Water distribution systems have a very long and rich history dating back to the third millennium B.C. Advances in water supply and distribution were followed in parallel by discoveries and inventions in other related fields. Therefore, it is the aim of this paper to review both the history of water distribution systems and those related fields in order to present a coherent summary of the complex multi-stranded discipline of water engineering. Related fields reviewed in this paper include devices for raising water and water pumps, water quality and water treatment, hydraulics, network analysis, and optimisation of water distribution systems. The review is brief and concise and allows the reader to quickly gain an understanding of the history and advancements of water distribution systems and analysis. Furthermore, the paper gives details of other existing publications where more information can be found.