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Happy Presidents Day, where we honor our first president, George Washington, born in 1732, and our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, born in 1809. What does this have to do with gadgets? Well, there were plenty of techno-devices in the lives of these presidents, and some of them were precursors to those we worship today. Just not nearly as shiny. We follow the origins of some of these devices, tracing them from their primitive roots all the way to their appearance on Gizmodo:


George Washington, 1st President, 1789-1797
1790: The United States issues its first patent to William Pollard of Philadelphia for a machine that spins up cotton. Patents? Look at the mess that's turned into.

1791: John Barber invents the gas turbine. Hey, that's why we have jet engines for model airplanes.

1792: William Murdoch invents gas lighting. Without this, how would we ever light up or stogies, blunts or bongs?

1793: Thomas Jefferson, destined to be our most gadget-y prez evar, resigns as secretary of state. Word up, he was the inventor of the macaroni machine, the father of all pasta makers and assorted kitchen gadgets! We also have questionable sources saying his machine was the ancestor of the infamous Automatic Pussy Washing Machine.

1794: Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin. Direct precursor to the laser comb.

1799: (the year Washington died): Count Alessandro Volta invents the battery, enabling almost every handheld device in the world, as well as creating a whole new category of firestarter.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President, 1861-1865
1861: Elisha Otis patents elevator safety brakes, creating a safer elevator. Even then, people kept pushing the button over and over, thinking the elevator would arrive faster if they did that. And, it's a direct precursor to the upcoming Space Elevator.

1861: Pierre Michaux invents a bicycle. Recumbent bikes, tricycle cars and cheating on the Tour De France would come much later.

1861: Linus Yale invents the Yale lock or cylinder lock. Burglars and Harvard grads continue to curse Yale today, and now the cylinder lock is completely automated to read your fingerprints.

1862: Dr. Richard Gatling patents the machine gun. Depending on your point of view, Gatling has saved the world or put the world into a world of hurt. Some of today's best machine guns can crank out 120,000 rounds per minute.

1862: Alexander Parkes invents the first man-made plastic, which became the material of substance for Low End gadgets everywhere. Today, carbon nanotubes push the edges in material characteristics, with exceptional strength, conductivity, and thermal conductivity. Give it a few dozen years to make its way into the cellphones—or whatever they're called then—of the future.

1863: Alfred Nobel invents the blasting cap for detonating nitroglycerin. That's right, the guy after whom the Nobel Peace Prize was name invented the blasting cap and later, dynamite. This was a direct precursor to movies produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the explosive chocolate bomb, and any posts we write that criticize Apple. Explosive, indeed.