Spinning gyroscope gimbal base: If in fact the earth were a spinning globe, a gyroscope in a gimbal placed on a level table should show the spin of the earth, if the earth were spinning. The gimbal surrounding the gyroscope would show a movement of 1.25° within 5 minutes, and 15° in one hour. Such experiments have been performed. The experiments showed no movement whatsoever of the gimbal around the gyroscope, thus proving the Earth is not a spinning globe.” ~Matt Browning
Essentially, a gyroscope is a top combined with a pair of gimbals. Tops were invented in many different civilizations, including classical Greece, Rome, and China. Most of these were not utilized as instruments.
The first known apparatus similar to a gyroscope (the “Whirling Speculum” or “Serson’s Speculum”) was invented by John Serson in 1743. It was used as a level, to locate the horizon in foggy or misty conditions.
The first instrument used more like an actual gyroscope was made by German Johann Bohnenberger, who first wrote about it in 1817. At first he called it the “Machine”.Bohnenberger’s machine was based on a rotating massive sphere. In 1832, American Walter R. Johnson developed a similar device that was based on a rotating disc. The French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace, working at the École Polytechnique in Paris, recommended the machine for use as a teaching aid, and thus it came to the attention of Léon Foucault. In 1852, *Foucault used it in an experiment involving the rotation of the Earth*.
*It was Foucault who gave the device its modern name*, in an experiment to see (Greek skopeein, to see) the Earth’s rotation (Greek gyros, circle or rotation), which was visible in the 8 to 10 minutes before friction slowed the spinning rotor.
Rigidity in space: the gyro has a tendency to resist forces applied to it, it is stable on the axis it spins. This is the principle behind which a spinning top stays upright, and the incorporation of gyroscopes in flight instrument have resulted in instruments like the artificial horizon which by maintaining rigidity in space allow for flight solely by reference to the instruments.