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Timby

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TIMBY, Theodore Ruggles, American in ventor: b. Dover, Dutchess County, N. Y., 5 April 1822; d. Brooklyn, N. Y., 1909. He °was an inventor from childhood," says Parton, and at 16 invented the floating dry dock. Among his other inventions are those of floating bat teries of iron and steel for coast-defense; a method of sighting and firing heavy guns by electricity, patented in 1862 at Washington, afterward adopted by the United States govern ment, and now used in all leading countries; the American turbine wheel; the first portable barometer; the process of printing terrestrial globes in colors; and a process for quickly ripening coffee. He was the first to advocate the modern use of iron in the construction of warships, and his most famous invention is the revolving turret which was first introduced in the original Monitor (see MONITOR, THE; MONITOR AND MERRIMAC) , and has since been adopted in naval architecture throughout the world. This invention, through official neglect and other failure to recognize and proclaim Timby's contribution to the national defenses that gave victory in °the battle upon which hinged the fate of the Civil War," has been wrongly ascribed to John Ericsson (q.v.), chief engineer of the Monitor. But the true history of the case shows that as early as 1841 Timby exhibited at the War Department a model and plans of a revolving battery, to be made of iron, the idea of which was suggested to him when first he observed the circular form of Castle William on Governor's Island, New York harbor. In 1843 he is said to have filed his preliminary specification of the model and plans in the United States Patent Office, and Caleb Cushing the same year sent a duplicate model to China. (See illustration under MONITOR). The published records of the office reveal patent No. 3,673 sealed to dore R. Timby of Cato, N. Y., in 1844 for an improved waterwheel, also patent 4,845, 10 Nov. 1846, for its further improvement, and this is recorded as expired in 1861. On 31 Dec. 1844 a patent was granted to John Ericsson for propelling ships. But there is no record of the revolving floating or coastal battery by i either inventor. It is interesting to note, how ever, that 11 Aug. 1841 a patent was granted to Prosper Martin of Philadelphia, Pa., for floating batteries; and 11 Oct. 1841 to Daniel Fitzgerald, New York, for submarine gun boats. Timby, from 1851 to 1861, is said to urged the importance of the revolving floating battery on Emperor Napoleon III. Meanwhile, having developed improvements in his invention, the outbreak of the Civil War was his opportunity, and on 8 July 1862 patents Nos. 35,846 and 35,847 were granted to Theo dore R. Timby of Worcester, Mass., for (a) revolving battery tower, (b) discharging guns in revolving tower by electricity, and (c) No. 36,593, 30 Sept. 1862 improved revolving bat tery tower. Incidentally in 1862-63 he re ceived patents for portable warming apparatus; for mercurial barometers; for solar time globe and solar timepieces. The only records of patents to John Ericsson around these dates are three in 1863 comprising (a) instruments for taking soundings; (b) port-stopper for vessels of war; (c) operating gun carriages.

Under his revolving battery tower and related patents, Timby entered into an agreement with the builders of the Monitor, including Ericsson as supervising engineer, for its use in the con struction of that vessel, and received therefor $5,000. He also received $5,000 royalty for each of the two subsequent vessels built by that company. Although this American inven tor received no compensation and no official recognition of his services to the country, his claims were not officially disputed. His invention of the revolving turret, as well as of the Timby system" of coast-defense adopted by many nations, has been acknowledged by military and naval authorities at home; the legislature of New York passed (1890) a concurrent resolu tion declaring it to be the Uduty of Congress to make such investigation . . . as shall do ample justice in the premises and vindicate the genius that contributed so largely in rescuing the country from a grave peril during the dark est days of its and influences were brought to bear on Congress and elsewhere to secure full acknowledgment of his patent rights and remuneration for his work from the United States government. Bills to this end were introduced in the national Senate in 1893 by the senators from New York, but apparently without result. An interesting applicable com mentary on such conditions may be found in the report of Charles M. Keller, examiner of patents for the year 1844 (Doc. No. 78, p. 507) : "It is a matter of surprise that society at large which has been and must continue to be so much benefited by inventions and the progress of the useful arts should pay so little atten tion to this subject. The fruits of the labors of inventors are enjoyed and recognized by the world at large, but the authors of all these benefits pass through the world unnoticed, and in most cases unrewarded. It is to be re gretted that literary men do not turn their attention to the progress of the useful, and, with the pen of fancy, add ornament and beauty to the solid edifice. Mr. Timby received patents for a mole and tower system of defense (1880) ; a subterranean sys tem of defense (1881) ; and a revolving tower and shield system (1884). In his later years he was a resident of Brooklyn, N. Y., where he occupied himself with various literary and other avocations, being especially interested in scientific and philosophical pursuits. Among his writings is a volume entitled (Lighted Lore for Gentle Folk) (1902), which contains his reflections on a variety of subjects. Consult New York Herald and New York Evening Post, 7 June 1843; Harper's Monthly, January 1863, pp. 241-248; Annual Cyclo 1864, "Revolving Turrents," pp. 719 723; Todd, (Nuts for Boys to (1866), p. 166; Parton, The People's Book of Biography — Lives of the Most Interesting Persons of All Ages and containing a sketch of Timby and an account of his con nection with the Monitor; King, "Theodore R. Timby" (in Successful Americans, January 1902); American Shipbuilder, 23 Oct. 1902, "A Half-forgotten and Memorial of the Patriotic League of the Revolution to the 57th Congress, presented by Virginia Chandler Tit comb, 1902.

Jon rt H. CLIFFORD,