Humanities › History & Culture History of the Anemometer Wind velocity or speed is measured by an anemometer Share Flipboard Email Print mayo5 / Getty Images History & Culture Inventions Invention Timelines Famous Inventions Famous Inventors Patents & Trademarks Computers & The Internet American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Mary Bellis Inventions Expert Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. our editorial process Mary Bellis Updated April 04, 2017 Wind velocity or speed is measured by a cup anemometer, an instrument with three or four small hollow metal hemispheres set so that they catch the wind and revolve about a vertical rod. An electrical device records the revolutions of the cups and calculates the wind velocity. The word anemometer comes from the Greek word for wind, "anemos." Mechanical Anemometer In 1450, the Italian art architect Leon Battista Alberti invented the first mechanical anemometer. This instrument consisted of a disk placed perpendicular to the wind. It would rotate by the force of the wind, and by the angle of inclination of the disk the wind force momentary showed itself. The same type of anemometer was later re-invented by Englishman Robert Hooke who is often mistakenly considered the inventor of the first anemometer. The Mayans were also building wind towers (anemometers) at the same time as Hooke. Another reference credits Wolfius as re-inventing the anemometer in 1709. Hemispherical Cup Anemometer The hemispherical cup anemometer (still used today) was invented in 1846 by Irish researcher, John Thomas Romney Robinson and consisted of four hemispherical cups. The cups rotated horizontally with the wind and a combination of wheels recorded the number of revolutions in a given time. Want to build your own hemispherical cup anemometer Sonic Anemometer A sonic anemometer determines instantaneous wind speed and direction (turbulence) by measuring how much sound waves traveling between a pair of transducers are sped up or slowed down by the effect of the wind. The sonic anemometer was invented by geologist Dr. Andreas Pflitsch in 1994.