1712 With the boom of Britain's coalfields came a need for a machine that could pump water out of the mines. The solution arrived in 1698 when English engineer Thomas Savery (1650-1715) patented the first steam-driven engine, which used the force of built-up steam to generate mechanical motion and drive a water pump.
A few years later, Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729), a blacksmith who worked for Savery, perfected his boss's engine. His atmospheric steam engine, invented in 1712, worked slowly, but it was safer than Savery's because it did not rely on dangerous high pressure.
Newcomen's steam engine helped power the industrial revolution during the next 50 years. Then, in 1765, after repairing one of Newcomen's engines, the Scottish, inventor James Watt (1736-1819) realized that its alternate heating and cooling processes wasted a lot of energy. His design, which collected the steam in a separate condenser, made the steam engine three times more efficient and would go on to replace the aging Newcomen machines in Britain's coal mines.