Innovator and Didn’t Know It

I love history. It’s one of the things that I am very passionate about. One of the reasons that I love history is because everything that is done, it can be traced back to something that happened many years ago. Thanks to the History Channel, I’ve been getting a reminder of some of these inventions that, when we look back now, seemed like child’s play, but they were the basis for many of the technological advances we have today. Here are some of my favorites:

Cotton Looms: The cotton mill is the birthplace of binary code. In the 1800’s the machine was plugged with punch cards that told the machine when to turn “on” certain colors and when to turn them “off”. As the machine read the holes in the card, it knew what color to use in the fabric. This is the basis for binary code, which changed the way the world operated.

Fun Fact: A laptop computer of today, to have the same computing power, would have had to be the size of a passenger bus in the 70s to have that kind of output.

Oil Drilling (Naturally): The United States first mined oil in the early 1900’s, and it caused a shift in the way everything was done. The price of gasoline plummeted, making cars and electric lighting wildly available to the masses. Steam power was long forgotten and traded for gasoline and oil powered machinery.

Fun Fact: In the 1920’s, more money was spent on advertising than education.

Hoover Dam: Frank Crowe’s massive undertaking to block the Colorado River not only gave jobs at a time after the Great Depression to men who were willing to work, but it also provides power to the states out west; AZ, CA, NV, etc. The Hoover Dam also serves as a connector over the Colorado River, continuing the merger between east and west.

There are a lot of things in our past, both in the United States, and across the world that has changed the world. I bet the first person to use the cotton loom didn’t think that they were using what was, in essence, a basic computer system. Stories like this are the reason why I am passionate about history in the first place. You never can tell what’s going to change the world. What are some of your favorite stories in history and what did you learn from them?