Today's Birthdays

one click shows all of today's celebrity birthdays

Browse All Birthdays

43,625    Actors
27,931    Actresses
4,867    Composers
7,058    Directors
842    Footballers
221    Racing drivers
925    Singers
9,111    Writers

Get FamousLikeMe on your website
One line of code gets FamousLikeMe on your website. Find out more.

Subscribe to Daily updates

Add to Google

privacy policy

Famous Like Me > Actor > E > John Ericson

Profile of John Ericson on Famous Like Me

Name: John Ericson  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 23rd September 1926
Place of Birth: Düsseldorf, North Rhine - Westphalia, Germany
Profession: Actor
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Illustration of John Ericsson

John Ericsson (July 31, 1803 – March 8, 1889) was a Swedish inventor and mechanical engineer, as was his brother, Nils Ericson. He was born at Långbanshyttan in Värmland, Sweden, but did primarily come to be active in the United States.

Early Career

John's and Nils's father Olof Ericsson who worked as the supervisor for a mine in Värmland had lost money in speculations and had to move his family from Värmland to Forsvik in 1810. There he worked as a 'director of blastings' during the excavation of the Swedish Göta Canal. The extraordinary skills of the two brothers were discovered by Baltzar von Platen, the architect of the Göta Canal. The two brothers were dubbed cadets of mechanics of the Swedish Royal Navy and engaged as trainees at the canal enterprise. At the age of fourteen, John was already working independently as a surveyor. His assistant had to carry a footstool for him to reach the instruments during surveying work.

At the age of seventeen he joined the Swedish army in Jämtland, serving in the Jemtia Field Ranger Regiment, as a Second Lieutenant, but was soon promoted to Lieutenant. He was sent to northern Sweden to do surveying, and in his spare time he constructed a heat engine which used the fumes from the fire instead of steam as a propellant. His skill and interest in mechanics made him resign from the army and move to England in 1826. However, his heat engine was no success, as his prototype was designed to use birch as fuel and would not work well with coal, which was the primary propellant used in England.

Notwithstanding the disappointment, he invented several other mechanisms instead based on steam, improving the heating process by adding fans to increase oxygen supply to the fire bed. In 1829 his steam engine "Novelty" joined the competition arranged by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway and was fastest in the competition for seven days, but broke on the eighth and lost the competition to the English engineer George and his son Robert Stephenson. The many machines devised and built by Ericsson during this period put him in a harsh economic situation and at this time he also married 19-year-old Amelia Byam, a marriage that was nothing but a huge disaster.

The Propeller

He then improved the ship design with two screw-propellers moving in different directions (as opposed to earlier tests with this technology, which used a single screw). However, the Admiralty disapproved of the invention, which led to the fortunate contact with the encouraging American captain Robert Stockton who had Ericsson design a propeller steamer for him and told him to bring his invention to the United States of America instead, as it would supposedly be more welcomed in that milieu. As a result, Ericsson moved to New York in 1839. Stockton's plan was for Ericsson to oversee the development of a new class of frigate with Stockton using his considerable political connections to grease the wheels. After President Tyler was elected this finally happened and funds were allocated for a new design. Unfortunately they only received funding for a 700-ton sloop instead of a frigate. The sloop eventually became the USS Princeton, named after Stockton's hometown.

The ship took about 3 years to complete and was the most advanced warship of its time. In addition to twin screw propellers, it was originally designed to mount a 12-inch ML gun on a revolving pedestal. The gun had also been designed by Ericsson and was the first gun to use the hoop construction method that pre-tensioned the breech adding to its strength and safely allowing the use of a much larger charge. Other innovations on the ship design included a collapsible funnel and improved recoil systems for the guns.

Unfortunately, the ego clash between Ericsson and Stockton grew worse over time and nearing the completion of the ship Stockton began working to force Ericsson out of the project. Stockton carefully avoided letting outsiders know that Ericsson was the true brains behind the design and Stockton claimed as much credit for himself as possible. Stockton even designed a second 12-inch gun to be mounted on the Princeton. Unfortunately, not understanding the design of the 1st gun (originally name "The Orator", then renamed by Stockton to the "Oregon"), the 2nd gun was fatally flawed.

When the ship was initially launched it was a tremendous success. On October 20, 1843 USS Princeton won a speed competition against the steamer SS Great Western, which had until then been regarded the fastest steamer. Unfortunately, during a demonstration firing of Stockton's gun the breech broke, killing eight people. Stockton attempted to deflect blame onto Ericsson with moderate success despite the fact that Ericsson's gun was sound and it was Stockton's gun that had failed. Stockton also refused to pay Ericsson and using his political connections Stockton managed to block the Navy from paying him. These actions led to Ericsson's deep hatred of the US Navy.

Stockton then proceeded to invent the "hot air engine" in 1852 which used hot air instead of steam as a propellant, probably inspired by his earlier attempts of fume heat engines in Sweden. This engine was no success. However, Ericsson was awarded the Rumford Prize in 1862 for this achievement. Already on September 26, 1854 Ericsson presented Napoleon III of France with drawings of iron-clad armored battle ships with a dome-shaped gun tower, and even though the French king praised this invention, he did nothing to bring it to practical application.

The USS Monitor

When the American Civil War broke out, the Southern states quickly began developing an ironclad based on the hull of the Merrimack which had been burned before the naval base at Norfolk had been capture. The United States Congress addressed this issue in August 1861 and recommend that armored ships be built for the Union Navy. At this moment, Ericsson presented drawings of the USS Monitor a totally unique and novel design of armoured ships, which after much controversy was eventually built and finished on March 6, 1862. The ship went from plans to launch in approximately 100 days, an amazing achievement.

At this moment the Southern ironclad CSS Virginia was harvesting victories against the Northern fleet until the Monitor appeared. A battle on March 9, 1862 at Hampton Roads in Virginia, ended in a stalemate between the CSS Virginia and the Monitor, saving the Northern fleet from defeat. After this numerous monitors were built, and are believed to have considerably influenced the victory of the Northern states. Many basic design elements of the Monitor were copied by future ship designers.

Later, Ericsson worked with torpedo inventions, in particular the Destroyer torpedo boat, and in the book Contributions to the Centennial Exhibition he presents the so-called "sun engines", using solar power as propellant for a "hot air engine". At this time, he was once again bitter and plagued by economic difficulties, and his invention of the solar engine would not have practical applications for another 100 years.

Although none of his inventions created any big industry, he is regarded as one of the most influential mechanical engineers ever. After his passing in 1889 his remains were brought from the United States to Stockholm by USS Baltimore and to the final resting place at Filipstad, in his Värmland.


  • The surface condenser
  • The ship propeller
  • The "hot air engine"
  • The USS Monitor for the Union Navy in the American Civil War, was both designed and built by John
  • Torpedo technology, especially Destroyer, an advanced torpedo boat.
  • The "solar machine", using concave mirrors to gather sun radiation strong enough to run an engine.
  • USS Princeton (1843)
  • Hoop gun construction


  • Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1850
  • Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences in 1852
  • Honorary Doctorate at Lund University in 1868


John Ericsson in Battery Park, NYC

Monuments in honor of John Ericsson have been erected at:

  • The Mall in Washington D.C.
  • Battery Park, in New York City
  • Nybroviken in Stockholm
  • Kungsportsavenyn in Gothenburg.

See also: John A. Dahlgren

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article John Ericson