A drama could be made of the coming of the machine into modern society.
Five or six centuries before the main body of the army forms, spies have been planted among the nations of Europe. Here and there, in strategic portions, small bodies of scouts and observers appear, preparing the way for the main force: a Roger Bacon, a Leonardo da Vinci, a Paracelsus. But the army of machines could not take possession of modern society until every department had been trained; above all, it was necessary to gather a group of creative minds, a general staff, who would see a dozen moves beyond the immediate strategy and would invent a superior tactics. These are the physicists and mathematicians; without their abstract descriptions, the useful habit of isolating certain movements and sequences would not have been adopted, and invention would probably have sought to reproduce–as in fact it first did–cumbrous mechanical men or mechanical horses, instead of their abstract equivalents, namely, steam-engines, locomotives, rifles, cranes. Behind the scientific advance-guard came the shock troops, the miners, the woodmen, the soldiers proper, and their inventive leaders. Five centuries were needed to set the stage for the modern world.
—Myth of the Machine by Lewis Mumford