Oil drilling has been around for more than a century. But because of the numerous developments in the technology, it has grown leaps and bounds in that time. And this growth of oil production has also been essential to changing the face of civilization.
In 1859, Edwin Drake dug what is considered the first oil well in Titusville, Penn. During that period, oil was used primarily to make kerosene for lighting purposes. But the development of the automobile industry soon ignited a new market for oil and spurred increased production -- from 150 million barrels produced worldwide in 1900 to more than one billion barrels in 1925.
One of the earliest innovations to improve oil drilling was the rotary drill, first used in the 1880s. This used a rotating drill bit to dig into the ground (as opposed to Drake’s method of cable-tool drilling that lifted and dropped a drill bit into the well). For more on the rotary drill, as well as an overview of the oil drilling process, take a look at "How Oil Drilling Works."
But the rotary drill was only the beginning in a long line of dramatic advancements that would develop in the 20th century. Some of the most notable that we'll discuss helped improve the efficiency of oil production while making it easier to find oil.