Scales and Dials: A Brief History

scales and dialsPeople have always been fascinated with measurement. As a matter of fact, it is fundamental in trade and commerce since the early ages of history. Early traders knew that trading goods or commodities needed a set standard. For instance, precious metals like gold and silver, or even food such as flour or rice, needed to be measured. Trading prompted the need to weigh and measure, and scales became necessary to estimate and assess fair values.

While scales and dials commonly used today for massive and minute measurements are digital, in the early ages, measurement relied on nature.  They were using stones, seed and grains to estimate the value of the commodity by translating its weight into measurement. Scientific advances improved this system and provided us with a more effective way of measuring weight today.

Here is a brief history on how scales and dials evolved:

3500 BC. The first known scale was used by Egyptians and was pretty evident in their relics. Weighing scales were often depicted in their paintings to foretell Egyptian afterlife. According to their myths, their god will measure the weight of their heart during after life to know if it is heavy with good or bad deeds. It is shaped like the letter T, and its form is often associated with the Lady of Justice

200 AD. Romans improved it and invented scales with a hook. They also included plumb line to the scale system to ensure that the two metal pans were level. This became the basis for platform scales.

15th Century. Leonardo Da Vinci, an astounding and prolific inventor, added another milestone to the scale and dial history. He invented the graduated dial scale and introduced the first automatic balance scale to the world.

16th Century - Another important development was made by Gilles Roberval, a French mathematician. He improved the automatic scale by adding a system to check the basis of the lever. This prevents errors in the accuracy of the balance. 

17th century - A major technological advancement was made in the late 17th century. Spring scales were invented, and introduced a new approach in measuring weight that didn’t rely on counterweights. This type of scale consists of a spring attached at one end, a hook to attach the object on, and a pointer on a scale at the other end. The dial will indicate the force from the object’s weight acting on the spring.

20th Century - The creation of digital scales that could measure weight on molecular levels is the pinnacle of scales and dial advancement. Today, they are the most precise measuring devices, and are by far, the mostly widely used by many industries.

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