New Comment
4 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

Why didn’t clockwork technology get applied to other practical purposes for hundreds of years?

Could the stocking frame count? I'm uncertain of its exact inner workings, but it does represent a fairly complex, practical machine invented before the industrial revolution. Seems plausible parts of it were derived from clockwork technology?

Good one. In general, of course, there were many types of machines: small ones like looms and other textile equipment, and large ones like various kinds of mills. I guess what seems unique about clocks is their ability to execute a long series of sophisticated motions autonomously.

But yeah, I think the stocking frame is another example of an invention that was surprisingly sophisticated for its era, and predates a lot of other textile machinery by a surprising period of time

I also have an additional query regarding the stocking frame:

Did Queen Elizabeth I really inhibit the development of the stocking frame? The common narrative is yes. Wikipedia seems to think so, but I stumbled across a post disputing this claim. The same post also makes some pretty bold claims:

By 1750 — the eve of the Industrial Revolution — there were 14,000 frames in England. The stocking frame had by that time become very sophisticated: it had more than 2000 parts and could have as many as 38 needles per inch (15 per centimeter).

Sounds like a remarkably complex and diffused pre-industrial machine.

Anton Howes says short answer, no evidence of Queen Elizabeth inhibiting the stocking frame: