With the invention of the pendulum clock in 1656, Christiaan Huygens increased the best accuracy of clocks from 15 minutes deviation a day to around 15 seconds a day.
Black History Fact: Benjamin Banneker (1731–1806) was a self-taught mathematician and surveyor. When he was 21, Banneker was shown a pocket watch. He was so fascinated by the watch that its owner lent it to Banneker. He spent time studying pocket watches before deciding to build his own timepiece. A year later, Banneker invented a clock out of wood that struck a gong on the hour and kept time to the second. Banneker’s wooden clock kept time for more than 40 years.
When Englishman Richard Trevithick debuted the first practical steam locomotive in 1804, it averaged less than 10 mph. Today, several high-speed rail lines boast speeds 30 times as fast!
Black History Fact: Andrew Jackson Beard (1849–1921) created his most famous invention, the Jenny coupler, while working for various railroads. The Jenny coupler automatically locked train cars together when they bumped into each other. This made connecting long trains much easier—and safer. Before the invention of the Jenny coupler, workers had to insert a metal pin to link the cars as they came together. It was very dangerous work. The Jenny coupler was an invention that saved the lives of countless railroad workers.