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Heroes of Progress: James Watt

humanprogress.org

James Watt

James Watt was a Scottish engineer and inventor from the 18th century and is remembered for improving the design of the steam engine.

Watt's steam engine made energy supply more efficient and reliable. It was fundamental to the start of the Industrial Revolution

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  • James Watt was born on January 19, 1736, in Renfrewshire, Scotland. Due to illness as a child, Watt was mostly homeschooled.
  • His father was a shipbuilder. Watt grew up around his father's workshop and mentioned that it had a profound influe...

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The revolutionary discovery

  • In 1764, Watt received a Newcomen steam engine to repair.
  • The 1712 Newcomen engine worked by condensing steam in a cylinder, which then creates enough push to power a piston.
  • While fixing the engine, James Watt noticed that more than three-quarter...

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  • James Watt lacked capital and was initially unable to construct a full-scale engine.
  • In 1766, with investment from Joseph Black, Watt created a successful small test engine.
  • A year later, Watt started a business pa...

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James Watt and Matthew Boulton founded a manufacturing firm, where Watt spent years improving the efficiency and cost of his engine.

The demand for Watt's engine grew and was adopted across multiple industries. His steam engine became a "mechanical workhorse of the Industrial Revol...

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