(January 30, 1736 – August 25, 1819)

With several patents in his portfolio, James Watt was among the leading inventors of his generation. Although he abandoned his apprenticeship (in instrument-making) before the recommended 7 years period elapsed, he learnt enough as to invent the modifier, which enabled telescopes to be used for measuring distances. As the pioneer whose steam engines powered the Industrial Revolution, his influence was enormous. Purposeful and pragmatic, he dwelt on practicality: striving to find applications for whatever science he learned. That was why his preoccupation with chemistry centered on devising ways of making bleaching agent. He succeeded with his father-in-law, but failed to find cost-effective method 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 now, it was the steam engine technology that immortalized his name. Aware of how inefficient Thomas Newcomen’s engines were, he designed an efficient machine: having separate condenser. This trumped 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 them. Thus, his design dominated and transformed both industries and transportation. James Watt would also establish the imperial unit of measuring power, termed the Horsepower. He used it comparatively in evaluating the outputs of various steam engines (long before turbines, pistons, and electric motors were invented). Various honors were bestowed upon him. One of these is designating his name, Watt, as the S.I. unit for power.


All rights reserved. © Valentine Oduenyi


  1. I appreciate the great contributions he and others made. But I am also thinking that solar energy was there for ages waiting to be harnessed. We humans have come a long way.

  2. I’m a writer and I would love to have people’s opinions on my work. Does anyone know any good blogging sites?. Twitter is not a blogging site and the only way people see your work on twitter is if they follow you. Twitter and Facebook are not answers that I am looking for. Thank you for your input..

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