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Discover the Muslim inventor who made the first robots and inspired Leonardo Da Vinci!

The Father Of Robotics

The father of robotics; Ismail Al Jazari | Source: Railly News

This Muslim inventor Ismail Al Jazari is known for his marvelous inventions ranging from robots that would offer guests with towels, foundations that could turn on and off and water pumps.

He is known as the father of robotics due to his contributions to the field of mechanical engineering that inspired engineers from all over the globe. This inventor was ahead of his time and introduced such innovative designs that were not known by Europeans until centuries later! His legacy and work remains a guide for all engineers and inventors till date!

The 12th century inventor was known for laying the foundation of modern robotics, engineering as well as hydraulics. He made several extraordinary machines for wealthy individuals, however his machines helped normal people such as farmers. Let’s unveil the inventions of this marvelous man; Ismail Al Jazari!

His Passion For Inventing

Ismail Al Jazari was born back in 1136 in Diyarbakir. He belonged to a family of humble craftsmen and was born during a time full of political instability and aftereffects of the crusades. Ismail served as an engineer to several regional rulers known as the Artuqids.

Despite the difficulties and political turmoil the life of this brilliant inventor was peaceful. Unlike others he documented all his work and explained how he constructed his machines. Back in 1206 he published an entire catalog of matchless machines which included all the diagrams as well as illustrations of his machines and how to assemble them!

Al Jazari drew his inspiration from previous scholars such as the Greeks, Indians , Persians and Chinese. During the seventh century Muslims were expanding and conquering different areas.

Fountains from Al-Jazari’s Book of Knowledge | Source:

They started to take an interest in the lands and hence collected all the books offering knowledge about that area at the House of Wisdom. This institution was thriving during the 8th and 9th centuries under the rule of Abbasid caliphs. This institution was a library as well as an academy that played an important role in scientific advancements.

Other Muslim inventors were the Persian brother Banu Musa who inspired and influenced Al Jazari as he wrote about them in his book known as The Book of Ingenious Devices. Muslim engineering was at its peak and several figures such as Al Jazari and Banu Musa contributed towards its success. Moreover, Al Jazari was influenced by non Muslim engineers such as Apollonius of Perga.

Musical Devices, Enormous Water Clocks & Much More

Al Jazari aimed to document different scholars’ work and perfect it. Hence his book contained machines that were practical yet playful ranging from musical devices, automaton vessels for drinks, fountains, water raising machines and machines for measurements.

Al-Jazari’s inventions being reconstructed in Istanbul | Source: Middle East Eye

His most famous work was a gigantic water clock that showcased an elephant with a driver and a tower with different creatures. Al Jazari put his own touch to the simple water clocks that were used in Egypt and this showed how passionate he was!

Al-Jazari’s famous elephant clock | Source: Secret-World

The various creatures on his water clock referenced various cultures such as the elephant from India and the dragon from China. After every half hour the creatures would animate! This is just one of the marvelous and creative innovations by the inventor!

The Very First Programmable Robots

Al Jazari designed the very first robots in history. His inventions included a boat which featured four musicians which would play different songs to entertain people.

These robots and machines were commonly used by the rich, however Al Jazari came from a modest and humble background and he knew he had to invent something for normal people.

Images of the first ever programmable robots by Al-Jazari | Source: History of Information

Thereby he designed machines that helped farmers to draw water and irrigate the farms as well as use it at home. He designed highly practical gadgets for everyday use.

Al Jazari’s book is a reflection of his humbleness and modesty. While several inventors deliberately used difficult phrases to target the rich, Al Jazari made his book accessible to everyone so that people could follow and build his practical machines. His book is even described as an easy to follow manual!

The Legacy Of Al Jazari

Before his death in 1206, Al Jazari presented his brilliant Book of Knowledge to the sultan. Not only is he remembered for his over the top work but also his inventions that helped people in their everyday life.

Amongst his inventions was a water supply system that made use of gears as well as hydraulic energy that was used in both mosques as well as hospitals in Damascus!

An illustration of a water pump by Al-Jazari | Source: Semantic Scholar

His innovative machines were way ahead of the European engineers and his work laid the foundation for hydraulic engineering. Even the famous inventor Leonardo Da Vinci was inspired by Al Jazari’s work. He has been known as the father of robotics as well as a renowned engineer!

Marwan Ghayad

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