1801 – 1810: Computing, Invention & Culture

Beethoven can write music, thank God, but he can do nothing else on earth. – Ludwig van Beethoven


  • Giuseppe Piazzi discovers an asteroid he names Ceres that orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter. Today, Ceres is called a dwarf planet.
  • Joseph-Marie Jacquard developed the Jacquard loom, an automatic loom controlled the weaving process with punched cards is a significant step forward in automated manufacturing and computer control.
Jacquard loom showing punch cards that controlled the weaving process. [Public Domain]


  • In 1809, the crude telegraph was invented in Bavaria by Samuel Soemmering.
  • Mary Kies is the first woman to be issued a US patent. She was granted a patent for the rights to a technique for weaving straw with silk and thread to make bonnets.

Top Pop Song: 1801 – 1810

Fur Elise by Beethoven was the number one song in 1810 and the 22nd most popular song of the 19th century. [Public Domain]


Fine Art: 1801 – 1810

The Abbey in the Oakwood an oil painting by Caspar David Friedrich. It was painted between 1809 and 1810 in Dresden, Germany [Public Domain].

1800 – Computing, Invention & Culture

In the early 19th century, they tried selling soap as healthy. No one bought it. They tried selling it as sexy, and everyone bought it. – Rose George

1800 Facts:

  • The most popular song in the US in 1800 was Amazing Grace.
  • Anyone in England who unsuccessfully attempted suicide faced the death penalty.

March 12, 1800

  • Kentucky Gazette article:


kentucyGazettt- April 17 1800
Pay for your subscription, it’s just $2.00 annually.

March 20, 1800

  • Italian inventor Alessandro Volta creates the voltaic pile an early form of battery that uses a chemical reaction to continuously produce low-voltage current. Experiments with electricity were greatly expanded by this invention.

April 2, 1800

  • Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 premieres at the Burgtheater, in Vienna.

April 10, 1800

  • Kentucky Gazette article:
kentucyGazettt- April 10 1800
Wonder what she did?

April 24, 1800

  • President John Adams approved the appropriation of $5,000 for the purchase of “such books as may be necessary for the use” in The Library of Congress founded in Washington DC.
June 26, 1800
  • The article, “Electricity excited by the Mere Contact of conducting Sub-stances of different kinds” is published by the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.


Nov 1, 1800

  • John Adams becomes the first president to live in the White House.

Fine Art 1800

Portrait of Madame Récamier is an 1800 portrait of the Parisian socialite Juliette Récamier by Jacques-Louis David [Public Domain [PD-OLD-100]
La Maja Desnuda, by Francisco Goya [Public Domain [PD-OLD-100]

Sir Henry Raeburn was a British portrait painter and Scotland’s first significant portrait painter since the Union to remain based in Scotland. He served as Portrait Painter to King George IV in Scotland. [Public Domain [PD-OLD-100]

Computing Events of the 1700s


  • Henry Mill patented the first writing device in London, England. The device was similar to a typewriter.


henry mill
Reference index of patents of invention, from 1617 to 1852, by B. Woodcroft London England



  • Johann Heinrich Schulze creates a mixture of chalk, silver nitrate and nitric acid to produce a substance that turns dark when exposed to sunlight. The first step toward photography.


  • English scientist Stephen Gray made the distinction between insulators and conductors.


  • Claude Chappe invents the semaphore line, a method of communicating over long distances that operated in France from 1793 to 1846.
Semaphore line tower in 18-century France

Computing Events of the 1600s

“It is unworthy of excellent men to lose hours like slaves in the labour of calculation which could safely be relegated to anyone else if machines were used.

(Describing, in 1685, the value to astronomers of the hand-cranked calculating machine he had invented in 1673.)”
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz



  • English scientist William Gilbert coined the word electricus after careful experiments.
  • Microsoft Windows Epoch time is set to start on January 1, 1601. The Gregorian calendar operates on a 400-year cycle, and 1601 is the first year of the cycle that was active at the time Windows NT was being designed. In other words, it was chosen to make the math come out nicely.


  • The word “computer” was first recorded as being used in 1613 and was initially used to describe a person who performed calculations or computations. The definition of a computer remained the same until the end of the 19th century when it began referring to a machine that performed calculations.


  • Frances Blaise Pascal invents the machine, called the Pascaline, that can add, subtract, and carry between digits.


  • Gottfried Leibniz demonstrates binary arithmetic, a discovery that shows every number can be represented by 0 and 1 only.


Drawing of the Pascaline



Math – The First Discipline

If you stop at general math, you’re only going to make general math money. – Snoop Dogg

Snoop is right. If I want to learn about computing and perhaps make some money on the side, I need to sharpen my math skills.

I have started a review of good old arithmetic. More on that later.


By about 2000 BCE, the Babylonians and the Egyptians were pretty good at arithmetic as well as geometry, and some proto-algebra, after all, the Egyptians build the pyramids. Although neither of these civilizations used our current base-10 system, they were practiced enough to turn out solutions to Pythagorean’s theorem referenced in the Plimpton 3221, a clay tablet dated to 1800 BCE. Interestingly, this document was written administratively for something like civil engineering and not something a mathematician would compose. Still cool though.

Pythagorean Theorem
Plimpton 322 clay tablet, with numbers written in cuneiform script.

Mathematics is not something that you find lying around in your back yard. It’s produced by the human mind. Yet if we ask where mathematics works best, it is in areas like particle physics and astrophysics, areas of fundamental science that are very, very far removed from everyday affairs.” What does that imply? “It suggests to me that consciousness and our ability to do mathematics are no mere accident,no trivial detail, no insignificant by-product of evolution. – Paul Davies, “Are We Alone?”