The Jacquard Loom: A Driver of the Industrial Revolution

It automated weaving and inspired punch-card computers

4 min read
A weaver at work in 1955 on one of the Jacquard looms at a Nishijin plant in Kyoto, Japan.
A weaver at work in 1955 on one of the Jacquard looms at a Nishijin plant in Kyoto, Japan.
Photo: Horace Bristol/Three Lions/Getty Images

THE INSTITUTEThis month The Institute is focusing on how technology is transforming the garment industry. The Jacquard Loom was the first loom that automatically created complex textile patterns. This led to the mass production of cloth with intricate designs.

Joseph Marie Charles Jacquard of France was born into a family of weavers in 1752. He received no formal schooling but tinkered with ways to improve the mechanical textile looms of the day.

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This Dutch City Is Road-Testing Vehicle-to-Grid Tech

Utrecht leads the world in using EVs for grid storage

10 min read
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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