- 1880: Oliver Heaviside of Camden Town, London, England receives a patent for the coaxial cable. In 1887, Heaviside introduced the concept of loading coils. In the 1890s, Mihajlo Idvorski Pupin would both create the loading coils and receive a patent of them, failing to credit Heaviside's work.
- 1880–1882: Development and commercial production of electric lighting was underway. Thomas Edison of Milan, Ohio established Edison Illuminating Company on December 17, 1880. Based at New York City, it was the pioneer company of the electrical power industry. Edison's system was based on creating a central power plant equipped with electrical generators. Copper electrical wires would then connect the station with other buildings, allowing for electricity distribution. Pearl Street Station was the first central power plant in the United States. It was located at 255–257 Pearl Street in Manhattan on a site measuring 50 by 100 feet, just south of Fulton Street. It began with one direct current generator, and it started generating electricity on September 4, 1882, serving an initial load of 400 lamps at 85 customers. By 1884, Pearl Street Station was serving 508 customers with 10,164 lamps.
- 1880–1886: Charles F. Brush of Euclid, Ohio and Brush Electric Light Company installed carbon arc lights along Broadway, New York City. A small generating station was established at Manhattan's 25th Street. The electric arc lights went into regular service on December 20, 1880. The new Brooklyn Bridge of 1883 had seventy arc lamps installed in it. By 1886, there was a reported number of 1,500 arc lights installed in Manhattan.
- 1881–1885: Stefan Drzewiecki of Podolia, Russian Empire finishes his submarine-building project (which had begun in 1879). The crafts were constructed at Nevskiy Shipbuilding and Machinery works at Saint Petersburg. Altogether, 50 units were delivered to the Ministry of War. They were reportedly deployed as part of the defense of Kronstadt and Sevastopol. In 1885, the submarines were transferred to the Imperial Russian Navy. They were soon declared "ineffective" and discarded. By 1887, Drzewiecki was designing submarines for the French Third Republic.
- 1881–1883: John Philip Holland of Liscannor, County Clare, Ireland builds the Fenian Ram submarine for the Fenian Brotherhood. During extensive trials, Holland made numerous dives and test-fired the gun using dummy projectiles. However, due to funding disputes within the Irish Republican Brotherhood and disagreement over payments from the IRB to Holland, the IRB stole Fenian Ram and the Holland III prototype in November 1883.
- 1882: William Edward Ayrton of London, England and John Perry of Garvagh, County Londonderry, Ireland build an electric tricycle. It reportedly had a range of 10 to 25 miles, powered by a lead acid battery. A significant innovation of the vehicle was its use of electric lights, here playing the role of headlamps.
- 1882: James Atkinson of Hampstead, London, England invented the Atkinson cycle engine. By use of variable engine strokes from a complex crankshaft, Atkinson was able to increase the efficiency of his engine, at the cost of some power, over traditional Otto-cycle engines.
- 1882: Schuyler Wheeler of Massachusetts invented the two-blade electric fan. Henry W. Seely of New York invented the electric safety iron. Both were arguably among the earliest small domestic electrical appliances to appear.
- 1882–1883: James Wimshurst of Poplar, London, England
- 1882–1883: John Hopkinson of Manchester, England patents the three-phase electric power system in 1882. In 1883 Hopkinson showed mathematically that it was possible to connect two alternating current dynamos in parallel — a problem that had long bedeviled electrical engineers.
- 1883: Charles Fritts, an American inventor, creates the first working solar cell. "The energy conversion efficiency of these early devices was less than 1%. Denounced as a fraud in the USA for "generating power without consuming matter, thus violating the laws of physics".
- 1883–1885: Josiah H. L. Tuck, an American inventor, works in his own submarine designs. His 1883 model was created in Delameter Iron Works. It was 30-feet long, "all-electric and had vertical and horizontal propellers clutched to the same shaft, with a 20-feet breathing pipe and an airlock for a diver." His 1885 model, called the "Peacemaker", was larger. It used "a caustic soda patent boiler to power a 14-HP Westinghouse steam engine". She managed a number of short trips within the New York Harbor area. The Peacemaker had a submerged endurance of 5 hours. Tuck did not benefit from his achievement. His family feared that the inventor was squandering his fortune on the Peacemaker. They had him committed to an insane asylum by the end of the decade.
- 1883–1886: John Joseph Montgomery of Yuba City, California starts his attempts at early flight. On August 28, 1883 Montgomery tested a wing-flapping monoplane glider aircraft. Considered the "first heavier-than-air human-carrying aircraft to achieve controlled piloted flight". While later sources often mentioned this "flight" a success, Montgomery himself noted this as "the first and only real disappointment in the study". The gull-like wing was cayght in a rope, causing the glider to crush. In 1884, Montgomery switched to a curved wing surface glider. He reportedly made a glide of "considerable length" from Otay Mesa, San Diego, California, his first successful flight and arguably the first successful one in the United States. Details are obscure with no contemporary records surviving. In 1884–1885, Montgomery tested a monoplane glider with flat wings. The innovation in design was "hinged surfaces at the rear of the wings to maintain lateral balance". An early form of Aileron. In 1886, Montgomery rejected his old designs in favor of a monoplane glider with rocking wings. He then turned to theoretic research with whirling table. He would not build a glider again to 1896.
- 1884–1885: On August 9, 1884, "La France", a French Army airship, makes its maiden flight. Launched by Charles Renard and Arthur Constantin Krebs. Krebs piloted the first fully controlled free-flight with the La France. The 170-foot (52 m) long, 66,000 cubic feet (1,900 m3) airship, electric-powered with a 435 kg battery completed a flight that covered 8 km (5.0 mi) in 23 minutes. It was the first full round trip flight with a landing on the starting point. On its seven flights in 1884 and 1885 the La France dirigible returned five times to its starting point. "La France was the first airship that could return to its starting point in a light wind. It was 165 feet (50.3 meters) long, its maximum diameter was 27 feet (8.2 meters), and it had a capacity of 66,000 cubic feet (1,869 cubic meters)." Its battery-powered motor "produced 7.5 horsepower (5.6 kilowatts). This motor was later replaced with one that produced 8.5 horsepower (6.3 kilowatts)."
- 1884: Paul Gottlieb Nipkow of Lębork, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire invents the Nipkow disk,an image scanning device. It was the basis of his patent method of translating visual images to electronic impulses, transmit said impulses to another device and successfully reassemble the impulses to visual images. Nipkow used a selenium photoelectric cell. Nipkow proposed and patented the first "near-practicable" electromechanical television system in 1884. Although he never built a working model of the system, Nipkow's spinning disk design became a common television image rasterizer used up to 1939.
- 1884: Alexander Mozhaysky of Kotka, Grand Duchy of Finland, Russian Empire makes the second known "powered, assisted take off of a heavier-than-air craft carrying an operator". His steam-powered monoplane took off at Krasnoye Selo, near Saint Petersburg, making a hop and "covering between 65 and 100 feet". The monoplane had a failed landing, with one of its wings destroyed and serious damages. It was never rebuilt. Later Soviet propaganda would overstate Mozhaysky's accomplishment while downplaying the failed landing. The Grand Soviet Encyclopedia called this "the first true flight of a heavier-than-air machine in history".
- 1884–1885: Ganz Company engineers Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy and Miksa Déri had determined that open-core devices were impracticable, as they were incapable of reliably regulating voltage. In their joint patent application for the "Z.B.D." transformers, they described the design of two with no poles: the "closed-core" and the "shell-core" transformers. In the closed-core type, the primary and secondary windings were wound around a closed iron ring; in the shell type, the windings were passed through the iron core. In both designs, the magnetic flux linking the primary and secondary windings traveled almost entirely within the iron core, with no intentional path through air. When employed in electric distribution systems, this revolutionary design concept would finally make it technically and economically feasible to provide electric power for lighting in homes, businesses and public spaces. Bláthy had suggested the use of closed-cores, Zipernowsky the use of shunt connections, and Déri had performed the experiments. Electrical and electronic systems the world over continue to rely on the principles of the original Z.B.D. transformers. The inventors also popularized the word "transformer" to describe a device for altering the EMF of an electric current, although the term had already been in use by 1882.
- 1884–1885: John Philip Holland and Edmund Zalinski, having formed the “Nautilus Submarine Boat Company”, start working on a new submarine. The so-called "Zalinsky boat" was constructed in Hendrick's Reef (former Fort Lafayette), Bay Ridge in (ray) or (rayacus the 3rd) New York City borough of Brooklyn. "The new, cigar-shaped submarine was 50 feet long with a maximum beam of eight feet. To save money, the hull was largely of wood, framed with iron hoops, and again, a Brayton-cycle engine provided motive power." The project was plagued by a "shoestring budget" and Zalinski mostly rejecting Holland's ideas on improvements. The submarine was ready for launching in September, 1885. "During the launching itself, a section of the ways collapsed under the weight of the boat, dashing the hull against some pilings and staving in the bottom. Although the submarine was repaired and eventually carried out several trial runs in lower New York Harbor, by the end of 1886 the Nautilus Submarine Boat Company was no more, and the salvageable remnants of the Zalinski Boat were sold to reimburse the disappointed investors." Holland would not create another submarine to 1893.
- 1885: Galileo Ferraris of Livorno Piemonte, Kingdom of Italy reaches the concept of a rotating magnetic field. He applied it to a new motor. "Ferraris devised a motor using electromagnets at right angles and powered by alternating currents that were 90° out of phase, thus producing a revolving magnetic field. The motor, the direction of which could be reversed by reversing its polarity, proved the solution to the last remaining problem in alternating-current motors. The principle made possible the development of the asynchronous, self-starting electric motor that is still used today. Believing that the scientific and intellectual values of new developments far outstripped material values, Ferraris deliberately did not patent his invention; on the contrary, he demonstrated it freely in his own laboratory to all comers." He published his findings in 1888. By then, Nikola Tesla had independently reached the same concept and was seeking a patent.
- 1885: Nikolay Bernardos and Karol Olszewski of Broniszów were granted a patent for their Electrogefest, an "electric arc welder with a carbon electrode". Introducing a method of carbon arc welding, they also became the "inventors of modern welding apparatus".
- 1885–1888: Karl Benz of Karlsruhe, Baden, German Empire introduces the Benz Patent Motorwagen, widely regarded as the first automobile. It featured wire wheels (unlike carriages' wooden ones) with a four-stroke engine of his own design between the rear wheels, with a very advanced coil ignition and evaporative cooling rather than a radiator. The Motorwagen was patented on January 29, 1886 as DRP-37435: "automobile fueled by gas". The 1885 version was difficult to control, leading to a collision with a wall during a public demonstration. The first successful tests on public roads were carried out in the early summer of 1886. The next year Benz created the Motorwagen Model 2 which had several modifications, and in 1887, the definitive Model 3 with wooden wheels was introduced, showing at the Paris Expo the same year. Benz began to sell the vehicle (advertising it as the Benz Patent Motorwagen) in the late summer of 1888, making it the first commercially available automobile in history.
- 1885–1887: William Stanley, Jr. of Brooklyn, New York, an employee of George Westinghouse, creates an improved transformer. Westinghouse had bought the patents of Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs on the subject, and had purchased an option on the designs of Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy and Miksa Déri. He entrusted engineer Stanley with the building of a device for commercial use. Stanley's first patented design was for induction coils with single cores of soft iron and adjustable gaps to regulate the EMF present in the secondary winding. This design was first used commercially in 1886. But Westinghouse soon had his team working on a design whose core comprised a stack of thin "E-shaped" iron plates, separated individually or in pairs by thin sheets of paper or other insulating material. Prewound copper coils could then be slid into place, and straight iron plates laid in to create a closed magnetic circuit. Westinghouse applied for a patent for the new design in December 1886; it was granted in July 1887.
- 1885–1889: Claude Goubet, a French inventor, builts two small electric submarines. The first Goubet model was 16-feet long and weighed 2 tons. "She used accumulators (storage batteries which operated an Edison-type dynamo." While among the earliest submarines to successfully make use of electric power, she proved to have a severe flaw. She could not stay at a stable depth,set by the operator. The improved Goubet II was introduced in 1889. This version could transport a 2-man crew and had "an attractive interior". More stable than her predecessor, though still unable to stay at a set depth.
- 1885–1887: Thorsten Nordenfelt of Örby, Uppsala Municipality, Sweden produces a series of steam powered submarines. The first was the Nordenfelt I, a 56 tonne, 19.5 metre long vessel similar to George Garrett's ill-fated Resurgam (1879), with a range of 240 kilometres and armed with a single torpedo and a 25.4 mm machine gun. It was manufactured by Bolinders in Stockholm in 1884–1885. Like the Resurgam, it operated on the surface using a 100 HP steam engine with a maximum speed of 9 kn, then it shut down its engine to dive. She was purchased by the Hellenic Navy and was delivered to Salamis Naval Base in 1886. Following the acceptance tests, she was never used again by the Hellenic Navy and was scrapped in 1901. Nordenfelt then built the Nordenfelt II (Abdülhamid) in 1886 and Nordenfelt III (Abdülmecid) in 1887, a pair of 30 metre long submarines with twin torpedo tubes, for the Ottoman Navy. Abdülhamid became the first submarine in history to fire a torpedo while submerged under water. The Nordenfelts had several faults. "It took as long as twelve hours to generate enough steam for submerged operations and about thirty minutes to dive. Once underwater, sudden changes in speed or direction triggered — in the words of a U. S. Navy intelligence report — "dangerous and eccentric movements." ...However, good public relations overcame bad design: Nordenfeldt always demonstrated his boats before a stellar crowd of crowned heads, and Nordenfeldt's submarines were regarded as the world standard."
- 1886–1887: Carl Gassner of Mainz, German Empire receives a patent for a zinc-carbon battery, among the earliest examples of dry cell batteries. Originally patented in the German Empire, Gassner also received patents from Austria–Hungary, Belgium, the French Third Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (all in 1886) and the United States (in 1887). Consumer dry cells would first appear in the 1890s. In 1887, Wilhelm Hellesen of Kalundborg, Denmark patented his own zinc-carbon battery. Within the year, Hellesen and V. Ludvigsen founded a factory in Frederiksberg, producing their batteries.
- 1886: Charles Martin Hall of Thompson Township, Geauga County, Ohio and Paul Héroult of Thury-Harcourt, Normandy independently discover the same inexpensive method for producing aluminium, which became the first metal to attain widespread use since the prehistoric discovery of iron. The basic invention involves passing an electric current through a bath of alumina dissolved in cryolite, which results in a puddle of aluminum forming in the bottom of the retort. It has come to be known as the Hall-Héroult process. Often overlooked is that Hall did not work alone. His research partner was Julia Brainerd Hall, an older sister. She had studied chemistry at Oberlin College, helped with the experiments, took laboratory notes and gave business advice to Charles.
- 1886–1890: Herbert Akroyd Stuart of Halifax Yorkshire, England receives his first patent on a prototype of the hot bulb engine. His research culminated in an 1890 for a compression ignition engine. Production started in 1891 by Richard Hornsby & Sons of Grantham, Lincolnshire, England under the title Hornsby Akroyd Patent Oil Engine under licence. Stuart's oil engine design was simple, reliable and economical. It had a comparatively low compression ratio, so that the temperature of the air compressed in the combustion chamber at the end of the compression stroke was not high enough to initiate combustion. Combustion instead took place in a separated combustion chamber, the "vaporizer" (also called the "hot bulb") mounted on the cylinder head, into which fuel was sprayed. It was connected to the cylinder by a narrow passage and was heated either by the cylinder's coolant or by exhaust gases while running; an external flame such as a blowtorch was used for starting. Self-ignition occurred from contact between the fuel-air mixture and the hot walls of the vaporizer.
- 1887: William Thomson (later Baron Kelvin) of Belfast, Ireland introduces the multicellular voltmeter. The electrical supply industry needed instruments capable of measuring high voltages. Thomson's voltmeter could measure up to 20,000 volts. It could measure both direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) flows. They went into production in 1888, being the first electrostatic voltmeters.
- 1887: Charles Vernon Boys of Wing, Rutland, England introduces a method of using fused quartz fibers to measure "delicate forces". Boys was a physics demonstrator at the Royal College of Science in South Kensington, but was contacting private experiments on the effects of delicate forces on objects. It was already known that hanging an object from a thread could demonstrate the effects of such weak influences. Said thread had to be "thin, strong and elastic". Finding the best fibers available at the time insufficient for his experiments, Boys set out to create a better fiber. He tried making glass from a variety of minerals. The best results came from natural quartz. He created fibers both extremely thin and highly durable. He used them to create the "radiomicrometer", a device sensitive enough to detect the heat of a single candle from a distance of almost 2 miles. By March 26, 1887, Boys was reporting his results to the Physical Society of London
- 1887–1888: Augustus Desiré Waller of Paris recorded the human electrocardiogram with surface electrodes. He was employed at the time as a lecturer in physiology at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London. In May, 1887, Waller demonstrated his method to many physiologists. In 1888, Waller demonstrated that the contraction of the heart started at the apex of the heart and ended at the base of the heart. Willem Einthoven was among those who took interest in the new method. He would end up improving it in the 1900s.
- 1887–1889: Nikola Tesla of Smiljan, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Austria–Hungary files for patents on distribution of alternating current (AC) and polyphase induction motors and generators. He cites his discovery of the rotating magnetic field principle in 1882 as the basis for these applications. (Galileo Ferraris independently reached the same concept in 1885). Tesla's designs are soon put in practical use by George Westinghouse of the Westinghouse Electric. In 1889, the Willamette Falls hydro-electric generation facility in Oregon uses Westinghouse generators and an AC transmission system Four turbine driven dynamos were built on the east end of the falls. A 14-mile (23 km) long transmission line to Portland was built, becoming the United States' first long distance transmission of electrical energy.
- 1887–1890: Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti of Liverpool, England is hired by the London Electric Supply Corporation to design the Deptford Power Station. Ferranti designed the building, as well as the electrical systems for both generating and distributing alternating current (AC). Among the innovations included in the Station was "the use of 10,000-volt high-tension cable", successfully tested for safety. On its completion in October 1890 it was the first truly modern power station,supplying high-voltage AC power. "Ferranti pioneered the use of Alternating Current for the distribution of electrical power in Europe authoring 176 patents on the alternator, high-tension cables, insulation, circuit breakers, transformers and turbines."
- 1888: Heinrich Hertz of Hamburg, a city-state of the German Empire, successfully transmits and receives radio waves. He was employed at the time by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Attempting to experimentally prove James Clerk Maxwell' "A dynamical theory of the electromagnetic field" (1864), Hertz "generated electric waves using an electric circuit". Then he detected said waves "with another similar circuit some distance away". Hertz succeeded in proving the existence of electromagnetic waves. But in doing so, he had built basic transmitter and receiver devices. Hertz took this work no further, did not exploit it commercially, and famously did not consider it useful. But it was an important step in the invention of radio.
- 1888–1890: Isaac Peral of Cartagena, Spain launches his pioneering submarine on September 8, 1888. Created for the Spanish Navy, el Peral was "roughly 71 feet long, with a 9-foot beam and a height of almost 9 feet amidships, with one horizontal and two small vertical propellers, Peral's "cigar," as the workers called it, ... had a periscope, a chemical system to oxygenate the air for a crew of six, a speedometer, spotlights, and a launcher at the bow capable of firing three torpedoes. Its two 30-horsepower electrical motors, powered by 613 batteries, gave it a theoretical range of 396 nautical miles and a maximum speed of 10.9 knots an hour at the surface." It underwent a series of trials in 1889 and 1890, all in the Bay of Cádiz. On June 7, 1890, it "successfully spent an hour submerged at a depth of 10 meters, following a set course of three and a half miles". He was celebrated by the public and honored by Maria Christina of Austria, Queen Regent of Spain. But Navy officials ultimately declared the submarine a "useless curiosity", scrapping the project.
- 1888–1890: Gustave Zédé and Arthur Constantin Krebs launch the Gymnote, a 60-foot submarine for the French Navy. "It was driven by a 55 horse power electric motor, originally powered by 564 Lalande Chaperon alkaline cells by Coumelin, Desmazures et Baillache with a total capacity of 400 Amphours weighing 11 tons and delivering a maximum current of 166 Amps." She was launched on 24 September 1888 and would stay in service to 1908. The Gymnote underwent various trials to 1890, successful enough for the Navy to start building two "real fighting submarines", considerably larger. Several of the trials were intended to established tactical methods of using submarines in warfare. Several weapons were tested until it was decided that the torpedos of Robert Whitehead were ideal for the job. The Gymnote proved effective in breaking blockades and surface ships had trouble spotting it. She was able to withstand explosions of up to 220 pounds of guncotton in a distance of 75 yards from its body. Shells of quick-firing guns, fired at short range, would explode in the water before hitting it. At long-range everything fired at the submarine, ended up ricocheting. The submarine proved "blind" when submerged, establishing the need of a periscope.
- 1889–1891: Almon Brown Strowger of Penfield, New York files a patent for the stepping switch on March 12, 1889. Issued on March 10, 1891, it enabled automatic telephone exchanges. Since 1878, telephone communications were handled by telephone switchboards, staffed by telephone operators. Operators were not only responsible for connecting, monitoring and disconnecting calls. They were expected to provide "emotional support, emergency information, local news and gossip, business tips", etc. Strowger had reportedly felt the negative side of this development, while working as an undertaker in Kansas City. The local operator happened to be the wife of a rival undertaker. Whenever someone asked to be put through to an undertaker, the operator would connect them to her husband. Strowger was frustrated at losing customers to this unfair competition. He created his device explicitly to bypass the need of an operator. His system "required users to tap out the number they wanted on three keys to call other users directly. The system worked with reasonable accuracy when the subscribers operated their push buttons correctly and remembered to press the release button after a conversation was finished, but there was no provision against a subscriber being connected to a busy line." Strowger would found the Strowger Automatic Telephone Exchange in 1891.
- 1889: Elihu Thomson of Manchester, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland creates a motor-driven Wattmeter.
- 1889: Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky of Gatchina, Russian Empire created the first squirrel-cage induction motor. He was at the time working for AEG.
- Development and commercial production of gasoline-powered automobiles were undertaken by Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler and Maybach
- The first commercial production and sales of phonographs and phonograph recordings occurred.
- Steel frame construction of "sky-scrapers" happened for the first time.
- February 16, 1880: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers was founded in New York City.
- Construction began on the Panama Canal by the French. This was the first attempt to build the Canal; it would end in failure.
- Lewis Ticehurst invented the drinking straw.
- 1884: Smokeless powder was brought from France.
- 1885: Thomas Edison invents the first ever movie in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
- 1886: Earliest commercial automobile is invented.
- 1887: As the Prohibition movement gained nationwide prevalence, a "liquor-free" drink was brewed, known now as Coca-Cola.
- 1888: Infrastructure reform movements begin when many cities are devastated by the Great Blizzard of '88.
Read more about this topic: 1880s
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