We Break Pencils

History Of Engineering


From the Stone Age tools to complex technology designs, the history of engineering is as exciting an endeavor as that of humanity itself. Both had parallel growth and evolution. The sharpened piece of stone from the Stone Age, aged 2.5 million years, and of course the wooden wheel, viewed as prototypes of all inventions, has represented the utility level engineering activities of humans; the Roman Colosseum, one of the pioneering works of engineering embodied creative human mind. All activities of engineering as we know now span across these two ends.

While tracing back the engineering history of humanity and describing it in detail from 600 BC to AD 1450, engineering developed as and when new demands arose in a society. The most important engineering innovation previous to and during this period, could be irrigation. By that time, the most important and basic engineering inventions had already been taken place, namely, the liver, the wheel, the screw, the pulley and the wedge. Mathematics was a co-traveler of engineering in all these inventions and geometry made possible more complex tools being made, and as an invaluable value-addition, art and architecture. Irrigation existed as early as in 1700 BC in Mesopotamian civilization.

It was by way of engineering that humanity evolved money to become a medium for all kinds of transactions that happen in a society. Coinage was invented around 640 BC. The array of manufactured products of early sixteenth century was still countable and easy to be made into a list that will not exceed in writing, one A4 size paper of today. They were grain flour, clothes, simple metal equipments, primary chemicals, utilities made of wood and leather, paper and things made of glass. Metal smelting was the invention of sixteenth century and made possible coins and a whole lot of metal tools and equipments. Mitcham has quoted the renowned philosopher, Francis Bacon, to signify the engineering breakthroughs that human society achieved by way of the invention of gun powder, that led to wars, conquests, and colonization, printing, that brought in a thought revolution and compass that again made long distance voyages and colonial pursuits possible. A few other engineering milestones of modern age, or more precisely, the era starting from twentieth century, could be the first atomic bomb in 1945, first electronic computer in 1946, first kidney transplant in 1950, and discovery of DNA in 1953 and the first human being in space in 1961. From nuclear medicine to ubiquitous computing and brain mapping, engineering is marching on as a polymorphic and all-pervasive tool of humanity.