Evolution of Technology in the United States from 1860 - 1870

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A number of notable technological innovations have taken place between the years 1860-1870 in the United States. In the sphere of communications, a major development was the completion of the first transcontinental telegraph line across North America by Western Union in 1861 (Western Union 2009). Moreover, in 1866, after several failed attempts, the Transatlantic Cable was laid that connected Europe and North America. Before this landmark event, the fastest communication between the two continents had taken at least a week; after the cable was laid, messages could be transmitted instantaneously. The first message was, famously, that “a treaty of peace has been signed between Austria and Prussia” (History Magazine n/d, “Third Time Lucky”, para. 3). As concerns other inventions in the sphere of telegraphy, the stock ticker machine was invented in 1867 by Edward Callahan that made stock prices immediately available over the telegraph (National Public Radio, 2006).

Important developments took place in the chemical industry, as various forms of plastic were experimented with. For example, John Wesley Hyatt invented celluloid as a substitute for the ivory in billiard balls in 1868 (Muccio 1991). Telephone was invented in the decade to follow. Oil industry was consolidating quickly, as the demand for petroleum was growing continuously. John Rockefeller was buying oil refineries, oilfields and pipelines. By the end of the decade, he has controlled 90 per cent of the industry. His company, Standard Oil, was a pioneer in many respects, most notably in logistics and organizational design, in modern terminology. Predecessors of Standard Oil used railroad tank cars to transport oil over large distances, which was time consuming and costly; Rockefeller’s company connected Pennsylvanian oilfields with refineries in New Jersey, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Baltimore by pipelines. In term of organizational design, corporations had a limited ability to do business across...
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