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Developments of the 19th century

Related: 1800s


Until the 19th century, drugs had been used for millennia In their natural form. Cocaine and morphine, for example, were available only in coca leaves or poppy plants that were chewed, dissolved in alcoholic beverages or taken in some way that diluted the impact of the active agent. The advent of organic chemistry in the 1800s changed the available forms of these drugs. Morphine was isolated in the first decade and cocaine by 1860; In 1874 diacetylmorphine was synthesized from morphine (although It became better known as heroin when the Bayer Company introduced it in 1898). --David F. Musto

By mid-century the hypodermic syringe was perfected, and by 1870 it had become a familiar instrument to American physicians and patients (see "The Origins of Hypodermic Medication," by Norman Howard-Jones; Scientific American, January 19711. At the same time, the astounding growth of the pharmaceutical industry intensified the ramifications of these accomplishments. As the century wore on, manufacturers grew Increasingly adept at exploiting a marketable Innovation and moving it into mass production, as well as advertising and distributing it throughout the world. --David F. Musto [...]


1800: Napoleon's army, returning from Egypt, introduces cannabis (hashish, marijuana) into France. Avant-garde artists and writers in Paris develop their own cannabis ritual, leading, in 1844, to the establishment of *Le Club de Haschischins.* [William A. Emboden, Jr., Ritual Use of Cannabis Sativa L.: A historical-ethnographic survey, in Peter T. Furst (Ed.), *Flesh of the Gods*, pp. 214-236; pp. 227-228] [...]

Opium [...]

1822 Thomas De Quincey's *Confessions of an English Opium Eater* is published. He notes that the opium habit, like any other habit, must be learned: "Making allowance for constitutional differences, I should say that *in less that 120 days* no habit of opium-eating could be formed strong enough to call for any extraordinary self-conquest in renouncing it, even suddenly renouncing it. On Saturday you are an opium eater, on Sunday no longer such." [Thomas De Quincey, *Confessions of an English Opium Eater* (1822), p. 143]

Communication Technology [...]

  • 1830's First viable design for a digital computer by Charles Babbage
  • 1830's Augusta Lady Byron writes world's first computer program
  • 1834 The first usage of the term "Bohemian" (meaning, literally, "Gypsy") to refer to the disaffected and impoverished young artists and students of Paris has been traced to a popular French journalist and dramatist, Felix Pyat, who wrote a series of essays about "kids today" in a publication called Nouveau Tableau de Paris au XIX Siecle in 1834 [...]
  • 1837 Invention of Telegraph in Great Britain and the United States
  • 1837 Daguerrotype photography invented
  • 1861 Motion pictures projected onto a screen
  • 1876 Dewey Decimal System introduced
  • 1877 Edweard Muybridge demonstrates high - speed photography
  • 1877 Wax cylinder phonograph invented by Thomas A. Edison
  • 1877 Alexander Graham Bell invents first practical telephone

    Even a cursory look at the watershed technologies of the 19th century (telegraphy, photography, telephone, gramophone, typewriter, cinema, etc.) posed a cohesive 'new media' system that was destined to reshape much of the art of the early 20th century.

    Indeed the media system in place in the 1920s (that included radio and the initial experiments in television) set in place a communicative 'empire' whose reverberating effects reshaped possibilities along a series of fronts that included the integration of technical media in the social transformation of revolutionary movements (as in the Soviet Union), in the social controls of Fascism (as in the Nazi project), or in the social consolidation of networks in capitalism in the service of commerce. --Timothy Druckrey, 'Real' Telepresence


    In the nineteenth century, tuberculosis was a relatively widespread terminal disease that was seen in popular folklore, and through the eyes of artists, as indicative of a certain emotional temperament. The Romantics romanticized TB, seeing it as a sign of a passionate and sensitive nature. Then science discovered the physical basis for the disease, and consequently found a cure. The mythologizing of TB rapidly faded away, to be completely superseded in our century by another disease ripe for fantasy-projections: cancer. And, as a guaranteed medical cure remains elusive, cancer remains a condition muddied by unnecessary metaphorical thinking. -- Susan Sontag's Illness as Metaphor -- http://www.uncarved.org/2012/psycho.html

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