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9 September 2020

On September 7, 1805, an engineer-inventor, economist, philologist, writer Jan Józef Baranowski was born in the town of Smilovichi (Smilovitsy), Minsk province. He received his secondary education at the Minsk classical gymnasium. In 1821 he moved to Vilno (Vilnius), where he attended lectures on medicine and law at the university.

In 1825, Jan Baranowski graduated from the University of Vilnius, receiving the doctoral degree, and entered the service of the Polish Bank in Warsaw. Working hard and possessing an exceptional talent in financial sphere, Jan Józef Baranowski began to pursue his career, but the uprising of 1830 was a turning point in his life. In 1832 he moved to France, where he served in various industrial and financial institutions, and then at the railways. From 1843 Jan Józef Baranowski worked as an accounting inspector for the Paris-Rouen-Le Havre railway. There he was also engaged in technical inventions.

The most successful of his inventions – a special tax-machine for controlling travel tickets – was awarded at the Paris Exhibition of 1849. At the same exhibition Jan Józef received a medal for a machine for printing and monitoring railway tickets.

Besides, Jan Józef Baranowski developed an automatic alarm system for the railway. Two years later, in 1851, at the London World's Fair, he was awarded a gold medal (the highest award) for a device enabling printing in several colours.

In 1871, Jan Józef Baranowski working as a financier submitted a project regarding the payment of indemnities to Germany to the French government, but this project was not accepted and the author did not receive the reward he expected. Offended by this and financially constrained, in 1872 Jan Baranowski moved to London and took the position of Assistant Secretary at the Polish Literary Association. Then, in order to earn money, he took up lexicographic works, which were sympathetically met both by public and expert circles.

From the database of the Republican Library for Science and Technology.