As a mechanical engineer, I can't help but vote for the internal combustion engine. its longevity and the fact that is has not yet been replaced in the automobile underscores its importance in the history of engineering.
This is always kind of stunning to me. With the advancements we've made in so many other areas, it is blows my mind that the combustion engine is still basically the same. We've made it much much more efficient, but that's about it. You'd think we would all be driving electric cars around by now!
You mention CAD/CAM but CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Lathes / Machining I think deserve a specific mention (well Robot arms got one?). They enabled mass production of tight tolerance machined components. I think 1960s - there were earlier machines that used paper tape etc, but 60's / 70s would be when they came to be mainstream?
You're right David. That is an important addition. A few days ago, my machinst son (also a David) was working on an NC when some sort of bar came loose and hit him in the head knocking him out cold and causing a concussion. He's better (except tingling in fingers) but was one lucky guy - it came close to taking out his eye--the one htat's a deep purple and black now.
And don't forget the water wheel - probably the first use of power for industrial processes. Pretty limited, and the need for more power was probably the main driver for the industiral revolution, But they were used, apparently from the Greeks onwards, for power for mines, mills and other things.
I guess you may not want to include them on the basis that they pre-dated the industrial revolution, but I'd be inclined to put them in as the start of the whole timeline?
I saw a program on TV the other night about a guy who bought an old mill building and used the water race to power a generator which powered his house and then fed some back into the grid. So water power is not dead yet!
but it's not available for viewing unfortunately, nor is it on the aussie channel I saw it on. But you might find it somewhere. As I recall the guy had solar as well, but obviously water is great, its 24/7 unless there is a drought....
Carolyn sorry, I think I am leading you on a wild goose chase here. My wife reminded me that it was not ETTC but another program where a guy walks around exploring aspects of Britain. In this case he was exploring the roots of the industrial revolution. Neither of us can remember what channel it was on which does not help. I'll see if I can find some more and let you know, but don't waste time trying to find it at the moment.....
Though it may restrict you if you're outside Australia. If not, it's worth a watch BUT it does not have the water generator bit that I thought it did. So I am back to thinking that it WAS in the Escape to the Country episode above. And try as I might I cannot find anywhere that will let me watch that.
Sorry for the confusion, and maybe you'll be able to watch that episode somehow.