1535? – 4 February 1615, also known as Giovanni Battista Della Porta and John Baptist Porta, was an Italian scholar, polymath and playwright who lived in Naples at the time of the Scientific Revolution and Reformation.
Giambattista della Porta spent the majority of his life on scientific endeavors. He benefited from an informal education of tutors and visits from renowned scholars. His most famous work, first published in 1558, was entitled Magiae Naturalis (Natural Magic). In this book he covered a variety of the subjects he had investigated, including the study of: occult philosophy, astrology, alchemy, mathematics, meteorology, and natural philosophy. He was also referred to as "professor of secrets".
His private museum was visited by travellers and was one the earliest examples of natural history museums. It inspired the Jesuit Athanasius Kircher to begin a similar, even more renowned, collection in Rome.
In the book Natural Magic Porta also mentioned an imaginary device known as a sympathetic telegraph. The device consisted of two circular boxes, similar to compasses, each with a magnetic needle, supposed to be magnetized by the same lodestone. Each box was to be labeled with the 26 letters, instead of the usual directions. Porta assumed that this would coordinate the needles such that when a letter was dialed in one box, the needle in the other box would swing to point to the same letter, thereby helping in communicating.
He wrote a number of other books, including De furtivis Literarum Notis (1563) - 'On secret codes and Cryptography'
More information, including a list of works, on the Wikipedia page .