World History Chronology

Technology Chronology

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Era of Biological Energy Sources

Era of Inanimate Energy Sources

Era of Fossil Fuel Energy Sources


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The Era of Biological Energy Sources: 9000 BC to AD 600

  • Between 9000 BC and 6000: Plants and animals are domesticated.
  • 6000 BC: Copper artifacts are common in the Middle East.
  • 4000 BC: Light wooden plows are used in Mesopotamia.
  • 3500 BC: Kiln-fired bricks and pots are made in Mesopotamia.
  • 3500 BC: Irrigation is developed in Mesopotamia.
  • 3200 BC: Wheeled vehicles are used in Uruk.
  • 3000 BC: Square-sailed ships used in Egypt.
  • 2800 BC: Pyramids are built in Egypt.
  • 2500 BC: Bronze is developed in Mesopotamia.
  • 1400 BC: Iron working is developed in the Middle East.

The Era of Inanimate Energy Sources: 600 to 1600

  • 600: Windmills used in Iran.
  • 850: Triangular sails used in the Mediterranean.
  • 1000: Waterwheels are widespread in Europe.
  • 1040: Gunpowder in China.
  • 1327: Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is completed.

The Era of Fossil Fuel Energy Sources: 1600 to the Present

  • 1769: James Watt develops an improved condenser for the steam engine.
  • 1837: W. Cooke and C. Wheatstone develop the first electric telegraph.
  • 1860: J.J.E. Lenoir develops the first internal combustion engine.
  • 1876: Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.
  • 1879: Thomas Edison develops the carbon filament lightbulb.
  • 1883: H.S. Maxim invents the machine gun.
  • 1888: Nikola Tesla invents the induction electrical motor.
  • 1899: Guglielmo Marconi sends the first radio signal across the English Channel.
  • 1903: Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first powered flight.
  • 1923: Vladimir Zworykin invents the electronic camera tube.
  • 1947: Bardeen, Brattan and Shockley invent the transistor.
  • 1957: Sputnik is launched.
  • 1969: Edward Hoff and Intel Corp. develop the microprocessor.


The periodization in this chronology is based on: Vaclav Smil, Energy in World History (Boulder, CO; Westview Press, 1994) pp. 259-267.

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