Today’s Notable U. S. Birthday
Oliver Evens – American inventor and industrialist
Evans’ first invention was in 1777, when he designed a machine for making card teeth for carding wool. He went into business with his brothers and produced a number of improvements in the flour milling industry. His most important invention was an automated grist mill which operated continuously through the use of bulk material handling devices including bucket elevators, conveyor belts, and Archimedean screws. Evans described this invention in The Young Mill-wright and Millers’ Guide. He patented this invention in a few states and, when the US patent system was established, in the federal patent system. Evans devoted a great deal of his time to patents, patent extensions, and enforcement of his patents.
In 1792 he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he produced an improved high-pressure steam engine — his second most important invention. For some years he contemplated the idea of applying steam power to wagons. He was granted a patent for a steam-carriage design in 1789, but did not produce a working example of such a machine until over a decade later. (See below on his Oruktor Amphibolos). Part of his difficulties was a failure to get financial backing. After lack of support in his native land, in 1794 he sent copies of some his designs to Great Britain in an attempt to interest investors there.
As Evans designed a refrigeration machine which ran on vapor in 1805, he is often called the inventor of the refrigerator, although he never built one. (His design was modified by Jacob Perkins, who obtained the first patent for a refrigerating machine in 1834).