Sunday, January 24, 2010

Firearms, The Root Of All Tech?

Maybe not, but imagine my amusement to learn that the time I changed out the universal joint bearings in my MGB's drive train,* I was repairing a Hochkiss Drive. Yep, same firm as made the various and sundry sorts of Hotchkiss gun, as well as some very pretty automobiles.

The French Hotchkiss et Cie ended up owning Delahaye (who also built some gorgeous cars) before vanishing forever into what ended up as Thomson SA. Sigh.
* Boy, do they ever make some awful noises when those bearings fall apart! Repair is a semi-trivial task -- no special tools required -- if you go slow and don't mind the occasional faceful of grease and/or rust.


Stranger said...

Probably not the root of all tech, but one can make an awfully good argument that firearms and war machinery taken together are.

The roots of fine metal working go back to swords and knives and armor. If some surviving work were properly dated it would rewrite human history.

The roots of machines to thread and turn and mill largely go back to "gonne" making.

And of course, when one goes far down that path the rest becomes almost inevitable. After all, we are curious beasts.


og said...

Actually, the machine tool was developed predominantly to make instrumentation. Without an accurate sextant (or astrolabe) navigation is - difficut. Fine firearms can be made- in some places are still being made- with little more than a hammer, a file, and fire. It is only incidental that machine tools ended up being useful for such things as firearms making. Maudsley capitalized on the Ramsden dividing engine, placed in in a lathe, and used it to make interchangeable screws. It is coincidental that the technology was used at the same time to manufacture weapons of war, not causistic. Still, the two items are closely interconnected. It may be more accurate to say that greed was the root of all tech; very few things exist that did not come about without commerce as their root cause. Think of a non-gun related invention that exists solely to make it's maker/user more money. The barrel. The loom. The harness, the saddle. The cart. Firearms and tech are not father and son nor mother and daughter, they have such a family resemblance because they're brother and sister- they grew up together.