January 19, 1736
August 19, 1819
Significantly, the improvement in the functioning of steam engines by Scottish-born mathematician and engineer James Watt proved to be an important stage of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. The International System of Energy Unit (SI Unit) is named after him.
James Watt was born in Greenock, Scotland. But later his family moved to the city of Birmingham in England. He was educated in Birmingham and started his work there. James was an important member of the ‘Lunar Society’. The Lunar Society was a reputed club based in Birmingham whose members were well-known industrialists and scientists. Its members met regularly between 1765 and 1813 and held intensive discussions about the problems of the industrial and scientific fields and their solutions. At that time, club meetings used to be held on ‘full moon’ or full moon day due to lack of street lights. James was the lifeblood of this club. He found during his research that the engine can be made useful if there is any way to control the speed of the steam engine. He eventually adopted the centrifugal governor to control the speed of the steam engine. By the way, centrifugal governor was already being used to control the speed of windmill and watermill. James invented parallel motion linkage (parallel motion contact system) to convert circular motion (circular motion) to straight line motion (straight line motion). He also devised the steam indicator diagram to measure the steam pressure in the cylinder throughout the engine’s work cycle. This made it easy to know the capacity of the engine. Watt made such subtle changes to the blunt type of steam engine that its use became simple and practical. He started the business of building a steam engine he developed in 1774 in Soho near Birmingham with Matthew Bolton. In 1784 he obtained a patent for a steam locomotive. He traveled from this world at the age of 83.