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Archer, Frederick Scott (1813–1857), inventor of the collodion process in photography, was the second son of Thomas Archer, a butcher at Hertford, where he was probably born. Orphaned as a child, he was brought up by distant relatives and friends and while still a young man was apprenticed to a silversmith and bullion dealer named ...

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Frederick Scott Archer (1813–1857) by Robert Cade, 1855 Royal Photographic Society

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Brockedon, William (1787–1854), painter, writer, and inventor, was born on 13 October 1787 in Totnes, Devon, and baptized there on 12 November, the only child of Philip Brockedon (d. 1802), watchmaker, and his wife, Mary (d. 1837). Brockedon was educated at a private school in ...

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Claudet, Antoine François Jean (1797–1867), photographer and inventor, was born at Château de Rosay, Lyons, France, on 12 August 1797, the son of a gentleman of independent means, who died in 1807. After receiving a sound commercial and classical education, he entered the prestigious banking firm of his uncle and was soon installed as co-director with ...

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Antoine François Jean Claudet (1797–1867) self-portrait, c. 1851 [with his son Frank Claudet] Science & Society Picture Library; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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Drake, John Poad (bap. 1794, d. 1883), inventor and artist, son of Thomas Drake and his wife, Frances Poad, was born in Stoke Damerel, Devon, where he was baptized on 20 July 1794. A shipwright in the naval dockyard at Plymouth, Thomas Drake...

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Emett, (Frederick) Rowland (1906–1990), cartoonist and inventor of whimsical creations, was born on 22 October 1906 at Eskdale, Natal Road, New Southgate, London, the elder son (there were no daughters) of Arthur Emett, businessman, and his wife, Alice, née Veale. His father, the proprietor of a small advertising business, was a perpetually optimistic, always disappointed, spare-time inventor. ...

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Griggs, William (1832–1911), inventor of a photolithographic process, was the son of a gate-keeper to the duke of Bedford at Woburn, Bedfordshire, where he was born on 4 October 1832. After the death of his father Griggs started working life as an apprentice carpenter at the age of twelve. When he was eighteen he moved to ...

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Hansom, Joseph Aloysius (1803–1882), architect and inventor of the safety cab, was born at 63 Micklegate, York, on 26 October 1803, the second of the nine children of Henry Joseph Francis Hansom (bap. 1778, d. 1854), joiner and builder, and his wife, ...

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Howlett, Samuel Burt (1794–1874), surveyor and inventor of scientific instruments, was born in London on 10 July 1794, the only son of Samuel Howlett of Gracechurch Street, and his wife Ann née Burt. After leaving school at thirteen, he secured, through the influence of an uncle with military connections, an apprenticeship with the royal military surveyors and draughtsmen. He became a cadet on 20 August 1808 and each day attended the drawing-room of the ...

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Nissen, Peter Norman (1871–1930), mining engineer and inventor of the Nissen hut, was born on 6 August 1871 in New York, the second of the three children of Georg Hermann Nissen (1832–1913), a Norwegian mining engineer, and his wife, Annie Lavinia (1842–c...

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R. B. Prosser

revised by R. C. Cox

Oldham, John (1779–1840), artist and mechanical inventor, was born in Dublin. He served an apprenticeship to an engraver at a calico printing works in Dublin but subsequently pursued a career as an artist. While based at Newry he also developed his interest in mechanics. He invented a machine for individually numbering banknotes to prevent forgery and, in 1812, laid his plans before the ...

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Ponton, Mungo (1802–1880), inventor of photographic processes and lawyer, the only son of John Ponton, farmer, and his wife, Isabell née Ponton, was born at Balgreen, near Edinburgh, on 23 November 1802. Educated as a lawyer, he was admitted to the Society of Writers to the Signet...

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Mungo Ponton (1802–1880) by unknown photographer, 1870s Heritage Images Partnership

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Russell, William Morris [Bill] (1920–2006), engineer and designer, was born on 22 July 1920 at 73 Oxford Road, Islington, London, the youngest in the family of two sons and two daughters of Albert Edward Russell, printer, and his wife, Agnes Mary, née Carrick (...

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Sale, Anthony Edgar [Tony] (1931–2011), electrical engineer, inventor, and museum curator, was born at 127 West Wycombe Road, High Wycombe, on 30 January 1931, the son of Stewart George Sale (1905–1943), news editor of the Bucks Mail, killed while covering the landings at ...

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Sherwin, William (b. c. 1645, d. in or after 1709), engraver and inventor of a method of mezzotinting, the son of William Sherwin (1607–1690), a Church of England clergyman, and his wife, Dorothea Swan, was born at Wallington, Hertfordshire, where his father was rector, about 1645. Nothing is known of his training, and his first datable plate is a portrait prefixed to ...

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Spiller, John (1833–1921), chemist and inventor of photographic techniques, was born on 20 June 1833, one of at least two sons of John Horatio Spiller, an architect. Educated at a private school at Crouch End, London, and the City of London School, he then entered the ...

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Taylor, Isaac [known as Isaac Taylor of Stanford Rivers] (1787–1865), writer on theology, artist, and inventor, was born at Lavenham, Suffolk, on 17 August 1787. He was the fourth child and eldest surviving son of Isaac Taylor of Ongar (1759–1829), artist, engraver, and dissenting minister, and his wife, ...

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Varley, Cornelius (1781–1873), landscape painter and inventor of optical apparatus, was born on 21 November 1781 at the Blue Post tavern in Mare Street, Hackney, the third of five children of Richard Varley (d. 1791) and his second wife, Hannah Fleetwood, a descendant of ...