James Watt (1736-1819)

James Watt (1736-1819)

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: James Watt studying a model of the Newcomen Engine. He had been asked by John Anderson to repair an early steam engine owned by Anderson. Watt came to realise that condensing the steam in a separate tank would improve the efficiency and safety of steam engines. By 1790 Watt's steam engine had largely replaced the older Newcomen engines. His inventions included the double acting engine where the piston is made to both push and pull (1782) and the pressure gauge (1790). He also adopted the centrifugal governor to regulate the speed of a steam engine and coined the term "horsepower" to describe a unit of energy. Watt's innovations, coupled with the business acumen of his partner Matthew Boulton, made him a huge financial success.

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Keywords: 18th century, centrifugal governor, double acting engine, early steam engines, history of science, history of technology, horsepower, industrial revolution, james watt, matthew boulton, newcomen engine, pressure gauge, technical innovations, watt

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