On this day: Jean Joseph Merlin was born in 1735

Belgian inventor and horologist Jean Joseph Merlin was born on the 17th of September, 1735.

An inventor of a wide range of things, one of his most unusual patents was for the world’s first pair of roller skates in 1760. Though they were little more than ice skates with wheels where the blades would usually go, it may well be one of his biggest contributions to society.

He also had an interest in automata, and his work took him to Paris and London.

Dying in 1803, here he is as painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1782.

Belgian inventor and horologist Jean Joseph Merlin was born on the 17th of September, 1735.