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Death by Invention: 5 Inventors who Died by Their Own Work


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William Bullock

In 1832, the world of printing was revolutionized by a press invented by Richard Hoe, who converted the process from one that used flat surfaces to transfer ink to paper to one that used cylinders to accomplish the task. As opposed to previous presses that could print approximately 400 sheets per hour, the cylinder press could churn out between 1,000 and 4,000 pages in the same amount of time.

Then, in 1865, inventor William Bullock would help the printing industry take another giant leap forward through the creation of his "Bullock Press," a rotary press that was fed by a continuous sheet of paper stored on a roll on one side of the machine. This eliminated the laborious single-sheet hand feeding process that had existed previously and once again dramatically increased printing speeds. The Bullock Press could produce approximately 12,000 sheets per hour, with printing on both sides from rolls that were up to 5 miles (8.04 kilometers) long.

Sadly, Bullock didn't have long to revel in the success of his invention. While making adjustments to a Bullock Press at the Philadelphia Public Ledger in 1867, his leg was caught and crushed in the machine. The wound turned gangrenous and the inventor -- who'd also created a grain drill, seed planter and hay press among other inventions -- died several days later.


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