[In the beginning...] [1600-1699] [1700-1799] [1800-1899] [1900-1999]

   1712: Thomas Newcomen, in collaboration with Thomas Savery, builds the first practical steam engine to use a piston and cylinder, bringing the steam engine out of the lab. It drives a pump in a mine and produces about 5.5 horsepower.

   1753: First steam engine arrives in the colonies from England.

   1753: In England, an Act of Parliament forbids steam-engine manufacture outside of the home islands.

   1755: First steam engine in America is installed to pump water from a mine.

1759: John Smeaton publishes the results of his research on the performance of windmills. He concludes that windmills cannot compete with the powerful steam engines.

   1765: Scottish inventor James Watt patents the separate condenser.

   1769-70: French Army officer, Captain Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot builds a steam carriage (a steam-powered military gun tractor). This is considered the first true automobile.

   1769: James Watt patents a practical steam engine.

   1774: Englishman James Watts builds first “modern” stationary steam engine.

   1776: With the U.S. Declaration of Independence and freed of colonial restraints, Americans set up steam engine manufacturing plants in Boston, Massachusetts and Gloster, Rhode Island.

   1779:First steam powered mills. Crompton's "mule" combines Hargreaves' and Arkwright's machines, fully automating the weaving process.

   1781-1787: British inventors James Watt, William Murdock, and William Symington, introduce several major improvements to steam-powered land vehicles:

  • Epicyclic gear for translating piston motion into cyclic action (1782)
  • Differential (1783)
  • William Murdoch steam engine model runs 6 to 8 mph (1784)
  • Uniflow engine - piston itself acts as the steam valve and can operate at very high pressures (1786)
  • Coiled-spring suspension (1787)

   1783: American inventor Oliver Evans patents the tube boiler. Marked increases in engine efficiency result.

 1784: The first flour mill in England successfully substituted a steam engine for a wind power.

 1786: Arkwright puts a Watt engine in the Albion cotton mill, Blackfriars Bridge, London.

   1787: First steamboat in America is demonstrated on the Delaware River at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

   1790: Oliver Evans applied for a U.S. patent for a steam land carriage, which he called the “oruktor amphibolos.”

[In the beginning...] [1600-1699] [1700-1799] [1800-1899] [1900-1999]

Site Coordinator: Lori Niemuth
Last updated: July 24, 2007