The middle of the fifteenth century marks the beginning of the modern era. The invention and practical application of the art of printing was the turning point, but a long train of other, often apparently independent inventions and discoveries quickly followed. Oil painting came forward, completely superseding the wax painting of the ancients, and leading the way to the Renaissance. Engraving on copper, invented in 1460, gave birth to a new art and helped to swell the stream. The sixteenth century stands out most prominently, because it required half a century for the art of printing to begin to bear fruit. Leonardo da Vinci lived into the sixteenth century; Giordano Bruno just lived it out, as did Tycho Brahe; Galileo, Descartes, Francis Bacon, and Harvey did much of their work in it, but continued it far into the seventeenth. The sixteenth century produced the telescope and the microscope, at least in their rudiments, also the thermometer and the camera obscura. The vernier and proportional dividers were useful accessories to scientific work. Clocks and watches came forward run by weights, but it took another century to evolve the spring. Mills for grinding grain were invented in the fifth century and were driven by water power, but the flour was unbolted and the bran and hulls were all ground together. Now a bolting machine was invented and thenceforth men might have white flour. Heretofore they had always eaten with their fingers, for chop-sticks were unknown in the West. Now some unknown genius invented forks. Such are a few of the sixteenth-century inventions, but it would require pages merely to enumerate them all. Indeed there are always many the date of which cannot be ascertained, and still more that are so completely the products of natural evolution by minute accretions that they can scarcely be said to have had an origin. (Ward 1919:521)
WARD, Lester. 1919. Pure sociology: a treatise on the origin and spontaneous development of society. New York: The Macmillan Company.