- "I'd imagine the whole world as one big machine. Machines never come with any spare parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need."
– Hugo Cabret
- "Remember that people break down, too, not just machinery."
– Gregory Benford
From the developing of engineering thinking to the gradual development of machinery it was only a matter of time and maturity. After all, the basics were there, the necessary sciences already in place. What was lacking was some genius or another to put them into practice.
And thus in the Middle Ages the first complex machines are invented: combinations of wheels, axles, levers, and other components which manage to transform different energies applied into useful motions. This allows the invention of the crossbow, which elevates ranged weaponry to a whole new level and finally gives it enough power to punch through thick iron armor.
This is an important tech, primarily from a military standpoint - it unlocks the Crossbowman, a next-gen ranged unit that is far superior to the Archer and capable of decimating Ancient- and Classical-era units. Furthermore, a new siege support unit is invented, which is effective against the new Medieval Walls; thus, Machinery is important for both warmongers and those defending against such. It also enables Builders to construct the Lumber Mill - a tile improvement that increases the Production potential of Woods tiles - in vanilla Civilization VI and Rise and Fall. The final innovation it makes is the incredibly strong Kilwa Kisiwani in Rise and Fall, which assists any victory path with its significant city-state boosts.
Beelining Machinery is not terribly difficult if you are already developing the lower part of the tech tree, although there is a certain strategy that will streamline it even further (and help build up your military to boot) detailed on this page. And it will lead to Printing, with its awesome Wonder!
When humans began to develop tasks that they or their animals could not (or would not) do, they invented machines. From those first simple machines – the lever, pulley and screw – that Archimedes went on about, a machine civilization has evolved on Earth. Later Greek thinkers added the wedge and the wheel/axle to the list of the five simple machines (these form the basis for every other machine that aids physical work). Heron of Alexandria in his work Mechanica (c. 50 AD) described their fabrication and uses. But the Greeks, while they understood statics and friction, had no understanding of dynamics.
Thus, during the supposedly “Dark” Ages, men in various parts of the world began to devise machinery in which a tradeoff between distance and force was the principle behind producing mechanical energy. The complete dynamic theory of simple machines (the above plus some later ones) was worked out by Galileo Galilei and published in his Le Meccaniche in 1600; his was the first – or the first to publish anyway – insight that machines did not create useful energy but merely transformed it from one type to another.
The Renaissance witnessed tinkers on the order of da Vinci, di Giorgio Martini and Gutenberg invent everything from pile drivers to centrifugal pumps, from cranes to the printing press. It was an explosion of machines, to be followed a couple hundred years later by another explosion of machines during the Industrial Age. Machines invaded the mills and factories, but it was one revolutionary device – the steam engine – that profoundly altered civilization's notion of what a machine was and what it could do.
From that new type of machine sprang a thousand more, including the internal combustion engine, the electric generator, and the diesel motor. Now the world even has “machines” without moving parts ... witness, the computer.