This paper studies sensing element designs in ancient seismometers and describes the developments of ancient earthquake instruments. A basic seismograph comprises a seismometer, a recording system, and a timing system. The major difficulty in the development of a seismograph was the design of the seismometer. And, the break through was the use of a pendulum system as a sensing element that responded to ground motion and did not move with the ground. Early seismoscopes were primarily intended to determine that an earthquake had happened. The first seismoscope invented by Zhang Heng was Hou Feng Di Dong Yi made in ancient China around the year 132 AD. The truly successful seismographs were first designed and built in the 1880s by a group of British scientists in Japan. In 1906, Boris Galitzin developed a working electromagnetic seismograph with a great sensitivity. Finally, a comparison with the recording systems of ancient seismographs is concluded.