the earliest known examples of screw-thread cutting machines are
the screw-cutting lathe of 1483, known only in pictures and
drawings, and an instrument of the traverse-spindle variety for
threading metal, now in the Smithsonian Institution, dating from
the late 17th or early 18th century.
The author shows clearly their evolution from
something quite specialized to the present-day tool.
traced the patents for these instruments through the early
1930ís and from this research we see the part played by such
devices in the development of the machine-tool industry.
The Author: Edwin A. Battison is associate
curator of mechanical and civil engineering in the Smithsonian
Institutionís Museum of History and Technology.
Directness and simplicity characterize pioneer
machine tools because they were intended to accomplish some
quite specialized task and the need for versatility was not
History does not reveal the earliest forms of any
primitive machines nor does it reveal much about the various
early stages in evolution toward more complex types.
At best we have discovered and dated certain
developments as existing in particular areas.
forms were new at the time they were first found or how widely
dispersed such forms may have been is unknown. Surviving
evidence is in the form of pictures or drawings, such as the
little-known screw-cutting lathe of 1483 (fig. 1) shown in Das mittelalterliche Hausbuch.
Screw-cutting lathe of 1483 shown in Das mittelalterliche