The rapid development of technology, which so much changed our world over the past century, began with the industrial revolution. It was a time when workshops (manufactories) using manual labor began to disappear. Instead, factories were built which used a variety of equipment fitted with steam engines, which immeasurably increased labor productivity.
It is considered that in Russia the industrial revolution began in the
middle of the 19th century, although the exact date is unknown. In the
beginning of the reign of Emperor Alexander I in Russia there appeared
and began to develop new means of communication and transport which helped
to accelerate technological progress. In 1815, on the Neva tests of Russia's
first steamboat, built by Charles Baird, took place. (In 1830 steamboats
were already run on all the major rivers of Russia.) In 1832, P. L. Schilling
built an experimental line of the world's first electromagnetic telegraph
which connected the Winter Palace with the Traffic Ministry. Since 1833
in Russia, as in other European countries, the optical telegraph is actively
used. In the period from 1833 to 1838 three lines of such telegraph were
stretched from the Winter Palace, the main residence of the emperor: the
Winter Palace - Kronstadt, the Winter Palace - Gatchina, the Winter Palace
- Warsaw. In 1837 Russia's first railway St Petersburg - Tsarskoe Selo
But the interests of Nicholas I were not only limited to engineering, military or administrative matters. By his order the construction in St Petersburg of the Imperial Hermitage (1842-1851) was started; it was first in the Russian Empire public art museum where later unique works of art were collected. Here, collections of coins and medals, paintings and sculptures were exhibited. A library contained rare editions of books. Thus, we can say that the Emperor Nicholas I in his public activities gave sufficient attention to development of the arts and technology.
It has been more than 150 years since then. The Hermitage has become
one of the largest museums in the world. New buildings have appeared in
its structure, art collections have grown several times, new areas of
activities are developing. Now in many rooms, apart from works of art,
the brightest examples relating to technical culture are exhibited. This
includes stone and bone tools of prehistoric man, weapons and vehicles
(for example, the chariot of the Pazyryk mound), tools and machines of
Peter's era, the famous 18th century "peacock" clock-machine
combining subtle mechanics with jewelry.
Since construction of the Winter Palace (1754-1762) in the buildings, which are now part of the museum complex of the State Hermitage, a great number of various equipment, electric appliances and tools intended for maintaining comfortable conditions of life, for repair and construction, for management of a big state and later for storage of museum collections were used.
Among the first technological devices that appeared in the Winter Palace were various lifting mechanisms. Some raised people, others lifted served tables right in the halls where feasts of the most August personages and their guests took place, and others moved the tubs with flowers from intermediate floors to winter gardens. Among these devices was a "lifting chair" made by I. P. Kulibin for Empress Catherine II in 1793.
The rapid development of technology in the late 19th - early 20th century
led to a huge number of technical devices without which we cannot imagine
our lives now. Steam and water heating, electromagnetic telegraph, telephone,
electric bulb, electric motor - all was applied in the residence of the
Emperor, the Winter Palace and the Hermitage, the largest public museum
of the Russian Empire. Here, during the 19th century and in the early
20th century prominent Russian architects, scientists and engineers worked
on the solution of construction and engineering problems associated with
construction of new engineering systems and the introduction of equipment:
V. P. Stasov, M. E. Clark, P. L. Schilling, N. A. Amosov, A. D. Gotman,
M. P. Fabritsius, B. S. Jacoby, I. A. Fullon, F. Baird, E. Nobel, I. K. Krol, G. S. Voinitsky, V. L. Pashkov, O. E. Krel, F. San-Galli, N. A. Gornostaev, N. I. Kramskoy.
In 1835 several local systems of "clean water supply pipelines with
water supply of water toilets" were installed in the Winter Palace.
Water for them was taken from the Neva River by a steam engine and was
raised onto attics to special tanks containing a few thousand buckets.
Such a high positioning of tanks ensured unhindered flow of water on the
floors where it was applied in lead pipes. (In St Petersburg water supply
system was invented in 1863.)
In the same period during the recovery of the Winter Palace after the
fire an air heating system using ovens invented by General Amosov in 1830
was installed there. Ovens consisted of two parts: a firebox and an air
chamber. Woods burnt in a firebox and a hot smoke, before leaving through
a chimney, passed through a system of gas ducts located in an air chamber.
The outside air got into this chamber through an air duct which when contacting
with heated gas ducts was heated and passed further through in-wall channels
to halls for their heating. Ovens were located in the basement but one
oven allowed to heat numerous facilities on all three floors located above
it. This centralization was a huge advantage of Amosov's ovens against
heating devices of that time. Later these ovens become widespread and
abroad were referred to as "Russian heating system".
In 1841 B. S. Jacoby built Russia's first line of an electromagnetic telegraph between the Winter Palace and the General Staff. In 1852 an underground telegraph line Winter Palace - London was laid. In 1882 the telephone line was installed in the Winter Palace.
In 1886 in one of the internal courtyards of the New Hermitage Europe's largest thermal power plant ("Factory of electricity" as it was called then) was built to illuminate the rooms of the Hermitage, the Winter Palace, the surrounding areas and some nearby buildings.
At the time, locomobiles that enacted dynamo machines were used to generate electricity. A locomobile is a portable steam engine combining in one design a steam boiler with a firebox to generate steam and a steam engine that converts the energy of hot steam into rotational energy of a shaft. As we know, the first major central electric power station was built in 1882 in New York by design of T. A. Edison.
Especially for the power station of the Winter Palace boilers and steam engines were designed. This was an innovative approach at that time. The project involved the electrification of the Winter Palace, the Hermitage buildings, yard and surrounding areas for three years until 1888. It was expected to install 5,769 light bulbs and 43 arc lamps. The principles embodied in the design allowed to continually improve a power plant (to increase its capacity) as it was connected to an ever growing number of consumers. Experience of using a powerful and economical source of electricity able to feed numerous consumers was used to create a power system of St Petersburg (engineer V. L. Pashkov, architect N. A. Gornostaev).
In 1895 a water-air heating system for residential premises of Emperor Nicholas II was made in the north-west risalit of the Winter Palace. The heart of the new heating boiler was a boiler constructed in the light courtyard of the palace. The new system was one of Russia's first large combined heating systems that combined water and air/water systems.
In 1910 a garage for cars of Emperor Nicholas II was built in a
passage separating the Winter Palace from the Small Hermitage. The garage
had a wash, gas station and its own system of steam heating (architect
N. I. Kramskoy).