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Hero of Alexandria

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Dates undetermined, between 150 BC and 300 AD

The mathematician and inventor Hero is believed to have lived in Alexandria. His writings in Greek, thought to be compilations from works of ancient philosophers and mechanicians, concern studies of mechanics and pneumatics. They include nearly 80 ingenious inventions (such as siphons, fountains, and engines) which, “by the union of [compressed] air, earth, fire, and water, and the concurrence of … elementary principles … supply the most pressing wants of human life, [or] produce amazement and alarm.” His book on pneumatics describes many gadgets and magical tricks and includes the first suggestion of a steam engine, which his book on mechanics demonstrates knowledge of multiple pulleys, cogwheels, levers, and the like.

Click on any image below to see more of Hero’s work.

Hero in the History of Hydraulics Collection:

  • Spiritalium Liber, Latin translation of Hero’s Pneumatics, published 1575, Urbino, Italy.  (Call number QC 142 H54)
  • De Gli Automati, Overo Machine Se Moventi (Italian translation of Hero’s Mechanics, published 1601 in Venice, Italy). (Call number: TJ215 H4)
  • Buch von Lufft-Und Wasser-Kunsten (German translation of Hero’s Pneumatics, published 1688, Frankfurt). (Call number: Q147 H4)
  • The Pneumatics of Hero of Alexandria (English translation, published London, 1851). (Call number: QC 142 H52)



















Last modified on June 29th, 2015
Posted on April 14th, 2011

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