PID (proportional-integral-derivative) control has been around for a long time.

It was in textbooks in the early 1900's. The Routh-Hurwitz stability criterion is from 1895. link Nyquist stability is from the 1930's. link

What is the oldest example of intentional PID control containing all the components (proportional, integral, and derivative)?

I would not be surprised to find something between 500 and 2500 years old.

More details:
PID control, also called PID, is defined (briefly) as the use of a weighted sum of the measured value (aka proportional), a sum (aka integral), and a difference (aka derivative) of some measured quantity, typically a distance from target, to control a system.

  • (P) A tax of 10% of the period-over-period increase could be considered derivative control, because if the period-over-period value acquired is constant then the increase is 0%.
  • (PD) If the tax were 1% of current value, and 10% of year-over-year increase, then it would be PD control, because it is taxing the measurement (proportional) and the change (derivative).
  • (PID) A tax of 10% on increase, 1% of total, and 1% times the sum of the last 2 years less a target, would be PID, because it would have all three components.

These sorts of things have been used (with varying degrees of success) for automobile cruise-control, guidance of heat-seeking missiles, electric coffee-pots, and control of investment portfolios. Because it is control-systems-engineering it applies to any "system" that meets the applicability criteria, whether electrical, mechanical, thermal, or economic.

Antikythera mechanism was an extremely elaborate astronomical clock. I'm looking for PID indication there, perhaps in anti-backlash gearing.
An Embry-Riddle paper on the Ancient Control Systems

  • $\begingroup$ Jokes aside, concerning your time estimation, I would call the development of modern calculus in 17th century a lower limit, before that I would not call the use intentional $\endgroup$
    – OpticalResonator
    May 29, 2018 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ @OpticalResonator - there exists a palimpcest that shows derivation of Riemann sums to integrate the volume of a function from ~300BC. That puts some basic calculus accessible at that time. I think the loss of the Library at Alexandria is still one of the most anti-intellectual acts of destruction in the history of the world. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2018 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ @SolarMike - there is 1830's for Routh's publication. I'm still looking. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2018 at 14:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ How far are you willing to abstract (as you already dropped a hard requirement for calculus)? Anything that looks at value, change of value and accumulation of value at the same time? Because that might land you with tax law... $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    May 29, 2018 at 14:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Have you read the english wikipedia article on PID control? The history section mentions a few early uses, where the steering of ships in 1922 by Nicolas Minorsky seems to have been the first use of a formal PID control law $\endgroup$
    – OpticalResonator
    May 29, 2018 at 15:16


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