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Major Engineering Events in History: First Use of the Crank 834 A.D.

About the major engineering events in history, the use of the crank lever in building in 834 A.D.

Great Engineering Feats from Early Times to the Present

834 A.D. (The Crank Is Recognized). The crank as we know it today is a twice-bent lever or "crankshaft" used as a means of converting reciprocating motion into continuous rotary action. It was, however, unknown to the Romans, and remained unknown until around 834 A.D. when a picture of it appeared in the Utrecht Psalter, a graphic codex assembled near Reims in the Frankish kingdom under the Carolingian kings (Charlemagne was the greatest of these kings). The picture in the Psalter shows a grindstone wheel being turned by a hand crank, a familiar-enough sight today, but almost a "1st" in 834 A.D. It appears that while the Chinese of the Han Dynasty, contemporaries of the Romans, knew of the cranking device, it was reinvented in the Western world by a Frank. The 2nd known use of the crank in the West was with the hurdy-gurdy (originally a stringed musical instrument that was handcranked). In the history of machine design, the simple crank is 2nd in importance only to the wheel.

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