Full steam ahead: the journey from Thomas Newcomen to James Watt
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Full steam ahead: the journey from Thomas Newcomen to James Watt

Early water pump for mines paved the way for Watt’s steam engine.

Vintage engraving of Newcomen atmospheric engine.
Vintage engraving of Newcomen atmospheric engine. The atmospheric engine was invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, and is often referred to simply as a Newcomen engine. The engine was operated by condensing steam drawn into the cylinder, thereby creating a partial vacuum which allowed the atmospheric pressure to push the piston into the cylinder. Credit: duncan1890/Getty Images.
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