The Machines That Built AmericaAvailable to Stream Now
Tractor RevolutionAired on Jul 18, 2021
Plane PioneersAired on Jul 18, 2021
In 1910, airplanes are a novelty, fragile wooden concoctions that float in the air–and crash. But that doesn’t stop two young dreamers with a passion for this newfangled machine from imagining a very different future: one in which planes carry millions of passengers across the country, even across the seas. To realize that vision and create a lucrative new market, William Boeing and Donald Douglas take on automobile titan Henry Ford, infamous Dutch aviation giant Anthony Fokker–and each other. It’s a high stakes battle involving courage, risk taking, bold innovation, even industrial espionage… and not every business will last. But for the surprising survivors, the prize is worth it: the joy of flight and astonishing profit.
Titans of TelevisionAired on Jul 25, 2021
In the 1920s, the idea of beaming moving images through the air is pure science fiction. Most people find entertainment in books, magazines, or theater. But two daring pioneering see a different future, where people sit in front of screens, dazzled and engaged by what they see. To dominate the burgeoning market, a ruthless mogul takes on a little-known inventor in a high stakes battle that will change the world forever. Can a rugged farm-boy topple a big-city titan with endless resources? With millions at stake, it’s a bitter feud, as both men jockey to claim the title: “The Father of Television.”
Motorcycle KingsAired on Aug 01, 2021
At the end of the 19th century, private travel means taking a walk or riding a horse. But scrappy upstarts William Harley and Arthur Davidson have a bold vision for a new form of transportation–connecting a motor to a bicycle. They’ll take on George Hendee’s Indian Motorcycle in a classic David Vs. Goliath battle, fighting to dominate a market valued at more than 7 billion dollars today, the rivals will push their machines to the limit and tap into the lure of the open road, to try and rule the motorcycle kingdom.
Telephone WarsAired on Aug 08, 2021
In the 1870s communicating with distant family requires sending a letter, and waiting days or weeks for a reply. The telegraph is faster, but too expensive for most people. When communication giant Western Union offers a colossal cash prize to anyone who can improve its network, two daring inventors go head-to-head in a fight that will forever change the way humans connect. Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray will stop at nothing to lay claim to the new technology and dominate the market. But there can be just one winner in this battle involving fraud, corruption and ground-breaking innovation that ultimately leads to the advent of the world’s most common device: the telephone.
Power Tool ShowdownAired on Aug 15, 2021
At the dawn of the 20th century, America is transforming from a primitive agrarian society to a modern Mecca of technology, mass production and automation. Factories are stocked full of machines that require maintenance from new tools. With a growing need for speed and efficiency, a few visionary companies–Black and Decker, Milwaukee, DeWalt–create the power tools that revolutionize how America is built, and how many Americans spend their weekends now.
Tesla vs. MarconiAired on Aug 22, 2021
In 1893, sending information across America is a time-consuming process. Letters travel slowly by land, and those who can afford it, send telegrams along a limited network of fixed wires. But two rival inventors have the same idea for improving things: wireless communication. Nikola Tesla is one of the most famous and successful thinkers of his day, single-handedly changing the way electricity is supplied and generated. Guglielmo Marconi is a young, uneducated Italian inventor who ignores scientific consensus and goes with his gut. Both want to rid the world of wires and send messages through the air. With millions of dollars on the line, the two men battle to dominate the new market and bring radio to the masses.
Home Tech RevolutionAired on Aug 29, 2021
Housework in the late 1800’s is back-breaking labor and has been for centuries. It takes 40 hours a week to maintain a sanitary home and preserving food in an icebox is a luxury only the rich can afford. But with America plugging in to electric power, a flood of innovation is not only changing industry, it’s revolutionizing the home. The new technology makes housework easier and gives women opportunities to work outside the home. Today’s home appliance market is worth more than a billion dollars, but 100 years ago, it exists only in the imaginations of a few daring inventors.