ATİLLA BİR FESTSCHRIFT
The present issue of Osmanlı Bilimi Araştırmaları (Studies in Ottoman Science) is presented to Professor Dr. ing. Atilla Bir in recognition of his oeuvre in history of technology on the occasion of his retirement from the university in 2008.
Born in Izmir in 1941, A.Bir received his BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from the Technische Hochschule - Karlsruhe in 1966. He joined the Istanbul Technical University Faculty of Electrical Engineering in 1970 and started researching on electronic control systems. His PhD thesis was on the deterministic and probabilistic prediction in control systems (1975). Soon, he became interested in history of mechanics and, besides producing popular articles on the hydraulic devices designed by medieval Islamic mechanicians, he published the Kitab al-Hiyal of Banu Musa Bin Shakir (9th c.), where he applied modern knowledge of system and control engineering to the functioning of mechanical devices.
Part of Professor Bir's research work focused on the transliteration and the technical account of works by Turkish astronomers such as Taqi al-Din's (16th c.) and Ahmet Ziya Akbulut (early 20th c.) dealing with the construction and the use of quadrants, sundials and mechanical clocks. His preoccupation with the physics of bows and arrows led him to calculate a mathematical model for the shooting of Turkish reflex bows. He located the norias which were in use in Anatolia in the past and studied their mechanism. His recent work is on the surviving windmills of Anatolia.
Professor Bir's intensive lecturing on system and control engineering did not prevent him to teach history of technology and scientific instruments. The undergraduate and graduate students of the Department of History of Science, Istanbul University profited much from his interesting lectures. He also kindly offered his erudition, experience and assistance not only to the MSC and PhD students preparing theses, but to the team of historians of science in Istanbul University. Professor Bir's contributions to Osmanlı Bilimi Araştırmaları are twofold: While gladly and readily sending his original research articles to the journal for publication, he worked as an outstanding and meticulous referee. The editorial board of the journal is much indebted to him for his continuous support.
As a scholar specialised in control engineering and keenly interested in history, Professor Atilla Bir largely contributed to the study of mechanical devices used in Asia Minor in medieval times and thereafter. We wish him happy retirement and hope that he will enthusiastically continue to invest his talents in in history of science and technology in the coming years.