Otto von Guericke (1602-1686), a German physicist, engineer, and natural philosopher, invented the first air pump, which he used it to study the phenomenon of vacuums and the role of air in combustion and respiration. In 1654, von Guericke experimentally demonstrated the capacity of the atmosphere to do work and decisively refuted the long-held notion that it was impossible for a vacuum to exist. Using hollow copper spheres and an air pump of his own construction, Guericke demonstrated that pumping the air out of the sphere could create a partial vacuum. In 1663 he also invented an electric generator that generated static electricity by applying friction in the machine, although von Guericke did not recognize the effect as static electricity.
Otto von Guericke - Biography (Hebrew University of Jersalem, Institute of Chemistry)