From Professor Ken Friedman, a great bibliography about ancient technology and engineering:
1. de Camp, L. Sprague. 1987. The Ancient Engineers. New York: Ballantine Books.
The designed artefacts of early technology came without documentation
or patents. To learn more about these, I suggest reading the history
of technology and civilisation in different times.
2. For the first industrial revolutions that took place in the Western Middle Ages,
Arnold Pacey’s books are useful:
Pacey, Arnold. 1991. Technology in World Civilization: A Thousand-Year
History. Cambridge, Massachusetts. The MIT Press.
3. Pacey, Arnold. 1992. The Maze of Ingenuity: Ideas and Idealism in the
Development of Technology. 2nd Edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts. The
4. Also see Jean Gimpel:
Gimpel, Jean. 1977. The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution Of
The Middle Ages. London: Penguin Books.
5. Joseph Needham’s massive history of science and technology in China is
far too large for most folks to read, but Robert Temple has produced
an excellent summary volume with an introduction by Needham himself:
Temple, Robert. 2007. The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science,
Discovery, and Invention. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions.
Patent law begins in the late 1400s in Venice, in the 1600s in
England, and the 1790s in the United States. It is only after the
1600s with well organised patent records, wide use of newspapers, and
widespread advertising that more contemporary kinds of dating become
6. Henry Petroski demonstrates how to use these kinds of tools in
his work. A rich set of examples appears in:
Petroski, Henry. 1994. The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday
Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as
They Are. New York: Vintage.