Agostino Ramelli

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Description of a windlass well by Agostino Ramelli, 1588

Agostino Ramelli (1531–ca. 1610) was an Italian engineer who designed the "book wheel" or "reading wheel".

Ramelli was born in Ponte Tresa or Mesanzena, today in Switzerland. During the Siege of La Rochelle (1572–1573), he successfully engineered a mine under a bastion and breached the fortification,[1] making him popular with his commander, Henri d'Anjou, who later became King Henri III of France.

In 1588 Ramelli published a book, The Diverse and Artifactitious Machines of Captain Agostino Ramelli, of engineering designs including many pumps and a possible forerunner to the Wankel engine. This book is still printed and sold.

His "book wheel" presented volumes of text to readers in whatever position they had last placed them, and thus it is considered an early prototype of hypertext and hence the World Wide Web.


  1. ^ "One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and Screw" Witold Rybczynski p.47

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