First published in 1824, this book charts the history of the steam engine from its roots in ancient Greece to the sophistication it had achieved by the early nineteenth century. Written at the height of the Industrial Revolution, when the use of steam power was dramatically transforming the nature of industry, this was the first comprehensive study of the subject. Beginning with the first recorded use of steam power by the Greek mechanic Hero, it covers inventions by Savery, Papin and Newcomen, up to the 'grand improvements' made by Watt during the eighteenth century, by which point steam engines were powering all manner of factory machinery. This is a fascinating account, underpinned by sound engineering knowledge and illustrated with numerous diagrams, and it conveys the wonder that went hand-in-hand with living at a time when such inventions were revealing the true potential of science and technology.
Robert Stuart was a nineteenth-century civil engineer.