Batteries and Locks: Modern Tech from Ancient Times

Claire Manning Part of DW18

Every day functions of your iPhone were first utilised thousands of years ago. Navigation systems were drastically improved by Vikings, who used a “sunstone” to tell the location of the sun even on overcast days. Heron of Alexandria is credited for creating is essentially the first reprogrammable robot, programmed by weights and pulleys. The first version of locks, used today as 6 digit codes and fingerprint ID, is first seen in Mesopotamia over 6000 years ago.

In the past 5000 years, the way that people use technology has not changed. The primary use of phones today – communication, photography, education, games – is a reflection on how people have always utilised technology. Within this talk I am going to be looking at the most common ways that every day people use their devices, and talking about how these patterns of behaviour is reflected in ancient forms of technology. Stretching from the Baghdad Battery to early signalling, I will explore forms of innovation that humanity has developed from our beginnings and comparing them to functions on the average smartphone.