Tag Archives: invention

A Horse on a Treadmill? Early Locomotives

I don’t know about your students, but mine love seeing the “other” versions of modern day technology. I just came across these early locomotives from the 1830s in the archive and thought they would be fun to share!

“The Flying Dutchman,” a Horse Power Locomotive, 1830. The horse walked on a treadmill! They were not kidding when they said horse powered.

The “Tom Thumb,” the first steam locomotive in America, reconstruction, built by Peter Cooper. Its first successful trip was made in 1830, from Baltimore to Ellicott Mills, Maryland.


“The Dewitt Clinton,” the early locomotive and coaches that initiated the New York Central System, 1831.


The “Daedalus” locomotive pulling a freight car, passenger carriage, and private carriage, 1832.


For more railroad images visit the Marchand Archive “Railroads” category.




Revolutionizing the Recording Industry

“The Manufacture of Edison’s Talking Doll” in Scientific American 1890.

Well before the iPod and mp3’s became a staple of daily life, portable music was only available by the phonograph and tin sound recordings.  In 1877, Thomas Edison created the phonograph and by 1888 was on the hunt for a novel way to use his invention.  Seeing an untapped market in children’s toys, Edison thought to place tin recordings in dolls.  By 1890, these talking dolls were on sale to the public.  While they failed as a significant financial venture for Edison, they represent several firsts in the recording world.  The women hired by Edison to record voices for the dolls are some of the first recording artists, and the tins themselves represent the first recordings intended for mass sale—the birth of the recording industry!

“Talking Doll” manufactured at Edison plant, NY, 1890; men made body, women dressed it.

For more information on Edison’s talking doll, check out this National Park Service article.  The National Park service also includes links to an original sound recording, as well as additional primary sources including Edison’s Laboratory notebook and  two articles “Dolls that Really Talk” from New York Evening Sun and “Talks with Wise Dolls” from New York Press.

Thanks to Edison, we experience toys and music alike in a whole new way!