1A machine is a combination of timbers fastened together, chiefly efficacious in moving great weights. Such a machine is set in motion on scientific principles in circular rounds, which the Greeks call κυλικη κἱνησις. There is, however, a class intended for climbing, termed in Greek ἁκροβατικὁν, another worked by air, which with them is called πνευματικὁν, and a third for hoisting; this the Greeks named βαρουλκὁς. In the climbing class are machines so disposed that one can safely climb up high, by means of timbers set up on end and connected by crossbeams, in order to view operations. In the pneumatic class, air is forced by pressure to produce sounds and tones as in an ὁργανον.
2In the hoisting class, heavy weights are removed by machines which raise them up and set them in position. The climbing machine displays no scientific principle, but merely a spirit of daring. It is held together by dowels and crossbeams and twisted lashings and supporting props. A machine that gets its motive power by pneumatic pressure will produce pretty effects by scientific refinements. But the hoisting machine has opportunities for usefulness which are greater and full of grandeur, and it is of the highest efficacy when used with intelligence.
3Some of these act on the principle of the μηχανἡ, others on that of the ὁργανον. The difference between “machines” and “engines” is obviously this, that machines need more workmen and greater power to make them take effect, as for instance ballistae and the beams of presses. Engines, on the other hand, accomplish their purpose at the intelligent touch of a single workman, as the scorpio or anisocycli when they are turned. Therefore engines, as well as machines, are, in principle, practical necessities, without which nothing can be unattended with difficulties.
4All machinery is derived from nature, and is founded on the teaching and instruction of the revolution of the firmament. Let us but consider the connected revolutions of the sun, the moon, and the five planets, without the revolution of which, due to mechanism, we should not have had the alternation of day and night, nor the ripening of fruits. Thus, when our ancestors had seen that this was so, they took their models from nature, and by imitating them were led on by divine facts, until they perfected the contrivances which are so serviceable in our life. Some things, with a view to greater convenience, they worked out by means of machines and their revolutions, others by means of engines, and so, whatever they found to be useful for investigations, for the arts, and for established practices, they took care to improve step by step on scientific principles.
5Let us take first a necessary invention, such as clothing, and see how the combination of warp and woof on the loom, which does its work on the principle of an engine, not only protects the body by covering it, but also gives it honourable apparel. We should not have had food in abundance unless yokes and ploughs for oxen, and for all draught animals, had been invented. If there had been no provision of windlasses, pressbeams, and levers for presses, we could not have had the shining oil, nor the fruit of the vine to give us pleasure, and these things could not be transported on land without the invention of the mechanism of carts or waggons, nor on the sea without that of ships. The discovery of the method of testing weights by steelyards and balances saves us from fraud, by introducing honest practices into life. There are also innumerable ways of employing machinery about which it seems unnecessary to speak, since they are at hand every day; such as mills, blacksmiths’ bellows, carriages, gigs, turning lathes, and other things which are habitually used as general conveniences. Hence, we shall begin by explaining those that rarely come to hand, so that they may be understood.