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Science and Technology

The Victorian era ushered in a tremendous surge of technological invention. Victorians believed in progress and viewed with optimism their Industrial Revolution. Steamboats allowed America to engage in transportation and trade as never before, while railroads connected the nation from north to south and east to west. During this period, the ingenious and prolific Thomas Edison developed the first electric light bulb and phonograph, and improved numerous inventions such as the telegraph, telephone, and motion picture projector. In 1852, Elisha Graves Otis invented the world's first safety elevator that would accompany the new skyscrapers of the day. During the 1890s, Henry Ford devoted himself to designing an internal combustion engine and developing an automobile capable of being mass-produced. At the same time, Victorians were introduced to the bicycle, a symbol of freedom that both men and women enjoyed. Other inventions of the era include Isaac Singer's lockstitch sewing machine; John Hyatt's celluloid, a substance that was used in Victorian shirt collars; John Roebling's steel cable, which as used to construct the Brooklyn Bridge; and Cyrus McCormick's mechanical reaper that made America a world-class wheat producer.