Great Inventions of the 19th Century
Innovative technologies
Steam and internal combustion engines
Of all the inventions of the 19th century, engines powered by steam or by oil were by far the most important.
Steam and internal combustion engines were the result of the application of scientific discoveries made during and after the first and second industrial revolutions. Using these engines not only in factories and industrial complexes but also in all modes of transport by air, land and sea revolutionised society. The introduction of steamships reinforced the maritime supremacy of the British Empire. British steamships spread across the Mediterranean and across the British possessions on the route to India after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Countries and empires built steamships or acquired them to keep up to date with the new, fast means of communication and trade.
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Innovative technologies

Steel industry
Steam and internal combustion engines
Flying devices and planes
Printing and photography
Other innovative technologies
The Progress of Steam. A View in White Chapel Road 1830

Partie de Recueil. Transports. Cycles. Automobiles. Collection Salomons


National Library of France, Paris, France

The European popular imagination was astonished by the new inventions of the 19th century and by the steam engine in particular. Prints and drawings expressed this astonishment, often humourously. It was common to imagine the future as a science fiction novel.

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Innovative technologies
Postal services and telecommunications
Water: The fount of all life