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Major Inventions Timeline - The Dawn of the Common Era to the End of the 17th Century

Dawn of the Common Era to the 17th Century

The years 1000 CE to 1399 CE were known as the Dark Ages during which knowledge and learning were suppressed. Suprisingly, it was also a time filled with discovery and invention.

The 15th Century gave birth to three major events resulting in numerous interesting inventions. It was the beginning of the Renaissance Era which saw the return of research and learning. This Era also saw the birth of the Age of Discovery during which exploration expanded and better navigation led to new trade routes and trading partners. Finally, this Era saw the birth of modern printing which allowed for the inexpensive mass production of books paving the way for a more literate society.

The 16th Century ushered in the modern era of science. It also was a time of great exploration.

The 17th Century elevated scientists in the public esteem. The science of Chemistry developed from medieval alchemy while astronomy arose from astrology. Recognition was given to scientists like Galilei and Isaac Newton.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and as the human population increased and lived in stable settlements, utilizing agriculture to store food increased the survival rate of evergrowing communities and the 'necessities' became greater in number. Many of the inventions of this period centered around agriculture, hunting game and of course warfare and exploration to keep what had been gained and to gain ever more 'necessities'!

: A 17th century compound microscope similar to the one Robert Hooke would have used to compile his Micrographia.  From the Whipple Museum of the History of Science in Cambridge.

: A 17th century compound microscope similar to the one Robert Hooke would have used to compile his Micrographia. From the Whipple Museum of the History of Science in Cambridge.

Reproduction of Gutenberg-era Press on display at Printing History Museum in Lyon, France. Photograph taken by George H. Williams in July, 2004.

Reproduction of Gutenberg-era Press on display at Printing History Museum in Lyon, France. Photograph taken by George H. Williams in July, 2004.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

  1. 100 CE: the steam engine was developed by Heron of Alexandria who called it an aeolipile. It was a sealed caldron of water placed over a heat source. As the water boiled, steam rose into pipes and into the hollow sphere. Steam escaped from two bent outlet tubes on the ball resulting in the rotation of the ball. Heron's design is similar to today's jet propulsion systems.
  2. ≈202 CE: Cai Lun invented paper in China;
  3. ≈220 CE: The Chinese developed a horse harness that allowed them to use their shoulder strength;
  4. The Chinese developed the seed drill which allowed the planting of seeds at a uniform depth and covered them;
  5. The Chinese also developed the Iron Plow;
  6. 581 CE: The Chinese develop Porcelain, a type of ceramic produced by extreme temperatures of a kiln;
  7. ≈600 CE: Toilet paper is invented in China;
  8. 637 CE: Greek fire was invented by Kallinikos of Heliopolis;
  9. 724 CE: Liang Ling-Can invents the first fully mechanical clock;
  10. ≈800 CE: Gunpowder is invented in China;
  11. 900 CE: the horse collar is re-invented in Europe;
  12. 1041 CE: Bi Sheng used clay-fired characters to create reusable type and typesetting techniques, creating the first movable type printing press;
  13. 1050 CE: the crossbow was reinvented in France;
  14. 1200 CE: clothing buttons invented;
  15. 1202 CE: Hindu-Arabic Numbering System was introduced to the west by Italian mathemetician Fibonacci;
  16. 1249 CE: Roger Bacon invents his gunpowder formula;
  17. ≈1250 CE: the gun was invented in China;
  18. 1280 CE: eyeglasses invented;
  19. Mechanical clocks invented;
  20. ≈1285 CE: Windmills invented;
  21. 1295 CE: Modern glass-making begins in Italy;
  22. 1328 CE: the first sawmill invented;
  23. 1350 CE: Suspension bridges in Peru developed;
  24. 1366 CE: Weighing Scales invented;
  25. 1400 CE: the Trebuchet was invented by Mariano Taccoa, the 'Sienese Archimedes' to destroy great walls of enemy palaces;
  26. first golf balls invented;
  27. 1411 CE: trigger invented;
  28. 1420 CE: oil painting developed;
  29. 1421 CE: Hoisting Gear invented in Florence;
  30. 1450 CE: an alphabetic, movable type printing press was invented by Johann Gutenberg;
  31. Eyeglasses for the nearsighted of polished glass developed by Nicholas of Cusa;
  32. 1465 CE: Drypoint Engraving invented in Germany;
  33. 1475 CE: Muzzle-loaded rifles developed in Italy and Germany;
  34. 1485 CE: Leonardo DaVinci designed the first parachute;
  35. 1492 CE: Nürnberg Terrestrial Globe was developed by German mapmaker Martin Behaim;
  36. 1494 CE: Scotland invents Whiskey;
  37. 1500 CE: Ball bearing, flying machines, including the helicopter, the first mechanical calculator and a programmable robot invented by Leonardo Da Vinci;
  38. Wheel-lock musket invented;
  39. First flush toilets appear in Europe;
  40. 1510 CE: Pocket watch invented by Peter Henlein;
  41. Leonardo Da Vinci designed horizontal water wheel;
  42. 1540 CE: Ether invented by Valerius Cordus;
  43. 1565 CE: Conrad Besner invents the graphite pencil;
  44. 1568 CE: Bottled beer invented in London;
  45. 1569 CE: Mercator map projection developed by Gerard Mercator;
  46. 1576 CE: Oda Nobunaga invents the Ironclad Warship;
  47. 1581 CE: Galileo Lalilei invents the pendulum;
  48. 1589 CE: Knitting Machine (stocking frame) invented by Englishman;
  49. 1590 CE: Compound microscope invented by William Lee;
  50. 1593 CE: Thermometer invented by Galileo Galilei;
  51. 1608 CE: Telescope invented by Hans Lippershey;
  52. 1609 CE: Microscope invented by Galileo Galilei;
  53. 1620 CE: William Oughtred invents the slide rule;
  54. Cornelius Drebbel invents human-powered submarine;
  55. 1625 CE: A method for blood transfusion invented by frenchman Jean-Baptiste Denys;
  56. 1629 CE: Steam Turbine invented by Giovanni Brevica;
  57. 1642 CE: Blaise Pascal invents the adding machine;
  58. 1643 CE: Barometer invented by Evangelista Torricelli;
  59. 1645 CE: Vacuum pump invented by Otto von Guericke;
  60. 1657 CE: Christiaane Huygens invents the Pendulum clock;
  61. 1660 CE: Cuckoo clock made in Furtwangen, Germany;
  62. 1663 CE: Reflecting telescope invented by James Gregory;
  63. 1670 CE: Champagne invented by Dom Pérignon;
  64. 1671 CE: Gottfried Leibniz becomes a founding father of calculus;
  65. 1674 CE: Anton Van Leeuwenhoek discovers bacteria with a microscope;
  66. 1675 CE: Pocket Watch invented by Christiaan Huygens;
  67. 1676 CE: Universal Joint invented by Robert Hooke;
  68. 1679 CE: Pressure cooker invented by Denis Papin;
  69. 1698 CE: Thomas Savery invents the Steam engine.
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Check out my other Hub on Invention Timelines

  • Invention Timeline - Before the Common Era
    Many inventions, such as the wheel, have been crucial in the further technological development of man. It is interesting to note that many modern inventions are merely reinventions of ideas developed in ancient times. Deep-well drilling and the elect


Robert Erich from California on March 01, 2012:

Teresa! I think these articles are awesome. Sharing inventions and happenings throughout the years - creative idea for a hub. I'm voting it up for sure!

Teresa Coppens (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 31, 2012:

Thanks RandomHaha for your kind words.

RandomHaha on January 30, 2012:

Now that's awesome

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on December 07, 2011:

Another great time-line. I use them specially with my History of Science class. Good Hub.

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