Thomas R. Pickering
Born 1831 - February 21, 1895
Patent #: 88,507
Thomas Pickering’s inventive genius allowed him to make significant
engineering advancements. He is most known for his contributions to the
steam-engine governor and velocipede.
He continued to innovate and encourage the professional development of
engineering in the United States. In 1868, Pickering invented the
velocipede, which was a forerunner to the modern bicycle, and sold large
numbers of the machines. Creating a self-actuating brake his design—a device
that worked when the rider pushed against the handlebars, engaging a
mechanism that pressed a brake shoe against the wheel—gave Pickering’s bike
popularity in the U.S. and Europe.
He was a member of the ASME, served as a commissioner at the 1876 Centennial
exposition and the 1884 New Orleans exposition, and represented the United
States engineering community at international expositions in Vienna,
Melbourne, and Paris. He was chosen as a U.S. Senator in 1894 and died while
A native of England, Pickering moved to New York City as a boy. He
studied at the Mechanics' Institute to learn the basics of engineering.
In 1861, he was in charge of the steam power plant at a factory when he
developed a steam governor that quickly replaced its predecessors
because it enabled far better control of steam engines and their power