Giovanni Fontana

ca. 1395 – ca. 1455

A fifteenth-century Venetian physician and engineer who portrayed himself as a magus. He was born in Venice in the 1390s and attended the University of Pauda, where he received a his degree in arts in 1418 and his degree in medicine in 1421

Sometimes said to have invented the magic lantern.

Fontana composed treatises on a diverse array of topics. We have early works of his on water-clocks, sand-clocks and measurement. Fontana composed one of the earliest Renaissance technological treatises, Bellicorum instrumentorum liber. His machine book contains siege engines and fantastic inventions such as a magic lantern and a rocket-propelled bird, fish, and rabbit.

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