Daily Archives: July 14, 2013

We haven’t been an industrial society for all that long!

Given the rapid pace of technological progress, and the ever-shortening lifecycle of the goods produced, it’s hard to imagine that, in terms relative to the age of the human race, industrialization is a very new concept. It’s only been 66 years since the introduction of the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) on July 29, 1947, 110 years since the Wright brothers made their first flight, and only 160 years to the day since the first major US world’s fair, the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations was held in New York City. (This occurred only two years after the Great Exhibition in London.)

Over the course of 4 months, this historic fair saw 1.1 Million visitors, at a time when the US population was only about 26.5 Million (as the last census in 1850 put the US population to be 23,191,876 and the next census in 1860 put the US population at 31,443,321). This fair that featured the New York Crystal Palace (which inspired poets, including Walt Whitman) that was regrettably destroyed by fire in 1858, also included the Latting Observatory that was the tallest structure in New York City at the time at 96m. It is remembered as the place where Elisha Otis demonstrated an elevator equipped with a device called a safety that would kick in if the hoisting rope broke, addressing a major public concern regarding the safety of elevators. Three years later, Otis installed the first passenger elevator in the US in a New York City store and created the reality where if you want profits to go up, help people get up!