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Thank You America!

Improving the world since 1776

Americans have consistently strived to improve our country and the world.  Americans invent more, grow more, discover more, share more and give more than any other people on Earth. Here's a timeline consisting of some of the more widely known American Contributions that have improved our world.

1775-1783 American Revolution
The Spirit of 76
English Colonists vs. Great Britain - Declaration of Independence Constitution
1794 Cotton Gin
Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin
Eli Whitney patents his machine to comb and deseed bolls of cotton. His invention makes possible a revolution in the cotton industry and the rise of "King Cotton" as the main cash crop in the South, but will never make him rich. Instead of buying his machine, farmers built bogus versions of their own.
1807 Steamboat Invented
Robert Fulton's Steamboat
Robert Fulton, former miniaturist and landscape painter, opens American rivers to two-way travel. His steamboat the "Clermont" travels 150 miles upstream between New York and Albany at an average speed of 5 mph.
1830 First Electro-Magnetic Motor Invented.
Joseph Henry's Electic Motor
Joseph Henry, Professor of Mathematics and Natural Science at the Albany Academy, builds a motor employing the electromagnet, invented by William Sturgeon in London just five years earlier. Henry's motor has no practical use.
1844 Telegraph Invented.
Samuel Morse's Telegraph
Samuel F.B. Morse demonstrates his telegraph by sending a message to Baltimore from the chambers of the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The message, "What hath God wrought?," marks the beginning of a new era in communication.
1846 Cylinder Printing Press Invented.
Hoe's One Cylinder Printing Press
Richard M. Hoe creates a revolution in printing by rolling a cylinder over stationary plates of inked type and using the cylinder to make an impression on paper. This eliminated the need for making impressions directly from the type plates themselves, which were heavy and difficult to maneuver.
1859 First Oil Well Drilled.
Drakes Oil Well
Drilling at Titusville, Pennsylvania, "Colonel" Edwin Drake strikes oil at a depth of 69.5 feet. Prior to that, oil, which had been used mostly as a lubricant and lamp fuel, had been obtained only at places where it seeped from the ground. Western Pennsylvania witnesses the world's first oil boom.
1865 Offset Printing Press Invented.
Bullock Offset Press
William Bullock introduced a printing press that could feed paper on a continuous roll and print both sides of the paper at once. Used first by the Philadelphia Ledger, the machine would become an American standard.
Dec 6, 1865 Slavery is abolished.
Abraham Lincoln
The 13th Amendment abolishes slavery.
1876 Telephone Invented.
Bell's First Telephone
Alexander Graham Bell patents his telephone, built with the assistance of young self-trained engineer Thomas A. Watson.
1877 Phonograph Invented.
Thomas Edison's Phonograph
Working with a team of engineers at his Menlo Park, New Jersey, laboratories, Thomas Alva Edison perfects a system of sound recording and transmission.
1879 Incandescent Light Bulb Invented.
Edison's Light Bulb
Backed by $30,000 in research funds provided by investors including J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilts, Thomas Edison perfects an incandescent light bulb.
1892 Gasoline Powered Car Invented.
Duryea's Automobile
In a loft in Springfield, Massachusetts, brothers Frank and Charles Duryea fabricate the first gasoline-powered automobile built in the United States. It will make its first successful run on the streets of Springfield in September, 1893.
1902 Air Conditioning Invented
Carrier Air Conditioner
Working as an engineer at the Buffalo Forge Company, Willis H. Carrier designs the first system to control temperature and humidity. He will go on to found his own company, the Carrier Corporation, to produce air-conditioning equipment.
Dec 17, 1903 First Heavier than Air Flight.
Wright Flyer 1
At Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright break the powered flight barrier with their gasoline-powered "Flyer I." The first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight in history lasts 12 seconds. Wilbur pilots the machine. On a flight later that day, Orville will remain aloft 59 seconds and travel 852 feet.
1906 Panama Canal Begun
Teddy Roosevelt Digging
President Theodore Roosevelt journeys to Panama to visit the Canal, begun this year. 
1908 Ford introduces the first widely available and affordable automobile.
Ford Model T
Henry Ford introduces the Model T. It sells for about  $850 and can, says Ford, be purchased in any color the buyer wishes, as long as the buyer wants black. Colors were added the next year.  By 1926 the price drops to $310. 
April 2, 1917 America enters WWI 
Dough Boy
Saying that "the world must be made safe for democracy," President Wilson asks Congress to declare war on Germany. 
June 26, 1919 WWI ends in Victory for the U.S. and Allies.
Woodrow Wilson at Versailles
Signing of the Versailles Treaty
1920 Women's Suffrage Movement
Women's Suffrage Movement
The 19th Amendment (voting rights for women) goes into effect.
April 2, 1921 E=MC2
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein lectures in New York about his theory of relativity.
1921 Former Slave earns world renown as inventor.
George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver of the Tuskegee Institution presents his innovative ideas on agriculture to the U. S. House of Representatives.
1922 Women's rights declared constitutional.
19th Amendment
The Supreme Court declares the 19th Amendment (votes for women) to be constitutional.
1924 First women governors elected.
Nellie Ross of Wyoming
Nellie Ross of Wyoming and Miriam Ferguson of Texas are elected governors of their states
1926 Modern Rocket Invented.
Robert H. Goddard Rocket
Robert H. Goddard, Professor of Physics at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, makes the first successful launch of a liquid-fueled rocket at his aunt Effie's farm in Auburn, Massachusetts. The rocket reaches 41 ft. in altitude.
1927 First Television Invented.
Philo Farnsworth's First TV
Philo Farnsworth demonstrates the first television for potential investors by broadcasting the image of a dollar sign.
1927 First Trans-Atlantic Flight.
Charles Lindbergh
20-21 May. Charles Lindbergh flies The Spirit of St. Louis from New York to Paris, traveling 3600 miles in 33 and a half hours.
1929 Frozen Food Invented.
Clarence Birdseye
Clarence Birdseye offers his quick-frozen foods to the public. Birdseye got the idea during fur-trapping expeditions to Labrador in 1912 and 1916, where he saw the natives use freezing to preserve foods.
1930 First Television Broadcast Aired.
The first public television broadcast takes place in the United States.
1931 Radio Astronomy Invented
Karl Guthe Jansky
While trying to track down a source of electrical interference on telephone transmissions, Karl Guthe Jansky of Bell Telephone Laboratories discovers radio waves emanating from stars in outer space.
1932 Cardiac Defibrillator Invented.
William Bennett Kouwenhoven
Working at the research facilities at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. William Bennett Kouwenhoven develops a device for jump-starting the heart with a burst of electricity.
1935 Social Entitlements Enacted.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act, establishing public programs designed to provide income and services to individuals in the event of retirement, sickness, disability, or unemployment.
1936 Black American excels in Berlin Olympic Games.
Jesse Owens
American track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.
1939 Digital Computer Invented.
John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry Digital Computer
John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry of Iowa State College complete the prototype of the first digital computer. It can store data and perform addition and subtractions using binary code. The next generation of the machine will be abandoned before it is completed due to the onset of World War II.
1940 Americans volunteer to defend Great Britain.
W.M.L. "Billy" Fiske
 W.M.L. "Billy" Fiske was one of the first Americans to volunteer to fight in Britain, joining the RAF 601 Squadron at Tangarere. His plane was damaged in battle and burned on landing, and Fiske died Aug. 17, the first American in uniform to die in Europe in WWII. More volunteers followed, some led by Col. Charles Sweeney or recruited by the Clayton Knight Committee, and became part of the Eagle Squadrons in the RAF after September 1940.
1941 America enters WWII.
Pearl Harbor Attack
The United States enters World War II on December 7 after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
1942 Atomic Reaction Invented.
Enrico Fermi
A team working under Italian refugee Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago produces the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. This experiment and others will result in the development of the atomic bomb.
1943 Atomic Bomb Invented.
Los Alamos
A team led by J.R. Oppenheimer, Arthur H. Compton, Enrico Fermi and Léo Szilard detonates the first atomic bomb at the Los Alamos Lab near Santa Fé, New Mexico. Following the tests, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan ending WWII.
June 6, 1944 D-Day

American led Allied Invasion to liberate Europe begins.


The Allied Expeditionary Force of American, British, Canadian, Polish, and Free French troops begins Operation Overlord, the long-awaited invasion of France. After an intensive naval and aerial bombardment, the first wave of 5 divisions (156,115 men) are landed at designated beaches in Normandy named Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah.
May 8, 1945 V.E. Day

Victory in Europe Day

V.E. Day

VE Day finally arrived on May 8, 1945 after fierce efforts by the American led allied forces. The previous year British, Canadian, and U.S. troops invaded Normandy, and began to drive the Nazis out of France. At the same time, the Soviets were launching their own counter-offensive. They pushed the German army completely out of Europe.
Aug. 14, 1945 V.J. Day
V.J. Day
At noon Japan standard time on that day, Emperor Hirohito's announcement of Japan's acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration was broadcast to the Japanese people via radio. It was precipitated by the atomic bombs Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August and Fat Man on Nagasaki on 9 August. Since Japan was the last Axis Power to surrender and VJ Day followed VE Day by three months, VJ Day marked the end of World War II.
1951 UNIVAC 1 Computer Invented.
The Eckert and Mauchly Computer Co. of Philadelphia sells the first commercial computer, the UNIVAC 1, to the U.S. Census Bureau. The memory called up data by transmitting sonic pulses through tubes of mercury. An additional 45 UNIVAC 1 machines would eventually be sold.
July 5, 1950 American Forces engage in first battle of the Korean War.
Korean War Artillery
The Korean War, from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, was a conflict between communist North Korea and anti-communist South Korea. The United States and it's allies successfully drive the North Koreans back across the 38th Parallel.
1953 Heart-Lung Machine Invented.
Dr. John H. Gibbon
Dr. John H. Gibbon performs the first successful open heart surgery in which the blood is artificially circulated and oxygenated by a heart-lung machine.
1957 Polio Vaccine Developed.
Dr. Albert Sabin
Dr. Albert Sabin develops a polio vaccine using strains of polio too weak to cause infection but strong enough to activate the human immune system. His invention will put an end to the polio epidemics that have crippled thousands of children worldwide.
1960 Laser Invented.
Theodore H. Maiman
Working at Hughes Research Laboratories, physicist Theodore H. Maiman creates the first laser. The core of his laser consists of a man-made ruby -- a material that had been judged unsuitable by other scientists, who rejected crystal cores in favor of various gases.
1964 Computer Operating System Invented.
OS/360 - the IBM 360
IBM rolls out the OS/360, the first mass-produced computer operating system. Using the OS/360, all computers in the IBM 360 family could run any software program. Already IBM is a giant in the computer industry, controlling 70% of the market worldwide.
1965 Black Americans gain right to vote.
Martin Luther King
During the 1950s and 1960s, the civil rights movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders, demanded the restoration of black voting rights. Enactment of the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act accomplished this goal.
1969 America Lands on the Moon.
Apollo 11
Millions watch worldwide as the landing module of NASA's Apollo 11 spacecraft touches down on the moon's surface and Neil Armstrong becomes the first human to set foot on the moon. President John F. Kennedy, who vowed to the world that the United States would put a human on the moon before 1970, has not lived to witness the moment.
1970 Optical Fiber Invented.
Robert Maurer, Donald Keck, and Peter Schultz Inventors
Corning Glass announces it has created a glass fiber so clear that it can communicate pulses of light. GTE and AT&T will soon begin experiments to transmit sound and image data using fiber optics, which will transform the communications industry.
1975 Microsoft Corporation Formed
Bill Gates and Paul Allen
Old high school friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen form a partnership known as Microsoft to write computer software. They sell their first software to Ed Roberts at MIT, which has produced the Altair 8800, the first microprocessor-based computer. Gates soon drops out of Harvard.

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