Bearings Create Better Life –From SuperTembo
Though it is often claimed that the Egyptians used roller bearings in the form of tree trunks under sleds, this is modern speculation. They are depicted in their own drawings in the tomb of Djehutihotep as moving massive stone blocks on sledges with liquid-lubricated runners which would constitute a plain bearing. There are also Egyptian drawings of bearings used with hand drills
The earliest recovered example of a rolling element bearing is a wooden ball bearing supporting a rotating table from the remains of the Roman Nemi ships in Lake Nemi, Italy. The wrecks were dated to 40 BC.
Leonardo da Vinci incorporated drawings of ball bearings in his design for a helicopter around the year 1500. This is the first recorded use of bearings in an aerospace design. However, Agostino Ramelli is the first to have published sketches of roller and thrust bearings. An issue with ball and roller bearings is that the balls or rollers rub against each other causing additional friction which can be reduced by enclosing the balls or rollers within a cage. The captured, or caged, ball bearing was originally described by Galileo in the 17th century.
The first practical caged-roller bearing was invented in the mid-1740s by horologist John Harrison for his H3 marine timekeeper. This uses the bearing for a very limited oscillating motion but Harrison also used a similar bearing in a truly rotary application in a contemporaneous regulator clock.