The Flashlight

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2010 at 1:55 am

Object: Flashlight

Associated Idea(s) (Discrete): Portable Light Sources

Associated Idea(s) (Homogenized): Manufactured Light Sources

Emerged circa: 1899

Geographical origins: North America

Cultural heritage: American

Conceiver/Creator (if known): Conrad Hubert

Brief description: Typically a hand-sized case, made of metal or plastic, that used electric batteries to power a light bulb housed at one end.  The diameter and intensity of the light beam varied.

Historical significance: The flashlight developed with two other closely related inventions as points of reference: electric batteries and the light bulb.  Flashlights marked a turning point in the history of handheld light sources as they provided a reusable, electrically charged option.  They allowed for longer durations of operation and also a wider variety of ways by which to handle the light as it was emitted.  In essence, they provided more control, precision and functionality.

General Impact: Offered a simple and neat handheld light source that was intuitive to use and that could be replicated fairly easily and cheaply.  Put to use in a variety of contexts including security, exploration and entertainment.

Offspring: LED rechargeable flashlight.

Relatives: torch, lantern

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In Uncategorized on April 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Object: Eyeglasses

Associated Idea(s) (Discrete): Eyewear

Associated Idea(s) (Homogenized): Vision, Optometry, Prosthetics

Emerged circa: 1289 AD

Geographical origins: Italy

Cultural heritage: Various

Conceiver/Creator (if known): Most likely a monk or craftsperson in Pisa.

Brief description: Eyeglasses (or “occhiale”) were an adaptation of the magnifying glass that had been in use for centuries prior. The first pair, whose exact origins are unknown, were simply two of these magnifying glasses joined together by a bridge that made them able to be worn.  Early adaptations used materials such as crystal and concave glass for the lenses, while bone, leather and various metals were used for the frames.

Historical significance: Allowed for monks of the time, particularly those who were up in years, to continue reading scripture well into advanced age.  Also contributed to developments with other sight-enhancement technologies.

General Impact: Enhanced and extended the power of sight for countless individuals throughout the world.

Offspring: Contact Lenses

Relatives: Magnifying Glass, Telescope, Binoculars

Sources, references, links:

The Pocket Watch

In Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Object: The Pocket Watch

Associated Idea(s) (Discrete): The Watch, The Clock

Associated Idea(s) (Homogenized): Timepieces, Time, Instruments of Measure

Emerged circa: Shortly After 1510 AD

Geographical origins: Germany

Cultural heritage: German

Conceiver/Creator (if known): Attributed to Peter Henlein

Brief description: The pocket watch was an interpretive design that offered a condensed and mobile version of many timepieces already available.  It was a pocket-sized device used initially for measuring the hours of the day, exemplified in the Nuremberg Egg.  The concurrent development of coiled springs made the logistics of the pocket watch possible. It was typically carried around in one’s pocket. Some were worn on a chain either on the neck or at the waist.

Historical significance: Timepieces of all shapes and sizes had been in existence prior to Henlein’s contribution and were especially prevalent in Germany, but Henlein is considered to be the first to develop a clock that could be carried on one’s person.

General Impact: Changed the way people thought of and engaged with the concept of time and timepieces.

Offspring: The Wrist Watch

Relatives: Stopwatch, Palm Pilots, Mobile Phones

Sources, references, links: