1680s; from machine (n.) + -ery. Originally theatrical, "devices for creating stage effects" (which also was a sense of Greek mēkhanē); meaning "machines or parts of machines considered collectively," is attested from 1731. Transferred meaning "any complex system of (non-mechanical) means to carry on a particular work" is by 1770. Middle English had machinament "a contrivance" (early 15c.).
updated on November 15, 2018