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Excerpt from page 7
Looking far into the past, we are reminded that every tool was human-powered. Rock and stick served as hammer and lever. Other simple machines - wedge, pulley, wheel, inclined plane and screw - followed. Next came compound machines, and then finally the tools of precision manufacturing, which could fabricate the machines that helped people apply muscle power more efficiently. But the evolution of human-powered devices hasn't been swift or logical. Centuries passed during which technology seemed to stand still. Inventions such as the hand crank languished before we realized their potential. Others we discovered, then forgot for many centuries before rediscovering them. And while it seems obvious that we would have abandoned human power as soon as we harnessed oxen, that's not the case. From antiquity until the Industrial Revolution, human power remained an adaptable, portable and (especially until the practice of slavery was abolished) economical option. The use of muscles as prime movers began to taper off in the 1600s. Still, it was the best solution for many artisans, farmers and small fabricators even to the 20th century.