Leonardo da Vinci (1453-1519) has long been celebrated not only as a supremely gifted artist but as the inventor of extraordinary machines and mechanical devices dramatically anticipating modern and contemporary achievements.
However, a close examination of the history of technology from the late fourteenth century to the end of the fifteenth century - particularly in Italy - challenges this view. The Leonardo phenomenon appears not as an isolated episode, but rather as the logical and triumphant outcome of a continuous development of engineering skills and technical innovation. Before Leonardo, other outstandingly talented figures played a role in that process.
Leonardo unquestionably drew much inspiration from the artist-engineers of his time and of earlier generations. Nevertheless, he gave original contributions to many fields, where his prodigiously inventive mind anticipated future developments.