Pneumatics Through the Ages: The Evolution of the Valve and Air Rams

Most of today’s modern machinery utilises some form of pneumatics within its function, be it valves or air rams. However, many people, even engineers, know very little about the history of valves or how the science of pneumatics evolved into its essential elements today. Here’s a short history and evolution of valves, air rams, and pneumatics in general.

Who really invented the valve?

When you talk of pneumatics, its main component is the valve, or sometimes called the air ram. In history, it was the Greeks who first delved into the science of pneumatics in their attempts at irrigation from rivers. However, it was the Roman Empire that was the first to invent what resembles an elaborate canal system. Roman engineers brought water from rivers and mountain sources to the cities, towns, and villages by means of aqueducts.

The first valve recorded in the Roman Empire was made of bronze. It included a plug with a hole and a long levy for turning the plug. There were even variations of this plug such as a primitive butterfly valve tap and diaphragm valve.

The Renaissance Period

The Renaissance Period saw increased use of canals, irrigations systems, and hydraulics. Leonardo DaVinci was said to have invented a sophisticated valve for irrigation.

The Industrial Revolution

With the invention of the steam engine by Thomas Newcomen in 1705, there would be an increase in the use of pneumatics, and the design of the modern valve and air rams would come in effect. The invention of the assembly line contributed to the mass manufacturing of valves for different pneumatic uses.

The industrial revolution and the 1800s would see the increased use of compressed air and the development of different forms of valves for pneumatics, such as:

  • The compound air compressor in 1829.
  • Water-cooled cylinders in 1872.
  • The pneumatic drill in 1871 and pneumatic hammer in 1890.

Pneumatics, along with valves and air rams, has had a rich history dating back to antiquity and leading up to the present time. It would seem that the present sees no signs of slowing down when it comes to innovating pneumatic solutions to be developed and released for different machinery and uses regularly. With such an important role to play in many various industries, pneumatic valves and air rams are sure to continue on through many years and beyond.

Master Mac 2000

Historically, Master Mac 2000 was established in 1989. It has since become one of Australia’s largest privately-owned valve and pneumatic component distributors. Master Mac 2000 will always have a pneumatic solution for you when it comes to valves and air rams. Give us a call today or visit the Mastermac2000 website at

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