Wednesday, January 14, 2015


The lock originated in the Near East, and the earliest known lock to be operated by a key was the Egyptian lock. Possibly around 4000 years ago, the large wooden lock was found in the ruins of the palace of Khorsabad near Nineveh, the ancient capital of Assyria. 

The Egyptian lock is also known as the pin-tumbler type, and it evolved as a practical solution to the problem of how to open a barred door from the outside. The first and simplest locks were probably just a bar of wood or a bolt across a door. To open it from the outside, a hand-size opening was made in the door.

This pin-tumbler type lock consisted of a vertical wooden housing containing several loose wooden pegs of different lengths. These pegs fitted into holes bored in the top of a wooden bolt, preventing the bolt from being moved and the door from being opened. 

An oblique slot in the bolt provided access for a long wooden key with pegs of various lengths located on one surface and corresponding to the pegs in the vertical housing. When the key was inserted into the bolt and lifted, the pegs inside the housing lined up evenly at the top of the bolt, and permitting the door to be opened.

Specially designed large and heavy wooden key was shaped like modern toothbrush with pegs that corresponded to the holes and pins in the lock. This key could be inserted into opening and lifted, which would move the pins and allow security bolt to be moved.

During 1st millennia BC, locks finally started improving with the technologies and designs that were introduced by Greeks and Romans. Greek locks were commonly viewed as unsecure. They used a lock that worked by fastening the wooden bolt and staple to the inside of the door. The key was a sickle-shaped wooden or iron key manipulated and lift the bolt.

The ancient Romans built the first metal locks, and their iron locks and bronze keys are easily recognizable even today. They improved the Egyptian model by adding wards or projections or obstructions inside the lock that the key must bypass in order to work.

The Romans also invented the portable padlock with a U-shaped bolt which is known to have invented independently by the Chinese. Some Roman locks used springs to hold the tumblers in place, and the Romans made locks small enough that they could wear tiny keys on their fingers like rings.

The further development of the ward lock gave us padlocks. The Russians, Chinese, Turkish and East Indian used ornate metal padlocks which utilised all kinds of intricate designs.

In 1778, Robert Barron, invented the double tumbler lock. The tumbler is a lever that falls into a slot in the bolt thus preventing any movement, until picked up by the key to the height of the slot. This had to be done for each of the two tumblers at different heights, and then the key would slide the bolt. This innovation is still the basis of all lever locks.

In 1784, Joseph Bramah, displayed a lock to anyone who could pick it offering a prize of 200 guineas. In 1851, An American locksmith after trying for 51 hours was the first to open it and win the prize. In 1795, Bramah invented the hydraulic press, a check numbering machine and quill cutting machine to make the point or nibs of quills or pens.

In 1818 Jeremiah Chubb introduced an improved lever tumbler lock.

England had been the centre of innovations in lock-making for the past couple of centuries. It was Linus Yale Jr., son of an inventor & locksmith who started producing bank locks in a factory in Newport New York. He designed and patented the Yale infallible bank lock 1851. 

His factory in Shelburne Falls Massachusetts became famous for its innovative bank locks. The Yale magic bank lock and the Yale double treasury bank lock/.

In 1861, he introduced combination lock.  His most important invention was the cylinder lock based on ancient Egyptian design. In 1868 Linus and Henry Robinson Towne founded the Yale Lock Manufacturing Company and set-up a factory in Stamford Connecticut to produce cylinder locks.

In 1873, James Sargent of Rochester, New york patented a time lock mechanism that became the prototype of those being used in contemporary bank vaults. The time mechanism was concealed, utilizing as many as three clocks to cover a total of three days. The bolt was released, for the time the clocks were set to, and the safe then opened to the correct combination.

In 1916, Samuel Segal introduced first jemmy-proof lock and In 1924, Harry Soref in 1924 introduced first padlock.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


The history of the telescope dates back to the early 1600s. Galileo Galilei is commonly credited for inventing the telescope, but this is not accurate. Hans Lippershey who was a lens maker is the real inventor of the telescope, being the first person to create the designs for the first practical telescope. Lippershey lived in Middelburg in the Netherlands.

Lippershey filed application for a patent on the 25th of September 1608 i.e. a few weeks earlier to  Jacob Metius who was also an instrument maker and optician in a city in the northern part of the Netherlands. Although he failed to receive a patent but was handsomely rewarded by the Dutch government for copies of his design. The telescope invented by Lippershey had a magnification of just 3x.

Another spectacle-maker Zacharias Jansen might prove a more lawful claim to have invented the telescope decades after the initial claims by Lippershey and Metius..

Galileo was the first person to use a telescope for the purpose of astronomy in 1609. In 2009 it completed a total of 400 years so celebrated as the International Year of Astronomy.

The Dutch diplomat William Boreel, who was apparently known to both Jansen and Lippershey in Middleburg during his youth, claimed that Lippershey stole his ideas from Jansen. Boreel was only being overzealous in his support of Jansen. There is no real evidence that Lippershey did not develop telescope independently.

Regardless of the inventor, most of the earliest versions of the telescope used a curved lens made of polished glass at the end of a tube to magnify objects to a factor of 3x.

Galileo had heard of the "Dutch perspective glass" by means of which distant objects appeared nearer and larger and constructed his own version of it without ever seeing one and stated that he solved the problem of the construction of a telescope in one night.

 Instead of the initial 3 power magnification, he crafted a series of lenses that in combination magnify things by 8, 20 and eventually 30 times.

He took it to Venice where he delivered the details of his invention to the public and presented the instrument itself to the Senate. Galileo may thus claim to have invented the telescope independently, although Galileo's immense improvement of the instrument overshadowed to a great degree the credit due to Lippershey as the original inventor.

The lens telescope is still in use today in smaller telescopes, but many larger and more powerful telescopes use a reflective mirror and eyepiece combination that was initially invented by Isaac Newton called a “Newtonian” telescope after its inventor. 

These types of telescopes have a polished mirror at the end of a tube, which reflects the image into an eyepiece at the top of the tube.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


The idea of flying high like birds and kites was the inspiration of the inventors of Aeroplane. Few decades back, there was a time when travelling was not as easy as it is today and flying in the air looked to be a dream never come true in real sense. One had to spend days for travelling from one part to another. Invention of Aeroplane made it quite easy to cover thousands of kms in very less time. It was a revolutionary invention for travelling across the world.

During 1880, Hiram Maxiam invented steam powered flying machine but the machine was too bulky impossible to fly in air. Samuel Langley also tried the steam powered planes and introduced one in 1894 that covered around 0.8 kms in around 1½ minutes. Then he designed another plane but its flights led to crashing in the lake. 

And finally in 19th century, the heroes- Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright came up and took the first step towards the successful invention of Aeroplane, was research through reading various books on it.

The real breakthrough in this research was the invention of "wing-warping." If the pilot wanted to bank a turn to the left, the wings could be warped to provide more lift on the wings on the right side of the biplane. The brothers worked out a system for 3-axis control that is still used today on fixed-wing aircraft: left and right like a car or boat, up and down and banking a turn as birds do like leaning to one side while riding a bicycle. 

Working with kites in 1899, the brothers figured out and tested their systems for 3-axis control. They chose a remote location at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina as the test site due its sand, wind, hilly terrain and for next two years did experiments with gliders at Kitty Hawk only. They used wind tunnel to find the proper lift. They found that the formula for lift that is "Smeaton coefficient"  in use for over 100 years  was wrong.

In year 1900, the Wright brothers tested the new biplane glider with 17 foot wing warping technique and wingspan, weighing 50 pound at the Kitty Hawk, in piloted as well unmanned flights. Based on the glider’s results, the brothers planned on refining landing gear and controls and designed a larger glider.

In the year 1901, at the Kill Devil Hill in North Corolina, the brothers flew largest glider ever with 100 pound weight and 22 foot wingspan. The wings did not have enough power to lift, forward elevator was not that effective and its wing warping technology caused it to spin out of control occasionally.

Wrights refused to give up in spite of all the problems being faced by them. They keep reviewing the test results till they found out that the calculations used for the mechanism were not up to the mark. Then they thought of building wind tunnel for testing the wing shapes and their effect on the lift. Based on the tests, the inventors understood how airfoil wing worked and calculated how well a wing design could work. Their plan was to design the new glider with around 32 foot wingspan and tail for stabilization.

The 1902 glider was actually the first fully controlled heavier-than-air craft. It was essentially more important invention than the 1903 biplane. On March 23, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright filed a patent application for a "Flying Machine." The patent was awarded May 22, 1906. From that point remarkable progress was made in the development of powered flight.

On Monday, December 14, 1903, the brothers decided that Wilbur would take the first turn as pilot for the historic flight by flipping a coin. They and the ground crew (5 lifeguards from the beach) had lugged the plane weighing six hundred pounds 1/4 mile to the big hill, laid out the 60-foot monorail, and were ready to go. 

Because of the slope and the force from the propellers there was a problem getting it unhooked. The plane accelerated down the track so fast that Orville, running alongside to steady the wing by holding on to an upright, couldn't keep up. Wilbur turned the sensitive rudder up too sharply, the flying machine nosed up, slowed, came down in that position, and the left wing hit the sandy hillside and swung the plane around, breaking several parts. It was not a real flight but they become more confident that it would work.

Two days later, repairs had been completed, but the wind wasn't right. The following day, Thursday, December 17, 1903, was the historic day. They realized it would be better to lay the track on flat ground. That and the strong (22-27 m.p.h.) winds meant that Orville (whose turn it was to pilot) was riding the plane along the track, at a speed that allowed Wilbur to keep up easily, steadying the right wing as Orville had done 3 days earlier. 

Just after the Wright flyer lifted off the monorail, the famous picture was taken, possibly the most reproduced photograph ever, which Orville had set up. The flight was just for 12 seconds, 120 feet. But it was the first controlled, sustained flight in a heavier-than-air craft, one of the great moments of the century.

The brothers flew 3 more times that day, covering more distance as they got used to the way the large front "rudder" (the elevator) responded in flight. Orville's second flight was 200 feet, and Wilbur's before it nearly as long. But the final flight of the day carried Wilbur 852 feet in 59 seconds.

The Wright brothers soon realized that their success was not appreciated by all. Many in the press, as well as fellow flight experts, were reluctant to believe the brothers’ claims at all. As a result, Wilbur set out for Europe in 1908, with a hope to have more success convincing the public and selling airplanes.

Wrights began to sell their airplanes in Europe, before returning to the United States in 1909. The brothers became wealthy businessmen, filling contracts for airplanes in Europe and the United States.

Their first powered Aeroplane was named Flyer. It was plane with two wooden wings which were 40 feet wide, covered with the cotton cloth, 12 horse powered engine. This plane demanded pilot to be in lower wing on his stomach for the steering. 

And in year 1908, another plane was introduced by the brothers that stayed in the air for about 1½ hours. In year 1909, the brothers got a contract from US military for building first plane for them. In 1911, Calbriath Rodgers was the one that made first flight across U.S possible.

 Since then, Airplane travel has improved a lot. Airplanes now cover thousands of miles at great altitudes of 7 miles and more, carrying around 300 passengers. Jet engines have now replaced the propellers and they travel with speed of more than 600 miles every hour. 

Not even Wright Brothers would have imagined the way air travel has turned today. Consistent efforts and hardwork of the Brothers and other inventors have offered the comfort of air travel today. The best part is that in innovations never stop, they are ongoing. So, one can look forward to advancements in the field.

Wilbur fell ill on a trip to Boston in April 1912. He was diagnosed with typhoid fever, and died on May 30 at his family home in Dayton, Ohio. Milton Wright wrote in his diary, “A short life, full of consequences. An unfailing intellect, imperturbable temper, great self-reliance and as great modesty.

Friday, January 9, 2015


It is believed that there was an ancient Indian game called Chaturanga which literally means "having four limbs (or parts)" and in epic poetry often means "army"  having  four parts- elephants, chariots, horsemen, foot soldiers. The name came from a battle formation mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata.

The game chaturanga was a battle-simulation game which rendered Indian military strategy of the time and it is believed that modern Chess evolved from it. The history of chess is about 1500 years old. 

The earliest predecessor of the game probably originated in India, before the 6th century AD; some historians believe the game originated in China. From India, the game spread to Persia. When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently spread to Southern Europe. In Europe, chess evolved into roughly its current form in the 15th century.

But how this game was invented is still a question. So let us have a look over this.
 It is believed that there was a king, Shihram, ruled over India long years ago. He was a despot. He called a mathematician in his court and ordered him to design a game that was more challenging and interesting and used a lot of brain tactics. 

After struggling a lot of months with all kinds of ideas, the mathematician came up with the game of “Chaturanga” to show the king how important everybody is, who lives in his kingdom, even the smallest among them was the part of the game.

 The game had two armies each lead by a King who commanded the army to defeat the other by capturing the enemy King. It was played on a simple 8x8 square board. The King liked this game so much that he offered to give the poor mathematician anything he wished for.

The mathematician asked the king to give him grain of wheat in a way one grain on first square of board, double of it on second square of board, double of second on third square of board and so on till 64th square of board.

The king became angry and shouted, "I have offered you all my treasures and you want just wheat? You can take gold or silver and can have rich and luxurious life but you are insulting me asking for some grains of wheat.”

"Oh no!" said the man. "I don't want to insult you, my king. Please respect my wish and you will see that my wish is truly great."

The king called his servants and ordered to put the wheat on the chess board exactly as the mathematician wished. The servants brought a lot of wheat. It soon filled many rooms but they realized that they could not fulfill the wise man's wish.

All the wealth in his kingdom would not be enough to buy the amount of wheat needed on the 64th square. In fact the whole kingdoms supply of wheat was exhausted before the 30th square was reached.

The king realized that the wise man had given him a lesson again. He learned that you should never underestimate the small things in life.

The chess board has 64 squares and if you put just one grain on the first and double up on the next and so on, you will reach an enormous amount of grain.

1 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 on the 64th square and
18,446,744,073,709,551,615 total for the whole board

That's about 18 billion billion. So if a bag of rice contained a billion grains, you would need 18 billion such bags.

In China, Chaturanga was transformed into the game ”xiangqi” where the pieces are placed on the intersection of the lines of the board rather than within the squares. The object of the Chinese variation is similar to chaturanga, i.e. to render helpless the opponent's king, known as "general" on one side and "governor" on the other. 

Chinese chess also borrows elements from the game of Go, which was played in China since at least the 6th century BC. Owing to the influence of Go, Chinese chess is played on the intersections of the lines on the board, rather than in the squares. The game of Xianqi is also unique in that the middle rank represents a river, and is not divided into squares. Chinese chess pieces are usually flat and resemble those used in checkers, with pieces differentiated by writing their names on the flat surface.

A prominent variant of chess can be seen in East Asia in the game of “shogi”, transmitted from India to China and Korea before finally reaching Japan. The three distinguishing features of shogi are:
1. The captured pieces may be reused by the captor and played as a part of the captor's forces.
2.  Pawns capture as they move, one square straight ahead.
3.  9×9 square board was used, with a second queen (called a gold general) on the other side of the king.

This way chess went on spreading to other countries also but it was during the second half of the 19th century that modern chess tournament play began, and the first World Chess Championship was held in 1886. The 20th century saw great leaps forward in chess theory and the establishment of the World Chess Federation (FIDE).

Thursday, January 8, 2015


 Invention of Light Bulb illuminated our dark nights and made human existence hospitable for different human activities. It was a kind of revolution in human existence. There is also a story behind this revolutionary invention. Let us throw a light on the invention of light bulb.

 In 1806,  Humphrey Davy, an Englishman, demonstrated a powerful electric lamp illumination by creating a blinding electric spark between two charcoal rods, known as an "arc lamp,". This lamp required  tremendous source of power and the batteries so was impractical for most uses.

Now Scientists knew that if some material got hot enough, it will start glowing. This method could be employed for producing light. The problem with this method of making light was that material would burst into flame or melt into a puddle. If incandescent light was to be made practical, these twin problems would have to be solved.

In 1820, Warner Rue produced light bulb by passing electric current through platinum coil in empty tube. But because platinum was very expensive, this bulb was not really commercially feasible. In 1840, Joseph Swan invented a light bulb using carbonized, paper filament. He also patented the bulb in year 1860. But the bulb used to show dim light and was not at all long lasting.
It was found that to keep incandescent "burners" from catching fire was to not let them come into contact with oxygen. Oxygen is a necessary ingredient in the combustion process. Since oxygen is in the atmosphere, the only way to keep it away from burning was to enclose the burner in a glass container, or "bulb," can be saved from burning by pump out the entire air.

In 1841 a British inventor named Frederick DeMoleyns patented a bulb using just this technique in burners made of platinum and carbon. An American named J. W. Starr also received a patent in 1845 for a bulb using vacuum in conjunction with a carbon burner. 

Many others, including an English chemist named Joseph Swan, improved and patented versions of bulbs using a vacuum with burners of various materials and shapes. None, however, proved practical for everyday use. Swan's lamp, for example, used carbonized paper that would quickly crumble after being lit a short time.

Sir Thomas Eliot made the bulb commercially feasible in the year 1875. He had tirelessly worked towards making light bulb better. He also introduced a bamboo filament lamp soon after working on light bulb. By using Herman Spiegel’s vacuum pump, he successfully created vacuum inside his lamp’s chamber.

Thomas Edison did not really invented light bulb but had worked on it to offer an improved version. In 1879, with the help of low current electricity, improved vacuum, carbonized filament, he produced long lasting ad reliable source of light. He tried to offer practical lighting for homes. After working for around 18 months, Edison attained success in form of incandescent lamp that had filament of the carbonized thread that burned for around fourteen hours.

Electric light’s success brought name to Thomas Edison. He achieved great heights of wealth and fame as the electricity had spread throughout. His different companies continued to expand until 1889 and then Edison General Electric came into being. Even though company was in his name, he did not control it. Need for capital for developing lighting industry persuaded him to involve bankers like J.P Morgan. In year 1892, he merged the company with leading opponent Thompson-Houston and company’s name became General Electric.

Edison soon realized that any good burner would have to have a high electrical resistance, otherwise too much electricity would be needed to warm the material to the point where it would give off light. All materials have an amount of electrical "friction" that resists electricity moving through it. This is known as the material's electrical resistance. Materials with high resistance more easily get hot when electricity passes through them.

More carbonized organic materials were tested and Japanese bamboo proved to be the best. By the end of 1880 Edison's carbonized bamboo burners, now called filaments because they were fashioned into a long, thin thread, were burning in bulbs as long as 600 hours. The "filament" proved to be the best shape to increase the materials electrical resistance and physical strength.

The carbonized bamboo had a high resistance and fit well into Edison's scheme for building a whole electrical power system to provide lighting. By 1882 he had established the Edison Electrical Light Company which had a generating station located on Perl Street, providing New York City with electrical lighting. In 1883 Macy's in New York City became the first store to install the new incandescent lamps.

In 1901, Peter Hewitt introduced mercury vapor lamp that emitted bluish white lighting. Later on, brighter lamp using sodium vapor was invented. Willies Whitney came up with metal covering or carbon filament to prevent it from burning and charring, in turn making the bulb black. In 1906, General Electric launched tungsten filament that had higher melting point.

 Though Thomas Eliot knew the use of the metal but he did have machinery for developing it during his time. In the year 1910, another engineer named William Coolidge invented tungsten filament that lasted longer. Beginning of 1920 witnessed discovery of frosted light bulb and its use in neon lights and cars. In the year 1930, photographic flash bulb was discovered. And with 1940s entered soft incandescent bulbs, with 1950s came quartz glass for halogen bulbs. 1960s and 70s made way for the ellipsoid reflector, metal halide lamp. And finally in year 1990, Philips launched 60,000-hour bulb using magnetic induction.

 Now bulbs have come a long way and scientists are working 24x7 to offer power saving, efficient and environment savvy bulbs. CFLS and LED bulbs are replacing the incandescent bulbs. Though a little costlier, they are environment friendly and power saving. Incandescent bulbs can be reasonably characterized just as heater that produces lights. As the typical incandescent offers only 3-5% light of the total energy it takes up. Remaining energy is wasted as heat. CFLs on the other side employ 75% lesser energy in the comparison and lasts 10 times longer. Useful long life and efficiency adds to the popularity of CFLs.

 LED is more energy efficient than CFLs too. Standard LED offers around 35 lumens of light per watt as compared to around 12 lumen offered by an incandescent bulb. LED bulbs are getting developed and soon they would offer 131 lumens every watt. These are used in trail lights of trucks and cars, watch dials, digital clocks, traffic signals, Christmas lights. Long life and durability has made it popular these days. It has become an ideal lighting for homes. One can find a range of LED bulbs in the market.

 From simple light bulbs to CFLs and LEDs, bulbs have covered a long way. Hardly did we know that small thing like bulb can literally illuminate our lives.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Less than 100 years ago, gentlemen who were self- respecting in society would not found wearing a wristwatch. In those days, pocket watches were very popular among them, with a gold half-hunter. Pocket watches were preferred status symbol of that  time.

Wristlets or bracelets were reserved for women, even wristwatches used to be a female accessories. People used to make fun of the gentlemen found wearing wristwatch.

Neither of the well-established watchmaking companies ever think to experiment with any kind of wristwatch for the man nor they think to withstand the basic rigors of human activity. Very few companies produced them in quantity, majority of those making small ladies’ models like delicate fixed wire or chain-link bracelets.

Today, a wristwatch is considered as a status symbol to tell time. The mechanical wristwatch has slowly become a piece of modern culture when cell phones and digital pagers display tiny quartz clocks.

There are dozens of prestigious wristwatches available in the market such as Rolex, Vacheron Constantin, Frank Müller, Jaeger-LeCoultre and even Patek Phillipe. But how people adopted the use of wristwatch by everyone. There must be some story behind this. Let us see how this happened.

Pocket watches used to be clumsy to carry and hence difficult to operate while in difficult situations. In the nineteenth century, soldiers discovered the usefulness of wristwatches during wartime situations. The soldiers fitted them into primitive cupped leather straps to be worn on the wrist, thereby freeing up their hands during battle. It is believed that Girard-Perregaux equipped the German Imperial Naval with similar pieces wore on their wrists in 1880 for synchronizing naval attacks, and firing artillery.

The British troops were superiorly trained and equipped. They used wristwatches to coordinate simultaneous troop movements, and synchronize flanking attacks against the Boer’s formations while attacking the Boer’s heavily entrenched positions. 

The evolution of wristlets took an even bigger step with the invention of the expandable flexible bracelet, as well as the introduction of wire loops (or lugs) soldered onto small, open-faced pocket watch cases, allowing leather straps to be more easily attached. This helped in their adaptation for military use and thus was a turning point in the development of wristwatches for men.

Another issue was the use of the delicate glass crystal that could broke out during combat so “pierced metal covers”, frequently called shrapnel guards were used. These were basically metal grills (often made of silver), placed over the dial of the watch hence protecting the glass from damage allowing the time to be easily read. Leather covers were often used to place over the watch for protection from damage but they were cumbersome to use, and thus were primarily seen in the extreme climates of Australia and Africa.

Even with their success in combat, the popularity of the wristwatch didn’t reach the mainstream market until some two decades later, when soldiers from around the world converged on Europe to help defeat the German Empire in WWI (1914-1919). German troops were still using the primitive “pocket watch” designs while Allied troops had a wide range of new models like small silver pocket watch cases fitted with leather straps and displayed radium-illuminated porcelain dials protected by the aforementioned shrapnel guards.

Wristwatches were now became a wartime necessity, and companies were scrambling to keep up with the demand. One company that earned a big profit during this time was Wilsdorf & Davis, Ltd., founded in 1905, and later renamed The Rolex Watch Company, Ltd., in 1915. 

Hans Wilsdorf, the founder and director of Rolex, was a strong proponent of wristwatches since the turn of the century. He continued to experiment with their accuracy and reliability. In fact, he was even credited for sending the first wristwatches to the Neuchatel Observatory (Switzerland), for accuracy testing. They all passed the rigorous battery of tests, which encouraged Wilsdorf to push them even further.

After the Great War, many soldiers returned home with souvenir trench watches. When these war heroes were seen wearing wristwatches, the public’s perception quickly changed, and wristwatches were no longer teated as feminine accessory. In the final years of the war, wristwatches began to see numerous improvements. Case makers like Francis Baumgartner, Borgel and Dennison introduced water resistant and dust resistant designs. Rolex introduced its first truly waterproof wristwatch, the Oyster, in 1926.

New models were introduced with fixed horns which gave them a more finished appearance. New metal dials superceded porcelain quite susceptible to cracking and chipping and the fragile glass crystals were replaced with a newly invented synthetic plastic for more durability. By 1931, they were accurate, waterproof and self-winding.

The success of the wristwatch was born out of necessity, and Rolex continued this tradition by introducing a series of Professional, or “tool watches” in the early 1950s. These models, including the Submariner, Explorer, GMT-Master, Turn-O-Graph, and Milgauss were also designed out of necessity, as they included features and attributes that were essential for a specific task or profession.

Because of its rugged design, variations of the Submariner have been issued to numerous militaries, including the British Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and British Royal Marines, as well as the U.S. Navy Seals. Over the years, dozens of companies like Omega, Benrus and Panerai have also supplied specialty watch models for military duty.

Thus, the role of the wristwatch seems to have come full circle. With the general public now leaning toward high-tech, digital gadgets, the classic mechanical wristwatch has once again found its home on the wrists of those brave soldiers who welcomed it some 100 years ago.

Monday, January 5, 2015


 We know that Umbrella is the most efficient means of protecting us from sun and rain. And there must be a story behind its invention. Let us see how it was invented and evolved.
There is desert like environment in northern Africa and Middle East. The first recorded use of sun protecting parasol found in Ancient Egypt, over 3500 years ago. Those parasols were simple configurations of palm leaves attached to a stick, Egyptian parasols became an object used by nobles, religious leaders and royalty.

Several hieroglyphic paintings found in ancient Egyptian ruins depicted the life of royalty and gods, which all had parasols over their heads. There was a tradition in neighboring kingdom of Assyria where only the kings had the right of protection under elaborate made parasols.

Due to the sunny weather over the entire year, Egyptian and Assyrians never developed waterproof parasols and create umbrellas. But Umbrellas were actually invented in China in 11th century BC, where first silk and waterproof umbrellas started being used by nobility and royalty. Multi-tiered umbrellas were used as a sign of power influence by Chinese Emperors. Similar tradition was being followed across the region, and rulers of Siam and Burma where parasols with eight to 24 layers were very popular.

The English word "umbrella" was derived from the Latin word "umbra", meaning shadow, with "umbrella" being a poetic word form meaning "little shadow". During 1st millennia BC, umbrellas came to Ancient Greece and Rome and become a luxurious female accessory regardless of whether its function was protection from the sun or rain,  . It was found that both Greek and Roman women had umbrellas often carried not by noble women but by slaves and servants, sometimes mounted on horses or carriages. Men, however, viewed umbrellas as female item only.

It was only with the arrival of Renaissance that umbrella regained its popularity, most commonly by the nobility and royalty in late 16th and 17th century in France, Italy and England. Umbrellas were generally made from silk and other expensive materials unable to provide long lasting protection from rain, but the design for opening and closing resembled those used by Roman and Greece women in 4th century BC. 

Around 1800, an umbrella whose frame consisted of wooden rods and whalebone weighed around 10 lbs. Even Wellington, the victor of Waterloo, owned an umbrella made of waxed canvas which included a rapier hidden in the handle.

As the centuries past, umbrellas slowly become popular across entire Europe but the tradition of its female use continued until mid-18th century. It was an Englishman - Jonas Hanway (1712-1786) - who made the umbrella popular among everyone. Hanway’s memorial plaque in Westminster Abbey honours his commitment to abandoned children and prostitutes, but does not mention his ground breaking service to the rain umbrella. 

He, the founder of English Magdalen Hospital, was the person who dared to appear in public carrying an umbrella in almost all occasions. Openly people made fun of him but finally male population of England accepted the use of umbrella by 1790s.

An Englishman, Samuel Fox from Sheffield, at the time of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, invented the steel frame of umbrella in 1852 which made it light weight. In 1852 John Gedge announced a self-opening rain umbrella from Paris. From then on the umbrella has hardly changed: black, slim, and precisely rolled it still today protects the gentleman in the City of London and the rest of the world.

Different varieties of frames whether gold-plated or in sterling silver, leather, horn, precious woods and cane, such as whangee and malacca, or with an integrated flashlight, pencil, watch, pill box, compass or drinking glass, almost all exist in the market.

In the 1920s, Hans Haupt in Berlin constructed the first telescoping pocket umbrella and with it founded the Knirps company in Berlin ("Knirps" is a German word with the meaning "little guy". The "Knirps" then began to revolutionise the world of umbrellas. In 1936 another innovation hit the market from Germany, the first automatic pocket umbrella with the name "Lord & Lady".

The small wonder umbrella "Knirps" experienced a real boom during this decade. During the 1960s with the introduction of nylon fabrics in manufacturing, umbrellas were manufactured in an unbelievable variety of colours and patterns. The rain umbrella became slimmer, lighter, flatter, and much more durable. The Knirps became the standard gift for birthdays, name days, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Easter, and other holidays. After then, due to the imports of cheap umbrellas from the Far East,  the umbrella lost its image as a status symbol.

It was only during the last years of the 20th Century that new experiments were done on umbrellas. This time the new materials and functions came from the Far East itself. Lightweight umbrellas made of aluminium and of fibreglass become popular. New frames with a double automatic mechanism for closing and opening, new fabrics, and new coatings (such as Teflon) in umbrellas were available in the market.

Advancements of umbrella technology and manufacture continue to be refined to this day, with many patents being submitted on every year (for example umbrella design that can withstand storm winds of up to 100km/h and can't be turned inside out). As of 2008, majority modern of umbrella production comes from several provinces of China which are home of thousands umbrella companies.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


The fasteners used by historic man were straight pins which were usually simple thorns. Relics of prehistoric man include bone needles with eyes, and pins with decorated heads 20,000 years old which shows that the  devices virtually identical to safety pin had been in use for more than 2,500 years. The art of pin making actually predates agriculture, pottery, and metalworking.

During each of the classical Greece and Rome periods, different forms of safety pin and clasp were in use. In fact, the forms of each period were so indispensable that a safety pin could be used to accurately date any entire archaeological find. Safety pin-heads commonly took the form of serpents, horses, lutes and heads with abstract designs.

The Egyptians didn’t use the safety pin or button, but they used straight pins and needles made of metals. Bronze pins eight inches long with decorated gold heads have been found in Egyptian tombs.

The Goths who overran the Roman Empire used straight pins, made most often from horn or bone, to fasten their mantles over their shoulders.

During the Roman Empire, a consul wearing a tunic fastened by two safety pins over entire head suggesting that in Rome the size of a fibula may have indicated rank. The Romans used the term safety pin fibula for the clasp or for a certain leg bone.

Pins fitting gifts were considered as a sign of royalty in ancient Greece. It is believed that almost all early Greeks used safety pins to fasten their tunics, since the button wasn’t known to everyone at that time.

Athenian women used long, dagger-like pins to fasten their chitons over their shoulders. According to Herodotus, a group of angry women misused the pins to stab to death an Athenian soldier, from then, the city forbade the wearing of the Ionian tunic, which did not require pins. 
The law was later revoked but by then, women were using buttons and safety pins.

In Medieval Europe, metal pins remained rare and costly items reserved only for the rich people. The wealthy women used elaborately fashioned safety pins of ivory, brass, silver, and gold, while the poor had to use simple wood skewers. By the fifteenth century, pins were being manufactured from drawn iron wire, and a pin-making industry was well established in France.

During the fourteenth century, “pin money” was the term used which means a small amount allotted by a husband for his wife’s use, or money for incidental items because pins were expensive enough to be real items in the budget. Husbands had to present their wives on the first or second of January with enough money to buy her pins for the year as a part of custom or tradition. “Pin money” went by the boards in the nineteenth century, when mass-production made pins the inexpensive purchase they are today.

In 1838 ,the father of the American pin industry was Samuel Slocum founded a pin factory in Poughkeepsie, New York, capable of manufacturing 1,00,000 pins a day. Though Slocum was not the first to design a machine for manufacturing pins, his pins were the first to be mass-produced in this country. 
Slocum’s pins had solid heads, and came to be known as Poughkeepsie pins. It was Slocum who deviced a machine for packaging pins in grooved paper boards.

On April 10, 1849, a New Yorker by the name of Walter Hunt was granted patent Number 6,281 for a device he called the safety pin but he is  forgotten as the “inventor” of the safety pin. The would-be pin magnate rather hastily conceived his idea, made a model, and sold his patent rights for the sum of $100, all within three hours! The safety pin, or devices virtually identical to it, had been in use for more than 2,500 years, diaper-wearing babies have expressed their gratitude ever since, with hours of sob-free slumber.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Everybody of us must be very well aware of the number 0 in the counting system. We know that this number zero increases the value of a digit when placed next to the any number but when placed before any number makes no sense. Moreover, when multiplied or divided by any number, the result comes out to be zero. In all, we cannot deny this that this number 0 is a magical invention in our number system. Let us see the story behind its invention.

The number 0 is the smallest non-negative integer immediately preceding 1 . However, this may or may not be considered a natural number, but actually it is a whole number so considered as a rational number and a real number (as well as an algebraic number and a complex number).

The number 0 is neither positive nor negative, it lies in the middle of a number line. It cannot be prime because it has an infinite number of factors and cannot be composite because it cannot be expressed by multiplying prime numbers (0 must always be one of the factors). Zero is an even number because it is divisible by 2.  Zero is a number which quantifies a count or an amount of null size. It is believed that zero was identified before the idea of negative things (quantities) that go lower than zero was accepted.

Sumerians were the first people in the world to develop a counting system 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. The Babylonians got their number system from the Sumerians. Zero was invented independently by the Babylonians, Mayans and Indians. In the Sumerian system, number system was positional that is the value of a symbol was evaluated on its position relative to other symbols.

During Akkadian Empire, the Sumerians’ number system passed to the Babylonians around 300 B.C. There a symbol was assigned which indicate clearly a placeholder with the agreement of scholars to signify that there is an empty space just like to signify that in the number 2,025, there is no number in the hundreds place. The Babylonians added a symbol of double angled wedges to represent the empty column due to the confusion when they left an empty space in their cuneiform number system. However, they never developed the idea of zero as a number.

By 130 AD, Ptolemy, influenced by Hipparchus and the Babylonians, was using a symbol for zero i.e. a small circle with a long overbar within a sexagesimal numeral system. Another zero was used in tables alongside Roman numerals by 525 AD but it was used as a word,nulla meaning "nothing", not as a symbol. When division produced zero as a remainder, nihil, also meaning "nothing", was used. The initial "N" was used as a zero symbol in a table of Roman numerals by Bede or his colleague around 725 AD.

Using an empty space in tabular arrangements or the word kha "emptiness”  is known to be used in India from the 6th century. The glyph for the zero digit was written in the shape of a dot, and consequently called bindu ("dot"). The dot had been used in Greece during earlier ciphered numeral periods.

The concept of zero first appeared in India around 458 AD. Poetry or chants were used for mathematical equations rather than symbols. In 498 AD, Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhata stated that "sthānāt sthānaṁ daśaguṇaṁ syāt;"i.e. "from place to place each is ten times the preceding," which is the origin of the modern decimal-based place value notation.

In 628 AD, another Hindu astronomer and mathematician named Brahmagupta developed a symbol for zero that was a dot underneath numbers. He wrote rules for reaching zero through addition and subtraction, and the results of using zero in equations. This was the first time in the world that zero was recognized as a number of its own, as both an idea and a symbol.

Mathematicians normally do not assign a value when a zero divided by zero, whereas computers and calculators sometimes assign NaN, which means "not a number." Moreover, non-zero positive or negative numbers when divided by zero are either assigned no value, or a value of unsigned infinity, positive infinity, or negative infinity.

An Italian mathematician Fibonacci used zero to do equations without an abacus, then developed the most prevalent tool for doing arithmetic. This development was highly popular among merchants, who used Fibonacci’s equations involving zero to balance their books.
12,000 miles away from Babylon, the Mayans developed zero as a placeholder around 350 AD and used it to denote a placeholder in their elaborate calendar systems. Despite being highly skilled mathematicians, the Mayans never used zero in equations.

The number  zero is not the same as the digit zero, used in numeral systems using positional notation. Successive positions of digits have higher weights.

By the 1600s, zero was used fairly widely throughout Europe. It was fundamental in Rene Descartes’ Cartesian coordinate system and in Sir Isaac Newton’s and Gottfried Wilhem Liebniz’s developments of calculus. Calculus paved the way for physics. 

So we can say invention of zero solves out many problems in mathematics, physics and in many other field. It was really a great invention.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


As soon as humans started communicating with each other, he wished to communicate with people far away. Jungle drums, smoke signals, mirrors, semaphores and carrier pigeons were used as mode of communication at long distances for sending their message from one place to another. But there was a need of something that could send away messages fastly, accurately in a more convenient way. Real telephone was not invented till the start of electric age.

In the year 1729, English Chemist named Stephen Gray transmitted electricity over the moistened thread and brass wire around 300 feet using electrostatic generator.
In 1753, it was found by an author that the messages might be transmitted through electricity and designed a scheme that used separate wires for representation of each of the letters of alphabet.
Electrostatic generator could help in electrifying each line while attracting paper with the static charge on another end. By making a note of which all papers were attracted, one could spell the message out.
But because of the requirement of long wires for transmission, the signals were confined to few miles. Experiments were conducted in this field till 1800.

Alessandro Volta had produced battery in 1800 which was considered as a major achievement and became a source of further experimentation. And in 1820, Christian Oersted who was a Danish physicist, demonstrated the phenomenon of electromagnetism that means electric current could create a magnetic field.
It played a vital idea for developing electrical power as well as in the field of communication. But the question that was rising in his mind was that if it could create electricity. Electromagnetism principle was then fully applied in series of experiments and the results found assured new age of communication.

 In 1821, Michael Faraday reversed experiment as done by Oersted. He made weak current to flow in wire that revolved around permanent magnet i.e. he created an electric generator using magnetic field as created by permanent magnets but still no success in using electromagnetism for communication purposes.

American scientist named Joseph Henry transmitted practical electrical signals for the first time in 1830. Henry presented forerunner of telegraph in one of his classroom demonstrations. He along with Samuel Morse experimented together for the development of telegraphic system.

And then in 1837 Morse invented telegraph for sending messages in some type of code over long distances, granted a patent in year 1848. A sort of Long distance communication was made possible with shared efforts of Henry and Morse’s invention. Morse was not a professional inventor in reality but he was actually a painter, encouraged by the electrical experiments to develop morse code . Eventually telegraphs became a big business and replaced the messengers, the slow paced channels of communication.

In 1831, Electrical principles were recognized for building a telephone. In 1854 Bourseul suggested that the speech could be transmitted electrically. And after long 22 years, this idea turned into reality. Development of telephone did not come up in an organized way with series of inventors working one after another to make it a reality but rather its invention was a string of disconnected events, some accidental, some factual and mostly electrical that made telephone a reality.

In 1861, Johann Philip Reis completed his earliest non- working telephone in conveying various sounds. The problem was that this device could not produce intelligent sounds. And even with dawn of 1870s, world did not have any working telephone.

A unique combination of voice and electricity led to actual invention of telephone by Graham Bell in 1876.  On March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell used his device for spoke out and asked to his assistant, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.”

This way Bell started an era of telephone with the first bi-directional transmission of the spoken word through electronic media. While Bell received the first patent for a telephone, the telephone invention seems to be complicated and inconclusive. Bell filed the application only few hours before his competitor Elisha Gray filed the notice to patent a telephone.

Bell created an operating telephone 3 weeks later using the ideas outlined in the notice of invention by Gray.  But a controversy started then, Elisha Gray, Antonio Meucci of Italy, and Innocenzo Manzetti each claiming to be the phone’s true inventor.

In 1877 earliest permanent telephone wire covering distance of around 3 miles was strung. And commercial telephone services started in 1877 in U.S. In 1879, numbers were designated to telephone subscribers numbers instead of names. Dial phones came into being in 1880s. Eventually Stronger Switch took the place of operators, which received dial pulses. From telegraphs to codeless phones, telephones have definitely come a long way.

Popular from the 1890s to the 1930s, the candlestick phone was separated into two pieces. The mouth piece formed the candlestick part, and the receiver to be hold at the ear during the phone call. This style died out in the 1930s when phone manufacturers started combining the mouth piece and receiver into a single unit.

The rotary phone then became popular. The caller is required to rotate the dial to the number he wanted, and then release. This type of dialling was incredibly tedious. In 1963, AT&T introduced Touch-Tone, which allowed phones to use a keypad to dial numbers and make phone calls.

Each key would transmit a particular frequency, signaling to the telephone operator a particular number you wanted to call. Using a blue box, you could make free long-distance phone calls. In the middle of 1960s and ’70s, the rotary dial phones were completely replaced with keypad phones.

Portable, or cordless, phones were the phone equivalent of the TV remote. A person is no longer required to be physically attached to phone’s base station. Beginning in the 1980s, portable phones were like a small-scale cell phone. We can talk on our phone anywhere in the world, portable phones seem quaint. The inventions do not end here only. Portable phones were soon replaced with mobile phones, smart phones etc.