Invention of the Steam Engine

Used to improve quality of life since 1698

Savery's Original Design

Thomas Savery patented the first steam engine in 1698.


Savery was born 1650 in Shilston, England. As an adult, he moved to Worcester, a coal mining region prone to flooding.


Savery saw an opportunity here; if he could figure out a fast way to drain the mines, he would be the town hero (and increase coal production, bringing more money into the village.


The crude steam engine he created is the predecessor of almost all subsequent designs.

Newcomen's Improvements

Thomas Newcomen made several important additions to Savery's design in 1712.


Newcomen was born 1664 in Dartmouth, Devon, England. He grew up to be the eccentric blacksmith Thomas Savery hired to forge and improve upon the steam engine.


Newcomen worked long and hard on a new design that used pistons and atmospheric pressure to suck water out of the mines.


This piston/pressure system would be used to great effect in almost all subsequent designs.

Fulton's Innovation

Robert Fulton invented the modern steam engine some people still use today in 1807.


Fulton was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, 1765. In 1802, now an adult, he was hired to build a fast, stable, steam-powered ferry by a New York transportation company.


Five years later, in 1807, he unveiled the Clermont: A ferry driven by two steam-powered paddlewheels on either side that could make a trip almost 4 times faster than a contemporary sailboat.


This new, powerful steam engine would be the spark to ignite the Industrial Revolution.

Legacy of the Steam Engine

Savery's original design made coal mining safer and more productive, improving the quality of life and setting the stage for the Industrial Revolution.


Newcomen's improvements introduced the piston/pressure system, a vital contribution to its later success.


Fulton's innovation showed the world that steam power was viable, sparking the technological renaissance that was the Industrial Revolution.

How it Works

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Bibliography

Works Cited

Bellis, Mary. "Steam Engine History." About.com Inventors. About.com, 05 Mar. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

"The Steam Engines of Thomas Newcomen." About.com Inventors. About.com, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Steins, Richard. Transportation Milestones and Breakthroughs. Austin, TX: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1995. Print.