Questions tagged [technology]

Tag for questions on the application of theoretical or scientific knowledge for a practical objective, including methodologies, techniques, or processes.

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53
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4answers
5k views

What do the phone number suffixes J, M, R, W in 1940 New York phone book mean?

Browsing through the Staten Island, NY telephone directory of January 1940, I found that certain phone numbers were printed with a suffix J, M, R or W. What do these mean? I've marked a few of them in ...
9
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2answers
2k views

What is Charles Babbage referring to when he talks about the 'College of Laputa'?

In On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, what is Charles Babbage referring to when talking about the College of Laputa in the following extract: ...Nor has the wild imagination of the ...
7
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2answers
217 views

What made California Indian baskets so good?

"California Indians were among the world's most sophisticated basket makers", according to Steven Hackel in Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis. Descriptions of the baskets emphasize the ...
2
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1answer
84 views

What triggered the acceleration in human advancement? [closed]

If you look back 100,000+ years humans were living in caves. They lived in caves for millennia. They used the same stone tools for millennia. They painted the same wall paintings for millennia. The ...
3
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1answer
219 views

Did the Nazi Army have a telephone conversation pattern?

The film "Valkyrie" (2008) depicts that while Stauffenberg was on his way to Berlin, Friedrich Fromm called Keitel to ask him about the rumors circulating in Berlin about Hitler's death. Fromm to ...
2
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2answers
488 views

How can there be a “final edition” of a morning paper, in the morning?

A US television episode from 1957 has the following scene, set in a hotel restaurant in what is clearly the morning, as he is eating breakfast and it looks brightly lit: Person: "The morning paper, ...
47
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4answers
18k views

Why did the Germans use the Enigma machine rather than the far superior “Lorenz” cipher machine?

Basically, the only good thing about the "Enigma" cipher machine was its name. Other than that, it was grossly inferior to the "Lorenz" one, apparently only used by some of the main, top-ranking ...
16
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3answers
3k views

When was the first electrical intra-battlefield communication?

When was the first time a commander used, for example, the telegraph to communicate with and coordinate different parts of the same battlefield? I know that the telegraph was used extensively for ...
27
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2answers
3k views

Why did Persia adopt the movable-type printing so late?

According to Iranica, the first books in Persian characters were published in Leiden in 1639, almost 200 years after Gutenberg's invention, and in Asia it was used even before that. Given that Persia ...
2
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1answer
282 views

Did people in the late 1800s and earlier really think that there would be, or already exist, “mechanical men”?

I've very often been wondering about how people used to think "back in the day" about all kinds of technical things. For example, once it was common knowledge that factories existed, and most people ...
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3answers
447 views

Any examples when one civilization/country got technology from another and after due to lack of knowledge lost it

I am wondering if there where actual cases when one civilization/country got advanced technology from another and due to lack of knowledge lost it. By advanced technology I mean that it was advanced ...
-1
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2answers
485 views

When did the number of motor driven vehicles surpass the number of horse driven vehicles in Paris, London, Berlin?

What exact year (or the closest approximation) did the number of motor driven vehicles surpass the number of horse driven vehicles (including the single horseman) on the streets of Paris?
4
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0answers
144 views

How did Europeans dye their garments black around 1800?

The recent Freikorps question tackled an old sore. It is said budgetary restrictions made for example Lützower and Brunswickers chose black as their uniform colour. Since no state would provide ...
5
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0answers
244 views

Why did the UK use hewn stone cubes for homes far more often than France?

Why did the UK use hewn stone cubes (ashlar masonry) for homes far more often than France in the previous centuries? It would be rare to find this kind of rustic stone (rubble masonry ) in the UK, ...
-5
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1answer
179 views

Is there any evidence of modern technology today that has been rediscovered? [closed]

Is there any evidence of modern technology or high population today that has been rediscovered? The earth has frozen over multiple times surely there is an example like this. For example computer ...
24
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1answer
7k views

Why did quill pens persist until the early 19th century despite the capacity to make metal dip pens?

I recently toured Jefferson's Monticello and I was struck during the tour of the library by the description of some of the challenges that Jefferson faced using quill pens. This seemed particularly ...
1
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1answer
117 views

Which historical developments led to mankind becoming ingenious towards todays exponential growth? [closed]

I want to ask pretty much the question in the title with some side notes/hints for the context: I don't mean first tools created by homo sapiens, I mean which societal or geographical developments ...
6
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1answer
197 views

What was the typical speed of a tramp steamship?

What was the typical speed of a tramp steamship in their heyday? I mean cruising speed, not flank speed; the figure you would divide into distance to see how long it would take to travel between ports....
0
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0answers
177 views

Was Perumthachan's doll the first automaton in India?

There is a doll automaton referenced in the legend of Perumthachan. It is shown in the movie. Does this legend indicate that the technology of automata was there in ancient India? Inventions such as ...
4
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2answers
155 views

What was the technology in pre-war traffic recorders?

In 1936, Nevada was using an automated traffic recorder, a device that counts the number of passing vehicles: The device must have included a vehicle detector and a recording mechanism. Today it ...
9
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1answer
475 views

In the 18th century, who built ships built using two-pointed nails?

On April 20th 1774, near Carmel, California, Juan Bautista de Anza wrote in his diary about finding the mast of a ship of unknown origin (his compatriot Garcés did not record it). Here is his complete ...
43
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10answers
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Are there any examples of technologies have been lost over time? [closed]

I've read before about various technologies being lost over time, either due to war or famine or just time. I'm interested in knowing more about what sorts of things have been lost, and how. I've ...
3
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0answers
249 views

Was Frisbee criticized in the Soviet Union?

In the U.S. of the 1950s, the Space Age and molded plastic flying discs (Frisbees) were both novel. New materials and a supposed resemblance to UFOs made this linkage irresistible for early disc ...
34
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6answers
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Fermat's statement about the ancients: How serious was he?

I am extremely interested in the idea that there was a period in time when, at least in the west, people looked upon the ancients (Romans/Greeks) as possessors of wisdom that had been lost. Fermat ...
4
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2answers
419 views

When and how did steel supplant iron for artillery?

When did steel supplant iron for use in making artillery pieces? And was it a peacetime innovation, or was it the result of wartime pressure to accept change? In reading Reign of Iron, it becomes ...
1
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1answer
460 views

Were non-firing replica firearms ever made to the same standards of fit, finish, and from the same materials as a functioning firearm?

The term replica firearm has an imprecise meaning. It covers everything from functioning firearms that look like historical weapons to toys that simply have the appearance of an historical or ...
6
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3answers
965 views

How did the Romans mint coins?

I would like to understand how the Romans minted coins. Mining, smelting and refining are no mystery; I can envision ways in which uniform coin-blanks might have been made : but the big problems are (...
12
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1answer
2k views

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms why do people still use bamboo sticks when paper had already been invented?

By the time of the setting of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, paper had already been invented. Why do kings often (according to the movies) receive letters on bamboo sticks? Is this historically ...
4
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3answers
302 views

Economic status of whites in the US South at the height of slavery?

In Tony Horwitz' book Midnight Rising about John Brown's raid, on page 23 discusses Calhoun's stance on slavery: he asserted that slavery freed Whites from drudgery and class conflict. I wonder if at ...
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2answers
235 views

Did bronze metallurgical development peak by the end of the bronze age?

There is a lot of talk, books, and science about the development of iron into increasing qualities and types of steel, but I do not see the same attention given to bronze. This is not counting the ...
4
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1answer
169 views

How were the earliest automatic traffic lights automated?

The first traffic light was operated by a policeman in 1868 and it was the only way things worked for a while. Modern traffic control systems are implemented with microcontrollers, networks and ...
4
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1answer
690 views

Did the Soviet military in fact fear that the Space Shuttle would be used as an orbital bomber? If so, why?

I have read on this blog (scroll down to section "what happened to make it fail) dedicated to failed cold war space projects that the Soviet leadership was deeply concerned about the STS, fearing that ...
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5answers
637 views

Why wasn't there more use of wind power in antiquity?

Wind power [was never] taken seriously in the ancient world [...] though Hero of Alexandria described a windmill connected to an air pump designed to blow an organ, there is no evidence for the ...
14
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2answers
416 views

Apart from the Inuit, and candlefish on the northwest coast, did pre-Columbian America have lamps or candles?

Lamps have been around in the Old World since the Palaeolithic (one was found in the Lascaux cave). Candles are thought to have originated in the Bronze Age, but were certainly used by ancient Greeks, ...
7
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1answer
290 views

What is the earliest depiction of a crane?

Various sources on the internet - such as Crane (machine), A History Of The Crane and The sky is the limit: human powered cranes and lifting devices - state that the Ancient Greeks were the inventors ...
6
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2answers
655 views

What methods were used for onboard ship communication during WW2?

What methods/devices were used for communication onboard say a fighting ship during WW2? Did they have an intercom type system so different areas could communicate directly? Were there ship-wide ...
2
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2answers
176 views

How area of a country used to be calculated?

Before satellites and other modern techniques, how the area of countries/territories/regions used to be calculated? I can understand that plotting boundaries is an easier task, even without the ...
4
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1answer
198 views

When did springs first appear in or below vehicle seats?

It's common for seats to contain springs. Cushions have been part of seats as long as there has been upholstery. In vehicle seats, springs absorb unwanted forces perpendicular to the direction of the ...
2
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3answers
855 views

Are we now living in an Automation Age? [closed]

Background Historians have grouped epochs of human technological advancement into various "Technology Ages" (characterized by the predominant types of tools and weapons used by humans) including the ...
4
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2answers
238 views

What is the origin of the term “Developer” in the context of software? [closed]

The term "software developer" is a popular term for those who create software. The processes of writing software is often called "software development". What is the origin of that term? How did the ...
2
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1answer
613 views

What is the earliest mention of use of spyglass by seafarers?

I am somewhat familiar with history of telescope in the scientific context however didn't find much info about history of its use for practical purposes beyond general statements. I'm more interested ...
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0answers
67 views

Technological transfer/worker migration e.g. in ancient Egypt

My question revolves around how different inventions were shared between humans in ancient times, for example in ancient Egypt (between 3000 and 0 BC). Nowadays, science is often publicly funded and ...
4
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2answers
410 views

In general, what was the level of technology like in central Africa, just before the scramble for Africa?

I'm asking this question out of curiosity. In general, what was the level of technology like in central Africa, just before the scramble for Africa?
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2answers
193 views

What was the medium for Marcus Aurelius's Meditations?

I imagine Romans using papyrus and quills on a still table, allowing time for the ink to dry, which may not be possible in a battlefield. I once saw a documentary which depicts him walking off in ...
9
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3answers
530 views

Why were type bar designs so popular compared to type ball/wheel designs for manual typewriters?

During the era of the typewriter there were a few kinds of basic designs. The (afaik) most well known is the type bar design, where each key is connected to an individual type bar that hits the paper ...
10
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3answers
2k views

Did any Native Americans make tomahawks from metal?

I'm curious about the evolution of the tomahawk among (North American) Native American peoples like the Algonquin. I assume early versions of the tomahawk had the head made from stone (please correct ...
14
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1answer
2k views

What is the source for this Goering quote on radar?

On page 194 of Jonathan Trigg's The Defeat of the Luftwaffe, he claims Hermann Goering said: I have frequently taken a look inside such sets. It does not look all that imposing, just some wires ...
6
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2answers
254 views

For steam trains, what kind of deaerator was used, if any?

Deaerators are things that remove dissolved gasses in water. Dissolved O2 and CO2 in water will result in boiler corrosion. So I'm wondering how this was done back in the old days of steam trains, ...
8
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1answer
206 views

What alloy was used in early steam turbines? (1900 - 1930)

Steam turbines use externally created steam to drive the blades. There's no internal combustion. They've been used in marine propulsion since at least 1894 on the Turbinia. After this, Parsons-type ...
7
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1answer
321 views

Are there any archeological finds or primary source drawings of the Chinese “blade shaped” bamboo-copter or rotary fans?

Bamboo-copter was a toy in China, dated to 400 BC. A Rotary Fan also existed in China around 180 AD. I'm interested in both of those things, as they work on the exact same principle. Do we have any ...

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