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The Bookwheel Allowed 16th Century Scholars to Read Multiple Books at One Time

Ebooks and eReaders had been as soon as idea to be the way in which of the longer term positive to be the demise of print. While chances are you’ll assume that we are speaking in regards to the early 2000s, we are in fact speaking in regards to the late-16th century.

After the printing press was once invented in 1440, books turned into extensively to be had to the general public and knowledge began spreading at fast charges. This persevered for in regards to the subsequent 200 years till teams of other people began fascinated about tactics to give a boost to at the commonplace e book. Many answers had been considered however essentially the most notable got here from the thoughts of Agostino Ramelli.

The thought of the bookwheel

Ramelli was once an Italian army engineer who was once identified for attempting to resolve on a regular basis issues. He revealed a e book in 1588 titled The more than a few and inventive machines of Captain Agostino Ramelli the place he detailed an concept via the title of the “bookwheel”.

The Bookwheel Allowed 16th-Century Scholars to Read Multiple Books at One Time
Source: Wikimedia

This thought was once his resolution to the issue of attempting to reference many books at the similar time. Books of the day had been heavy, had thick pages, and were not simple to unfold out in a single confined house.


The bookwheel is precisely what it seems like, a large wood wheel that accommodates a variety of books. Best imagined as a Ferris wheel for books the place the riders had been changed with open reference subject matter. On the facet, there was once a fancy structure of gears that allowed every e book to keep at the similar perspective as they traveled across the wheel. Gravity would’ve labored simply fantastic to stay the books at the similar perspective, however Agostino Ramelli was once additionally somewhat little bit of a showoff when it got here to his mathematical prowess.

All this complicated design resulted within the talent to take a seat proper in entrance of the bookwheel and skim a variety of books with no need to transfer or do any heavy lifting. This is notable as a result of it will’ve been the primary main innovation in how other people learn books, permitting an interface harking back to an analog eReader.

Ramelli’s different innovations

Ramelli’s Bookwheel wasn’t his simplest invention – his declare to repute within the Italian army was once in fact the advent of a mine that helped breach a citadel all through the siege of La Rochelle.

The Italian engineer had advanced a selected passion in growing overcomplicated however helpful answers to issues to attempt to sing their own praises, which stuffed the 200 pages of his e book. He additionally attempted to overcomplicate issues to make a remark within the box of engineering, that arithmetic, and technologies had been essential to the sector.

The Bookwheel Allowed 16th-Century Scholars to Read Multiple Books at One Time
Source: Vysotsky/Wikimedia Commons

Surprisingly, Ramelli by no means in fact constructed any of his concepts, however since they had been captured in his e book, many bookwheels had been constructed after his demise. In the 17th and 18th centuries, dozens of bookwheels had been constructed for libraries and analysis facilities throughout Europe and 14 are identified to nonetheless be in lifestyles nowadays.


So, the eReader wasn’t in fact a brand new invention, relatively it was once the fashionable virtual adaptation of a centuries-old analog invention to resolve an issue that was once just about as outdated as books.

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