James Watt (19 January 1736 – 25 August 1819) was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer whose improvements to the Newcomen steam engine were fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both the Kingdom of Great Britain and the world.
- I can think of nothing else than this machine.
- in a letter to a friend, Dr. Lind, April 29, 1765.
- It is not worth my while to manufacture in three countries only; but I can find it very worthwhile to make it for the whole world.
- Attributed to James Watt in: Joel Mokyr, The lever of riches: Technological creativity and economic progress. Oxford University Press, 1992. p, 245
"Notes on Professor Robison's Dissertation on Steam-engines" (1769)
"Notes on Professor Robison's Dissertation on Steam-engines" (1769) from Robison's Essays on Various Subjects of Mechanical Philosophy (1822) ed. David Brewster Vol. 2, p. 347
Quotes about James Watt
- If the Steam Engine be the most powerful instrument in the hands of man, to alter the face of the physical world, it operates, at the same time, as a powerful moral lever in forwarding the great cause of civilization. ...If ...we are now met to consider of placing a monument to the memory of Mr. Watt beside the monuments of those who fell in the splendid victories of the last war, let it not be said that there is no connexion between the services of this modest and unobtrusive benefactor of his country, and the triumphs of the heroes which those monuments are destined to commemorate. ...It has been often said, that many of the great discoveries in science are due to accident; but it was well remarked by [Humphry Davy]... that this cannot be the case with the principal discovery of Mr. Watt. ... Again, it has frequently happened that those philosophers, who have made brilliant and useful discoveries... have only been able to turn their discoveries to the purpose of averting evils threatening, and often destroying, the precarious tenure of human existence. Thus Franklin disarmed the thunderbolt, and conducted it innocuous through our buildings, and close to our fire-sides—thus Jenner stripped a loathsome and destructive disease of its virulence, and rendered it harmless of devastation—thus [Davy]... sent the safety lamp into our mines to save... their useful inhabitants from the awful explosion of the fire damp. But the discovery of Mr. Watt went further: he subdued and regulated the most terrific power in the universe,—that power which, by the joint operation of pressure and heat, probably produces those tremendous convulsions of the earth, which in a moment subvert whole cities, and almost change the face of the inhabited globe. This apparently ungovernable power Mr. Watt reduced to a state of such perfect organization and discipline... that it may now be safely manœuvred and brought into irresistible action—irresistible, but still regulated, measured, and ascertained—or lulled into the most complete and secure repose, at the will of man, and under the guidance of his feeble hand. Thus one man directs it into the bowels of the earth, to tear asunder its very elements, and bring to light its hidden treasures; another places it upon the surface of the waters, to control the winds of heaven, to stem the tides, to check the currents, and defy the waves of the ocean; a third, perhaps and a fourth, are destined to apply this mighty power to other purposes, still unthought of and unsuspected, but leading to consequences, possibly not less important than those which it has already produced. ... those benefits, conferred by Mr. Watt on the whole civilized world, have been most experienced by his own country, which owes a tribute of national gratitude to a man, who has thus honoured her by his genius, and promoted her well being by his discoveries.
- William Huskisson, "Speech at the Public Meeting held at Freemasons' Hall, on the 18th June, 1824 for Erecting a Monument to the late James Watt; the Earl of Liverpool in the Chair," in The Speeches of the Right Honorable William Huskisson(1831)