The Legend of James Watt

The LegendOn January 19, 1736, James Watt was born in Greenoch Scotland. The son of a merchant and magistrate of Greenoch. Watt had his early education in the public school system in his home town. In 1755 he traveled to London, England to study the business of scientific instrument maker. While learning this trade, Watt also developed a knack for repairing musical instruments. He soon began to build musical instruments and was employed by the University of Glasgow from 1757 to 1763.

As Watt developed into a skilled instrument maker his interest turned to the finer scientific measuring devices. After leaving the employment of the University, Watt worked for the government as a surveyor and civil engineer. While working as a civil engineer Watt saw a need for improved measuring devices. This is when he invented the micrometer. The micrometer is used for measuring various small angles or dimensions.

The invention that gave Watt international acclaim was his modern steam engine. Although the steam engine had been invented years earlier it was an awkward and wasteful machine. It could be used only in pumping at a slow rate. Watt’s invention made it possible to use the steam engine for the purpose of driving machinery. The steam engine is continually being improved, the original Watt steam condensing engine is still employed.

While Watt was developing his steam engine business he continued to invent and develop more measuring devices. It was in this process that James Watt developed the system of electrical measurement which took his name… the “Watt”. His measurement was based on the rate of work represented by a current of one ampere under a pressure of one volt. Soon this measurement was being used throughout the world.

James Watt died at his home near Brimingham on August 25, 1819.

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