The Reichenbach Case – Industrial Espionage at Boulton & Watt

In the late 18th century, Bavaria was an economically backward state, heavily relying on agriculture. Bavaria’s Elector, Karl Theodor (1777-1799), though usually more interested in arts and philosophy than in state affairs, was aware of the problems arising from a weak industrial economy – especially with the French revolutionary army roaming Europe. Karl Theodor looked to England, a prosperous nation, and the number 1 in technical innovation.

Plotting

Karl Theodor – probably inspired by his consultant, the smart Count Rumford – came up with a cunning plan: Continue reading

The Poor Man’s Son Who Usurped the British Market of Optical Lenses

Since the mid-18th century, England had been the centre of the optics industry, due to the work of instument-maker John Dolland (1706-1761). Dolland manufactured small ‘achromatic’ telescopes with high-quality lenses made of flint glass (instead of the inferior crown glass). His products were in high demand from astronomers all over Europe. This began to change, when a poor man’s son who had had a lot of bad luck in his youth, met the Bavarian Prince Elector. Continue reading

Your Challenge: Equip the Army with Small-Arms between 1793 and 1815

Imagine it is 1793 and you are a member of the Board of Ordnance in London. Your country faces war with Revolutionary France. There is an army, of course, but the number of muskets in stock is deplorable. It is the task of the Board to equip both the army and the navy with small arms and ammunition. Are you up to the challenge? Continue reading

The Origin of Now, Part 4

detail-neuAbout 250 years ago, science spread into the world and everyday life. People asked how scientific progress and inventions could make life better and easier. They set out to develop and pursue new ideas. Some of these are still around today. In the fourth part of my series, we discover how the invention of a Scottish mechanical engineer changed the office world forever.

The Letter Copying Press and Mr Watt’s Secrets Recipes for Ink and Liquor

Continue reading