Leonardo – The Tekkie of the Renaissance
The Renaissance, which followed what is often referred to as the “dark ages” of Europe, was a humanist cultural movement emphasizing the capacities of man – knowledge, the arts, and physical development. It produced a flowering of artists, thinkers, and politicians.
Leonardo Da Vinci, often thought of as the quintessential “Renaissance Man”, wasn’t simply a polymath – but a ‘tekkie’. Almost unique among the famous historical figures who have come to be associated with the Renaissance, Leonardo Da Vinci is associated not simply with artistic, social, or intellectual pursuit, but with nitty-gritty hands-on applied knowledge – he was the ‘backyard tinkerer’ of an age of noble pursuits, and most assuredly a geek at a time when the scientific method was intellectually refined – but the science of technology was still a way off.
Da Vinci recorded in his notebooks inventions mechanical devices, and machines he had invented – flying machines (winged, and an ‘ornithologist’ precursor to the helicopter), weapons (artillery complete with trajectory, machine gun, giant crossbow), a submarine, a wind meter, a spinning machine, a type of printing press, clocks, a coin stamping machine, and more.
It was not until the 20th century – when the utility of practical applications itself became a noble and profitable pursuit – that Da Vinci’s inventions became practicable.