Posted Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, at 1:58 PM
A useful reminder that it will forever be difficult to improve on electrification as a general purpose technology for human betterment:
Some mechanical spit-roasts in Elizabethan England were powered by geese or small dogs in a wheel.
And of course that's just one small case. In general, one either had to rely on human physical labor for everything or else use animal substitutes and deal with the enormous quantities of manure that resulted.