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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24
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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 ...
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3answers
418 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 ...
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1answer
156 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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2answers
419 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?
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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 ...
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2answers
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What machine technology did the Egyptians have to build the great pyramids?

Reading the "Account of Egypt" by Herodotus, it says of the great pyramid of "Cheops" (Macauley translation): This pyramid was made after the manner of steps which some called "rows" and others "...
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1answer
163 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 ...
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235 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, ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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8answers
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How accurate or supported is Jared Diamond's “Guns, Germs, and Steel”?

Jared Diamond wrote a fascinating book that purports to explain, in a very broad way, the development of civilization. It has several explanations for the development of Eurasian civilization rather ...
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2answers
705 views

Which method of telephone calls was more popular: station-to-station or person-to-person?

My question is related to this question I asked earlier on the cost of a telephone call in the 1920s in the United States of America. Now, I am interested in the whole period from 1920 until 1960 and ...
7
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1answer
296 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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What it was like to travel on a Viking ship?

What it was like to travel on a Viking ship back then? Please, focus on these points: How long it would take for a Viking raider group to get to their favorite destinations using a Viking warship? ...
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1answer
114 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
143 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....
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2answers
862 views

How accurate and detailed were geographical maps created and updated by the Romans?

Knowledge is power, and having superior geographical knowledge vs. your imperialistic enemies and competitors was probably a big advantage in the middle ages. Some specific examples would be knowledge ...
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0answers
162 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 ...
29
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7answers
25k views

To what extent did Native American cultures develop metalworking for tools and weapons?

When Europeans started showing up in the New World, the native cultures were technologically far behind. Many still used stone tools: North American tribes used flint, while some Mesoamerican cultures ...
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10answers
30k views

Are steam engines still in regular use anywhere in the world?

Are there any countries in which steam engines have a regular purpose, or are still dominant on the railway? When did they officially fade out of use in the western world? In Australia at least, they ...
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2answers
149 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 ...
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10answers
7k views

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 ...
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790 views

Who first conceived and developed the acoustic homing torpedo, and when?

Acoustic homing torpedoes did not see action until 1943 with the Falke/T4 from Germany and the Mark 24 Mine from the USA. These torpedoes were passive in that they homed in on the loudest sound that ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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0answers
242 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 ...
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2answers
316 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 ...
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2answers
1k views

When was the last time when there was no electrical lighting switched on on the earth?

It's obvious that now, there is always an electric light 'burning' on earth somewhere. How far back do we have to go until that was not the case?
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1answer
162 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 ...
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3answers
335 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 (...
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7answers
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Why was the Aeolipile not put to practical use in classical antiquity?

The Aeolipile was a simple mechanical device that generated kinetic energy from steam. Its invention is attributed to the Hero of Alexandria in the 1st century AD. Source: Aeolipile With the ...
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2answers
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What evidence is there of the vision aids people used before the invention of eyeglasses in about 1286?

The Wikipedia article on glasses says ‘scattered evidence exists for use of vision aid devices in Greek and Roman times’ but only cites the example of Nero’s emerald. This article on Magnifying ...
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1answer
198 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 ...
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5answers
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Did the Chinese Develop Steam Engines Prior to the 17th Century?

I vaguely remember seeing a documentary on the history channel that was discussion on ancient Chinese technology. The basic theme of the program was that China developed many industrial technologies ...
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3answers
7k views

How much did a telephone call cost in the USA around 1920?

I am looking for data on historic telephone call prices in the US between 1920 and 1930. What did it cost to make a call? I know that, back then different rates were charged based on the distance of ...
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5answers
838 views

How did 2nd century Romans decide where to build Hadrian's wall?

How did 2nd century Romans decide where to build Hadrian's wall? It is located exactly at the narrowest east-west section of the island. They had no laser theodolites, lenses, aerial observation ...
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2answers
380 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, ...
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3answers
296 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
230 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 ...
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3answers
465 views

Were Archimedes screws used in pre-modern times in the far east?

Screw pumps or Archimedes screws were used by the Romans in mine dewatering. They were possibly used in ancient Babylon (a few hundred years before Archimedes) to irrigate the famous hanging gardens. ...
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4answers
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When did commercial studio photography become common?

I was looking at this Wikipedia article, History of photography, and I wondered when commercial photography studios became common place and affordable for the average person. According to the ...
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1answer
167 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
646 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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3answers
440 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 ...
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1answer
255 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 ...
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2answers
424 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 ...
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2answers
170 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 ...
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1answer
187 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 ...
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3answers
511 views

Did the break up of AT & T in 1984 lead to technological innovation?

Are there examples of technologies developed since 1984 that would not have been likely to be developed had the Bell system stayed intact rather than being broken up by the US government? Let's pose ...
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0answers
241 views

Why were the Europeans technologically advanced compared to the Native Americans? [duplicate]

First off, if this question has been asked elsewhere, I apologize. A search turned up nothing but this, which does not have the answer I seek. I'm curious as to why when Europeans started coming ...
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3answers
831 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 ...