Heron from Alexandria (Heron Alexandrinus) was a Mathematician, Physicist and Engineer who lived in 10-70 AD but some references consider also 150 AD which is probably wrong, as in one of his works he referred to a recent eclipse which is now thought to have occurred in 13 March 62 AD. From Heron's writings it is reasonable to deduce that he taught at the Museum in Alexandria. His origin is uncertain although he wrote in Greek on the measurement of geometric figures and invented many contrivances operated by water, steam, or compressed air, including a fountain and a fire engine.
Known as Michanikos, the Machine Man, Heron invented the world's first steam engine, developed some sophisticated surveying tools, and crafted handy gizmos like a self-trimming oil lamp. Technically speaking, Heron's clever inventions were particularly notable for their incorporation of the sorts of self-regulating feedback control systems that form the bedrock of cybernetics; like today's toilets, his "inexhaustible goblet" regulated its own level with a floating mechanism. But what really stirred Heron's soul were novelties: pneumatic gadgets, automata, and magic theaters, one of which rolled itself before the audience on its own power, cranked through a miniature three-dimensional performance, and then made its own exit. Another staged a Dionysian mystery rite with Apollonian precision: Flames leapt, thunder crashed, and miniature female Bacchantes whirled madly around the wine god on a pulley-driven turntable.
and you thought cell phones and I-Pods were cool...
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[ This site contains numerous photographs of Heron's inventions ]
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