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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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"Increasing the water pressure" in the old pipes in the Palace of Knossos

In the Palace of Knossos, Crete, Greece there is an old piping system partially preserved, with the following commentary: Series of clay pipes with one end narrower than the other so that they could ...
Honza Zidek's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
88 views

Did anyone ever make training wheels for the original Segway personal transporter device?

I am curious to know if Segway, or any other company, has ever made front and rear training wheels for the original version of the Segway personal transporter device. To help illustrate what I mean by ...
user57467's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
70 views

1960s coloring in manufacturing of fabric and plastic

I'm a art historian and would like to know why, in the 1960s, clothes and plastic products seem to have come in limited colours (e.g. white, yellow, red), whereas the 70s saw for instance orange, ...
Luk Vaes's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
65 views

Examining the structure of old buildings

Generally speaking, many cities were built across long periods of time. When a city is expanded, still in general, the old part becomes the center, and the new parts increase the size of the city from ...
john_smith's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
50 views

When was the phrase "lumped thermal capacitance" first coined?

As per the title, when was the phrase "lumped thermal capacitance" to describe a particular way of analysing multi-component heat transfer and energy storage systems first coined, please? I ...
Daniel Hatton's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
326 views

Why aren't these spokes radial?

Have a look at this water wheel (located at Hama, Syria). Most spoked wheels seem to be designed with spokes that radiate outward from the center of the hub (bicycle wheels being the notable exception)...
ConanTheGerbil's user avatar
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0 answers
50 views

Would a modern mercury vapor / steam combined rankine cycle be more efficient than a steam only cycle?

During the first half of the 20th century mercury vapor turbines were in use in commercial power stations. The mercury vapor was the working fluid for a high temperature Rankine cycle and the mercury ...
JanKanis's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
1k views

How realistic is the "death by CRT monitor" scene from Final Destination?

First of all, I realize that not only is this a fictional scene in a movie, but a movie (series) particularly infamous for its ridiculous, over-the-top death scenes. Yet, I have heard of basically ...
Rachlin's user avatar
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0 answers
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Is it somehow dangerous to spray compressed air into a CRT TV? [duplicate]

I am planning to unscrew the plastic chassis of my big old CRT TV, after having it unplugged for 24 hours, and then spray compressed air all over the internals to remove all the heavy layers of dust ...
Dillan's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
175 views

Why does my 1989 TV have two separate power buttons on the front?

First, there is a big, square one always visible, which seems like the "master" power button (besides the cable). It is pressed in and you clearly "feel" that the TV is turned off. ...
R. Cooey's user avatar
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0 answers
38 views

What does the "RGB" button do on the front of my old TV?

JVC, AV-S280ENT. This button exists on my 1989 TV. What exactly does it do? It seems like it would "enable RGB" for one SCART connector at a time, but what does that even mean? Why don't ...
Gleed's user avatar
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1 answer
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Is it dangerous for a child (or anyone) to bang away with a hammer and unscrew an old clothes washing machine?

In the mid-1990s at the latest, possibly something like 1992-1993, our family's clothes washing machine, presumably from sometime in the 1980s, broke down. My dad brought it out on the driveway ...
T. S.'s user avatar
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0 votes
3 answers
964 views

How dangerous is it for me and the TV to open up my CRT TV to dedust it with compressed air?

I've heard many times warnings about opening up CRT TVs on your own, because they contain scary old capacitors full of scary electricity, ready to zap your heart from you just looking at them. But I ...
Patrizio's user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
3k views

Why does the manual to a 1989 TV dedicate almost a page to the "pin assignment" of the SCART connector?

It is a bit unclear whether this is the "user manual" or the "service manual", the latter may have only been used by service people, but nevertheless, why would it go through the ...
M Clouden's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
72 views

What on Earth is a "mute module"?

Studying the extremely intimidating manual for my newly found and rescued 1989 JVC television set, which makes me feel very stupid and as if I'm looking at some sort of alien technology, I found this ...
N. Pook's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
71 views

Historic tragedy: is this a drive belt accident?

My cousin turned up a chilling report of the death of one of our relatives in the Cyfarthfa steelworks in 1905. I'm trying to form a picture of just what happened. Sorry, I only have an image of this ...
emrys57's user avatar
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3 answers
107 views

How did this tape recording possibly happen on a technical and logical level?

Recently, I dug up an old C90 audio cassette from when I was a kid in the early to mid 1990s. It's possible that it was already a few years old then, used by my parents and possibly others. I set up ...
Anikin's user avatar
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19 votes
10 answers
7k views

How did mechanical engineers work before SolidWorks?

I am studying a bunch of stuff related to mechanical engineering and am considering an eventual switch to the field after taking the necessary classes. I'm older, and I took drafting classes in high ...
CL40's user avatar
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-1 votes
1 answer
66 views

What were these two objects from the top of a tall building in the 1920s used for?

I saw this in a movie from the 1920s, set in the USA. ("Safety Last".) At the top of a tall building, there are two strange objects which I believe I've seen before but never could figure ...
Stevee E.'s user avatar
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0 answers
19 views

How do engineers conceptualize "levels of analysis" (thermodynamic, fluid dynamical, mechanical, etc.)

In considering something like a jet engine, the thermodynamic analysis can be very mathematical and quite simple (e.g. one-dimensional flow). It's quite general and takes exactly the same mathematical ...
Theo H's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
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What is the original paper using Extended Kalman Filter for joint state and parameter estimation [closed]

The title says it all. I would like to know which was the first paper to apply the Extended Kalman Filter to jointly estimate the state plus some parameter of the system. (by extending the system ...
G Frazao's user avatar
  • 111
1 vote
0 answers
60 views

Strange old smithing machine, what is it purpose?

Is anyone familiar with such thing? I suppose that is something used in forge. I don't have better photos, but "steering wheel" was placed on shaft with small gear and this small gear is ...
rozumir's user avatar
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14 votes
2 answers
3k views

What would "wired houses" refer to in 1928?

I read this today: Variety (November 21, 1928) wrote: "Not the first animated cartoon to be synchronized with sound effects, but the first to attract favorable attention. This one represents a ...
Willamson's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
185 views

Why are the facades of historic residential buildings in Paris tilted backwards?

In any major city that features an historical center, the list of attractions advertised by tourist guides seldom includes what, in my opinion, would constitute the destination's most important part: ...
Ricky's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
114 views

How to find old (especially Soviet/Russian) blueprints

I am interested in old blueprints, especially if related to aerospace (and from the old Soviet Bloc), things like these: Vostok blueprints Soyuz blueprint. Does anybody know if there is any methods to ...
bszwpfnr1's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
74 views

History, precision bootstrap

What simple machines have an ability to make a part that is more precise than any available part within a machine? This is partly related to history about how early machine parts improved in precision....
Surprised Seagull's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
391 views

How to make holes in granite without electrical or iron tools?

I see granite blocks in ancient Egyptian temples with perfect holes drilled into them. The historians say at that time (2500BC) they did not possess iron tools or the wheel and certainly no ...
Samid's user avatar
  • 155
0 votes
0 answers
30 views

Modern equivalent concrete strength to 'Class Ws 3/4" '

Consider the following extract from a UK reinforced concrete detail drawing dated 1970: What is the modern equivalent to this concrete class?
egg's user avatar
  • 857
3 votes
1 answer
185 views

Why would a "delayed loudspeaker" be so expensive in the 1970s?

Recently, I read about some major musical concert held somewhere in the USA to a record-large audience. Since there were so many people, not all could see or even hear the music from the main ...
Silven B.'s user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
44 views

Is it true that pre-jet air planes used to fly much lower? If so, why?

I watched a video on the Concorde the other day. In it, they talked about the history of airplanes, and how the jetplanes now started flying "above the weather", and that the propellar-...
Audley Kosick's user avatar
2 votes
3 answers
971 views

Did toasters ever make the toasted bread jump up in the air when done?

In numerous cartoons, video games, movies, etc., I've seen how a toaster makes the toasted bread jump high up in the air when done, forcing the user to catch them mid-air or pick them up after they've ...
Manzie Spingler's user avatar
53 votes
13 answers
17k views

Are toasters really electrified inside of the "slots"?

My mother was born 1950. Me in the mid-1980s. All my life, she's been saying that I must never stick a metal object, such as a knife, into the toaster, because it will electrocute me. I've always been ...
Anupam Strane's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
527 views

In a reinforced concrete detail drawing what does 'reinforcement to be GK 60' mean?

Consider the following extract from a British reinforced concrete drawing from 1970: It states that 'REINFORCEMENT TO BE G.K 60. UNLESS STATED OTHERWISE' What is the meaning of GK 60? What property ...
egg's user avatar
  • 857
-1 votes
1 answer
84 views

How is it possible that an *undertaker* invented the automatic telephone exchange? And as early as in 1888?

Strowger, an undertaker, was motivated to invent an automatic telephone exchange after having difficulties with the local telephone operators, one of whom was the wife of a competitor. He was said ...
Tamjid Maerten's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
180 views

Would not a telephone call (from the late 1950s) auto-disconnect if one of the parties "closes the handle"?

In the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Togeather", S03E15, at 17:17, you see a drunk man leaving a telephone without putting it on its handle, with the person he was talking to begging him to "...
Shaindel's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
449 views

How were these candlesticks made in the 1800s?

"Candlesticks" for this question are really just a stand-in for axisymmetric silver, brass, etc structures, possibly hollow and made of thin sheet material? Examples: From my research, today we ...
Sam Gallagher's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
65 views

How do these thread-holder mechanisms work?

In old scientific apparatus for electrical experiments, and more particularly in instruments such as galvanometers and torsion balances, we often need to hold one end of a thread in place. Examples ...
Sam Gallagher's user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
284 views

If the Roman number system was so bad, how did the Romans build all that relative high-tech? [closed]

I very often hear how "stupid" the Roman number system (I, II, III, IIII/IV, V, VI, etc...) was, and I'm often prepared to agree, except for low numbers, where it can look very beautiful for titles ...
Romani's user avatar
  • 1
-1 votes
2 answers
460 views

Why are/were sewers made large enough for somebody to walk down in there?

Today, I have been reading a lot about sewer systems on Wikipedia, in the hope that I would find information or at least photos showing what I think of as sewers, namely somewhere under the streets in ...
hurd dimension's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
103 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, ...
JanKanis's user avatar
  • 254
1 vote
2 answers
81 views

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 ...
user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
127 views

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 ...
rackandboneman's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
87 views

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, ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 339
0 votes
1 answer
124 views

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,...
Robert Tupelo-Schneck's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
114 views

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 ...
JanKanis's user avatar
  • 254
2 votes
1 answer
72 views

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 ...
keith's user avatar
  • 21
0 votes
1 answer
35 views

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 ...
Mike Graham's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
41 views

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 ...
John DeHope's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
9k views

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 ...
LocalFluff's user avatar
  • 1,073
1 vote
0 answers
51 views

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 ...
Stephen Collings's user avatar