One account of his career:
At one time or another he has been credited with the invention of the explosive undermining of city walls, the suction pump, underwater breathing apparatus, the box-caisson method for building bridges, water mains and sluice gates, and vertically axled windmills and watermills. Taccola's importance was encyclopedic account of contemporary machine practice. Two ideas of great importance first appeared in Taccola's manuscripts: the chain transmission system and the compound crank with connecting rod. By the latter, rotary motion could be converted to reciprocal motion, a technical concept that has been considered crucial for the postmedieval development of Western technology.That's his drawing of a piston pump above, the first surviving rendering, although Taccola certainly did not invent it.