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Inventor (fl. 270 bc), was the son of a barber in Alexandria, and employed by Ptolemy 1 II. He was the first to make devices employing ‘pneumatics’, i.e. the action of air under pressure. His work on the subject is lost, but descriptions of some of his inventions are preserved by Philon, Vitruvius, and Heron. These include the pump with plunger and valve, the water‐organ, the first accurate water‐clock and a war‐catapult. No great theoretician, Ctesibius was a mechanical genius, some of whose inventions were of permanent value. Many of the basic ideas in the works of Philon and Heron on mechanical devices probably derive from him.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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