10 historical events that produced large, robust discontinuities in technological progress
Shared by elderberry · 79d ago · 1 comment
Fun to note the vastly different causes. The second transatlantic telegraph:
At a glance, on Wikipedia’s telling, it sounds as though the perseverance of one person—Cyrus West Field—might have affected when fast transatlantic communication appeared by years. He seems to have led all five efforts, supplied substantial money himself, and ongoingly fundraised and formed new companies, even amidst a broader lack of enthusiasm after initial failures. (He was also given a congressional gold medal for establishing the transatlantic telegraph cable, suggesting the US congress also has this impression.)
The Paris Gun:
On this story, building a weapon to shoot a projectile 25 miles into the air had been feasible for some time, but wasn’t worth it. Its goals were psychological rather than physically effective warfare.
The SS Great Eastern:
The SS Great Eastern was a freakishly large ship. For instance, it seems to have weighed about five times as much as any previous ship. As far as I can tell, the reason it existed is that Isambard Kingdom Brunell thought it would be good.