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Questions tagged [engineering-history]

Questions relating to the historical development of an engineering practice or process. Also, questions about the people and places involved in significant engineering developments and achievements.

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1answer
22 views

What developments made diesel engines suitable for personal cars in the 1970s/1980s?

Both diesel and gasoline engines were developed in the late 19th to early 20th century. Diesel engines were for the most part of the 20th century used mostly for large applications in ships, trains, ...
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WW2 technology - How was this on-screen frame counter added to old film-media footage?

Please refer to the following youtube video (pause it as soon as it starts)... "USS William D Porter, the Unluckiest Ship in the Navy" by The History Guy https://youtu.be/f9Gb4PakFTU?t=162 There is ...
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When were the japanese yellow/white/blue/silver paper steels introduced?

The steel series called kigami/shirogami (yellow/white paper steel, high purity carbon steels in different grades), aogami (blue paper steel, a tungsten alloyed tool steel series), aogami super (a ...
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Is the combination of blocks and lines in this old, very long telescope an implementation of some named structure or technique?

Below are two cropped views of "Johannes Hevelius's 8 inch telescope with an open work wood and wire "tube" that had a focal length of 150 feet to limit chromatic aberration." from Harvard University, ...
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Why were pneumatic thermostats commonly installed in buildings?

According to Wikipedia, pneumatic thermostats were invented after electric thermostats. Yet this article claims that "at least 25 percent of U.S. commercial buildings are served by pneumatic controls,...
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What were the technical reasons for type bar designs being more common than type wheels for manual typewriters?

During the era of the typewriter there were a few kinds of basic designs. The (afaik) most well known is the type bar design, where each key is connected to an individual type bar that hits the paper ...
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How were multiple vacuum pumps used to raise water over 10m (e.g. by a steam engine)?

I can imagine a steam engine driving multiple regular old vacuum pumps, which each raise water ~10m. I would think that someone would combine the multiple pumps into a single piece of machinery for ...
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When were airfoil cross-sections first used in turbine blades?

When were airfoil cross-sections first used in turbine blades? When did this become standard practice? Did people understand the connection to aircraft, or did heavier-than-air aircraft exist at all ...
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2answers
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Pre-Defined Numbers to be used in Sizing Mechanical Parts

I recall there was a set of "engineering numbers" that were to be used when deciding how big to make something. So that if, for example, you wanted your screw to be 1.36mm you'd instead round up or ...
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Why aren't screens round instead of rectangular?

Screens on TVs and phones et cetera are always rectangular. Why? Why are they not round? Eyes are round. The Sun, the source of almost all of our light, is round. Telescopes have round lenses and ...
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How were the first engineering licenses issued?

One of the criteria for getting an engineering license is working under a licensed engineer for a period of time. This seems like a chicken-and-egg problem. How were the first engineering licenses ...
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2answers
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Historically, how did tram switches work?

Historically, the switches on regular railways were switched manually using a lever by dedicated staff to route trains correctly before getting replaced by an automatic electronic system. A similar ...
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1answer
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How did Al-jazary's “castle clock” work?

My question is what are the ideas behind the complicated historical water clocks. According to wikipedia, modern versions of the historical water clock rely on the principle of the syphon. So I ask ...
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How were gears manufactured before power tools, CNC, etc

Current gear manufacturing methods for gears usually depend on power tools, or computerised machines, or something like that. However, watchmakers and clockmakers at one point in history needed to ...
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How are increasingly accurate machines made?

Making extremely accurate machines seems like a chicken and egg problem. How do you make one if you don't already have one? For example, how was the first indexing head made without an indexing head ...
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Is the Louvre Pyramid oriented to the four cardinal points of the compass? [closed]

The four sides of the Great Pyramid of Giza are oriented to the four cardinal directions of the compass (north, west, east, south). Did I.M. Pei do the same with the Louvre Pyramid?
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Why do we pave roads instead of making them from removable parts?

If roads were made of removable parts, we'd probably have fiber cable internet everywhere by now I'd say. It'd be so much easier to install e.g. new electricity and water infrastructure and to ...
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What is the course content difference between conventional engineering and engineering technology programs? [duplicate]

I have seen institutions giving two different degrees to almost same courses. Some institutions give Bachelor/Master in engineering and some give Bachelor/master in Technology. So is their any ...
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Is systems engineer an IT profession or an interdisciplinary field of engineering?

The term Systems Engineer has always interested me as it generally involves many different fields of engineering. Systems Engineer - Interdisciplinary The definition I'm familiar with is usually ...
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2answers
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Why are so many things around us rectilinear? [closed]

If you look at the man-made objects around you, you will see that almost all of them are either rectangular, or parallel and perpendicular. There are a few circles here and there, but the overwhelming ...
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Why have thorium fueled nuclear reactors not been more fully developed?

Why have thorium nuclear reactors not been ore fully developed? Earth has more thorium than uranium. Is it technical difficulties or the fact that uranium technology was developed first for military ...
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Could a gold/{second metal} crown be created that would pass the Archimedes test cost effectively?

Many people are familiar with the story of Archimedes submerging a crown in water to identify if the volume of the crown was consistent with the volume of the same amount of gold. The test was to see ...
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Why are hyperboloid towers not popular anymore?

Hyperboloid towers were very popular in the end of 19th and the first half of 20th centuries - water towers, powerline anchor towers, sometimes tall radio towers were built using this design. The ...
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1answer
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Did Otto Lilienthal ever experiment with non-human-powered aircraft?

Otto Lilienthal, sometimes hailed as the first aviator, became famous for his many gliders, which pioneered new experiments in aeronautics. However, powered aircraft didn't take off - pun intended - ...
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2answers
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What made bronze the first widely used (non-ornamental) metal in human civilization?

I recall learning about the bronze age in school. Why was bronze so important to the technological development of humans? Why not some other metal?
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Making a mechanical device to measure the radius of the Earth

I want to design an experiment to show (in an educational context) how we can measure the radius of the Earth without using modern technology in order to demonstrate the engineering achievements of ...
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How was surveying for maps done before lasers?

I understand that you can have a device with angular measurements for rotation and elevation, and use trigonometry to calculate the distances... but only if you have some distances to start with. How ...
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What engineering advances paved the way for “modern” computers?

By "modern computers," I mean electronic programmable computers such as those that were developed about the middle of the 20th century. My understanding is that early computers such as Charles ...