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Jacques Vaucanson (1709 – November 21, 1782) was a brilliant French inventor and machine maker who was responsible for the creation of impressive and innovative automata, machine tools, and textile machinery.
He was born in Grenoble on 24 February 1709.
1728-c.1741 Constructing automata.
1741 Appointed inspector of the royal silk factories.
1742 Reported on proposals for reforms of the silk industry
1744 The Lyon silk workers rioted against the Vaucanson regulations
1745 Invented an automatic loom
1746 Appointed to the Royal Academy of Sciences
1748 Invented an automatic weaving machine.
1748/1749: Invented a silk spinning frame.
1753 Married Magdeleine Rey, who died at the birth of their daughter Angélique-Victoire.
1757 Invented a 'machine à lustrer' (for calendering or polishing) gold and silver silk.
1760-73 Lead projects for factories in Lavaur, Montpellier, Tours, Dauphiné, La Sône (Isère) and Romans (Drôme).
1779 Returned to Paris.
1782 Died on 21 November, aged 72.
Shortly before his death in 1782, Vaucanson bequeathed to Louis XVI his collection of 300 objects (machines, tools, models, drawings, prints, etc), which led to the establishment of the Conservatoire pour les arts et métiers (now the Musée des Arts et Métiers), the first museum of science and technology in Europe, housed in the premises of the Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs.
See also Wikipedia entry.
A number of Vaucanson's machines are on display in the Musée, including Vaucanson's Lathe, Vaucanson's Drilling Machine, and a curious multi-purpose machine designed by Desbordes, shown here, with a little more information here, and an earlier photograph here. Felix Rosat was responsible for the production of the lathe and the drilling machine.