- 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 influence on his educational goals and the direction of his career.
- When Watt was 18, hetraveled to London to study mathematical instrument making, which involved learning to build and repair devices such as quadrants, compasses, and scales.
- A year later, Watt returned to Scotland and opened a mathematical instrument shop at the University of Glasgow.
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