The anemometer is a device that measures the speed of the wind (or other airflow, like in a wind tunnel). The first anemometer, a disc placed perpendicular to the wind, was invented in 1450 by the Italian architect Leon Battista Alberti. Robert Hooke, an English physicist, later reinvented the anemometer. In 1846, John Thomas Romney Robinson, an Irish physicist, invented the spinning-cup anemometer. In this device, cups are attached to a vertical shaft; when the cups spin in the wind, it causes a gear to turn.
Martin Behaim (1459-1537) was a German mapmaker, navigator, and merchant. Behaim made the earliest globe, called the “Nürnberg Terrestrial Globe”. It was made during the years 1490-1492; the painter Georg Glockendon helped in the project. Behaim had previously sailed to Portugal as a merchant (in 1480). He had advised King John II on matters concerning navigation. He accompanied the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cam (Cão) on a 1485-1486 voyage to the coast of West Africa; during this trip, the mouth of the Congo River was discovered. After returning to Nürnberg in 1490, Behaim began construction of his globe (which was very inaccurate as compared to other maps from that time, even in the areas in which Behaim had sailed). It was once thought that Behaim’s maps might have influenced Columbus and Magellan; this is now discounted. Behaim may have also developed an astrolabe. Behaim’s globe is now in the German National Museum in Nürnberg.
The caravel (also spelled carvel) is a light sailing ship that that was developed by the Portuguese in the late 1400’s, and was used for the next 300 years. The Portuguese developed this ship to help them explore the African coast.
William Caxton (1422?-1491) was an English businessman, royal advisor, translator, editor, and printer who set up England’s first printing press in 1476. Caxton had learned about printing in Cologne, Germany. In Brussels, he printed “The Recuyell,” the first book printed in the English language, around 1474. His second publication was “The Game and Play of Chess Moralised” (printed in 1476); this was the first printed book on chess and the first printed book to use woodcut illustrations. Caxton then returned to England and set up England’s first printing press (in 1476), where he printed ” Troilus and Creseide,” ” Morte d’Arthur,” ” The History of Reynart the Foxe,” Chaucer’s ” The Canterbury Tales,” and many other books. Since Caxton refused to print regional variations in English, he began the standardization of the English language and its spelling.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian inventor, artist, architect, and scientist. Da Vinci had an interest in engineering and made detailed sketches of the airplane, the helicopter (and other flying machines), the parachute, the submarine, the armored car, the ballista (a giant crossbow), rapid-fire guns, the centrifugal pump (designed to drain wet areas, like marshes), ball bearings, the worm gear (a set of gears in which many teeth make contact at once, reducing the strain on the teeth, allowing more pressure to be put on the mechanism), and many other incredible ideas that were centuries ahead of da Vinci’s time.
Johannes Gutenberg (the 1300’s-1468) was a German craftsman, inventor, and printer who invented the first printing press with movable type in 1450. This invention revolutionized printing, making it simpler and more affordable. Gutenberg produced dies (molds) for easily producing individual pieces of metal type that could be made, assembled, and later reused. Gutenberg’s new press could print a page every three minutes. This made printed material available to the masses for the first time in history. Religious materials were the majority of the early printed materials. The use of printing presses began the standardization of spelling.
The earliest known screwdriver dates from the 15th-century. Slotted screws (which were inserted with screwdrivers) were then used in knight’s armor. One is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York.