The Industrial Revolution changed life for most humans living throughout the world. From 1750 to 1850, incredible developments in agriculture, technology, mining, manufacturing and transportation, profoundly affected social and economic conditions initially in Great Britain, Western Europe, North America and Japan, ultimately spreading to around the globe. One of the most amazing inventions in the area of transportation, was the steam engine.
The steam engine, considered by many historians to be the single most important invention of the Industrial Revolution, had it origins about 40 years before the advent of the revolution. In 1712, Thomas Newcomen invented the atmospheric engine, which was improved upon by a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer James Watt. The steam engine was first used to pump water from mining sites, but quickly were being adopted by mills that genereated power with water. These mills had to be located near water, but once they started to utilize steam engines, they could build their factories anywhere.
From an economic standpoint, steam engines improved productivity and through time, smaller and more reliable engines were developed. Richard Trevithick developed a high-pressure engine, which led to their use in vehicles, farm equipment, boats and trains. From Trevithick's contributions, others began to perfect the engine, which allowed manufacturers to transport their products great distances within a relatively short period of time.
The Locomotive: one of hundreds of industrial uses for one of the greatest inventions of all time, the steam engine.