JAMES WATT BIOGRAPHY

JAMES WATT BIOGRAPHY

JAMES WATT

BIRTH: January 19, 1736
Greenock, Scotland
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DEATH: August 25, 1819 (aged 83)
Birmingham, England
James Watt was a Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist. He is known for his invention of the first modern steam engine. He played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution by developing
mathematical instruments and later, steam engines. He was a renowned member of the Royal Society of London.
James Watt was born on 19th January, 1736 in Greenock, Scotland to Agnes Muirhead and James Watt. He came from a well-educated family. His father was a businessman and a contractor. He was often home-schooled by his mother in the subjects of arithmetic and writing. His love for machinery started when his father gifted him a small toolkit. He played with it at his father’s workshop. He also deconstructed and reassembled different objects. As a kid, he designed various models and instruments.
While growing up he faced some difficult times due to his family’s financial condition. His father lost his inheritance. At the age of seventeen, James lost his mother; he was devastated. At this time, one of his relatives working at Glasgow University inspired James to master the skill of instrument-making. He went
to London and used his skills to earn money. He decided to pursue a career in mathematical- instrument making. He learned how to craft the instruments from his father and grandfather.
In 1755, Watt started working in an instrument-making workshop. There, he met John Morgan who taught him the craft of making instruments with a little pay. In just one year, Watt learned all the necessary skills and made a successful career out of it. Even though Watt never had any musical talent, his instruments were better than those made by music experts. Next year, he returned to Glasgow to start his own business of instrument-making. In 1757, Watt set up his shop at the university campus
with his friend. For the next six years, Watt and John Craig built many musical instruments and toys. He was known as the ‘mathematical instrument maker’ at the university. During this time, he met the famous economist Adam Smith.
Watt developed an interest in building the steam engine. He met John Robinson, who introduced Watt to the science and technology behind it. He first got the chance to make an instrument, when one of his professors directed his attention towards a Newcomen steam en- gine that was not working properly. Thomas Newcomen had built the engine to pump out the water in the mines. James knew that he could use this engine for more than just pumping water. He saw the potential and the profit in it.
For many years, he worked on this model. It took him a lot of time to design it. In 1775, he came up with a method to change and improve the engine, which led to the invention of the modern steam engine. He was the first person to suggest a separate condenser for the engine.
In 1775, he got a patent for his steam engine called ‘A New Invented Method of Lessening the Consumption of Steam and Fuel in Fire Engines. The invention of the steam engine played a major role in the Industrial Revolution and helped Great Britain with its economic growth.
Watt replicated the previous Newcomen model to improve the production method. Watt opened the Boulton & Watt Company with Matthew Boulton, where they sold steam engines. The demand for his engine grew all over the world. Watt’s company employed many people to run the business, which benefited the society. In 1784, Watt made further improvements to the steam engine and patented his steam locomotive. By the end of the seventeenth century, both Watt and Boulton were wealthy
men. He retired a few years later and used his wealth to pursue other interests like improving oil lamps and measuring distances with a telescope.
For his significant contribution to the society, he received many awards. In 1784, Watt became a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1787, he was selected as a member of the Batavian Society for Experimental Philosophy. In 1806, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in law by the University of Glasgow. After his death, James’ last name ‘Watt’ was included in the unit of power in the International System of Units.
Watt married Margaret Miller in 1764. She died while giving birth. He got married for the second time in 1777 to Ann Macgregor.
James died at the age of 83, on 25th August, 1819 in England.

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