The 1880s was a decade that began on January 1, 1880, and ended on December 31, 1889. The decade occurred at the core period of the Second Industrial Revolution. The modern city as well as the sky-scraper rose to prominence in this decade as well, contributing to the economic prosperity of the time. The 1880s were also part of the Gilded Age, in the United States, which lasted from 1874 to 1907.
1883: Charles Fritts, an American inventor, creates the first working solar cell. The energy conversion efficiency of these early devices was less than 1%. Denounced as a fraud in the US for "generating power without consuming matter, thus violating the laws of physics".
1883–1885: Josiah H. L. Tuck, an American inventor, works in his own submarine designs. His 1883 model was created in Delameter Iron Works. It was 30-feet long, "all-electric and had vertical and horizontal propellers clutched to the same shaft, with a 20-feet breathing pipe and an airlock for a diver." His 1885 model, called the "Peacemaker", was larger. It used "a caustic soda patent boiler to power a 14-HP Westinghouse steam engine". She managed a number of short trips within the New York Harbor area. The Peacemaker had a submerged endurance of 5 hours. Tuck did not benefit from his achievement. His family feared that the inventor was squandering his fortune on the Peacemaker. They had him committed to an insane asylum by the end of the decade.
1883–1886: John Joseph Montgomery of Yuba City, California, starts his attempts at early flight. In 1884, using a glider designed and built in 1883, Montgomery made the "first heavier-than-air human-carrying aircraft to achieve controlled piloted flight" in the Western Hemisphere. This glider had a curved parabolic wing surface. He reportedly made a glide of "considerable length" from Otay Mesa, San Diego, California, his first successful flight and arguably the first successful one in the United States. In 1884–1885, Montgomery tested a second monoplane glider with flat wings. The innovation in design was "hinged surfaces at the rear of the wings to maintain lateral balance". These were early forms of Aileron. After experimentation with a water tank and smoke chamber to understand the nature of flow over surfaces, in 1886, Montgomery designed a third glider with fully rotating wings as pitcherons. He then turned to theoretic research towards the development of a manuscript "Soaring Flight" in 1896.
1884–1885: On August 9, 1884, "La France", a French Armyairship, makes its maiden flight. Launched by Charles Renard and Arthur Constantin Krebs. Krebs piloted the first fully controlled free-flight with the La France. The 170-foot (52 m) long, 66,000 cubic feet (1,900 m3) airship, electric-powered with a 435 kg battery completed a flight that covered 8 km (5.0 mi) in 23 minutes. It was the first full round trip flight with a landing on the starting point. On its seven flights in 1884 and 1885 the La France dirigible returned five times to its starting point. "La France was the first airship that could return to its starting point in a light wind. It was 165 feet (50.3 meters) long, its maximum diameter was 27 feet (8.2 meters), and it had a capacity of 66,000 cubic feet (1,869 cubic meters)." Its battery-powered motor "produced 7.5 horsepower (5.6 kilowatts). This motor was later replaced with one that produced 8.5 horsepower (6.3 kilowatts)."
1884–1885: Ganz Company engineers Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy and Miksa Déri had determined that open-core devices were impracticable, as they were incapable of reliably regulating voltage. In their joint patent application for the "Z.B.D." transformers, they described the design of two with no poles: the "closed-core" and the "shell-core" transformers. In the closed-core type, the primary and secondary windings were wound around a closed iron ring; in the shell type, the windings were passed through the iron core. In both designs, the magnetic flux linking the primary and secondary windings traveled almost entirely within the iron core, with no intentional path through air. When employed in electric distribution systems, this revolutionary design concept would finally make it technically and economically feasible to provide electric power for lighting in homes, businesses and public spaces. Bláthy had suggested the use of closed-cores, Zipernowsky the use of shunt connections, and Déri had performed the experiments. Electrical and electronic systems the world over continue to rely on the principles of the original Z.B.D. transformers. The inventors also popularized the word "transformer" to describe a device for altering the EMF of an electric current, although the term had already been in use by 1882.
1884–1885: John Philip Holland and Edmund Zalinski, having formed the "Nautilus Submarine Boat Company", start working on a new submarine. The so-called "Zalinsky boat" was constructed in Hendrick's Reef (former Fort Lafayette), Bay Ridge in (ray) or (rayacus the 3rd) New York Cityborough of Brooklyn. "The new, cigar-shaped submarine was 50 feet long with a maximum beam of eight feet. To save money, the hull was largely of wood, framed with iron hoops, and again, a Brayton-cycle engine provided motive power." The project was plagued by a "shoestring budget" and Zalinski mostly rejecting Holland's ideas on improvements. The submarine was ready for launching in September, 1885. "During the launching itself, a section of the ways collapsed under the weight of the boat, dashing the hull against some pilings and staving in the bottom. Although the submarine was repaired and eventually carried out several trial runs in lower New York Harbor, by the end of 1886 the Nautilus Submarine Boat Company was no more, and the salvageable remnants of the Zalinski Boat were sold to reimburse the disappointed investors." Holland would not create another submarine to 1893.
1885: Galileo Ferraris of Livorno Piemonte, Kingdom of Italy reaches the concept of a rotating magnetic field. He applied it to a new motor. "Ferraris devised a motor using electromagnets at right angles and powered by alternating currents that were 90° out of phase, thus producing a revolving magnetic field. The motor, the direction of which could be reversed by reversing its polarity, proved the solution to the last remaining problem in alternating-current motors. The principle made possible the development of the asynchronous, self-starting electric motor that is still used today. Believing that the scientific and intellectual values of new developments far outstripped material values, Ferraris deliberately did not patent his invention; on the contrary, he demonstrated it freely in his own laboratory to all comers." He published his findings in 1888. By then, Nikola Tesla had independently reached the same concept and was seeking a patent.
1885–1888: Karl Benz of Karlsruhe, Baden, German Empire introduces the Benz Patent Motorwagen, widely regarded as the first automobile. It featured wire wheels (unlike carriages' wooden ones) with a four-stroke engine of his own design between the rear wheels, with a very advanced coil ignition and evaporative cooling rather than a radiator. The Motorwagen was patented on January 29, 1886, as DRP-37435: "automobile fueled by gas". The 1885 version was difficult to control, leading to a collision with a wall during a public demonstration. The first successful tests on public roads were carried out in the early summer of 1886. The next year Benz created the Motorwagen Model 2 which had several modifications, and in 1887, the definitive Model 3 with wooden wheels was introduced, showing at the Paris Expo the same year. Benz began to sell the vehicle (advertising it as the Benz Patent Motorwagen) in the late summer of 1888, making it the first commercially available automobile in history.
1885–1887: William Stanley, Jr. of Brooklyn, New York, an employee of George Westinghouse, creates an improved transformer. Westinghouse had bought the patents of Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs on the subject, and had purchased an option on the designs of Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy and Miksa Déri. He entrusted engineer Stanley with the building of a device for commercial use. Stanley's first patented design was for induction coils with single cores of soft iron and adjustable gaps to regulate the EMF present in the secondary winding. This design was first used commercially in 1886. But Westinghouse soon had his team working on a design whose core comprised a stack of thin "E-shaped" iron plates, separated individually or in pairs by thin sheets of paper or other insulating material. Prewound copper coils could then be slid into place, and straight iron plates laid in to create a closed magnetic circuit. Westinghouse applied for a patent for the new design in December 1886; it was granted in July 1887.
1885–1889: Claude Goubet [fr], a French inventor, builds two small electric submarines. The first Goubet model was 16-feet long and weighed 2 tons. "She used accumulators (storage batteries which operated an Edison-type dynamo." While among the earliest submarines to successfully make use of electric power, she proved to have a severe flaw. She could not stay at a stable depth, set by the operator. The improved Goubet II was introduced in 1889. This version could transport a 2-man crew and had "an attractive interior". More stable than her predecessor, though still unable to stay at a set depth.
1885–1887: Thorsten Nordenfelt of Örby, Uppsala Municipality, Sweden produces a series of steam powered submarines. The first was the Nordenfelt I, a 56 tonne, 19.5 metre long vessel similar to George Garrett's ill-fated Resurgam (1879), with a range of 240 kilometres and armed with a single torpedo and a 25.4 mm machine gun. It was manufactured by Bolinders in Stockholm in 1884–1885. Like the Resurgam, it operated on the surface using a 100 HP steam engine with a maximum speed of 9 kn, then it shut down its engine to dive. She was purchased by the Hellenic Navy and was delivered to Salamis Naval Base in 1886. Following the acceptance tests, she was never used again by the Hellenic Navy and was scrapped in 1901. Nordenfelt then built the Nordenfelt II (Abdülhamid) in 1886 and Nordenfelt III (Abdülmecid) in 1887, a pair of 30 metre long submarines with twin torpedo tubes, for the Ottoman Navy. Abdülhamid became the first submarine in history to fire a torpedo while submerged under water. The Nordenfelts had several faults. "It took as long as twelve hours to generate enough steam for submerged operations and about thirty minutes to dive. Once underwater, sudden changes in speed or direction triggered—in the words of a U.S. Navy intelligence report—"dangerous and eccentric movements." ...However, good public relations overcame bad design: Nordenfeldt always demonstrated his boats before a stellar crowd of crowned heads, and Nordenfeldt's submarines were regarded as the world standard."
1886–1890: Herbert Akroyd Stuart of HalifaxYorkshire, England receives his first patent on a prototype of the hot bulb engine. His research culminated in an 1890 patent for a compression ignition engine. Production started in 1891 by Richard Hornsby & Sons of Grantham, Lincolnshire, England under the title Hornsby Akroyd Patent Oil Engine under licence. Stuart's oil engine design was simple, reliable and economical. It had a comparatively low compression ratio, so that the temperature of the air compressed in the combustion chamber at the end of the compression stroke was not high enough to initiate combustion. Combustion instead took place in a separated combustion chamber, the "vaporizer" (also called the "hot bulb") mounted on the cylinder head, into which fuel was sprayed. It was connected to the cylinder by a narrow passage and was heated either by the cylinder's coolant or by exhaust gases while running; an external flame such as a blowtorch was used for starting. Self-ignition occurred from contact between the fuel-air mixture and the hot walls of the vaporizer.
1887: Charles Vernon Boys of Wing, Rutland, England introduces a method of using fused quartz fibers to measure "delicate forces". Boys was a physics demonstrator at the Royal College of Science in South Kensington, but was contacting private experiments on the effects of delicate forces on objects. It was already known that hanging an object from a thread could demonstrate the effects of such weak influences. Said thread had to be "thin, strong and elastic". Finding the best fibers available at the time insufficient for his experiments, Boys set out to create a better fiber. He tried making glass from a variety of minerals. The best results came from natural quartz. He created fibers both extremely thin and highly durable. He used them to create the "radiomicrometer", a device sensitive enough to detect the heat of a single candle from a distance of almost 2 miles. By March 26, 1887, Boys was reporting his results to the Physical Society of London.
1887–1890: Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti of Liverpool, England is hired by the London Electric Supply Corporation to design the Deptford Power Station. Ferranti designed the building, as well as the electrical systems for both generating and distributing alternating current (AC). Among the innovations included in the Station was "the use of 10,000-volt high-tension cable", successfully tested for safety. On its completion in October 1890 it was the first truly modern power station, supplying high-voltage AC power. "Ferranti pioneered the use of Alternating Current for the distribution of electrical power in Europe authoring 176 patents on the alternator, high-tension cables, insulation, circuit breakers, transformers and turbines."
1888–1890: Isaac Peral of Cartagena, Spain launches his pioneering submarine on September 8, 1888. Created for the Spanish Navy, el Peral was "roughly 71 feet long, with a 9-foot beam and a height of almost 9 feet amidships, with one horizontal and two small vertical propellers, Peral's "cigar," as the workers called it, ... had a periscope, a chemical system to oxygenate the air for a crew of six, a speedometer, spotlights, and a launcher at the bow capable of firing three torpedoes. Its two 30-horsepower electrical motors, powered by 613 batteries, gave it a theoretical range of 396 nautical miles and a maximum speed of 10.9 knots an hour at the surface." It underwent a series of trials in 1889 and 1890, all in the Bay of Cádiz. On June 7, 1890, it "successfully spent an hour submerged at a depth of 10 meters, following a set course of three and a half miles". He was celebrated by the public and honored by Maria Christina of Austria, Queen Regent of Spain. But Navy officials ultimately declared the submarine a "useless curiosity", scrapping the project.
1888–1890: Gustave Zédé and Arthur Constantin Krebs launch the Gymnote, a 60-foot submarine for the French Navy. "It was driven by a 55 horse power electric motor, originally powered by 564 Lalande-Chaperon alkaline cells by Coumelin, Desmazures et Baillache with a total capacity of 400 Amphours weighing 11 tons and delivering a maximum current of 166 Amps." She was launched on 24 September 1888 and would stay in service to 1908. The Gymnote underwent various trials to 1890, successful enough for the Navy to start building two "real fighting submarines", considerably larger. Several of the trials were intended to established tactical methods of using submarines in warfare. Several weapons were tested until it was decided that the torpedoes of Robert Whitehead were ideal for the job. The Gymnote proved effective in breaking blockades and surface ships had trouble spotting it. She was able to withstand explosions of up to 220 pounds of guncotton in a distance of 75 yards from its body. Shells of quick-firing guns, fired at short range, would explode in the water before hitting it. At long-range everything fired at the submarine, ended up ricocheting. The submarine proved "blind" when submerged, establishing the need of a periscope.
1889–1891: Almon Brown Strowger of Penfield, New York, files a patent for the stepping switch on March 12, 1889. Issued on March 10, 1891, it enabled automatic telephone exchanges. Since 1878, telephone communications were handled by telephone switchboards, staffed by telephone operators. Operators were not only responsible for connecting, monitoring and disconnecting calls. They were expected to provide "emotional support, emergency information, local news and gossip, business tips", etc. Strowger had reportedly felt the negative side of this development, while working as an undertaker in Kansas City. The local operator happened to be the wife of a rival undertaker. Whenever someone asked to be put through to an undertaker, the operator would connect them to her husband. Strowger was frustrated at losing customers to this unfair competition. He created his device explicitly to bypass the need of an operator. His system "required users to tap out the number they wanted on three keys to call other users directly. The system worked with reasonable accuracy when the subscribers operated their push buttons correctly and remembered to press the release button after a conversation was finished, but there was no provision against a subscriber being connected to a busy line." Strowger would found the Strowger Automatic Telephone Exchange in 1891.
^Source: Lecture by Pat Sweeney, Maritime Institute of Ireland 16 January 2009: His father was a member of the Coastguard and occupied a coastguard cottage. There were no coastguard cottages or station in Liscannor.
Prices and Wages by Decade, 1880-1889 - Guide published by the University of Missouri Library points to pages in digital libraries (freely available online) that show average prices and wages by occupation, race, sex, and more.