Wright Timeline 1880 to 1889

  BACK    Home    History Wing    Adventure Wing    Exhibits & Programs    Company Store    Information Desk    NEXT 


History Wing 

The Wright Story 


  Wright Timeline     1880 to 1889 
 (You are here.)       


An Unusual    

Career Choices  

The Airplane

The World

The Airplane    

A Long Twilight 


Need to    

find your    


Try these     
navigation aids:    

 Site Map 

Museum Index 

the Museum

 If this is your first    
visit, please stop by:    

the Museum

Something to share?     

Contact Us 


  Available in Française, Español, Português, Deutsch, Россию, 中文, 日本, and others.

o invention, no scientific discovery, no work of art, no human endeavor happens in an historical vacuum. There are always other factors -- cultural, political, personal -- that influence the outcome of a single event. So it was with the invention of the airplane. The Wright brothers were born just as the Scientific Method became a tremendous force for cultural change, and the world became an increasingly wonderful and terrible place because of it. When Wilbur and Orville were children, the abacus was the most advanced mathematical aid, influenza was an often-fatal disease, and the cannon was the most feared weapon of war. By the time Orville died, the first computers were just being built, antibiotics had begun to wipe out disease,  and the atomic bomb made war unthinkable. Many of these advances influenced the development of the airplane -- and the airplane, in turn, influenced further advances.

Here is chronology that shows not just the story of the Wright brothers, but also the world they lived in and the important political, cultural, and scientific events that loomed large in their lives. Click on the decade you want to see:

1860 to 1869
1870 to 1879
1880 to 1889
1890 to 1899
1900 to 1909
1910 to 1919
1920 to 1929
1930 to 1939
1940 to 1949


The Wright Story

The Bigger Picture

1880     James and John Ritty of Dayton, Ohio patent the first cash register, the beginning of the business machine industry. Rodin sculpts The Thinker.
1881 The United Brethren Church reassigns Milton Wright to serve the churches in Indiana and his family moves back to a farm near Richmond. A conservative-liberal rift  has developed in the Church and Milton emerges as a leader of the conservatives.
Clara Barton establishes the American Red Cross and there is a gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.
1882     Nikola Tesla perfects alternating electrical current (AC) and begins work on the first AC motor. These two inventions will lead to the second Industrial Revolution, in which electricity replaces steam as the driving force.
1883 Susan Wright begins to show symptoms of tuberculosis.
The first skyscraper is built in Chicago. John J. Montgomery flies the first manned gilders in America. Viennese inventor Siegfried Marcus patents an improved version of his 1864 magneto. It is the first practical electrical ignition system for an internal combustion engine.
1884 Milton moves his family back to Dayton, Ohio to be closer to the political center of the Church of the United Brethren.
Mark Twain publishes Huckleberry Finn. In Britain, Hiram Maxim develops the first modern machine gun.
1885 A sports injury leads to health problems that prevent Wilbur from attending college. He stays at home, attending his invalid mother.
English inventor John Kemp Starley manufactures the first "safety" bicycle. Karl Benz patents the automobile and unveils his "Benz Patented Motorwagon."
1886 Orville starts a printing business while he is still in high school.
The American Federation of Labor organizes. There is widespread labor union unrest including the Haymarket Square Riot, later commemorated by Labor Day and International Workers Day. John Pemberton introduces Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia.
1887     Anne Sullivan begins teaching Helen Keller, who is both blind and deaf. The first groundhog day is observed in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Arthur Conan Doyle introduces Sherlock Holmes.
1888     Karl Joseph Bayer develops a process to smelt aluminum from bauxite ore. John Dunlop introduces the pneumatic rubber tire. Artist Vincent Van Gogh gains fame in France.
1889 Orville publishes a newspaper, the "West Side News," and Wilbur joins him as editor. The Church of the United Brethren splits over its internal disagreements and Milton Wright leads the conservative side of the schism to form a new church. Susan Wright dies from tuberculosis.
The Eiffel Tower is built in Paris, France. The jukebox is introduced in San Francisco, California and the first commercial long-distance transmissions of electricity begin in Italy and Oregon.

Back to the top

  BACK    Home    History Wing    Adventure Wing    Exhibits & Programs    Company Store    Information Desk    NEXT 

"Aviation is proof that – given the will – we can do the impossible."
 Eddie Rickenbacker



History Wing/The Wright Story/The Wright Timeline 1880-1889

Part of a biography of the Wright Brothers


Copyright © 1999-2010