The early form of linear motion bearings was to place a row of wooden poles under a row of skids. Modern linear motion bearings use the same principle of operation, but sometimes balls are used instead of rollers. The simplest rotary bearing is a sleeve bearing, which is just a bushing sandwiched between the wheel and the axle. This design was subsequently replaced by rolling bearings, which used many cylindrical rollers to replace the original bushings, and each rolling element was like a separate wheel.
An example of an early ball bearing was discovered on an ancient Roman ship built in 40 BC in Lake Naimi, Italy: a wooden ball bearing was used to support a rotating table. It is said that Leonardo da Vinci described a ball bearing around 1500. Among the immature factors of ball bearings, it is very important that the balls will collide, causing additional friction. But this can be prevented by putting the balls in small cages. In the 17th century, Galileo made the earliest description of "cage ball" ball bearings. At the end of the seventeenth century, British C. Vallo designed and manufactured ball bearings and installed them on postal vehicles for trial use. British P. Worth obtained patents for ball bearings. The earliest put into practice rolling bearings with cages were invented by watchmaker John Harrison in 1760 for making H3 chronographs. At the end of the eighteenth century, H.R. Hertz of Germany published a paper on the contact stress of ball bearings. On the basis of Hertz's achievements, Germany's R. Stribeck, Sweden's A. Palmgren and others conducted a large number of experiments, which contributed to the development of rolling bearing design theory and fatigue life calculation. Subsequently, N.P. Petrov of Russia applied Newton's law of viscosity to calculate bearing friction. The first patent on the ball channel was obtained by Philip Vaughn of Carmarthen in 1794.
In 1883, Friedrich Fisher proposed the use of suitable production machines to grind steel balls of the same size and accurate roundness, laying the foundation for the bearing industry. British O. Reynolds performed a mathematical analysis of Thor ’s discovery and derived the Reynolds equation, which has since laid the foundation of fluid dynamic lubrication theory.