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Like the previous post, this is a difficult question to answer. A part of the reason for this is, because history is not easy to discern. If we take the basic concept of boiling water to create steam for power, then people in the ancient world did this. This has...

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Like the previous post, this is a difficult question to answer. A part of the reason for this is, because history is not easy to discern. If we take the basic concept of boiling water to create steam for power, then people in the ancient world did this. This has been known for a long time, probably over 2000 years ago. But the greatest strides in steam engines were made during the industrial revolution, where people burned coal or wood to create steam engines. During the industrial revolution, the engine developed further.

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The very first steam engine that we know about was built in ancient times by the Greek Hero of Alexandria (10-70).  He called it an "aeolipile" (see link for more info.)

In modern times, Englishman Thomas Savery (1650-1715) is credited with the first crude steam engine.  As is the case with most inventions, improvements or the addition of critical components that others may make to a device cause most to believe that those who improve it are the actual inventors.  Similar tales can be told for the telegraph and radio, for example.  In this case, Englishman Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729) and later, Scotsman James Watt (1736-1819) both modified the design of the steam engine so it was much more efficient and allowed it to be further developed into a power source for locomotion and manufacturing, leading to the Industrial Revolution.

 

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There are at least a few different ways you can answer this question.  That is because, as is the case with a lot of inventions, the first person who came up with any sort of steam engine is not the person who is most famous.

The first person you can credit is Thomas Savery.  He invented a crude steam engine in 1698.

The next one is Thomas Newcomen.  He and a partner built a steam engine in 1712 that was able to pump water up out of mines.

The most famous "inventor" of the steam engine was James Watt.  He modified the Newcomen engine very significantly.  His changes (made in the 1760s) were so important that he is often credited with inventing the steam engine.

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