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James Watt was born in Greenock, Scotland, in 1736. He learned as an apprentice of a mathematical-instrument maker at the age of nineteen.

In 1757, James Watt established his own instrument-making business. Watt was later employed as an engineer on the Forth & Clyde Canal, Caledonian Canal, the improvement of harbors and in the deepening of the Forth, Clyde and other rivers in Scotland. 

In 1763, Watt was sent a Newcomen steam engine to repair. While repairing it, Watt discovered how to make it more efficient. Watt worked on the idea for several months and eventually produced a steam engine that cooled the used steam in a condenser separate from the main cylinder. 

After 1773, Watt's steam-engines were bought to miners in order for them to pump out the water.  Watt's machine was 4 times more powerful than the ones based on Thomas Newcomen's design.

In 1781, James Watt produced a rotary-motion steam engine.  His earlier machine, with its up-and-down pumping action, was ideal for draining mines, but this new steam engine could be used to drive many different types of machinery. Richard Arkwright utilized this new invention in his textile factories in 1783.  Many others bought this improved steam engine and by 1800, there were over 500 of Watt's machines in Britain's mines and factories. 

In 1755 Watt had been granted a patent by Parliament that prevented anybody else from making a steam-engine like the one he had developed.  James Watt charged highly on his engine since it was the best one invented yet.  He died in 1800. 

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