Diverse and Artificial Machines: Ramelli, 1588

Diverse and Artificial Machines is the name of this 1588 book by Ramelli, one of the earliest works to emphasize and exploit the unlimited possibilities of machine technology. It is also one of the most beautifully illustrated books of the 16th century. Examples include a mermaid fountain that combines practical hydraulics with an imaginary final aesthetic. There is also a “reading wheel” with revolving bookshelves; a bouquet with artificial singing birds; and more practical devices such as human-powered and animal-powered generators. Ramelli’s work remained influential among engineers for 200 years.