Builders" (1916), and J. V.
Woodworth, "American Tool Making and Interchangeable
Manufacturing" (1911), give general accounts of great American

For an account of John Stevens and Robert L. and E. A. Stevens,
see George Iles, "Leading American Inventors" (1912); Dwight
Goddard, "A Short Story of John Stevens and His Sons" in "Eminent
Engineers" (1905), and R. H. Thurston, "The Messrs. Stevens, of
Hoboken, as Engineers, Naval Architects and Philanthropists"
(1874), "Journal of the Franklin Institute", October, 1874. For
Whitney's contribution to machine shop methods, see Olmsted's
"Memoir" already cited and Roe and Woodworth, already cited. For
Blanchard, see Dwight Goddard, "A Short Story of Thomas
Blanchard" in "Eminent Engineers" (1905), and for Samuel Colt,
see his own "On the Application of Machinery to the Manufacture
of Rotating Chambered-Breech Fire Arms, and Their Peculiarities"
(1855), an excerpt from the "Minutes of Proceedings of the
Institute of Civil Engineers", vol. XI (1853), and Henry Barnard,
"Armsmear; the Home, the Arm, and the Armory of Samuel Colt"


"The Story of Electricity" (1919) is a popular history edited by
T. C. Martin and S. L. Coles. A more specialized account of
electrical inventions may be found in George Bartlett Prescott's
"The Speaking Telephone, Electric Light, and Other Recent
Electrical Inventions" (1879).

For Joseph Henry's achievements, see his own "Contributions to
Electricity and Galvanism" (1835-42) and "On the Application of
the Principle of the Galvanic Multiplier to Electromagnetic
Apparatus" (1831), and the accounts of others in Henry C.
Cameron's "Reminiscences of Joseph Henry" and W. B. Taylor's
"Historical Sketch of Henry's Contribution to the
Electro-Magnetic Telegraph" (1879), Smithsonian Report, 1878.

"A List of References on the Life and Inventions of Thomas A.
Edison " may be found in the Division of Bibliography, U. S.
Library of Congress (1916). See also F. L. Dyer and T. C. Martin,
"Edison; His Life and Inventions" (1910), and "Mr. Edison's
Reminiscences of the First Central Station" in "The Electrical
Review", vol. XXXVIII. On other special topics see: F. E. Leupp,
"George Westinghouse, His Life and Achievements" (1918); Elihu
Thomson, "Induction of Electric Currents and Induction Coils"
(1891), "Journal of the Franklin Institute", August, 1891; and
Alex Dow, "The Production of Electricity by Steam Power" (1917).


Charles C. Turner, "The Romance of Aeronautics" (1912); "The
Curtiss Aviation Book", by Glenn H. Curtiss and Augustus Post
(1912); Samuel Pierpont Langley and Charles M. Manly, "Langley
Memoir on Mechanical Flight" (Smithsonian Institution, 1911);
"Our Atlantic Attempt", by H. G. Hawker and K. Mackenzie Grieve
(1919); "Flying the Atlantic in Sixteen Hours", by Sir Arthur
Whitten Brown (1920); "Practical Aeronautics", by Charles B.
Hayward, with an Introduction by Orville Wright (1912);
"Aircraft; Its Development in War and Peace", by Evan J. David
(1919). Accounts of the flights across the Atlantic are given in
"The Aerial Year Book and Who's Who in the Air" (1920), and the
story of NC4 is told in "The Flight Across the Atlantic", issued
by the Department of Education, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor
Corporation (1919).

Book of the day: