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William Everdell
St. Ann's School


    Technology is not in every history textbook.  Some treat technology as a subtopic of economic history, but technology creation and technology transfer do not always happen for purely economic reasons and not all their effects are economic.  Besides, textbooks often fail to be concrete about this most material of topics, which bores students at best and at worst makes the theme unteachable.  In Western Civilization textbooks, the sections on the Industrial Revolution sometimes no longer tell a student how a Bessemer converter made steel, or changed the economics of steel production, or even what steel is.  The newer World History textbooks are better on technology; but World History teachers will need to know why some historians2 use the term, "industrial revolution" to describe the technological changes that occurred in Song-Dynasty China, or for China in the 12th century.
    Technology is the making and social use of tools—extensions of mind and body.  It is a primary category for the anthropological study of cultures; and it should be a part of every introductory history survey course if only because contemporary students all over the world are fascinated by how things work and even more fascinated by how new devices change the lives of millions of people.  American students are particularly interested in the technology that is now commercially aimed at them, complete with sophisticated marketing and planned obsolescence; but they are not aware of the web of connections that give it a history.  Freshmen will occasionally ask me why the radio or the automobile wasn't invented and marketed in ancient Rome.  "After all, they had the money then, didn't they?"  For some students, honest answers to this sort of question can be the first accessible and interesting kind of historical reasoning they run into.
    They should be interested. Technology is important. That is, it affects very large number of human beings in very deep ways for a very long time.  The history of technology is not divorced from diplomatic, economic or social history, but it is a clearly separable focus, as William McNeill has often pointed out. As a theme, it carries a class from the beginnings of our species all the way to the 21st century, and it is worth pointing out that, according to most modern macroeconomists, the single most important factor in the growth of per capita GNP is productivity—the value added per worker per hour—and that the single most important factor in increasing productivity is capital investment in new technology.
    What is presented here, then, is a brief general chronological outline of the world history of technology, postholed with technology complexes worth highlighting and how to engage students' interest in them.  Footnotes and bibliography are attached in a way that should provide teachers with the means to find out what they need to know to construct a unit or a posthole and materials, like those indispensable Connections videos, which both teachers and students will find useful.3 4
    E. M. Forster put it best in Howard's End: "Only connect."  Many teachers will agree that the best way to explain a factor in world history is to demonstrate its connections to other factors and to itself.  For this kind of exercise technology is the ideal factor.  It lends itself to what I call "constellations," broader than what the technology historian calls "complexes," which bring together technological, economic, social and environmental facts in relationships that students rarely expect, but find easy to understand.
    Of several examples my own favorite technocultural constellation, the one I like best to present to American students, is the one that is so much of a daily reality for the majority of them. In fact, they are aware of it in much the same way fish are aware of the sea.  I mean the constellation combining the gasoline-powered automobile with assembly-line manufacturing, asphalt highways, mobile mechanized warfare, traffic signals, suburban living, suburban sprawl, and the rubber, oil and petrochemicals industries.  It was probably triggered in 1888 by John Boyd Dunlop's invention of the inflatable rubber "pneumatic" tire, which sparked a boom in bicycles, the first new form of personal transportation since the horse (and democratically cheaper than horses or buggies to buy and maintain).  People trained in bicycle manufacture produced the first automobiles in both France and the United States (also the first successful powered airplane). As automobiles came to be mass-produced and mass-marketed at increasingly lower prices, the great oil companies like Rockefeller's Standard Oil and Shell (temporarily stymied in the 1880s when incandescent bulbs (1879) and distributed electric power (1882) were displacing kerosene lamps) rose to new heights with the oil refiners' production of top-fraction motor fuel for the offspring of Diesel's internal combustion engine and bottom-fraction asphalt for the new roads.4  What motor truck transport and the ubiquity of the private automobile have done to urbanism and social life, not to mention gender roles and sexual relations, is so enormous that it takes a little time for students to grasp; but it's worth taking the time.  The students' experience almost guarantees their interest.
    But this constellation belongs to only the last period in World History, as the AP guidelines sets it out.  Let us begin at the beginning, in a little more detail.
    For the long initial period of World History which AP calls Foundations, the history of technology will help students understand the anthropological meaning of "technology"—simply the role tools play in human cultures, where "tool" is anything turned to a human purpose that is not a human body part.  Technology's myth is quite close to its real history in the Foundations period.  Fire, probably first harnessed by Homo erectus, still holds its "promethean" place in the culture of the early Paleolithic (for cooking, heating and stress relief).  Thread spinning, probably an invention of Homo sapiens sapiens (female), holds the same place in the Mesolithic, so let us call it "ariadnean."  Together with weaving, spinning provided the first textiles, only recently recognized in the head coverings of the small sculptured "Venuses" of the Old Stone Age.  Spinning is not something modern students know how to do; but some do it anyway, idly, using the lint of their sweaters, and a teacher can easily set an entire class to making at least a little bit of thread and perhaps learning the original meanings of "spindle" and "spinster."  It will be useful not only for their appreciation of pre-civilized human beings and the gendering of labor, but also for their understanding of how spinning was mechanized thousands of years later in the 18th century textile factories of Lancashire.5
    The most fundamental technologies for the Neolithic are planting and harvesting, storing and milling, and the three tools that instantly label an archeological site as neolithic are the sickle, the basket or pot, and the grindstone.  Metal-smelting comes a bit later, as does charcoal-burning and water management.  Ask the students which is the most important and let them see for themselves that you can't have some without others.  Planting?  No one knows who discovered that food plants could be deliberately seeded, and no one probably ever will, but my sixth graders write their own historical fictions every year about the person who did it (most likely a child, more likely a girl gatherer than a boy hunter).  Since planters must know when to plant (and must know even more surely after a long lean winter when it is still too early to plant), astronomy must be the oldest science.  Firing pottery (the world's oldest earthenware pots are the Jomon from Japan) and smelting metal ores happen in the same closed oven. These eminently unportable ovens were found among settled farmers who needed to store grain in pots. Since the most efficient way to make a grain-storage pot is to "throw" it on a potter's wheel, it is often argued that that most canonical of all human inventions, the wheel, was invented by potters (although the earliest potter's wheel we can document now is Egyptian, dating no earlier than 1500 B.C.E.).  If the wheel wasn't invented by these sedentary agriculturists, it was probably invented by their nomadic contemporaries, the herders, to help them move loads as they followed their animals.  It first appears in art on the 5,000-year-old Standard of Ur—four of them attached to a cart drawn by donkeys—but by then we are talking about Sumer and civilization.
    Civilizations, the kind of societies and cultures made possible by agriculture and cities, are the central concern of World History and especially of the Foundations period. The plow becomes a key tool, as do new ways to manage water, new metallurgies, and writing.  Irrigation and water management, from canals and Egyptian shadoofs to Iran's desert qanats and Chinese water wheels, are probably most important among them, but equally important is writing, which begins as a vehicle for accounting in the 4th millennium BCE and moves on to science and poetry.  Writing is what makes the first schools necessary, and student interest is always high when teachers like me present them with 5,000-year-old essays, corrected and discarded by 5,000-year-old students, about how important it is to go to school.6 The most ancient writing is on clay, which has the advantage of not decaying; but the most copyable writing is on paper, which the Chinese invented before 1000 C.E. and passed to the Muslims in the west. Muslims in turn made it the basis for their great age of learning from the 10th to the 12th centuries7 and then passed it on, together with much of that learning, to Europe.  Writing systems are fundamentally visual codes for spoken languages, and a code is an extremely abstract tool as tools go; but writing systems are so important for modern students, and such a good way to present cultural difference over space and time, that I like to have my students actually practice them.  I ask my own 6th graders to try to duplicate Grotefend's feat of deciphering the cuneiform inscriptions on the palace of Darius and Xerxes at Persepolis, and they tell me they like the exercise, even though they never do learn Old Persian.8
    For the period 1000 to 1450, the most important of all technologies is probably gunpowder, but running close second are technologies of peace like the astrolabe, the escapement clock and other feedback mechanisms (first used for timing prayers), the letter of credit and double-entry bookkeeping, lenses and spectacles, the windmill, the spinning wheel, the pointed (ogival) arch, the humble button,9  and the amazing technology that took 500 years to get from China to Europe—printing. The "gunpowder empires" of the following period are aptly named, and include the Ming, the Tokugawa, the Ottomans, the Safavids, the Moghuls, and the emerging monarchies of Europe;10 but the weapon that indirectly produced those centralized militarized monarchies had already been brought from China and applied to artillery by Genghis Khan in the 13th century.11 By the 15th century gunpowder and guns were well on their way to putting an end to the traditional European castles and were making government impossible without bureaucracy and taxation.  Whatever course a teacher may take with this material, the key insight remains that students who hold the discredited view that the Middle Ages was technologically backward, a desert of invention, must be challenged with the newer history, European as well as Asian.  The windmill, for example, was probably first devised in Muslim Iran in the 10th century, while a quite different design was independently developed a little later in Europe.  The spinning wheel was invented in the 11th century in Iran, whence it spread to India; but it may also have been independently devised in China, where silk had anciently been unwound and "reeled" in single or double strands from cocoons, rather than spun like cotton. China, by the way, had water-powered multi-bobbin spinning machines in about 1300, nearly five centuries before the Spinning Jenny.12
    For the period 1450-1750, the great event is the linking of the people of the American continents to those of the rest of the world, and the most important technologies are all related to this "Columbian Exchange."  Some, like the "Scientific Revolution" in Europe (sparked in part by the invention of the refractive telescope), have histories that are already familiar; but these histories need to be related not only to the birth of the scientific attitude and the scientific method, but also to the new ecumene.  The printing press is mechanically just an adaptation of the laundry or linen press; but the key technology is movable type (known, incidentally, in China, Persia, Korea and Japan, long before Gutenberg).  The extraordinary effect of printing by movable type, especially on cultures with alphabetic writing systems, needs to be discussed in the 1450-1750 period if a teacher has not raised it for the previous one.13  Victor Hugo scarcely exaggerated when he had his 15th-century character point to a printed page with one hand and Notre Dame Cathedral with the other and said, "This will kill that."  The Yüan and Ming in China eventually found a major use for the paper and printing invented under the Song—paper money—but in Europe it diffused Reformation polemic, vernacular languages, scientific and humanistic learning, news of new worlds and propaganda for new monarchies.
    Other technological events of this period, like Europe's adoption of the lateen sail, the renaissance of cartography, and the chronometric measurement of longitude at sea, sometimes get left out.  Still others, like the mastery of new foods by old cuisines, is sometimes not even thought of as technological; but all a teacher has to do to fascinate a class is to tell the story of chocolate. This substance, a bitter powder rich in the caffeine-like alkaloid theobromine, was originally boiled into a marching drug for Maya soldiers and frothed into an intoxicant for their rulers. The Spanish added sugar and created a drink that conquered Europe. Along with tea and coffee, the drink helped spur the demand for Caribbean sugar and the Atlantic slave trade, and helped lead to the creation of the Enlightenment café, the capital that funded the first factory industry, and the tax that set off the American Revolution.14  This is truly a world-historical posthole in a pot.  A teacher who has the time can try having a class make chocolate from the powder or the bean.  Indeed, the whole Columbian Exchange can be made vivid by an actual geobotanical banquet, as many teachers have found out, and if the centerpiece isn't chocolate, it can easily be that Peruvian tuber called the potato. The Irish, to their world-historical cost, made the potato their own, but not before a gifted cook in Belgium learned to make them into "French fries," and a French bureaucrat, Parmentier, hyped them into a central place in French cuisine.  They even had their effects on the agriculture and cuisines of China and India.15 13
    The period from 1750 to the outbreak of the First World War may be forever marked as the period of the two Revolutions, the Industrial Revolution and the political revolution.  The Industrial Revolution, which began in England in this period, marks the first comprehensive and continuing investment of capital in technology.  The technology initially invested in was, of course, mechanical spinning and weaving; but soon after, technical improvements in mining and distilling led to Watt's invention of the reciprocating external-condenser steam engine. From there, the step to steam-driven railroad transport was easy to take.  No course in modern history can afford to de-emphasize the enormous demographic and social effects which follow industrialization, whether it treats the whole world or only a part.  As a teacher, I find that of all its aspects, technology is probably the easiest for young students to grasp, and economics the most difficult.  To connect the Spinning Jenny with the rise of state credit and banknotes, canal- and railroad-building with the growth of capital investment, free market theory with contract and property law, factors and factories with the standard work week, and steel with free labor, I have come to depend on just one of James Burke's second series of Connections videos, "Credit Where It's Due."  The one-hour film begins on a tourist liner to Jamaica, jump-cuts to meticulous historical reconstruction of 18th-century slave-and-sugar plantation there, takes the surplus created by the industry back across the Atlantic to England in time for the agricultural revolution to create its demographic surge, labor surplus and the plowman's lunch. From there it sails to the Netherlands for the first National Bank, hikes to Scotland for Adam Smith's market liberalism and Joseph Black's whiskey distillery (specific heat and steam power), returns to England for water-powered textile mills, coal, canals and railroads, flashes to India to mention the consequent collapse of its world-beating cotton industry, and finally jumps back to the 20th century to the rail line from Kingston, Jamaica, to the giant open-pit aluminum ore mine in the middle of the island.  The teacher should have a finger poised on the "pause" button, and should be ready for questions, discussions, and writing assignments.
    The political revolution, on the other hand, is much harder to connect to technology. The most important place for technology to appear in this story is earlier, during the Enlightenment, one of the very few episodes in the intellectual history of Europe which, historians agree, has earned a secure place for itself in global history by its subsequent global effects.  It is in the European Enlightenment that the conditions for the political and economic revolutions of the late 18th century and after are laid.  A view of the world which owes as much to the uniform and balanced cosmic forces of Newton as it does to the empirical epistemology and social contract theory of Locke was transmitted with their names attached to France, America, Germany, Italy and eventually to eastern Europe and Iberia.  The Locke-Newton connection is not only intellectual but personal, since the two were officials of the same government, and saw and corresponded with each other. It was also technological, because the achievement of Newton depends on the mathematization of natural forces and a vision of the universe as a mechanism intricately composed of understandable mechanisms. Adam Smith's free market and the American Framers' Constitution, like Newton's cosmos and Locke's social contract, are modeled on machines.  The parts have their own motions—freedom—but a result that is in everyone's interest comes from balancing each motion against others.
    There are many other examples of technology-related change in this period, including the constellation of coal tar, chemical dyes, nitrogen-fixing, and the high explosives that made World War I so devastating.  The need for nitrate for explosives (and fertilizer) caused the German Navy to engage in the War's first great naval battle in the South Atlantic, because the planet's most concentrated natural source of undissolved nitrate was seabird guano on the islands in the Humboldt Current off the coast of South America. Two great navies in one of the world's biggest wars, in other words, clashed over bird shit in August, 1914. It's more than enough colorful detail to focus student interest on the world-historical role of industrial chemistry.16  In the process, a teacher with an elementary knowledge of chemistry can picture on a blackboard why the nitrate radical, -NO3, is so dangerous in potassium nitrate (gunpowder), nitroglycerine (dynamite), tri-nitro-toluene (TNT), nitrocellulose (guncotton) and ammonium nitrate (fertilizer). Yet here, I think, the usual hands-on, follow-up assignment for students is not recommended.
    Less colorful, but far more important in the sense of affecting more people more profoundly is the constellation that begins with Bessemer steel.  Steel, an alloy of iron and a small but precise amount of carbon, became a basic industry as soon as Henry Bessemer's controlled-burn process brought its price down after 1860. This helped make railroad-building a major industry. This constellation, within which GNP per capita in some nations first began to rise geometrically ("takeoff"), is sometimes called the Second Industrial Revolution.  Add the great transcontinental railroads, the transoceanic steamships, coal and petroleum and their refinements, long-distance electric transmission, electric and electronic communication, standard time,17 and the creation not only of world empires, but also of world markets in commodities.  When the new communication and the new transportation first allowed Russian wheat to compete with midwestern American wheat in the same market in the 1880s, one result was an agricultural depression that helps explain the movements called "Populist" in both countries. Indeed, fluctuations in world commodity markets are often blamed by today's economists for the continued failure of so-called "underdeveloped" economies to develop—that is, to attain a steady growth in per capita GNP.
    Most compelling for high-school students, I find, is the progress made in this period of world history toward the control and cure of disease.  This is, after all, the period when Pasteur and Koch firmly established the germ theory of disease in the West, when anesthetics and antiseptics first made invasive surgery an acceptable risk, and when non-Western medical traditions like acupuncture began to be encountered and evaluated internationally.  Students can learn much when they discover that this work hardly dates back a century and a half, and when they come to terms with how very recently it was that people, even in "industrialized" countries, expected most infants to die of some common disease before the age of five.  My own students seem to start with the hypothesis that medicine was a science as soon as the dreadful Middle Ages were over, and with a notion that medicine is entirely about individuals cured and individuals who find ways to cure them.  Students in the United States seem disappointingly ignorant of the massive and expensive efforts made by industrial countries in the 19th and early 20th centuries to provide for what they called "public health" by building municipal waste disposal facilities, municipal drains, public water supplies, and state hospitals. They are also ignorant of state efforts to quarantine and treat citizens (by force if necessary), and to regulate the marketing of food and drugs.  This technological constellation is also of considerable use in teaching the next period of World History, when diseases become more mobile and public health measures are applied globally.18
    I like to ask my students to discuss which is the greatest technological innovation of the 20th century.  Before the computer, my students usually said it was a tossup between orally administered estradiol/progesterone therapy and nuclear fission and fusion—the pill or the bomb.  Both have notably riveting origin-stories, which teachers should know and tell; but it is their effects that make the pill and the bomb so important, and these are by far the greater stories.  The Cold War, for example, is simply not understandable without the bomb; nor are contemporary gender roles and debates without the pill.  Other 20th-century technological innovations with vast implications for global human action include the vacuum tube, which made modulated wireless communication (including radio and television) possible, with important consequences for everything from diplomacy to family life.19  Then there is the vacuum tube's solid-state analog, the transistor, which is the basis for all microcircuits, or "chips," including those of every "personal" computer.  The computer itself has a fascinating origin story, long obscured by the tightest of wartime security considerations.  It was not invented by IBM, or even by John Atanasoff, John Presper Eckert, John Mauchly, or Johnny von Neumann to compute artillery trajectories.  It was invented "virtually" by Claude Shannon and Alan Turing and first described by Turing in a 1936-37 paper written to solve a deep problem in the foundations of mathematics.  In 1943, after Turing and others had been recruited for the team that was to break the machine-generated German "Enigma" code at a secret facility in England, they devised an actual machine that could do electronically some of what the mathematical "Turing Machine" was capable of doing in the abstract. With its help, the English were able to regularly read messages in the German military codes.  Continued secrecy and anemic financing choked postwar computer development in England, and obscured this aspect of the computer's origins; but what we now know makes it clear that the wartime decoding operation did more to win World War II for the Allies than any of their generals.  Meanwhile, computers bid fair to change everything from wages, hours, copyright, the mathematical treatment of complexity theory and the emergent behavior of systems, to the very pace and success of globalization.20
    Nearly equal importance should perhaps be assigned to polymer chemistry (plastics, nylon), antibiotics like penecillin and streptomycin, and to the premier scientific discovery of fifty years ago, that of the structure and possible function of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) by Watson and Crick.  DNA's effects are very far from having been fully worked out in human affairs, and those effects may yet turn out to be more profound than either the bomb or the pill.  Students often enjoy the task of trying to work them out. 20
    Teachers, I think, will choose among these technology postholes for their ability to connect and collect time periods, societies and themes in their own World History course.  One or two is very likely all any teacher will have time for.
    Some stories are used because they fit your school and its situation so well.  For example, I teach in Brooklyn and cannot resist recommending a hometown technology story, even though many of its details are still hotly disputed.  The invention of the frankfurter sandwich in 1867 (or possibly 1874) by an immigrant peddler named Charles Feltman is a technological innovation which colorfully illustrates both the pull of demand and the commercial globalization of culture.  Feltman had a friend named Donovan who owned a cookshop at East New York Avenue and Howard Avenue near Coney Island, Brooklyn.  Feltman persuaded Donovan to put a stove in the wagon he used to deliver pies and to set the stove to heating frankfurter sausages, a popular cold snack in the ethnically German neighborhood near the beach.  The first two hot dogs were made on the spot and eaten by Donovan and Feltman.  Feltman then sold the item as the "Red Hot" to ordinary visitors to the beach amusement area who preferred hot food, but were socially and financially uncomfortable sitting down to a formal meal.  With the profits he founded his own very informal Feltman's Restaurant in Coney Island, and made the Red Hot its signature dish.  The concoction first became known in other parts of the country as the "Coney Island," and in 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair (where Americans first heard that the recently conquered Filipinos sometimes ate dogs) as the "hot dog."  During World War I the name "frankfurter," for the sausage specialty of the enemy city of Frankfurt, almost disappeared in the U.S.  But these are just the colorful details.  What is the most important consequence of the hot dog—the first real "fast food"?  It is, I would argue, ultimately the emergence of a combination of three social facts which the elites of 1800 could hardly imagine:  large-scale transoceanic migrations, servantless households, and women's independence and advancement.  The line from the boiled frankfurter to Betty Friedan is a little twisted, but it runs through Brooklyn. 22

Biographical Note: William Everdell is the Dean of Humanities at St. Ann's School in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches world history.


1 An earlier version of this essay was given in January, 2002 at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, in a panel sponsored by the College Board Advanced Placement World History Test Development Committee.

2 Ken Pomeranz, The Great Divergence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000);  Mark Elvin, The Pattern of the Chinese Past: Social and Economic Interpretation (Stanford, CA: Stanford U.P., 1973).

3 James Burke, Connections and The Day the Universe Changed, video series, Churchill Media, 1-800-334-7830.

4 James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones & Daniel Roos, The Machine That Changed the World, (NY: Macmillan, 1991).

5 A broad and useful reference is Annette B. Weiner & Jane Schneider, eds., Cloth and Human Experience, (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989).

6 One of these student essays is translated in Samuel Noah Kramer, History Begins at Sumer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), 19.

7 The fullest account of technology in the Muslim golden age is Roshdi Rashed, ed., Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, with the collaboration of Regis Morelon, 3 volumes (London/NY: Routledge, 1996). See especially vol. 3: Technology, Alchemy and Life Sciences.

8 These are nicely reproduced in C. B. F. Walker, Cuneiform, Reading the Past, volume 3 (Berkeley: University of California Press ; London : British Museum, 1987).   

9 For teachers and students seeking to make more of the great medieval inventions, Chiara Frugoni's new book, Books, Banks, Buttons: And Other Inventions from the Middle Ages (NY: Columbia U.P., 2003) will make sure they get it right.  The older books, however, are still good, especially Jean Gimpel, The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages (NY: Barnes & Noble, 2003) and Lynn White, Jr., Medieval Technology and Social Change (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962).

10 William H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society since A.D. 1000 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982).

11 See Joseph Needham, The Grand Titration: Science and Society in East and West (Toronto: University of Toronto Press/London: Allen & Unwin, 1969).

12 Arnold Pacey, Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand-Year History (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990). I have Linda Black to thank for this hugely useful discovery.

13 The best source for the history of printing and its effects in Europe is Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983).  Eisenstein does for printing what contemporary commentators are trying to do for the computer and the internet, showing how the technology enabled information circulation, standard editions, cumulative correction and scholarship. The old manuscript culture had made descriptive biology and replicable medicine impossible, alphabetical order inconceivable, and fame unattainable by mere living authors.

14 Henry Hobhouse, Seeds of Change: Five Plants That Transformed Mankind (New York: Harper Perennial, 1987).

15 Redcliffe Salaman, The History and Social Influence of the Potato (New York: Cambridge University Press., 1985); Silvano Serventi & Françoise Sabban, Pasta: The Story of a Universal Food (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002).  General histories of cuisine include: Jean-Louis Flandrin & Massime Montanart, eds., Food: A Culinary History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000); Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food (New York: Free Press, 2002); Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhildd Coneè Ornelas, eds., The Cambridge World History of Food, volume 2 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000)

16 Simon Garfield, Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World (New York: Norton, 2001).

17 Clark Blaise, Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time (New York: Pantheon, 2001).

18 Jean-Pierre Goubert, La Conquête de l'eau: L'avènement de la santé à l'âge industriel (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1986); Laurie Garrett, Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health (New York: Hyperion, 2000).

19 Hugh G. J. Aitken, Syntony and Spark: The Origins of Radio (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985); Daniel R. Headrick, The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International Politics, 1851-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990); David E. Brown, Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001). 

20 Martin Campbell-Kelly & William Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine (Basic Books, 1997); Martin Davis, The Universal Computer: The Road from Leibniz to Turing (New York: Norton, 2000); Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: the enigma (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1984).



works bulleted (•) are helpful for both teachers and students

Adams, Mark B., ed., The Wellborn Science: Eugenics in Germany, France, Brazil, and Russia, NY: Oxford U. Press, 1990

Adas, Michael, Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance, Ithaca: Cornell U.P., 1989

Bardini, Thierry, Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing, Stanford, CA: Stanford U.P., 2000

Basalla, George, The Evolution of Technology, NY: Cambridge U.P., 1989 "novelty must find a way to assert itself in the midst of the continuous"

Berners-Lee, Tim, with Mark Fischetti, Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by Its Inventor, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999

Birdzell, L. E. Jr., How the West Grew Rich: The Economic Transformation of the Industrial World, 1986

Blaxter, Kenneth & Noel Robertson, From Dearth to Plenty: The Modern Revolution in Food Production, NY: Cambridge U.P., 1995

Bloom, Jonathan M., Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World, New Haven, CT: Yale U.P., 2001

Bowlby, Rachel, Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping, NY: Columbia U.P., 2001?

Brown, David E., Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001

Buderi, Robert, The Invention That Changed the World, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1996 (radar)

•Burke, James, et al., Connections, TV series and video, London: Thames Television, c1990; book as well

•_____, The Day the Universe Changed, TV series and video, London: Thames Television, c1990

•_____, Connections 2, TV series and video, London: Thames Television, c1990 (shorter half-hour shows which limit Burke's argument and method of presentation)

•Burke, James & ?, The Axemaker's Gift, 1998

Buzard, James (MIT), "Perpetual Revolution," Modernism/Modernity 8:4(Nov, 2001), p559-581 (the revolving door, 1888)

Cardwell, Donald, The Fontana History of Technology, London: Fontana, 199?; a.k.a. The Norton History of Technology, NY: Norton, 1994; a.k.a. Wheels, Clocks, and Rockets: A History of Technology, NY: Norton, 2001 (essentially Western technology)

Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad, History of Science and Technology in Ancient India, v1, The Beginning, Calcutta: Firma KLM PVT., Ltd., 1986

_____________, History of Science and Technology in Ancient India, v2, Formation of the Theoretical Fundamentals of Natural Science, Calcutta: Firma KLM PVT., Ltd., 1991

Cheney, Dick (VP), Colin Powell (State), Paul O'Neill (Treasury), Gale Norton (Interior), Ann M. Veneman (Agriculture), Donald L. Evans (Commerce), Norman Y. Mineta (Transportation), Spencer Abraham (Energy), Joe M. Allbaugh (FEMA), Christine Todd Whitman (EPA), Mitchell E. Daniels (OMB), Lawrence B. Lindsey (AP Economic Policy), Andrew D. Lundquist (Exec. Director), et al., National Energy Policy: Report of the National Energy Policy Development Group, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2001

Cipolla, Carlo, Clocks and Culture, 1300-1700, London: Collins, 1967

Christianson, Gale E., Greenhouse: The 200-Year Story of Global Warming (1999), NY: Penguin, 2000

Clarke, Alison J., Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America, 1999; Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, pb, 2001

Clutton-Brock, Juliet, Horse Power: A History of the Horse and Donkey in Human Societies, Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 1992

Cohen, H. Floris, The Scientific Revolution: A Historiographical Inquiry, Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1994

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz, More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave, NY: Basic Books, 1983

Davis, Clarence B. & Kenneth E. Wilburn, eds., Railway Imperialism, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1990

Davis, Martin, The Universal Computer: The Road from Leibniz to Turing, NY: Norton, 2000

Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs, and Steel, NY: Norton, 1998

Dulken, Stephen van, Inventing the 20th Century, NY: NYU Press, 2002

______, Inventing the 19th Century, NY: NYU Press, 2002

•Eisenstein, Elizabeth, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, NY: Cambridge U. Press, 1983

Electric Light: Biography of an Invention, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers U. Press, 1986

•Ellis, John, The Social History of the Machine Gun, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1986

Fenichell, Stephen, Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century, NY: HarperCollins, 1996

Fisher, David E. & Marshall John Fisher, Tube: The Invention of Television, NY?: Counterpoint, 1996

Fischer, Steven Roger, A History of Writing, London: Reaktion Books (Globalities), 2001

______, A History of Language, London: Reaktion Books (Globalities), 2000

•Flatow, Ira, They All Laughed: From Light Bulbs to Lasers: The Fascinating Stories Behind the Great Inventions That Have Changed Our Lives, NY: HarperCollins, 1992

Friedel, Robert, Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty, NY: W. W. Norton, 1994

Frugoni, Chiara, Books, Banks, Buttons: And Other Inventions from the Middle Ages, NY: Columbia U.P., 2003

Garfield, Simon, Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World, NY: Norton, 2001

Garlinski, Józef, The Enigma War: The Inside Story of the German Enigma Codes and How the Allies Broke Them, NY: Scribner's, 1979

Garrett, Laurie, Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health, NY: Hyperion, 2000

Gimpel, Jean, The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages (1976), NY: Barnes & Noble, 2003

Goubert, Jean-Pierre, La Conquête de l'eau: L'avènement de la santé à l'âge industriel, Paris: Robert Laffont, 1986 (Pluriel, 1988).  I'm assured that an English translation exists but I have not located it yet.

Goudsblom, Johan, Fire and Civilization, NY: Penguin, 1995

Hall, Thomas S., History of General Physiology, 600 BC to AD 1900, 2v, Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1975

Harley, J. B. & David Woodward, eds., The History of Cartography, vol 1, Cartography in prehistoric, ancient, and medieval Europe and the Mediterranean, Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1986, 1987

____________________________, The History of Cartography, vol 2, bk 1, Cartography in the traditional Islamic and South Asian societies, Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1992

____________________________, The History of Cartography, vol 2, bk 2, Cartography in the traditional East and Southeast Asian societies, Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1994

Hawke, David Freeman, Nuts and Bolts of the Past: A History of American Technology, 1776-1860, NY: Harper & Row, 1988

Headrick, Daniel R., The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International Politics, 1851-1945, NY: Oxford, 1990

Helleman, Alexander & Bryan Bunch, The Timetables of Science: A Chronology..., NY: Simon & Schuster, 1991

Henry, Donald O., From Foraging to Agriculture: The Levant at the End of the Ice Age, Philadelphia: U. of Pennsylvania Press, 1989

Hocquet, Claude, Le Sel et le pouvoir. De l'an mil à la Révolution française, Paris: Albin Michel, 1985.  (I'm assured that an English translation exists but I have not located it yet.)

Hodges, Andrew, Alan Turing: the enigma (1983), NY: Simon & Schuster, 1984

Holloway, David, Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939-1956, New Haven: Yale U.P., 1994

Huff, Toby E., The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1993.

Hughes, Thomas P., Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins U.P., 1983

Inkster, Ian, Science and Technology in History, New Brunswick: Rutgers U. Press, 1991

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2001: Third Assessment Report: Working Group I, The Scientific Basis; Working Group II, Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability; Working Group III, Mitigation, 2001

Johnson, Jeffrey Allan, The Kaiser's Chemists: Science and Modernization in Imperial Germany, Chapel Hill, NC: U. of North Carolina Press, 1990

Joseph, George Gheverghese, The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics (1991), NY: Penguin, 1992

Kemp, Martin, The Science of Art: Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat, New Haven: Yale U.P., 1990

Kennedy, E. S., colleagues & former students, Studies in the Islamic Exact Sciences, Beirut:  American University of Beirut, 1983.

•Kidwell, Peggy A. & Paul E. Ceruzzi, Landmarks in Digital Computing: A Smithsonian Pictorial History, Washington: Smithsonian Inst. Press, 1994

King, Ross, Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture, NY: Walker, 2000; pb NY: Penguin, 2001

Kirsch, David A., The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers U.P., 2000

•Kisseloff, Jeff, The Box: An Oral History of Television, NY: Viking, 1995

Landes, David, Revolution in Time,

Laszlo, Pierre, Salt: Grain of Life (Hachette, 1998), tr., Mary Beth Mader, NY: Columbia U.P., 2001

Lay, Maxwell G., Ways of the World: A History of the World's Roads and of the Vehicles that Used Them, New Brunswick: Rutgers U.P., 199?

Lewis, Tom, Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life, NY: Viking Penguin, 1997. 354 pages.  Illustrations, notes, and index.  $27.95 (cloth), ISBN 0-670-86627-X; $12.95 (paper), ISBN 0-140-26771-9. Reviewed for H-Urban by Tyler R. Meyer

Maier, Pauline, Merritt Roe Smith, Alexander Keyssar & Daniel J. Kevles, Inventing America: A History of the United States, NY: Norton, 2002 (history of technological invention with a CDROM archive

Marks, Lara V., Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill, New Haven, CT: Yale U.P., 2001

Matossian, Mary Kilbourne, Poisons of the Past: Molds, Epidemics, and History, New Haven, CT: Yale U.P., 1989

McCaulay, David, Mill Times, video, 2002

McLaren, Angus, A History of Contraception: From Antiquity to the Present Day, Cambridge: Blackwell, 1992

•McNeill, William H., The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force, and Society since A.D. 1000, Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 1982

Melchior-Bonner, Sabine, The Mirror: A History, NY: Routledge, 2001

Metropolis, N., J. Howlett & G. C. Rota, eds., A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, NY: Academic Press, 1980

Needham, Joseph, et al., Science and Civilization in China, ongoing

Needham, Joseph, The Grand Titration: Science and Society in East and West, Toronto: U. of Toronto Press/London: Allen & Unwin, 1969

•Pacey, Arnold, Technology in World Civilization, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991 (I have Linda Black to thank for this hugely useful discovery)

Petroski, Henry (civil engg, Duke), The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989).

Porter, Roy, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity, NY: Norton, 1998

Pursell, Carroll, The Machine in America: A Social History of Technology, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U.P., 1995

Pyne, Stephen J., Cycle of Fire, 5v, Fire in America, 1982; The Ice (Antartica), 1986; Burning Bush (Australia), 1991; World Fire, 1995; Vestal Fire (Europe), 1996

_____, Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire, Princeton, NJ: Princeton U.P., 1988

Rahman, A., History of Indian Science, Technology, and Culture, New Delhi: Oxford U.P., 1999

Rashed, Roshdi, ed., Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, with the collaboration of Regis Morelon, 3v, London/NY: Routledge, March 1996.  vol. 1: Astronomy - Theoretical and Applied; vol. 2: Mathematics and the Physical Sciences; vol. 3: Technology, Alchemy and Life Sciences.

Reynolds, Terry S., Stronger Than a Hundred Men: A History of the Vertical Water Wheel, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1983

•Rhodes, Richard, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, NY: Simon & Schuster?, 199?

______, Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1995; pb, 1996

Riddle, John M., Eve's Herbs: A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West, Cambridge, MA: Harvard U.P., 1999

Rolt, L. T. C., A Short History of Machine Tools, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1965?

Rybczynski, Witold (architecture, UPenn), One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw, NY: Scribner, 2000

Sale, Kirkpatrick, The Luddites, 1995

Salvadori, Mario, Why Buildings Stand Up,

Schivelbusch, Wolfgang, Disenchanted Night, Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1988.  A history of electricity that links the advent of the light bulb to the beginnings of corporate capitalism.

____________, The Railway Journey, 1982

Schlosser, Eric, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 2001

Segal, Howard P., Technological Utopianism in American Culture (1883-1933), Chicago, IL: U. of Chicago Press, 1985

Shurkin, Joel, Engines of the Mind: The Evolution of the Computer from Mainframes to Microprocessors (1984), 2nd ed., NY: Norton pb, 1996

Sobel, Dava, Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, Walker, 1995

Spence, Jonathan, The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci,

Stearns, Peter N., Schools and Students in Industrial Society: Japan and the West, 1870-1940, NY: Bedford Books, 1998.

•Tenner, Edward, Our Own Devices:The Past and Future of Body Technology, NY: Knopf, 2003

Telotte, J. P., Replications: A Robotic History of the Science Fiction Film, Urbana: U. of Illinois Press, 1995

Teresi, Dick, Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science—From the Babylonians to the Maya, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002 (rvw by Stephen S. Hall, NYTBR, 1Dec02, p13-14)

Tone, Andrea, Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America, NY: Hill & Wang, 2001

Travis, Anthony S., The Rainbow Makers: The Origins of the Synthetic Dyestuffs Industry in Western Europe, Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh U.P., 1993

Truscott, Martha M., ed., Dynamos and Virgins Revisited: Women and Technological Change in History, Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1979

Tucker, Jonathan B., Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001

•Twitchell, James B., 20 Ads That Shook the World: The Century's Most Groundbreaking Advertising and How It Changed Us All, NY: Crown, 2001

Unger, Richard W., The Art of Medieval Technology: Images of Noah the Shipbuilder, New Brunswick: Rutgers U.P., 199?

Vanderburg, William H., The Labyrinth of Technology: A Preventive Technology and Economic Strategy as a Way Out, Toronto: U. of Toronto Press, 2000

Waley-Cohen, Joanna, The Sextants of Beijing: Global Currents in Chinese History, NY: Norton, 1999

•Weart, Spencer R., Nuclear Fear: A History of Images, Cambridge, MA: Harvard U. Press, 1988

Weber, Robert J., Forks, Phonographs, and Hot Air Balloons: A Field Guide to Inventive Thinking, NY: Oxford U. Press, 1993

Weiner, Annette B. & Jane Schneider, eds., Cloth and Human Experience, Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989

White, Lynn, Medieval Technology and Social Change, NY: Oxford U.P., 1962

Whitney, Elspeth, Paradise Restored: The Mechanical Arts from Antiquity through the Thirteenth Century, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1990

Wray, William D., Managing Industrial Enterprise: Cases from Japan's Prewar Experience, Cambridge, MA: Harvard U. Press, 1989

Yeomans, Donald K., Comets: A Chronological History of Observation, Science, Myth and Folklore, NY: John Wiley, 1991

Yergin, Daniel, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (1991), NY: Simon & Schuster/Touchstone pb, 1992 (also a video series)

Zuboff, Shoshana, In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power, NY: Basic Books, 1988


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