President’s day was once associated with just Washington (and later Lincoln) but now all Presidents are celebrated today, and by that I mean you might have the day off. Here’s @ MAKE we’re going to take a look at Thomas Jefferson.
Not only was Jefferson the author of the Declaration of Independence, the third president of the United States but an inventor. Here’s a look at some of the things he made (or remade).
Wheel cipher – In 1792 while Jefferson was US Secretary of State he developed a wheel cipher to encode and decode secret messages (here’s how it works).
Portable copying press – called the polygraph, Jefferson helped perfect this two-pen writing device used to copy letters and used it for all his correspondance. It’s like a manual BCC’ing! Here’s a Quicktime VR of the device.
Plow “Moldboard of least resistance” – using math, Jefferson designed a better plow to lift and turn over sod more effectively – this new plow had a huge impact and instead of patenting the invention, Jefferson gave it away it – to be “solely used for the good of the people and not for the advancement of the inventor, Jefferson encouraged public use of this easily duplicated invention”.
The Great Clock – Jefferson created a cool clock – made from hanging cannonballs, this gravity power clock was connected to a giant gong on the roof of the entrance hall at Monticello. He also needed to invent a folding ladder to repair it (which was later used for other things like getting books and trimming trees).
- Macaroni machine
- Dumb waiters
- Automatic double doors
- Revolving bookstand
- Beds that lift
- Revolving chairs
All these and more can be found at the Jefferson’s inventions page – Link.
6 thoughts on “Happy President’s day from MAKE – a look at a President who made things – Thomas Jefferson”
if jefferson had only waited 2 years he could have done his manual BCCs with carbon copy paper. http://www.kevinlaurence.net/essays/cc.php
You might actually be think of the pantograph.
But hats off to Mr Jefferson, all the same.
Actually, that device really was called a polygraph. We just use that word to mean something else these days…
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