Year Keyword Event  and Description
1350 st * MachineTool K A wire-pulling machine invented in Europe is an early step in the development of metallurgical technology. 
1649 st ir Iron K Massachusetts entrepreneur John Winthrop, Jr., 43, produces more than 8 tons of iron per week at the Saugus works he has built in back of Lynn with blast furnaces and a refinery forge manned by workers obtained in England. 
1723 st ir Iron K An air furnace to smelt iron near Fredericksburg in the Virginia colony uses bituminous coal which is abundant in the region. Alexander Spotswood has resigned as lieutenant governor to establish the furnace (see 1714; coal, 1742). 
1742 st ir Co. K Sheffield silverplate, invented by Thomas Boulsover at Sheffield, England, is a bond of heavy copper sheets fused between thin sheets of silver (see 1740). 
1754 st ir Iron K The first iron-rolling mill is opened by English entrepreneurs at Foreham in Hampshire. 
1781 st ir Bridge T The world’s first iron bridge opens to traffic January 1 across the River Severn in Shropshire to link Benthall and Madeley Wood, a town that will be renamed Ironbridge. The 100-foot, 378-ton span designed by John Wilkinson of 1774 cannon-borer fame has been cast at Coalbrookdale by Abraham Darby III, grandson of the coke smelter and iron pioneer (see 1709). Built without nuts, bolts, or screws but only dovetailed joints, pegs, and keys, it has taken 3 months to erect.  
1783 st * Iron K English ironmaster Henry Cort, 43, invents a process for puddling iron that revolutionizes wrought-iron production. He will patent the process next year and will also patent the reverberatory furnace that makes his purifying process possible.  
1786 st * Build B Bridgewater, Mass., inventor Ezekiel Reed patents a nail-making machine, but nails remain so costly that houses are put together in large part with wooden pegs Perkins, 1790. 
1794 st ir MachineTool K The slide-rest that will be an essential part of the modern lathe is invented in England by Joseph Bramah, or his employee Henry Maudslay, 23, or both working together. The slide-rest is a saddle which moves a cutting tool horizontally along the work being turned. 
1794 st * Tech K Welsh ironmaster Philip Vaughan at Carmarthen patents radial ball bearings for the axle bearings of carriages, but full development of ball bearings will await the invention of precise grinding machines that can produce accurately spherical metal balls. 
1798 st ir Whitney K Eli Whitney pioneers the “American system” of mass production with jigs—metal patterns that guide machine tools to make exact replicas of any part—that will doom the handicraft methods of cottage industry and have an effect on American society as profound as that of the cotton gin (see 1792). Whitney has made little from his cotton gin, but he devises a method for producing firearms from interchangeable parts and obtains a $134,000 U.S. Army contract to deliver 10,000 muskets in 28 months (see 1801). 
1803 st ir Watch K Connecticut clockmaker Eli Terry, 31, introduces wooden-wheeled clocks much like those produced in the Black Forest since 1660. Following the ideas of French watchmaker Frederic Japy and of Eli Whitney, Terry makes his clock parts interchangeable to permit mass production, and he will soon replace his wooden wheels with brass ones. When he encounters sales resistance to his clocks, Terry becomes the first U.S. merchant to offer merchandise on a free-trial, no-money-down basis, and he makes the discovery that farm families grow accustomed to having a clock and will sooner pay for the clock than give it up (see Seth Thomas, 1810). 
1812 st ir Whitney K Clockmakers from New Haven and the Naugatuck Valley come to observe Eli Whitney’s methods and his crude milling machines for chipping and planing metals. A new machine tool industry begins to flourish in New England. 
1812 st ir Whitney K Eli Whitney receives a second government contract, this one for 15,000 muskets (see 1801). He will grow rich from his army supply business and attract other gunmakers to his manufacturing ideas (see Colt, 1836). 
1817 st * MachineTool K Welsh inventor Richard Roberts, 28, devises a screw-cutting lathe and a machine for planing metal. He will also invent weaving improvements, advanced steam locomotives, railway cars, and steamships. 
1818 st fp Can F The tin can is introduced to America by Peter Durant (see 1810; 1847). 
1826 st ir Axe K Collins axes are introduced at Hartford, Conn., by local storekeepers Samuel and David Collins, who start making their own axes after some years of buying British steel to supply blacksmiths for making axe blades. The Collins brothers buy an old gristmill on the Farmington River, rig up some machinery to blow air into the forges and turn grindstones, obtain dies and forging machinery devised by Elisha King Root, and begin a business that will grow to turn out 40,000 axes per month. Standardized precision-made trademarked Collins axes will fell the trees of the American wilderness and Collins machetes (called cutlasses in the British West Indies) will clear tropical jungles for more than 165 years. 
1828 st * Iron K Scottish inventor James Beaumont Neilson, 26, devises a blast furnace to improve the manufacture of iron. 
1831 st ir Iron K A patent for making malleable cast iron is issued to U.S. inventor Seth Boyden, 43, who invented his process 5 years ago. Boyden invented a process in 1819 for making patent leather and will go on to invent a process for making sheet iron, a hat-shaping machine, and improvements in railroad locomotives and stationary steam engines. 
1831 st rr Co. T The first Baldwin locomotives are manufactured by New Jersey industrialist Matthias William Baldwin, 35, who will soon produce a steam locomotive that goes 62 miles per hour (see 1830). 
1836 st * Iron K Galvanized iron (coated with zinc) is invented in France. 
1836 st ir Colt K The Colt six-shooter revolver patented by Hartford, Conn., inventor Samuel Colt, 22, has an effective range of only 25
1850 st ir Gun E New York shirtmaker Oliver Fisher Winchester, 39, sets up a New Haven, Conn., factory whose success will enable him to buy control of New Haven’s Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. He will reorganize it in 1857 under the name New Haven Arms Co., and will reorganize it again in 1867 under the name Winchester Repeating Arms Co. (see Henry lever-action rifle, 1860). 
1851 st ir Colt K The Colt revolver exhibited at the London Great Exhibition alarms British gun makers who fear that Colt’s mass-production methods will swamp their handmade guns, but gun maker Robert Adams has patented a revolver that re-cocks itself each time the trigger is pulled, while the .36 caliber Colt is a single-action revolver and must be thumb-cocked for each shot. The British master general of ordnance conducts tests September 10, Adams circulates an account that the Colt weapons misfired 10 times while no Adams weapon misfired, the Times says the Colt is “very good,” but no official results are published. Samuel Colt presents Prince Albert and the prince of Wales with Colt revolvers, British officers use some of the other revolvers handed out by Colt to fight the “kaffirs” who are using Sioux tactics in the Cape War by attacking the British as they reload their muskets, and Colt wins over the British when he addresses the Institution of Civil Engineers November 25 and asserts that the British will never defeat the kaffirs without Colt revolvers (see 1846; 1871). 
1856 st * Tech K A regenerative smelting furnace invented by German engineer Friedrich Siemens, 30, permits production of ductile steel for boiler plate. Siemens works in England at his brother Wilhelm’s works; his invention will lead to development of the open-hearth process for making steel (see 1861). 
1856 st * Tech K The Bessemer converter patented by English engineer Henry Bessemer, 42, de-carbonizes melted pig iron with a blast of cold air to produce low-cost steel. The air’s oxygen combines with carbon in the iron and dissipates it in the form of carbon dioxide, so although the Bessemer process requires ore that is relatively free of such impurities as phosphorus, the new converter will bring down the price of steel and permit its use in many new applications (see Kelly, 1857). 
1856 st * USX E Andrew Carnegie, 20, makes his first investment at the encouragement of his new employer and buys 10 shares of Adams Express stock at $50 per share. The Scots-American railway telegrapher has taken a position as secretary to the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Pittsburgh division superintendent Thomas A. Scott, and by 1863 his $500 investment will be returning $1,500 per year in dividends (see 1865). 
1857 st * Tech K Eddyville, Ky., steel maker William Kelly patents a “pneumatic” steelmaking process he invented in 1847. His patent battle with Henry Bessemer of England will combine with a shortage of sufficiently pure iron to delay adoption of oxygen steel furnaces in the United States (see 1856; 1861; 1863). 
1861 st * Siemens K The open-hearth process for making steel developed almost simultaneously by German-born British inventor William Siemens, 38, and French engineer Pierre Emile Martin, 37, will result in a rapid increase in steel production (see Siemens, 1856). Using a regenerative gas-fired furnace, the new process requires less coal than did previous methods such as the Bessemer process of 1856 (see Hewitt and Cooper, 1862). 
1862 st * Co. K New York industrialists Abram Stevens Hewitt, 40, and Edward Cooper, 38, of the iron-making firm Cooper, Hewitt fire up the first American open-hearth steel furnace (see Siemens, Martin, 1861). 
1863 st * Bethlehem Steel K Bethlehem Steel has its origin in the Saucon Iron Co. founded at South Bethlehem, Pa., to make rails from local iron ores. The company soon hires John Fritz of Cambria Iron who has pioneered in making Bessemer steel (see 1886). 
1863 st * Tech K Wyandotte Iron Works in Michigan pours the first Kelly-process steel. William Kelly’s 1857 patent for the “pneumatic process” will come under the control of the only U.S. company licensed by Henry Bessemer, and the Bessemer name will come into exclusive use for the process (see 1856). Kelly will receive less than 5 percent of the royalties paid to Bessemer (see oxygen furnace, 1954). 
1865 st * USX E Andrew Carnegie enters the steel business with former blacksmith Andrew Klopman (see 1856; 1867). 
1867 st rr SP T Steel rail production begins in the United States, which has been using rails of iron or imported steel. 
1867 st * Babcock & Wilcox U Babcock & Wilcox is founded at Providence, R.I., by local engineers George Herman Babcock, 35, and Stephen Wilcox who patent a sectional industrial “safety” boiler designed to prevent any dangerous explosions. The company will become the largest U.S. producer of coalfired boilers. 
1867 st * USX E United Iron Mills is founded by Philadelphia scale manufacturer Henry Phipps, 28, in partnership with Andrew Carnegie (see 1865; Frick, 1873). 
1868 st * Co. K New Jersey Steel and Iron, owned by Cooper Hewitt, builds the first U.S. open hearth steel furnace at Trenton (see 1862). 
1868 st * Tech K Tungsten steel, invented by English metallurgist Robert Forester Mushet, 57, is much harder than ordinary steel (see
1868 st * Tech K Boston inventor William H. Remington patents a process for electroplating with nickel; he uses a solution prepared by dissolving refined nickel in nitric acid, then precipitating the nickel by the addition of carbonate of potash, washing the precipitate with water, dissolving it in a solution of salammoniac, and filtering it (see nickel steel, 1888). 
1870 st * USX U Henry Clay Frick, 21, begins construction and operation of coke ovens in the Connelsville area while working for his grandfather Abraham Overholt, who dies at age 86 after 60 years of making Old Overholt Whiskey. The Pennsylvania farm hand works with associates and persuades Irish-American Pittsburgh judge-banker Thomas Mellon, 57, to loan the group money for its ventures (see 1873). 
1873 st * Land A Barbed wire exhibited at the De Kalb, Ill., county fair by Henry Rose is studied by local farmer Joseph Farwell Glidden, 60, and his friend Jacob Haish who independently develop machines for producing coil barbed wire by the mile and obtain patents for two separate styles of the “devil’s rope” that is destined to end the open range in the West; 80.5 million pounds of barbed wire will be manufactured in the next 74 years as the steel wire becomes important not only to farmers and ranchers but also to military operations (see 1867; Gates, 1875). 
1873 st * USX E The U.S. financial panic enables Henry Clay Frick to acquire most of the coal and coke land in the region of Connellsville, Pa., that can be operated at a profit and when Pittsburgh steel mill operators discover that Connellsville coke is the best coke for steel making, the price of coke will rise from $1 per ton to $5 (see 1870). Frick will have gained control of 80 percent of the Connellsville coke output, will be a millionaire by age 30, will be offered a general managership by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and will organize the Carnegie Co., whose basic unit will be the Homestead Works (see 1892). 
1882 st * Tech K English metallurgist Robert Abbott Hadfield, 24, invents manganese steel (see tungsten steel, 1868; nickel steel, 1888). 
1886 st * Bethlehem Steel K Bethlehem Steel’s John Fritz switches from commercial work to ordnance at the suggestion of Navy Secretary William C. Whitney, 45, who has made a fortune in New York City transit lines (see 1863; Ryan; U.S. Shipbuilding, 1902). 
1887 st ir Co. K Cincinnati Milacron has its beginnings as bank clerk Frederick A. Geier joins a struggling Ohio River machine shop that he will develop into the largest U.S. producer of machine tools. Cincinnati Milling Machine will incorporate its motor drives within its machine to protect factory workers from exposed moving wheels and whirling shafts, introduce hydraulic controls to feed work to cutters and permit smoother performance, and introduce a power-controlled gear shift to eliminate the heavy manual effort needed to change the speed of tool revolutions. 
1887 st fp Can F Ball-Mason jars are introduced by Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Co. of Muncie, Ind. (see Mason, 1858). William Charles Ball, 35, and his brothers Lucius Lorenzo, Frank C., Edmund Burke, and George Alexander began making tin oil cans at Buffalo, N.Y., 10 years ago, switched to glass oil and fruit jars in 1884, and have moved to Muncie, where natural gas has been discovered and which has offered free gas and a generous land site. 
1888 st * Co. K Nickel steel, invented in France, gives impetus to Samuel J. Ritchie’s 3-year-old Canadian Copper Co. with its rich nickel ore deposits and to other nickel companies (see manganese steel, 1882). 
1888 st * USX E Andrew Carnegie gains majority ownership in the Homestead Steel Works outside Pittsburgh (see 1881; 1892). 
1890 st * iron K The discovery of rich iron ore deposits in Minnesota’s Mesabi region by prospector Leonidas Merritt, 46, helps U.S. steelmakers (see Rockefeller, 1893). 
1892 st * USX J Homestead, Pa., steel workers strike the Carnegie-Phipps mill in June and are refused a union contract by managing head Henry Clay Frick who calls in Pinkerton guards to suppress the strike. Men are shot on both sides, Frick himself is shot and stabbed by Polish-American anarchist Alexander Berkman, 22, but recovers, union organizers are dismissed, and the men go back to working their 12-hour shifts November 20 after nearly 5 months of work stoppage. Andrew Carnegie’s income for the year is $4 million, down only $300,000 from 1891 (see 1888; Carnegie Steel, 1899). 
1893 st * iron E Lake Superior Consolidated Iron Mines is created by oil magnate John D. Rockefeller who has loaned the Merritt brothers $420,000 to develop the Mesabi iron mines of Minnesota and build a railroad to Duluth (see 1890). Rockefeller has called the loan on short notice, the Merritt brothers have been obliged to forfeit their properties, and Rockefeller’s $29.4 million company leases the properties to Henry Clay Frick of the Carnegie-Phipps mill at Homestead, Pa. (see 1892; Carnegie, Oliver, 1896). 
1896 st * USX E Carnegie Steel and Henry W. Oliver of Pittsburgh buy the Mesabi Range holdings of John D. Rockefeller’s Lake Superior Consolidated Iron Mines (see 1893; 1901). 
1897 st * Tech K The first U.S. commercial high-carbon ferrochrome for plating steel is produced by acetylene promoter James T. Morehead with help from French-American metallurgist Guillaume de Chalmot (see 1892). 
1897 st * Co. K The New Lowe Coke Oven invented by Thaddeus S. C. Lowe improves manufacture of high-grade coke for steel making (see 1873). 
1898 st * Co. E John W. Gates becomes president of American Steel & Wire, which has a virtual monopoly in barbed wire (see 1875).
1898 st * USX E Illinois Steel of Chicago and Lorrain Steel acquire Minnesota Mining with backing from J.P. Morgan & Co., obtaining a fleet of Great Lakes ore ships and railroads in the Mesabi iron range and in the Chicago area (see 1896; U.S. Steel, 1901). 
1898 st * Co. E Republic Steel is created by a merger of Ohio and Pennsylvania firms (see strike, 1937). 
1899 st * Tech K Philadelphia engineers Frederick Winslow Taylor, 43, and Maunsel White, 43, develop the Taylor-White process for heat-treating highspeed tool steels, increasing cutting capacities of blade edges by 200 to 300 percent.  
1899 st * USX E Carnegie Steel is created by a consolidation of various steel properties controlled by Andrew Carnegie (see Homestead strike, 1892; U.S. Steel, 1901). 
1899 st * Armco E Armco Steel has its beginnings in the American Rolling Mill Co. founded at Middleton, Ohio, by Cincinnati entrepreneur George M. Verity, 34, who has developed a continuous wide-sheet roller mill. His process revolutionizes the manufacture of sheet steel, his mill on the Miami River will turn out its first steel sheets in February 1901, and he will license other firms to use the process (see 1906). 
1899 st rr Co. T American Car and Foundry (ACF) is founded at Berwick, Pa., to compete with the Pullman Palace Car Co. Founders include Charles Lang Freer, 43, who has been building railroad cars since age 17; ACF will become the world’s largest maker of freight cars. 
1901 st * Iron E John D. Rockefeller’s Lake Superior Consolidated Iron Mines Co., whose Mesabi range properties have been leased by Andrew Carnegie, is absorbed into United States Steel to prevent Rockefeller from starting a rival company (see 1893). 
1901 st * USX E United States Steel Co. is created by J. P. Morgan, who underwrites a successful public offering of stock in the world’s first $1 billion corporation, nets millions for himself in a few weeks of hard work, and pays $492 million to Andrew Carnegie for about $80 million in actual assets in order to eliminate the steel industry’s major price cutter. Carnegie personally receives $225 million in 5 percent gold bonds and is congratulated on being “the richest man in the world” by Morgan who merges Carnegie’s properties with other steel properties to create a company that controls 65 percent of U.S. steel-making capacity (see Bethlehem, 1905). 
1902 st * USX E United States Steel Co. has two-thirds of U.S. steel-making capacity. Only public opinion and a sense of noblesse oblige restrain its near-monopoly (see 1901; Bethlehem 1905). 
1903 st * CoffeeTea E India’s Tata iron and steel empire has its beginnings in Orissa where Dorabji Jamsetji Tata, 44, and his kinsman Shapurji Saklatvala, 29, discover a hill of almost solid iron ore. Son of a cotton mill magnate, Tata starts an iron and steel company that together with his father’s cotton mills will be the basis of India’s modern industrial development. 
1905 st * Bethlehem Steel E Bethlehem Steel Co. is founded by Charles M. Schwab who determines to build a great competitor to United States Steel (see 1902). Bethlehem begins as the parent company of Schwab’s United States Shipbuilding Co. (see 1907). 
1906 st * USX E J. P. Morgan and steel magnate John W. Gates purchase Tennessee Coal & Iron Co. (see 1898; 1907). 
1907 st * Bethlehem Steel K Bethlehem Steel’s Saucon Mills open at Bethlehem, Pa., to roll wide-flanged girders and beams that are lighter (and therefore cheaper) than conventional riveted girders but just as strong. Bethlehem has acquired patents from inventor Henry Grey and will license other steel mills to manufacture Grey beams on a royalty basis (see 1905; 1912). 
1912 st * Bethlehem Steel E Bethlehem Steel’s Charles M. Schwab journeys to France and buys Chile’s Tofo Iron Mines from the Schneider interests. The Chilean mines contain 50 million tons of ore with iron content 10 percent better than Lake Superior ores (see 1907; 1913). 
1913 st * Bethlehem Steel E Bethlehem Steel’s Charles M. Schwab acquires Fore River Shipbuilding and makes Eugene Grace, 37, president of Bethlehem. Grace will develop the company into the world’s second largest steel maker (see 1912; Sparrows Point, 1916). 
1916 st * Bethlehem Steel E Bethlehem Steel’s Charles M. Schwab pays $49 million to acquire the Pennsylvania Steel Co. formerly controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The company has a plant at Steelton, ore mines in Cuba, more in Pennsylvania, and—most important—a tidewater steel mill on Chesapeake Bay at Sparrows Point, Md., where Bethlehem will create a vast shipyard as it continues to prosper on government shipbuilding contracts. 
1923 st * USX E United States Steel reduces its 12-hour day to 8 hours August 2 following the lead set by American Rolling Mill in 1916.
1937 st * USX J The United Steel Workers union meets with resistance from “little steel” firms, which include Bethlehem with 82,000 workers, Republic with 53,000, Youngstown Sheet and Tube with 27,000, and National, American Rolling Mills, and Inland with a combined total of some 38,000. 
1937 st * USX J United States Steel permits unionization of its workers March 2 to avoid a strike (see 1936). 
1942 st * Kaiser T Henry Kaiser has built the first steel mill on the Pacific Coast to produce steel for his shipyards, and he has built a magnesium plant as well. He manufactures aircraft, Jeeps, and other war matériel in plants he has acquired for the purpose (see aluminum, 1945; Kaiser Foundation Hospital). 
1949 st * Law E Nationalization of Britain’s iron and steel industries takes effect November 24. 
1954 st * Tech K A small Detroit steel mill installs the first U.S. oxygen steel-making furnace. Perfected in 1950 by a tiny Austrian
1962 st * USX E United States Steel raises prices $6 per ton April 10, President Kennedy reacts angrily, two firms do not follow Big
1976 st * Co. K Cincinnati Milacron enters the industrial robot business, challenging the pioneer firm Condec Corp. to produce robots
1982 st * USX E U.S. Steel acquires Marathon Oil for $3 billion.