Can someone tell me what year was the cogwheel gear invented? I tried searching it up but the answers were too complicated.

  • $\begingroup$ Please explain what do you mean. What is the "Gear"? $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Dec 22 '14 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ He means a gear as in a cogwheel, or a wheel with teeth like the ones in the legendary south-pointing chariot. $\endgroup$ – J. W. Perry Dec 22 '14 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ Yes I am absolutely sure that he means the cogwheel type of gear as opposed to something like running gear or ship rigging. $\endgroup$ – J. W. Perry Dec 22 '14 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ yeah i agree. it was the greek who invented $\endgroup$ – yahooooooo Oct 16 '18 at 3:23

Leonardo thought it was Archimedes (287-212 BC) who invented the cogwheel gears. This would make a neat story, but history is rarely neat. In a similar matter we know that Archimedes did not exactly invent the “Archimedes’s screw”, but rather perfected it, which led to its wide use in the Hellenistic period. One can speculate that something similar happened with cogwheel gears as well, especially complex arrangements of them, but this is only an educated guess. Primitive cogwheels might have been known to Egyptian and Mesopotamian engineers prior to that, just like the screw.

The first written mention of the gear that survives is from Mechanics by Heron of Alexandria (10-70 AD), and Heron is known to rely on Archimedes in other parts of his book. Also, the earliest gear known today comes from the famous Antikythera mechanism, an ancient astronomical calculator, which contained over 30 of them. It is dated to about 150-100 BC and its maker is not known, although Hipparchus (190-120 BC), the father of astronomy, and Posidonius (131-50 BC), the Hellenistic polymath from Rhodes, are likely possibilities.

The mechanism is very complex, “technological artifacts approaching its complexity and workmanship did not appear again in Europe until the development of mechanical astronomical clocks in the fourteenth century”. In other words, gears must have been well known and used by the time it was constructed, one can speculate that earlier Archimedes’s planetarium also used gears. There were reports about an older gear dated to 200-150 BC and possibly connected to Archimedes’s Syracuse, but they are disputable, see discussion at Did Archimedes use epicycles in his planetarium?



3rd century BCE

Slightly Complex:

The earliest reference to a gear was A.D. 50, yet this is not it. Overall they can be traced to around 3rd century BCE.

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    $\begingroup$ Please do not use bit.ly. Being Libyan, they often block "non-desirables" such as my own nation. Just put up a real link, this is not twitter! $\endgroup$ – dotancohen Dec 23 '14 at 6:56
  • $\begingroup$ @dotancohen you are actually not missing much in that link, it is just a way of using sarcasm as a resopnse. Here is that bit.ly link. I find this answer to be excessively curt, and lacking in depth. It does not really explore the question in any serious manner. $\endgroup$ – J. W. Perry Dec 23 '14 at 7:56
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    $\begingroup$ This . . . . is not an answer. It's a link. Actually, no, it's not even a proper link. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 24 '14 at 19:36

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