Watt's Perfect Engine: Steam and the Age of Invention
As the inventor of the separate-condenser steam engine -- that Promethean symbol of technological innovation and industrial progress -- James Watt has become synonymous with the spirit of invention, while his last name has long been immortalized as the very measurement of power. But contrary to popular belief, Watt did not single-handedly bring about the steam revolution. His "perfect engine" was as much a product of late-nineteenth-century Britain as it was of the inventor's imagination.
As one of the greatest technological developments in human history, the steam engine was a major progenitor of the Industrial Revolution, but it was also symptomatic of its many problems. Armed with a patent on the separate-condenser principle and many influential political connections, Watt and his business partner Matthew Boulton fought to maintain a twenty-five-year monopoly on steam power that stifled innovation and ruthlessly crushed competition. After tinkering with boiling kettles and struggling with leaky cylinders for years without success, Watt would eventually amass a fortune and hold sway over an industry. But, as Ben Marsden shows, he owed his astonishing rise as much to espionage and political maneuvering as to his own creativity and determination.
This is a tale of science and technology in tandem, of factory show-spaces and international espionage, of bankruptcy and brain drains, lobbying and legislation, and patents and pirates. It reveals how James Watt -- warts and all -- became an icon fit for an age of industry and invention.
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Breeding an Inventor
Making an Instrumentmaker
The Business of Natural Philosophy
Learning About the Newcomen Engine
Watts Perfectible Engine
Taking the Measure of Horsepower
Southerns Steam Indicator
Circumnavigating Watt Pirates and Patents
Manufacturing and Marketing the Business of the Steam Engine
My dear philosophe James Watt Man of Science
Patenting Nature? Watt and the Water Controversy
Watts Temperamental Engine
An Experiment in Engineering
From Roebuck to Boulton
New Life for Old Patents
A County of Fire Engines
Doubling Rotating Expanding and Indicating
the Hunt for a Rotative Engine
Circling Around Pickard
Making a Doubleacting Engine
Watts Parallel Motion
Not Making a Highpressure Expansive Engine
the Centrifugal Governor
James Watt Thomas Beddoes and Factitious Airs
The Appliance of Science or the Sciences of the Steam Engine
The Progeny of Steam Planes Trains and Automobiles?
Monuments and Myths Reimagining Watt
Solitary or Social?
the Topographical Watt
the Monumental Watt
Watt With or Without Warts?