What new things could you do?

The Steam Engine

Invented by Thomas Savery and improved by Jame Watt

The steam engine is a heated engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid. Using boiling water to produce mechanical motion goes back about 2,000 years, but early devices were not practical.

what could you use a steam engine for?

  • Today steam turbines generate about 90% of the electric power in the United States using a variety of heat sources.
  • Since the early 18th century,steam power has been applied to a variety of practical uses. At first it was applied to reciprocating pumps, but from the 1780's rotative engines (i.e. those converting reciprocating motion into rotary motion) began to appear, driving factory machinery such as spinning mules and power looms. At the turn of the 19th century, steam-powered transport on both sea and land began to make its appearance becoming ever more dominant as the century progressed.
  • driving machinery in factories, mills and mines
  • propelling transport appliances such as railway locomotives, ships and road vehicles. Their use in agriculture led to an increase in the land available for cultivation.

what is the impact on today's society of this invention?

With the use of steam power, factories could be built near natural resources and where the work force was. Factories started to grow all over England and then spread to the rest of the world. Cities became more populated because the factories offered a lot of jobs. Work in the factory was more reliable than work in the fields due to the fact that farming was dependent on the weather and crops often failed. The steam engine could now make machines in the factories produce materials much faster. By the early 1800's there were hundreds of steam powered machines in the factories. Steam ran the machines in textile mills and other types of factories. In the 1820's lighter and simpler steam engines were made that could be used in small mills and stores and not just large factories.

Thomas Savery

  • Savery was born in Devonshire, England, about 1650, but little else is known about his first four decades of life
  • He was an inventor and owned several patents, such as one for a 1696 machine for polishing plate glass.
  • His most important contribution was his 1698 water pump.


James Watt

  • was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer whose improvements to the Newcomen steam engine were fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.