James Watt, The Inventor of Steam Engine

James Watt - Inventor of Steam Engine

James Watt – Inventor of Steam Engine

James Watt (19 January 1736 – 25 August 1819) was an inventor who developed the steam engine which formed the basis of the Industrial Revolution.

James Watt was born on January 19th, 1736 in Greenock, a seaport city in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland. His father was a ship owner and a contractor, while his mother, Agnes Muirhead, was came from a respectable and educated family.

Watt did not attend school regularly, but he was educated at home by his mother. He showed remarkable dexterity and an aptitude in science such as mathematics. Although the Latin and Greek did not move him, but he liked the legends and folklore of Scotland.

When he was 18 years old, his mother died and his father’s health began to decline slowly, Watt then went to London to continue studying manufacture of instruments and equipment for one year, then he returned to Scotland with the aim to create their own instrument-making business. But because he did not complete his studies that should be taken for seven years, as an apprentice (student work while studying) a request to open the business is inhibited, even though at that time there are no one who makes instrument and equipment in Scotland.

Assisted by three professors at the University of Glasgow, James Watt finally been given the chance to open a small workshop at the university.

Four years later, James Watt began his experiment with a steam engine after his friend, Professor John Robison, got him interested in the machine. At that time, Watt had never operate the steam engine, but he is still trying to make a model of the machine. Although not succeeded, he continued his experiments and began to read what can be read. He then separately discovered the importance of thermal energy generated and absorbed by each object to understand more about steam engines. In 1765 he succeeded in making a model of a machine that can work well.

In recognition of his services and for the development of the steam engine that triggered the Industrial Revolution, the name Watt then enshrined and used as a unit of energy with symbol W by the International System of Units as we know it today.


steam engine

Steam engine is external-combustion engine in which heat is used to raise steam which either turns a turbine or forces a piston to move up and down in a cylinder

Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution is the transformation from an agricultural to an industrial nation


contractor is someone who is hired to build something


respectable means characterized by socially or conventionally acceptable morals


remarkable is unusual, exceptional, interesting, or excellent.


dexterity is skillful performance or ability without difficulty


an aptitude is something you’re good at


legend is a larger-than-life story that gets passed down from one generation to the next


folklore is stories, customs, and beliefs that are passed from one generation to the next


decline means grow worse


apprentice is undergo training or instruction in preparation for a particular role, function, or profession


inhibited is held back or restrained or prevented


experiment is the act of conducting a controlled test or investigation

thermal energy

thermal energy is energy relating to or associated with heat


generated means produced or created


absorbed means retained without reflection; not turned back by physical reflection


recognition is when you remember something or someone you’re familiar with


triggered is an act that sets in motion some course of events


enshrined is regard with feelings of respect and reverence; consider hallowed or exalted or be in awe of

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