James Watt

1736 (Greenock, Scotland) – 1819 (Handsworth, England)

Watt did far more than mechanically improve the steam engine – he invented the concept of feedback, for example. In Scotland, Black got Watt employed as instrument-maker (the start of a long close friendship), Hutton became a close friend while Smith (perhaps unappreciative) also met him. Among Lunar Society colleagues in England, Priestley hugely admired him, Small advised him, the steam-enthusiast Darwin became a particularly close friend, while the entrepreneur Boulton entered a highly successful 25-year partnership with him. He developed equipment for Beddoes, sold engines to Fulton, contributed to Brewster’s encyclopaedia, and corresponded with Thomas Wedgwood (about photography), Berthollet and Coulomb.