It was developed from two weapons, the gastraphetes and the oxybeles. The gastraphetes ('belly-bow') was a hand held crossbow. It had a composite prod and was spanned by bracing the front end of the weapon against the ground while placing the end of a slider mechanism against the stomach. The operator would then walk forward to arm the weapon while a ratchet prevented it from shooting during loading. This produced a weapon which, it was claimed, could be operated by a person of average strength but which had a power that allowed it to be successfully used against armoured troops. The oxybeles was a bigger and heavier construction employing a winch, and was mounted on a tripod. It had a lower rate of fire and was used as a siege engine. With the invention of torsion spring bundle technology, the first ballista was built. The advantage of this new technology was the fast relaxation time of this system. Thus it was possible to shoot lighter projectiles with higher velocities over a longer distance.
The earliest ballista was said to be developed for the tyrant Dionysus of Syracuse. It was popular as a siege weapon during the Middle Ages.
Now that Fuse's forces have attacked Earth, this weapon has now been revived from ancient times to use in the Fusion Wars.