Ampere, Andre-Marie


French physicist/ mathmatician who founded the science of electro-dynamics.

He discovered that an electric current through a coil acts like a magnet. This discovery led to the invention of the alvanometer, an instrument for detecting and measuring electric currents. With the alvanometer he proved that electric current makes a circuit through a battery.

The ampere, a unit used to measure the rate of flow of an electric current, is named after him.

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From the University of St. Andrews, Scotland
Ampere biography


Babbage, Charles


English mathematician and inventor who invented the principle of the analytical engine, the forerunner of the computer.

The idea of mechanically calculating mathematical tables occured to Babbage around 1812. Later he made a calculator that could tabulate mathematical computations to eight decimals. In 1834 he envisioned the capability of performing any mathmatical operation by instruction from punched cards, a memory element in which to store numbers, and most of the other characteristics displayed by modern computers.
(See also Ada Byron in special lifelines for famous women)

A shortage of funds prevented him from building his machine, but a mechanical calculator based on his ideas was built in Sweden in 1855 by Scheutz. A real computer, how-ever, had to await the electronic age.

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Babbage Home Page


Bell, Alexander Graham


Born in Edinburgh in 1847, he studied at Edinburgh and London, and worked as assistant to his father in teaching elocution. In 1870 he went to Canada, and later moved to the USA and became professor of vocal physiology at Boston, devoting himself to the teaching of deaf-mutes and to spreading his father's system of "visible speech'.

Bell carried out experiments to determine how vowel sounds are produced. A book, decsribing experiments in combining the notes of electrically-driven tuning forks to make vowel sounds, gave him the idea of telegraphic speech.

Later, during experiments with his assistant Watson with the telegraph, Bell reasoned that it would be possible to pick up all sounds of the human voice on the harmonic telegraph. After tedious experimentation the Bell telephone carried its first intelligible sentence in the spring of 1876.

He formed the Bell Telephone Company and in 1880 he established the Volta Laboratory. He also invented the photophone (1880) and the graphophone (1887). After 1897 his principal interest was in aeronautics.

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Bell's path to the telephone


Karl Friedrich Benz


German engineer who built the first practical automobile powered by an internal combustion engine.

Benz founded Benz and Company in Mannheim to manufacture gas engines. He started to build his first gas engine in 1878, and produced his first motor vehicle in 1885. The car, patented in 1886, had three wheels, an electric ignition, differential gears and was water-cooled.

In 1926 his company merged and became the Daimler-Benz AG, the manufacturer of the Mercedes-Benz automobile.

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From the
Automotive Hall of Fame