While the specifics regarding who first invented the cannon are not known, it is believed that the Chinese fielded the first small hand cannons in the year 1260. Cannon designs in Europe continued to evolve throughout the 17th century.
According to Princeton University, details surrounding the invention of the first cannon have been lost to time, and their development cannot be traced to a single specific act. Many cultures contributed to the evolution of the cannon after the advent of gunpowder made the creation of the first rudimentary firearms possible. The earliest known Chinese cannons were cast in bronze and were only about 14 inches in length.