James Watt invents the steam engine | Sunday Observer

James Watt invents the steam engine

2 October, 2022


The harnessing of steam power was one of the scientific marvels. Of course, man had some knowledge of the power of steam in the distant past.

Pioneer of steam power

However, the practical means of harnessing steam power started only in the 18th century. James Watt became one of the notable pioneers of the steam power revolution when he invented the steam engine.

As a child, James Watt showed no promise and his parents were concerned about his future. One of his aunts told him, “James Watt, I never saw such an idle boy as you: Take a book or employ yourself; for the Past hour you have not spoken one word, but taken off the lid of that kettle and put it on again, holding now a cup and now a silver spoon over the steam, watching how it rises from the spout catching and counting the drops it falls into.”

In fact, the little boy was watching intently the kettle working out the theories of thermodynamics. In the course of time, he became an instrument maker and sold the items in the precincts of the Glasgow University. One day he was asked to repair a malfunctioning engine in the university laboratory. He found that the boiler was too small to operate the engine.

The improved engine Watt produced made possible the full development of steam power.

First steam engine

Like most inventors, Watt was not willing to commercially exploit his invention.

His association with Dr Roebuck enabled him to make his first steam engine. However, at the age of 64 he gave up inventing steam engines. He died in 1819 aged 83. However, the credit for inventing the modern steam engine goes to James Watt.