History 5 Lesson 45

Steel Plow 

John Deere was born in Vermont in 1804. He went to a congregational college. He became a town blacksmith in 1825. Insight: polished needles are easier to use. Deere invented the steel plow in 1837. Prairie soil was extremely fertile. It stuck to the  mouldboard. Soil didn’t stick to the polished steel plow. Mouldboard was optimized to turn over the soil. The plow was self-cleaning, Deere tested his plow at his neighbors farm. Initial sales spread by word-of-mouth. He offered a risk-free guarantee. Built a factory near rivers and railroads. John Deere went into competition with International Harvester. 

Steam Shovel

Pelham, Massachusetts was settled in 1738 by Scottish Presbyterans. William Smith Otis was born in Pelham in 1813. Otas became fascinated with mechanical inventions. He invented the steam shovel at the age of 22 in 1835. He died within a year of  receiving the  patent. It’s basically a steam powered dirt-moving bucket. Steam pistons provide a source of motion. Like a movable crane. Holes could be dug deeper faster. Otis’ relatives hung onto the patent for 40 years. Railroads drove the steam shovel demand. Efficiency increased over time. It spread more rapidly after the patent expired. Made taller buildings possible.

Postage Stamp

Rowland Hill was born in England in 1795. He had influential family friends. He went to work for the government. Rowland promoted Priestley’s educational reform. He invented the postage stamp in 1838. It’s a piece of paper with adhesive backing. It shows that postage had been paid. Postage is based on weight not distance. Beautiful illustrations on them. Marked with postmarks to show they’ve been used. Postage reforms approved in 1839. Hill worked with Charles Bebbage to show costs weren’t from long distances. Postage reforms approved in 1839. Received support from merchants and businessmen. The postage system became a government monopoly. The price for sending mail fell and Demand increased.

Vulcanized Rubber

Charles Goodyear was born in Connecticut in 1800. He mechanically minded and entrepreneurial. Improved a company’s rubber life preservers. He was determined to solve a “sticky” problem. Mixing other chemicals was part of the process. Invented Vulcanized rubber in 1839. Vulcanization eliminates the stickiness. The refined rubber is weatherproof. Mix in a chemical life sulfur, then apply heat. Very durable, not brittle. Goodyear found a factory to produce rubber products. He died in 1860. A Goodyear company formed in 1898. It produced bicycle tires and poker chips, it expanded into wartime production with government contracts.              

        

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