Who Invented the First Steam Engine?


James Watt and the Discovery of Steam Engine

Some historians believe that the first steam driven machine (steam engine) was conceived in ancient China according to the the collection of works contained in the Tiangong Kaiwu, a scientific and military journal maintained by China’s government at the time. Although recreations of the contraption were attempted, the practicality of the invention rendered useless for travel. There are also records of similar contraptions in Ancient Rome and Greece.

The first modern implementation of steam engine came about as a solution to the  coal miners. An entrepreneur and inventor Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729) originally designed a pump driven by the pressure of water evaporation. Around 1775, an inventor named James Watt (1736- 1819) set out to improve the steam pump by making it more energy efficient, and eventually adapted it to produce a rotary motion. This adaptation allowed the engine to be used for more than just pumping water. Many overlook the fact that the steam engine we know today might not have been reached to today. While trying to bring his invention mainstream, Watt faced increasing financial hardship. The success of his invention may not have been realized if it were not for the partnership of Matthew Boulton. Their partnership, and what they produced, was the spark of the industrial revolution.