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Evolution of Hydraulics: A Brief History

The first basic hydraulic systems were developed by the Egyptians over 4,000 years ago! The principles of fluid hydraulics were initially applied to the intricate canal systems used for irrigation. Other civilizations, including the Greeks and Romans, used the same basic principles to develop their own water-powered systems and devices like the water clock and water wheels.

Around 200 BC saw the invention of the Archimedes screw pump. It was also the Greeks who first started to theorize on how fluid flow rates could be affected by varying the amount of water pressure. It was this concept that led to the invention of the first piston or force pump.

This pump is the basis for the water hydraulic systems used in fire trucks today. The Greeks, and later, the Romans, used force pumps to raise water levels, as well as use them to transport water for use in fighting fires.

In China around 100 AD, Zhang Heng developed a reliable hydraulic system to help rotate an armillary sphere used for observing the stars and space. This was the first known application of hydraulics to move machinery.

While there were several minor advances in hydraulics, it was not until the 17th century when hydraulics really took off. Scientists and mathematicians started to question the laws of physics and how they applied to hydraulics, fluid motion, and pressure.

Blaise Pascal was one such contributor who developed his important theory about hydraulics. To this day, it still serves as the basis of hydraulic principle. “Pressure applied to a fluid at any one point in a closed system will be transmitted equally throughout the system.” Pascal paved the way for inventors, scientists, mathematicians and others to further advance hydraulic systems into what they are today.

We hope you have enjoyed this brief look at the history of hydraulics. Please feel free to contact White House Products Ltd. at +44 (0) 1475 742500 for all of your hydraulic pumps and motors, accessories, parts, and component needs!

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