Machine of the day: Boulton & Watt steam engine
It might not look like much, but this is the invention and the machine that that powered the Industrial Revolution and made the modern world.
James Watt didn’t invent the steam engine – even the Ancient Greeks had a primitive steam engine – but he and his entrepreneurial partner Matthew Boulton did invent what was necessary for it to power industry, including radically increased fuel efficiency and power, and producing the output by rotation rather than by reciprocating motion.
The oldest surviving rotative engine was built by Boulton and Watt in 1785 for the London Brewery of Samuel Whitbread to drive the malt crushing mill. It’s now preserved in Sydney in the Power House Museum.