As Nakra & Chaudhry (2004) explains, measurement is a process of comparing parameters of unknown magnitude by relating them to predefined standards. For example, the length of a wall can be measured using a measuring tape that contains predefined markings. In order to come up with accurate measurement results, two conditions must be fulfilled. The first condition involves defining the standard used to make comparison up to a level where it is accepted universally. For example, when measuring the weight of a given substance, it is not enough to conclude that the substance is heavy or light. Instead, the weight of the substance being measured should be compared with a given standard weight in order to produce a meaningful reading. Another vital condition that should be put into consideration is with regard to the measurement procedure. The procedure applied in a given measurement should be carried out using provable and reliable measuring instruments to achieve accurate results. This is based on the fact that the realization of accurate results depends on the ability of an individual to use reliable and acceptable measuring instruments.

Measurements are very crucial components in all the different fields in engineering. Each of the engineering branch involves two main processes namely operations and maintenance, and design. Examples of a design process are machine design, transportation design, and automobile design while the operations process includes the operation of automobiles, circuits, and machines. The main types of measurements applied in the engineering field are linear and angular measurement (Beard, 2004). This paper focuses on linear measurement by establishing who invented this measurement and the time when it was invented. There is also a detailed discussion of how linear measurement was used by people in the past and how it has developed over the years.

Who invented linear measurement?

Linear measurement invented by the Egyptian Royal Cubit. During this time, linear measurement was used mainly in agriculture and construction. The cubit was considered to be the distance from the arm to the fingertips. Linear measurement refers to the distance that separates two points. A good example of linear measurement is finding out the length of a straight bar, or the diameter of a water pipe. From an engineering perspective, the distance between two points is measured in millimeters, centimeters, inches, or kilometers (Tofts, 2005).

When linear measurement was invented?

The linear measurement which was widely used by the ancient people was invented in 3000 BC and originated from Egypt. After some few years, the linear measurement became ubiquitous within the ancient world. Despite the existence of measuring tools and devised measurement standards during the early civilization, it is worthy to mention that the Egyptian cubit was widely known as being the most outstanding linear measurement standard in the ancient world. The linear measurement focused mainly on the distance between the arm and fingertips. The standardization of this measurement was done with the help of a royal master cubit that maintained the measurement of cubit sticks at regular intervals (Tofts, 2005).

How people used linear measurement in the past.

During the past, people used linear measurement to express length or distances and also to find out the differences in distance elevations. The meter and the foot were the widely used in linear measurements because their units were believed to be very standard. During surveying operations, the standard units were normally sub-divided into components (such as tenths and thousandths) that could be easily measured.  In circumstances where a long distance was to be measured, people found it better to expand the foot into a nautical mile or a statute while a meter was converted into a kilometer (Mason, 2002).

How linear measurement devolved by the years

The development of linear measurement can be traced back in the 10th century when Saxon King Edgar and Henry established the distance from the tip of the nose to an outstretched thumb to be equivalent to one yard. During the 12th century, Richard who was commonly known as the Lion heart documented the standardization measures. During the 13th century, Edward defined the linear measurements whereby he found out that three grains of barley were equivalent to one inch and three inches being equal to one inch. It was also in the 13th century that Edward discovered that three feet was equivalent to one yard while three and half yards was equivalent to one rod (Iredale & Barrett, 2001).


From the above discussion, it can be concluded that there is a great need to define the various standards that are used during the measuring process. Developing accurate results requires an individual to have standard weights that should be compared with whatever is being measured. With regard to linear measurement, it is worthy to note its contribution particularly during the 10th century when it was invented.  Linear measurement has been used widely used in different fields especially in the engineering fields to facilitate various processes. It is also worthy to mention the rapid development that linear measurement has undergone over the years.




Beard, J. W. (2004). Managing impressions with information technology. Westport, Conn: Praeger.

Iredale, D., & Barrett, J. (2001). Discovering your old house. Princes Risborough: Shire.

Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative researching. London : SAGE Publ.

Nakra, B. C., & Chaudhry, K. K. (2004). Instrumentation measurement and analysis. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.

Tofts, P. (2005). Quantitative MRI of the Brain: Measuring Changes Caused by Disease. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.


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