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What did James Watt invent?

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Quick Answer

Between 1763 and 1775, James Watt invented a steam engine with an efficiency much greater than that of the other steam engines then in use. This new steam engine helped to power the Industrial Revolution.

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Full Answer

The Newcomen steam engine, invented in 1712, was in wide use in mines as a water-pumping mechanism by the time James Watt encountered it in 1763. He noticed that the machine wasted much of the energy it generated, and he eventually devised a separate condensation chamber for the steam, greatly improving efficiency. This improved efficiency enabled areas without huge fuel deposits to take advantage of industrial power, which allowed the Industrial Revolution to spread throughout England. Watt continued to improve his machine, allowing it to perform rotary motion, which was well suited to factory mechanization. Watt also invented machines for copying medallions and sculptures.

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