Unarguably one of the most important inventions of the Industrial Revolution is the steam engine. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that if it weren’t for the invention of steam engine, the world today would have been a very different place.
Everything from transportation, mining, to agriculture and manufacturing would not have achieved the breakthrough it was able to, had it not been for the steam engine invention.
It is in collective agreement by most of the noted historians that Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot should be credited for building the first true automobile with the help of a steam powered tricycle.
His invention was considered nothing short of magic when it ran for a straight 20 minutes at a speed of 3.6km per hour carrying 4 people in the carriage. It was self-sufficient to run for another 20 minutes after getting some steam power.
Cugnot relied on the theoretical descriptions of the French physicist Denis Papin to invent the steam tractor, even though Thomas Newcomen and James Watt had much to say about it. Cugnot’s engine was the first steam-engine to utilize high-pressure steam without condensing it.
The vehicle wasn’t feasible for mass use; however, Cugnot managed to prove that it was possible to build and use steam-powered vehicles on the road. A replica of Cugnot’s second vehicle is still preserved in the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in the city of Paris.
This invention brought many great minds to work. Iconic inventors William Murdock in the year 1784 ran a steam engine carriage on the streets of Cornwall, followed by Robert Fourness who ran a steam powered tractor just four years after in 1788.
It was the first ever commercially successful design of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, that involved the use of highly efficient boiler and made trips as long as 135 km at a stretch and the top recorded speed of 27km per hour.