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James Watt   1736-1819

By Ralph Stein

James Watt was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer who is best known for perfecting the steam engine in 1755. In 1774, Watt partnered with English manufacturer Matthew Boulton. The firm of Boulton and Watt was eventually highly successful and Watt became a wealthy man. Watt was not particularly interested in the development of the automobile as was his assistant, William Murdoch. In 1784 Murdoch built a small, three-wheeled, non-passenger-carrying model, which ran away from him one night throwing out sparks and making an unholy row. It is said to be the first self-powered vehicle to terrify a pedestrian. Watt talked Murdoch out of building a full-scale model, as Watt was convinced that no vehicle could be invented to successfully negotiate English roads of that day at a worthwhile speed.

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