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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made
people:James Watt
Born: 19 January 1736 Greenock, Scotland
Died: 25 August 1819, Heathfield, Birmingham, England


picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library

British engineer and inventor.

Born in Greenock, Scotland, Watt set up business in Glasgow in 1757 as mathematical instrument maker to the University. In 1763/64, while repairing a Newcomen engine brought to his workshop, he found that he could improve the efficiency of the engine by using a separate steam condenser. In 1774 he went into partnership with Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) and began manufacture of the new engine in Birmingham.

Watt died on 25 August 1819. The SI unit of power is named after him.

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