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.
||English Colonists vs. Great Britain - Declaration of Independence Constitution|
||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.|
||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.|
||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.|
||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.|
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.|
First Oil Well Drilled.
||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.|
Offset Printing 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||
||The 13th Amendment abolishes slavery.|
||Alexander Graham Bell patents his telephone, built with the assistance of young self-trained engineer Thomas A. Watson.|
||Working with a team of engineers at his Menlo Park, New Jersey, laboratories, Thomas Alva Edison perfects a system of sound recording and transmission.|
Incandescent 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.|
Gasoline Powered Car
||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.|
Air Conditioning Invented
||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
||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.|
Panama Canal Begun
||President Theodore Roosevelt journeys to Panama to visit the Canal, begun this year.|
Ford introduces the first
widely available and affordable automobile.
||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
||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.
||Signing of the Versailles Treaty|
Women's Suffrage Movement
||The 19th Amendment (voting rights for women) goes into effect.|
|April 2, 1921||
||Albert Einstein lectures in New York about his theory of relativity.|
Former Slave earns world
renown as inventor.
||George Washington Carver of the Tuskegee Institution presents his innovative ideas on agriculture to the U. S. House of Representatives.|
Women's rights declared
||The Supreme Court declares the 19th Amendment (votes for women) to be constitutional.|
First women governors
||Nellie Ross of Wyoming and Miriam Ferguson of Texas are elected governors of their states|
Modern Rocket Invented.
||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.|
First Television Invented.
||Philo Farnsworth demonstrates the first television for potential investors by broadcasting the image of a dollar sign.|
||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.|
Frozen Food Invented.
||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.|
First Television Broadcast
||The first public television broadcast takes place in the United States.|
Radio Astronomy Invented
||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.|
||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.|
||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.|
Black American excels in
Berlin Olympic Games.
||American track-and-field athlete Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.|
Digital Computer Invented.
||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.|
Americans volunteer to
defend Great Britain.
||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.|
America enters WWII.
||The United States enters World War II on December 7 after the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.|
Atomic Reaction Invented.
||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.|
Atomic Bomb Invented.
||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||
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||
Victory in Europe 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||
||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.|
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.
||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.|
||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.|
Polio Vaccine Developed.
||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.|
||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
||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
||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.
||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.
||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
||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.|