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James Watt

James Watt
(1736-1819)

Pioneer of the steam engine

Instrument-maker who modified the steam engine - until then limited in its use - giving it a far wider range of applications; Watt’s work underpinned the technology explosion that became the Industrial Revolution. Other inventions included a steam locomotive (which he did not develop) and a chemical document copier. He was first to use the term ‘horsepower’ and he discovered the composition of water. As an instrument-maker he also took surveying work to boost his income, and successfully surveyed many of Scotland’s canals. The unit of power, the ‘watt’, is named after him.