History of Technology Books and Videos from Amazon

Ever wonder how our technology evolved?  You know, we didn't just go to the moon in one step!  It took many little steps of technology development over many years, even centuries, to get to the level of technology we enjoy today.  For instance, the development of cryogenic rocket fuels that propel huge rockets into space can be traced back to bog gas collection experiments of the 1700's!  This is my favorite subject to read, and will really open your eyes!

Also, check these books recommended by Amazon.com, for customers interested in the types of books sold on this page!


Invention and Technology Magazine

I LOVE this magazine, and read each and every story in each issue, which is sent out once every three months.  If you have any curiosity as to how our technology gets to where it is today, you MUST read this magazine!  I've been a subscriber for nearly 10 years, and rabidly save and preserve each issue.

Here's an example of the kind of stories you'll be treated to in this magazine:

Why are "Jerry" gas cans called that?

Because "Jerry" invented them!

During WWII, the Allies used cylindrical metal gas cans to move fuel around.  These are still being used today to ship solvents and other liquids.  These cans are prone to bursting at the seams in hot weather because there is no room for expansion at their flat tops.  The handles are small, and difficult to use.  Fuel losses during shipment were very high, and the North African desert campaign was going poorly, due to lack of fuel.

The Germans, or "Jerry" as the allies sometimes referred to them, didn't have this problem, because they had a secret weapon: A rectangular gas can that incorporated THREE handles and an expansion area at the top.  Rectangles take up less room than circles, and the Germans could ship more fuel with less loss than the Allies.  Three handles on top made for easy "fire brigade" hand-to-hand movement.  One of these gas cans was smuggled out of Germany underneath a car that was going to a neutral country, and the "Jerry" can made it to the United States, where it was reproduced and used successfully later in WWII.  After the war ended, the "Jerry" can made it to war surplus stores, where it became a common sight all over the world.


By James Burke

This is the book that sparked the interest in technology history.  When it came out in the late 70's, entire college courses were based around this book.  It was made into a fantastic PBS series in the early 80's, which is when I saw it for the first time.

The Day the Universe Changed

By James Burke

Review from Amazon:

Having read Burke's previous efforts, I was prepared to be entertained and amazed at how seemingly unrelated thoughts and developments came
                     together to move history and innovation forward - but this book exceeded my expectations! Another reveiwer commented (accurately) that Burke gives
                     religion a pretty rough time, it must also be said that he gives an incredible perspective on how much impact religious thought impacted people's
                     freedom to think, and how those places tolerant of fresh thinking attracted (and benefitted from) thinking people.

                     The same is shown to be true of political freedom, economic freedom, and, well, you get the picture...freedoms made great differences.

                     Burke does a fabulous job of providing meaningful context to innovation and innovators. He also demonstrates that a lot of innovation was not pursued,
                     but rather occurred almost by accident - two things sitting next to each other for the first time, and someone decides to combine them!

                     If you don't read any of his other books, be sure to read this one! I have only one bit of advice when reading it - pace yourself - it is much too good to
                     rush, so savor it...

The Pinball Effect

By James Burke

Review from Amazon:

Follow the bouncing ball, James Burke-style: spice trading in the Middle Ages leads to the European tea-drinking craze, which helps instigate the development of the science of natural history, which in turns inspires the creation of the coal miner's safety lamp, which is somehow related to the battle between the Monitor and
                     the Merrimack. From there we go to North Carolina cotton industry, Thomas Edison's very first electric power station, air conditioning, glass manufacturing, and
                     laser beams. The end result? The smart bombs used during the Gulf War. Burke, who wrote Connections (the book and the television show), revels--or better,
                     wallows--in the accidental nature of the march of discovery. Despite a penchant for playing it loose and free with scientific and historical accuracy, Burke has
                     compiled a fascinating look at the great matrix of change and transformation that humans have created for themselves.

The New Way Things Work

by David Macaulay

Review from Amazon:

The New Way Things Work boasts a richly illustrated 80-page section that wrenches us all (including the curious, bumbling wooly mammoth who ambles
                     along with the reader) into the digital age of modems, digital cameras, compact disks, bits, and bytes. Readers can glory in gears in "The Mechanics of
                     Movement," investigate flying in "Harnessing the Elements," demystify the sound of music in "Working with Waves," marvel at magnetism in "Electricity &
                     Automation," and examine e-mail in "The Digital Domain." An illustrated survey of significant inventions closes the book, along with a glossary of technical
                     terms, and an index. What possible link could there be between zippers and plows, dentist drills and windmills? Parking meters and meat grinders, jumbo jets
                     and jackhammers, remote control and rockets, electric guitars and egg beaters? Macaulay demystifies them all.

If you want to do a search for anything on Amazon.com, here is a search box.

This is a neat search, because it looks in Amazon Auctions and Zshops as well as the normal books and videos.  If you need an obscure book, enter the name or subject here, and give it a whirl!  I found an old, out-of-print Pinto repair manual here.

I appreciate your patronage!

In Association with Amazon.com


This page is sponsored by my company, Gerard's Car, ATV, Cycle Books & Videos, featuring all types of reading and viewing material for motorized transportation.


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