The first windmills were probably invented by a Greek, Tesibius, who lived from 285 to 222 BC. Windmills were subsequently used by the Persians as far back as 500A.D. and by the Chinese in 1200A.D.

Dutch windmills first appeared in Holland in the 8th century but it wasn’t until the 12th century that they were used for pumping water out of the lowlands and back into the rivers so that the land could be farmed. By this time, they were also used for grinding grains. Windmills were often a farmer’s most prized possession. The water pumped by them was used to cook, bathe, drink, water crops and animals, wash clothes, and more. Windmills were also used for sawing wood which helped establish a flourishing shipbuilding industry in the Zaanstreek region in Old Holland. This is where the world’s first true industrial zone emerged in the 17th century. From 1650, some 75 ships were built there each year. Even Tsar Peter the Great came over from Russia to learn how to build a ship in Zaandam!  In the 19th century, there were over 9,000 windmills in the Netherland and today there are still around 1,200 in existence and still fully operational. read more