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Schickard, Wilhelm

1. Dates
Born: Herrenberg, Germany, 22 Apr 1592
Died: Tübingen, 23 Oct 1635
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 43
2. Father
Occupation: Unknown
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Herrenberg, Germany
Career: Tübingen, Germany
Death: Tübingen, Germany
4. Education
Schooling: Tübingen, M.A.
University of Tübingen. He received a B.A. (1609), and an M.A. (1611). He continued studying theology and oriental languages until 1613.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Lutheran
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Astronomy, Mathematics, Cartography
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia
Secondary: Church Life
1613-19, he acted as deacon or pastor in several towns around Tübingen (e.g., in 1614 he was deacon at Nürtingen).
1619, professor of Hebrew, University of Tübingen.
1631, professor of astronomy, University of Tübingen.
8. Patronage
Type: Unknown
Patronage is not mentioned in any of the sources, but it seems possible that Mästlin, who was Schickard's teacher and precursor in the chair of astronomy, had a hand in Schickard's academic appointments. In any event, there was no academic appointment without patronage.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: Cartography, Applied Mathematics, Instruments
Schickard was a skilled mechanic, cartographer, and engraver in wood and copperplate. He is famous as the inventor of the first calculating machine (1623). And he proposed to Kepler the development of a mechanical means of calculating ephemerides. As far as I know, he did not follow up on this.
He is more significant for his work in cartography. He recognized that certain contemporary developments in cartographer made more accurate maps possible, and he advocated their use in Kurze Anweisung, wie künstliche Landtafeln auss rechtem Grund zu machen (1629). He also appears to have undertaken a survey of Württemberg, though I have seen little mention of this.
He also invented a "hand planetarum" (it is actually more like an orrery).
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None known
Connections: He was a student, colleague, and eventual successor of Mästlin. He was a friend and correspondent of Kepler from 1617, and was among the first to mention and advocate Keplerian astronomy. He also corresponded with Boulliau, Gassendi, and Brengger.
  1. Günther, Allgemeine deutsche Biographie, 31, 174-5.
  2. Friedrich Seck, ed., Wissenschaftsgeschichte um Wilhelm Schickard: Vorträge bei dem Symposium der Universität Tübingen im 500.
  3. Jahr ihres Bestehens um 24. und 25. Juni 1977 [Contubernium: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, 3] (Tübingen: Mohr, 1981). [QB36.S312 W57 1977]
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. Bruno von Freytag Löringhoff, Wilhelm Schickard und seine Rechenmaschine von 1623, (Tübingen, 1987).
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

©1995 Al Van Helden
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