March 01, 2005

Ivan Kulibin

Prominent Russian inventor, mechanic and optician Ivan Kulibin was born on April, 21, 1735 in Nizhny Novgorod, in the family of a small trader. He was an extremely talented inventor, so talented, in fact, that his very name became associated with inventiveness.

Since his childhood, Ivan Kulibin was interested in mechanical object and constructed small windmills and moving toys. One of his first inventions was a hydraulic device for draining stagnant water from the family pond.

Kulibin’s inventions were rather numerous, but only one has survived to the present day: it is a unique, goose-egg-sized clock with over 427 moving parts. It has a bell for striking the hours, a music box that could play several melodies, and a miniature automatic “theater” with moving figures. Today the clock is kept in St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. It was this clock which led to Kulibin’s employment at the prestigious St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. He was appointed head of its mechanical shop, which made and repaired different machines, including physical, astronomical and navigation instruments.

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