Leonardo da Vinci was as great an inventor as he was an artist. Made famous by his painting, the ‘Mona Lisa’, he had many ideas for inventions that could be realized only centuries later. The term ‘Renaissance Man’ fits him better than any other individual of the time. Perhaps there has been no other inventor who dreamed up so many creations over a vast number of fields which proved to be far ahead of his time. Let us find out what that great mind of his dreamed up back in the 1500s.

  • The Parachute: Yes, believe it or not, Leonardo’s sketches prove for-du-937060_1920that his concept of a parachute was thought of way before plans were even invented. For the mind to come up with such a concept at that time shows the ingenuity of the mind of the master. The concept of a parachute is to slow down a person’s terminal velocity during his descent so that they may survive the fall. He was fascinated by the idea of human flight and thought of a pyramid shaped framework covered with cloth that would trap the air. Attempts made in recent years prove that the design would have worked as he described.
  • The Ball Bearing: You may think it is such a simple invention yet it made lives easier all over the world and allowed industrialization to take place. Being a critical component of various machines now, it makes it possible for many machines to function. Although the idea can be traced back to the Roman Empire, his sketches were the first practical models suggested.
  • The Ornithopter: The word derived from ornithos meaning bird and pteron meaning wing, this invention came about after Leonardo’s fascination with the flight of birds translated into ideas for inventions for man to fly. Representing more of a bird like form, its wings are meant to flap while a crank is pulled by the pilot. This invention shows Leonardo’s keen sense of aerodynamics.
  • divers-668777_1920The Diving Suit: He came up with the idea that men could be sent to the bottom of a ship’s hull to do underwater damage as a strategy against invaders. This may have seen farfetched back in the day, but this concept has been widely used in diving, and further studies show that his design was extremely practical too.
  • 33 Barreled Organ: An earlier concept of the modern machine gun, the mechanics behind the machine were simple. It could deliver many rounds of gunfire at rapid intervals that would have repelled invaders effectively had it been built. Although da Vinci was peace loving, he needed to come up with warfare weaponry to convince his patrons to continue to support his household.
  • A War Tank: Supposed to be his ultimate war machine, this tank was to be driven with the muscle power of 8 men and with 36 guns on all sides. The outer shell would have protected the men inside and the tank could be safely driven into battle at walking speed.
  • Self Propelled Cart: Using a spring driven mechanism akin to a clock’s, the cart would driven forward like a wound up toy. It could be considered as the idea for the modern car that we know and use today.
  • A Modern Well planned City: When the Black Plague destroyed Europe’s cities; Leonardo surmised that there was something about cities that made them susceptible to disease. He conceptualized a city designed from the ground up, with water channels and sewage lines that would have been distributed amongst buildings.
  • Aerial Screw: This flying machine resembled a helicopter and is arguably one of da Vinci’s most modern concepts. The linen blades would rotate, in turn producing lift that would enable it to fly.
  • robot-916284_1280Robotics: I know it sounds fancy, but Leonardo was fascinated by human anatomy, and studied it in depth by examining corpses. Understanding how muscles worked, he surmised that the same logic could be applied to a machine. He built it for entertainment, but in 2002 a model was made for NASA that was sent to outer space.


I am as Italian as can be. I grew up in Testaccio and had a lovely childhood surrounded by beauty everywhere I turned. I think living in Italy spoils you.

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