It Started A Revolution

Famous old Watt steam engine

Famous old Watt steam engine, built in 1799 in Birmingham, England.


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The following is an article from the Pictorial Living Magazine from the May 29, 1960 Sunday Edition of Chicago's American Newspaper. It was sent to us by ESKET BAXTER, Creston, Illinois. We thank him.

Way back when, before educational television and before Karl Marx, a young Scot with almost no schooling helped to start a revolution.

His name was James Watt, and the revolution was an industrial one. With his invention of the steam engine and its gradual adoption, mechanical energy began replacing muscular energy.

Watt, 33 years old and in debt, patented his contraption in 1769. Despite the distance in time and space, one of his creations still lives and right here near Chicago.

The Watt engine, built in 1799 in Birmingham, England, for a textile mill, is now being displayed in the Hall of Progress, 254 N. Laurel Ave., Des Plaines. The engine operated in that mill and several other factories until 1945, which means it had a useful life of more than 145 years.

In a sense, of course, it's still useful, enabling school children, students and other interested persons to see a device that in this day and and age, is somewhat akin to a dinsaur.

The engine is one of a number of worthwhile exhibits in the Hall, which is open free from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday. The exhibition is sponsored by the Do All company, distributors of machine tools.

One of the most interesting features of all is a gigantic disc affixed to the west wall. On the wall to the right is this explanation:

'Recorded in the 10 classifications of this symbolic sunburst are principal inventions and new concepts which together are responsible for our age of abundance.'

In each of the 10 segments, there are replicas of the items mentioned. Some of the information included is, briefly:

1660 - 1st American printed newspaper.

1704- 1st advertisement in America

1867 - 1st practical typewriter.

1879 - Cash Register is invented

1897 - Diesel engine is developed

These are just samples chosen at random. Each segment, from Agriculture and Food Production to Welfare of the Individual, contains material that illuminates the viewer's understanding of the industrial revolution. This isn't intended to disillusion anyone, but the Watt engine whirring along there isn't fueled by coal, as it was in the old days. Here it's actuated by a concealed electric motor.