Ruts in Written History

Several South Pointing Chariots seem to have been made over the centuries, some of which only survived in legends, others were described in detail, but none was preserved.
 
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2634 BC Emperor Huang Di (or Ti) invents chariot to guide his troops out of enemy's smoke screen
legendary Fang Bo builds the first south-pointing chariot for emperor Huang Di
legendary Chou Kung gives such a device to ambassadors to get them back home
BC The Duke of Chou constructs the first south-pointing carriage to help envoys from beyond the frontiers find their way home
120 Chang Hêng reinvents the vehicle
220 .. 265 Two scholars prove before the court that such a vehicle is impossible
233 .. 237 Ma Chün constructs a working vehicle for emperor Ming Ti
    .. 400 Kou Yuan-Shêng reports, that the south-pointing chariot (probably Ma Chün's machine) is normally garaged in the north gateway of the Government Workshops outside the south gate of the capital
300 Tshui Pao reports, that the construction is described in a book (not preserved) named Shang Fang Ku Shih
334 .. 349 Hsieh Fei makes one for emperor Shih Hu
394 .. 416 Linghu Shêng makes one for emperor Yao Hsing
417 Linghu Shêng's vehicle is captured by emperor An Ti. It is reported that (at this time) there is no (longer any) machinery, but only a man inside who turns the figure.
423 .. 452 Kuo Shan-Ming fails to make one for emperor Thopa Tao
423 .. 452 Ma Yo succeeds, but is killed by Kuo Shan-Ming
478 Tsu Chhung-Chih  makes a new improved (bronze gears) vehicle for emperor Shun Ti
658 Monk Chih-Yü constructs vehicle for Japanese emperor Wu
666 Monk Chih-Yu constructs another vehicle for Japanese emperor Wu
806 .. 821 Chin Kung-Li presents a south-pointing carriage  to emperor Thang
1027 Engineer Yen Su describes his construction
1088 Su Sung constructs a water wheel clock, using an escapement
1107 Chamberlain Wu Tê-Jen (Wu Tê-Lung according to other sources) presents a specification, which is successfully built twice
1341 Chu Tê-Jun describes jade figure from miniature south-pointing carriage
1720 Joseph Williamson uses differential gear in clock
1879 Mr. Starley first uses differential gear in a vehicle
1909 Professor B. Hopkinson remarks, that some mechanism would have been required to ensure that the gears connected to the chariot wheels at right and left were engaged or disengaged when the chariot turned right or left.
1910 The first mechanical navigation aide "Jones Live Map" is invented. Like in the south-pointing chariot the movement of the road wheels is geared down, but this time to show the relative position of the vehicle on a map
1925 Moule proposes a realization of Wu Tê-Jen's specification
1937 Wang Chen-To proposes a realization of Yen Su's specification and builds a working model from it
1947 Dr. J.B.Kramer discovers references to the mechanical nature of the south-pointing chariot and declares, that the Chinese therefore did not invent the magnetic compass
1947 George Lanchester proposes that the ancient machines (Ma Chün notably) embodied some kind of differential gear. He builds a working model to prove his concept.
1948 Pao Ssu-ho proposes another reconstruction.
1955 F.W. Cousins introduces the Lanchester reconstruction to a broader public, namely the Meccanco fans
1956 J. Coales points out, that by hanging a carrot from the emperors hand, the south-pointing chariot would become self-steering !
1977 Professor André Wegener Sleeswyk publishes a scientific essay on the historic chariots. He prooves their feasibility exactly to the words in the ancient texts.
1978 Mr. Alan Partridge starts a  contest in The Meccano Magazine for the design with the fewest gears. It is shown subsequently that no gears are necessary at all !
1979 Mr. Noel C. Ta'Bois publishes a concise treaty on the theoretical aspects. Working specimen are shown, which do not adhere to the "width equals wheel diameter" rule.
Some yet unknown designer presents a fourth variant, this time featuring a coaxial gearing around a three-piece axle.
 
Sources: Needham. Joseph: Science and Civilization in China, Volume 4, Part II, 1965
http://www.usd.gov.hk/hkmh/JOBJECT/j_lobject17e.htm
http://www.interaktv.com/HISTORY/ChinaDyn.htm
http://www.teatime.com/tea/world/chindyn.htm
http://www.cocc.edu/cagatucci/classes/hum210/tml/asianTML.htm
http://www.user.xpoint.at/grueller/Artikel1.html
The Meccano Magazine Sept'55, Jan'57,Jan'77,Jan'78,Apr'78,Oct'79
Chinese Science, Volume II, Jan'77