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Chronology of Innovations in the 1800s


By Paisley Kirkpatrick

In 1816 both cameras and knitting machines became available

In 1818 Blood transfusions started. They were poorly understood and rarely attempted. Only two Civil War soldiers received transfusions, and one died. Generally not in use until the twentieth century.

1819 Stethoscope became in use. The first was a simple wooden tube. This was improved with the introduction of a flexible tube in 1839.

1820 Elastic

1821 Electric motor

1822 Gaslight introduced in Boston, multicolor printing and a calculating machine were introduced.

1827 Friction matches. These had to be drawn swiftly through sandpaper to ignite. They worked poorly and were replaced by phosphorous matches in 1836. These were often referred to as “loco-focos,” after a popular brand name.

1830 Food canning and chain stitching sewing machine.

1833 First steam whistle for locomotives and water turbine available

1834 Refrigeration

1836 Revolver

In 1837 the telegraph was demonstrated by Morse. “What hath God wrought?” — first message sent by telegraph between Washington and Baltimore in 1844. Hundreds of miles of telegraph lines had been established by 1846, reaching from Boston to Washington; by 1847 they had reached Pittsburgh. Florida was the only state east of the Mississippi not serviced by telegraph in 1848.

In 1839 Envelopes were manufactured in New York. Previously letters were simply folded over and mailed.

In 1840 the postage stamp was introduced

In 1842 the player piano came to be

In 1843 a typewriting machine became available

In 1846 a lock-stitch sewing machine was introduced

In 1847 chloroform was used in surgery

Information found in The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s by Marc McClutcheon


  1. Denise Eagan says:

    I love it. Thank you Ms. Paisley!

  2. Thanks you, Denise. I didn’t realize some of these things were available so early.

  3. Paisley, thanks for the timeline. It is useful to those of us who write historicals. I wasn’t sure when chloroform made an appearance.

  4. I was surprised about a few of the items, Caroline. I love this book with so much information in it. Nice to see you visiting. 🙂

  5. Great time line, Paisley! I have this book and refer to it often.

  6. Doesn’t the book have good information in it? Thanks for popping by.

  7. Paisley, I had no idea elastic was around that long. Thanks for all the dates.

  8. I was shocked at some of the things on the list, too, Caroline. It’s one of the things I like in doing research. You find out all kinds of interesting non-essential information. 😉

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