(January 30, 1736 – August 25, 1819)
Famous as the inventor whose steam engines powered the Industrial Revolution, James Watt dwelled on practicality. He strived to find applications for whatever science he learned. That was why his preoccupation with chemistry centered on devising a way of making bleaching agent. He succeeded with his father-in-law, but failed to make his method cost-effective on an industrial scale. Watt also made inroads in his quest for a copier. But the cumbersome techniques involved diminished demand for his contrivance. As obvious today, it was steam engine technology that brought him fame. After seeing how inefficient Thomas Newcomen’s engines were, Watt designed an efficient machine: equipped with a separate condenser. This bettered Newcomen’s, whose cylinders needed cycles of cooling and reheating. The multipurpose use of his engines was further enhanced by the rotary motion he incorporated into it. Thus, his engines found applications which transformed both industries and transportation. Apart from steam engine, Watt is remembered for establishing the imperial unit of measuring power, known as the Horsepower. He used it to compare the outputs of steam engines: long before pistons, turbines and electric motors were invented. Honors were showered upon him; and the term “Watt” was later designated the S.I. unit for power.