Inventor and engineer James Watt was born - On this day in history


19 January 2020
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James Watt, inventor of the condensor, which helped make the Industrial Revolution possible, was born on 19 January 1736. ...

Engineer and mechanical instrument maker James Watt was born on 19 January 1736 in Greenock. His father was a shipwright and shipowner and his grandfather taught mathematics. From a young age, Watt showed an aptitude for mathematics and engineering and was educated at Greenock Grammar School, although he spent several years being educated at home.

His first work was in the instrument making business in London, where he created scales and parts for telescopes and barometers. This precise work was to stand him in good stead for his later work in Glasgow, when he began to experiment with the use of steam power, work which would lead to his pioneering inventions.

Among his inventions are:

  • Design enhancements to the steam engine
  • The concept of horsepower
  • The Watt steam engine
  • A copying machine

QUICK LINK: James Watt & the Steam Condensor - 50 Years On