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"It is not the wheel itself, but the problem of rotation, that's dogged our minds for thousands of years."
-John Lienhard, University of Houston
ca. 10000 BCE
Logs were used as rollers to transport heavy objects.
The potter's wheel was invented in Iraq
ca. 3635-3370 BCE
The earliest well-dated depiction of a wheeled vehicle was found on the Bronocice Pot.
Early wheels were wooden discs with a square hole in the middle for an attached axle.
In Ancient Iraq, wheels were used for Chariots.
ca. 3300 BCE
The oldest known example of a wooden wheel and its axle was found 20 km south of the capital of Slovenia.
The wheel had a diameter of 72 centimetres (28 in), made of ash wood. The axle was made of oak.
A depiction of an onager-drawn cart on the Sumerian "battle standard of Ur".
ca. 2000 BCE
Invention of the spoked wooden wheel. A much lighter wheel; first used for War Chariots.
It helped the Egyptians build their empire.
Egyptian war chariot on a mural in the tomb of Pharaoh Ramesses II.
ca. 1000 BCE
As wheel making became a skill, wheels became valuable. Their rims were protected with leather, wood and iron.
The Celtic chariots introduced the iron rim and heavier construction. This design was so successful it remained unchanged for nearly 3000 years.
The Wooden Water Wheel
Invented by the Greeks, still in use today.
The Artillery Wheel
As artillery grew larger, wooden wheels could no longer take the strain.
All metal wheels were introduced, which were also used in early automobiles.
The Steam Locomotive Wheel
The steam engine required far sturdier wheels than ever before.
As metal rims made contact with metal tracks; weights on the wheel were needed to balance the connecting rod.
G.F. Bauer registered a patent on the first wire tension spoke.
John Dunlop improved upon and patented the air filled tire.
It replaced the hard rubber tires on bicycles.
Michelin first fitted a pneumatic tyre to an automobile.
Today's bike wheel is the descendent of the wire tension spoke and the pneumatic tyre.
The Ferris Wheel was constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.
It was put on display as a attraction at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.
Steel Rims and Disc Wheels
Steel Disc Wheels returned to a design that had not been popular for over 4000 years.
They were easier to make than spoked wheels.
The Wheel of Fortune
An American game show that gave everyday people the chance to win cash prizes, by spinning a carnival style wheel on national TV.
To reduce the weight of wheels, manufacturers experimented with alloys of metals to replace steel.
Alloy wheels conduct heat better, handle better and look awesome.
These wheels were designed for robots and vehicles that need to be operated in tight spaces. They allow movement in any direction.
The Hubless Wheel
A hubless wheel consists of a hollow wheel hub with no axle bearing or centre hub.
Designed for motorcycles, they require a chain or belt drive to power them.
An experimental airless tyre from Michelin uses flexible polyurethane spokes to support an outer rim and replicate the shock-absorbing role of a pneumatic tyre.
Developed by Michelin, the Active Wheel system houses an electric motor and suspension inside the hub of the wheel.
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