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The century of the Industrial Revolution is also the course of a plethora of pioneers, engineers, architects, inventors, that have disrupted the lives of millions of people by developing the machinery. Get rid of horsepower and manpower has been the focusing of many "engineers" since antiquity. Hiero of Alexandria was propably the father of all pioneers in steam power. As early as 50 or 60 ad, he designed the very first practical steam engine, while converting steam to motion in a very simple, compact design. It was the Aeolipile. However this last has few applications, yet he used the principle to build fancy machineries used for special effects in temples...

Ideas of steam egines flourished during the renaissance. Even the great Leonardo da Vinci worked on a "rediscovered" marvel of ancient times : Archimedes steam cannon. But it was not before the XVIIth century that those ideas were really put to the test, and far more time before any application on a floating device, other than for show. In The old traditions of the wooden Navy partly explain the very slow transition period that will waive shipping sail only for steam only : The first commercial steamship appears as early as 1810, but the last sailing cargo ships do not disappear until about 1930. Below follows a list of famous engineers, being set up.

Denis Papin

The grandfather of steam power.

Denis Papin was a french engineer of the XVIIth century. While observing cooking pots, he realized through mathematics and experimentation that vacuum created by steam pressure can be use to pull a mechanical device. So he created a pressure cooker, the steam digester, in 1679. This simple device is still used today in many kitchens... While beeing a protestant Huguenot, he made most of his carreer in germany and worked with german and bristish scientists. He made the first piston steam engin in late 1690, and perfected it while in London from 1707 to his death in 1712. However, it has been destituted from the Royal Society, but his work was a great source of inspiration for Thomas Newcomen.

Thomas Savery

From a pressure cooker to a steam pump.

Thomas Savery (1650-1715) was a military engineer which attempted to create a device to pumping water out from coal mines. He turned about the works of Papain and his steam digester, and created a device capable of using effectively pressure : A cold water sprinkler was used to condense the steam, the vacuum created force out water through the pump with a bottom valve. This was a good device, but with limited motion however, and therefore was not a proper steam engine, but rather a steam vacuum pump, patended in 1698.

Thomas Newcomen

The first patented steam engine.

Working on Papin footsteps, Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729) used both the idea of the steam piston and Savery vacuum pump to create a new model of steam engine, using the motion of a particular device to create a vacuum, rather than a valve only. It became the very first patented steam, one-stroke, controlled engine, also called the atmospheric engine, patended with John Calley, in 1712. It was also used to pump out water form coal mines, but the implied lever principle as the very first practical motion system of its kind. Such "newcomen devices" are still in use roughly unchanged, to extact petroleum. The machinery was used as a base and perfected by James Watt.


James Watt

The steam engine reloaded...

James watt was a scottish inventor and mechancical engineer (1736-1819) that, while a student in Glasgow universisty, was given the task to repair the Newcomen engin, then in poor condition. However, he did far better and added several invention of his own to create more pressure and more power. His main upgrading was the 1769 patended separate condenser connected to a cylinder by a valve. This improved machine was the basis of all upcoming steam machines to be built, in England and abroaad, and paved the way for the industrial revolution. His influence was such at the beginning of the XIXth century that the pressure measure was named after him.


Claude Jouffroy d'Abban.

The word first steamship.

If Fulton is celebrated as the father of the most reliable, workable steam engine that can used on a ship, in reality it had indeed been preceded by the French mathematician Claude Jouffroy d'Abban. He himself was inspired by fellow Nicolas Cugnot who in 1770 with the goblin gave France its first "steam car" under the form of an artillery tractor. Indeed, Marquis Claude François de Jouffroy d'Abban created a practical, working steamship as early as 1773, with the Pyroscaphe. But after several attemps to have a more powerful engine, the last attempt occured in 1783 on the river Saône, but eventually was unsuccesful : The machine broke off after only 15 min. of steam motion. However he paved the way for other pioneers to come, although the revolution put an end to further evolutions of these trials in France.

Robert Fulton

The first practical steamships.

None can claim to be the inventor of something as potent and in such timescale as the steam energy. Fulton, like others, relied on the work already made by Watts and his predecessors. But it is the first to create operationally reliable machines of this type, and the first practical, reliable steamships. But it is also, like many of his contemporaries, a prolific inventor and jack-of-everything: He notably created a practical submersible, called the Nautilus, which was honored by Jules Vernes later in his famous "40 000 leagues under the seas". But Fulton is mostly reckoned with the first reliable ship steam engine ever.


Dupuy de Lôme

A visionary warship designer...

This French engineer, forenamed Stanislas-Henri-Laurent, born near Lorient, Britanny, headed the Navy's technical center and was a practical visionary who knew how to get rid of the traditional marine concepts and gave France a number of exceptional ships, leaders of their kind and known precursors : the Napoleon, the first steam-powered, screw-propelled ship of the line, the Gloire ("Glory"), the first ocean-going ironclad, a new compound armor, the first ironclad ram, "Taureau" ("Bull"), and the first operational submarine, the "plongeur" ("diver"). He also designed and operated succesful navigable balloons during the siege of Paris in 1870. Contemporary of Jules Verne, no doubt it inspired him greatly ...

Somebody knows a picture please ?

Benjamin Franklin Tibbets

The first coumpound engine.

The Canadian is also the inventor of the first compound engine in 1820, he adapted the steamer "Reindeer."

Charles Algernon Parsons

The steam turbine

This famous Engineer invented the first compound steam turbine, which has a tremedous impact on the ability to ships of all size to achieve great speeds. Born in 1854 in Ireland, he spent his carrer as an engineer, working for Armstrong, and later Clarke, Chapman and co., working on several devices including rocked-powered torpedoes. Starting from the Gustav de Laval turbine, he improved it in 1884 and created a new model of turbine designed to create a heavy load of electricity. Then in 1889, he founded the C. A. Parsons and Company to built turbo-generators. His first megawatt turbine was built in 1899 for a german plant. Then he made a compact design to be part of a ship propulsion, founding the Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company in 1897, always in Newcastle. His first ship, the turbinia, a fast yacht, was intended to demonstrate his ideas to the admiralty. The very same year, he displayed the ship at the Diamond jubilee of queen Victoria, and the lavish naval parade held at Portsmouth in june, before the eyes of the admiralty and the Royal family, reachig an amazing speed of 34 knots (at this time, the fastest torpedo-boat was using triple expansion watertube boilers were barely able of reaching more than 27 knots...) So this was an instant success, quickly followed by two experimental destroyers ordered by the First sea lord, then two liners, and eventually ending with the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought in 1906... Since then, the Parsons turbines were used and patended or built under licence everywhere. In 1930, some turbines-propelled cruisers were capable of reaching speeds of 42 knots and more...

Babcock and Wilcox

The watertube boilers

These two American engineers (Georges H. Babcock and Stephen Wilcox) devised the boiler water tube, making it much safer than before. This type has a single drum, with feedwater drawn from the bottom of the drum into a header that supplies inclined water-tubes. The water tubes supply steam back into the top of the drum. Furnaces are located below the tubes and drum. Other boilers were also remarkable like the Stirling boiler, which was a four-drum model, and the famous Yarrow boiler, with a three-drum design in delta formation connected with watertubes. Later, they built the triple expansion watertube boiler, which was the most efficient boiler arrangement ever created, making the ship really fast, although not as fast as turbine ship.

David Bushnell

The first military submarine.

Co-inventor of the submarine, Bushnell was the author of the "Turtle" which he presented to both the Royal Navy and Napoleon, he was not convinced ... David Bushnell, born in 1740 at Westbrook, Connecticut was a prolific American inventor, which started his carrer as soon as 1775, when a student as Yale university, while creating the "Turtle", during the american revolution. He first made the first time bomb in order do sunk british warship anchored at New York Harbor, while piercing their hull to implant the bomb, but their iron protection was just impassable. The second attempt made, with the turtle, was to place a mine alongside HMS Cerberus at Niantic Bay. Be he instead sunk a light vessel which was moored alongside and this was a failure. Two other attemps was unsuccessful. He ended the war as captain of a special elite unit, the "Corps of Sappers and Miners", created by Washington in 1778, then travelled in France after the war, unsuccesfully trying to convince Napoleon to built his submarine. He ended his life as a professor in Warrengton , Georgia in 1824, but was honored before his death by a medal by Washington and is still revered by US Navy today.

Maxime Laubeuf

The first true modern submarine.

While Bushnell is still the true father of the submarine, we can only recognize Laubeuf as making the first truly efficient, modern submarine. Born in 1864 at Poissy, near Paris, he was graduated of the Ecole Polytechnique, and then, the ENSTA, the marine engineers school. In began his carrer in 1891 and soon became interested in submarines. In 1905 there was an admiralty request for a new mass-production and advanced capabilities submarine : They required a 200 ton vessel with a surface speed of 12 knots and a 100 mile range, with a submerged speed of 6 knots and a 10 mile range. There was 29 responses, and where more prestigious engineers still struggling around complicated designs hich has excellent submarine capabilities but poor surface performances, he just took the hull of a torpedo boat and made it submersible, reversing the concept, and doing so, he gave the Narval excellent surface capabilities and greatly enhanced its range and overall efficiency, along with other improvements, winning the competition. The admiralty was impressed and soon after purchased two classes of Laubeuf style submarines. It quiclky became a standard. After it, german, italian, and japanese submarines were built on the same model, while soon, the American Holland-type used by American and British navies were also replaced by Laubeuf style submarines.