Invention of the Steam Engine

Image of the steamboat Clermont designed by Robert Fulton - American Industrial Revolution.
Here is an image of the steamboat Clermont designed by Robert Fulton from the American Industrial Revolution. McCabe, James Dabney. Great Fortunes and How They Were Made. Project Gutenberg etext.

Background of the Steam Engine:

While Thomas Savery patented the first crude steam engine in 1698. Thomas Newcomen improved on this design. However, it wasn't until Scotsman James Watt improved on the steam engine in the second half of the 18th century that it became a truly viable piece of machinery that helped start the Industrial Revolution.

Details about the Steam Engine:

Basically, a steam engine is able to harness the energy of steam to move machinery.

It is a fairly clean source of energy. Steam engines were used to great effect to run locomotives and steamships.

Historical Significance of the Steam Engine:

The steam engine was central to the industrial revolution. Only through providing a convenient source of energy could major forms of transportation grow and prosper. Steamships and steam locomotives allowed for the quicker transportation of raw materials that could be used to produce finished goods.

Interesting Facts:

  1. Steam engines are still used today to help run nuclear power plants.
  2. The Watt - a unit of power familiar today when dealing with lightbulbs - was named after James Watt.
  3. James Watt came up with the term 'horsepower' as a way to help explain how much work his steam engines could do for a potential buyer.


Related Inventions:

Steam locomotion