JESSE RAMSDEN DIVIDING ENGINE PDF

Dividing engine at the Museo Galileo in Florence. There has always been a need for accurate measuring instruments. Whether it is a linear device such as a ruler or vernier or a circular device such as a protractor , astrolabe , sextant , theodolite , or setting circles for astronomical telescopes , the desire for ever greater precision has always existed. For every improvement in the measuring instruments, such as better alidades or the introduction of telescopic sights, the need for more exact graduations immediately followed. In early instruments, graduations were typically etched or scribed lines in wood , ivory or brass.

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The following article by Anthony A. This wonderful machine is on exhibit at the Museum of Surveying in Lansing, Michigan In , Jesse Ramsden of England invented the circular dividing engine, an instrument which had a profound impact on Western history. Prior to his invention, the division and inscription of scales on mathematical instruments was done by hand. Therefore, the value of the instrument depended on the accuracy of the maker and his tools.

Instruments such as surveying compasses were subject to wide variations in quality, as each instrument required a maker with an extraordinary control of tools and a very precise eye. Instruments were produced one at a time, which limited the number available for purchase and making them prohibitively expensive. This was particularly important for the development of the octant and the sextant, both vital to the British Navy.

An octant or sextant enabled a sea captain to determine longitude, which, when mapped against latitude, provided his precise location anywhere on Earth. Ramsden shared in the national prize given to solve the longitude measurement problem. For several decades, the British dominated the trade in precise instruments, as no American could compete with the new products of the mechanical dividing engine.

Young, who specialized in the production of surveying instruments According to a reported extract from the proceeding of the Meeting of Instruments of Precision, before the Society of Arts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in , "There is no branch of mechanical arts which require more skill in the use of tools, more geometric knowledge, or greater patience, than the construction of an automatic dividing engine.

As railroads were laid across the United States, surveyors found they needed an instrument which would allow them to "determine a number of angles in less time and more accurately than was possible with the plain or vernier compass.

The railroad compass was equipped with a vernier reading inside the compass dial. The telescope enabled the horizontal and vertical angles of an objective to be measured simultaneously with reference to an assumed horizontal plane and assumed azimuth direction. The outstanding feature of the transit which made it an improvement over the theodolite was that its telescope could be "transited," or completely revolved on its horizontal axis.

Shortly after the instrument was first commercially produced in quantity in about by William J. Young, it achieved international use and has survived with virtually little change until the present. In , he emigrated to the United States and spent an additional five years working for American instrument makers. Finally, on October 18, , he and George L. Buff established the firm of Buff and Berger, specializing in surveying, engineering, mining, and scientific instruments.

The company was very successful until , when the two founders dissolved the firm after a dispute over how to apportion the business among their sons. Berger and his two sons acquired all the assets of Buff and Berger, moved the company to 37 Williams Street in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and made instruments for civil, geodetic, geological and petroleum engineers and surveyors around the world. They also diversified to produce special and unique instruments for scientists and particularly astronomers.

It is suggested that even Albert Einstein visited their factory looking for precise astronomical instruments. Whitelaw, p. Berger in until it was sold in Dennis Nardoni, acquired the old Berger factory and discovered these historic machines.

This machine is still operable and was the primary circular dividing engine in use at Berger. Garcelon, p.

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Dividing Engine

The following article by Anthony A. This wonderful machine is on exhibit at the Museum of Surveying in Lansing, Michigan In , Jesse Ramsden of England invented the circular dividing engine, an instrument which had a profound impact on Western history. Prior to his invention, the division and inscription of scales on mathematical instruments was done by hand. Therefore, the value of the instrument depended on the accuracy of the maker and his tools.

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Jesse Ramsden

The family were not well off and Jesse attended a free school in Halifax from to At this stage Ramsden was sent to live with his uncle, Mr Craven, in the North Riding of Yorkshire, and he spent four years there studying mathematics taught by the Revd Mr Hall. Around he was apprenticed to a cloth maker, and he spent until serving his apprenticeship. He went to London at this stage and was given a job as a clerk in a cloth warehouse but, in at the age of 21, he chose to become an apprentice to Mark Burton, a mathematical instrument maker in Denmark Street in the Strand. By the age of 27 he had his own business in London in the Strand where he became acknowledged as the most skilful designer of mathematical, astronomical, surveying and navigational instruments in the 18th century. A near neighbour was John Dollond, a fellow of the Royal Society and a skilled designer of optical instruments.

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