Happy 4th! Here’s What Was Trending in 1776

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Jul 4, 2018

It’s Independence Day here in the United States. In honor of the day, 242 years ago that the Declaration of Independence was approved, Americans celebrate with parades, barbecues and fireworks.

In 1776, it took 5 days for a copy of the document and news of its approval to reach New York. Today, we would be able to watch the voting in real time almost anywhere in the world. Just for fun, technologist, consultant, author, composer and inventor Shelly Palmer took a look at the “9 Hottest Tech Trends of 1776.” Remarkably, three of the trends on Palmer’s list were the work of two signers of the Declaration of Independence. Do you know who they were?

1. The first workable submarine to be used in warfare was deployed (unsuccessfully) against the British.

2. Improvements to the marine chronometer first invented in 1737 made it a commercial success.

3. The first scuba gear was demonstrated.

4. Flushable indoor toilets became practical with the invention of the S-trap, a design still used today.

5. The metal stove was the hot (pun intended) new appliance, revolutionizing the way homes were heated and food was cooked.

6. The lightning rod was rapidly being installed on buildings.

7. Rapid improvements in the steam engine soon would lead to the first railroad and steam-powered vessels.

8. A revolving bookstand foreshadowed the notion of multi-tasking by more than 2 centuries.

9. A mechanical device to spin cotton and other fibers was being invented.

Have you been able to identify which of these trends was the work of a Declaration signer? Both the metal stove (#5) and (#6) the lightning rod were invented by Benjamin Franklin. Thomas Jefferson came up with the revolving bookstand (#8). It is said he could read as many as 5 books at a time.

Happy 4th of July.

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