Giovanni Fontana (engineer)
Giovanni Fontana (ca. 1395 – ca. 1455) was a fifteenth-century Venetian physician and engineer who portrayed himself as a magus. He was born in Venice in the 1390s and attended the University of Padua, where he received his degree in arts in 1418 and his degree in medicine in 1421. University records list him as "Master John, son of Michael de la Fontana". His most famous promoter at the University was the scholastic Paul of Venice. He tells us that the Doge of Venice sent him to Brescia to deliver a message to the condottiere Francesco Carmagnola. He was also employed as the municipal physician by the city of Udine.
Fontana composed treatises on a diverse array of topics. We have early works of his on water-clocks, sand-clocks and measurement. Fontana composed one of the earliest Renaissance technological treatises, Bellicorum instrumentorum liber. His machine book contains siege engines and fantastic inventions such as a magic lantern and a rocket-propelled bird, fish, and rabbit. Fontana also built a 4-wheeled "bike" with rope connected by gears. It not technically a bike, but 400 years after 1418, Baron Von Drais built a 2-wheeled bike that has a cord connected to the back wheel, so when you pull it you come to a halt or stop.
- Clagett, Marshall. "The Life and Works of Giovanni Fontana." Annali dell'Istituto e museo di storia della scienza di Firenze 1 (1976): 5-28.
- Zonta, Gaspare. Acta Graduum Academicorum Gymnasii Patavini: I. ab anno 1406 ad annum 1450. 2nd ed. Fonti per la Storia dell'Università di Padova. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. 5 vols. Padova: Antenore, 1969.
- Battisti, Eugenio, and Giuseppa Saccaro Battisti. Le Macchine Cifrate Di Giovanni Fontana: Con La Riproduzione Del Cod. Icon. 242 Della Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Di Monaco Di Baviera E La Decrittazione Di Esso E Del Cod. Lat. Nouv. Acq. 635 Della Bibliothèque Nationale Di Parigi. Milano: Arcadia, 1984.