James Watt was born 19th January 1736 at Greenock and at this time no one would have even imagined his effect on the Industrial Revolution that was to occur within that century. When James was fifteen he had read books about and become accustomed to Philosophy (similar to modern physics). He had also completed many of his own chemical experiments and even started produce and construct his own products such as a small electronic device that startled his companions.
He soon became interested in astronomy and often spent long hours at night, lying in a grove near his home studying the night sky. He also enjoyed angling as his hobby and completed odd jobs to become known as a jack-of-all-trades. He sold and mended spectacles, fixed fiddles and constructed fishing rods and tackle. Watt met his first loss in 1753 when his mother unsuspectedly died. It was at this point that Watt decided to pursue his career and try and qualify himself to become a mathematical instrument maker. After James spoke to Professor Muirhead at the Glasgow University, he was introduced to several scientists who at the time encouraged him later to travel to London to further himself in instrument making.
In 1755 he set out on horseback and arrived in London after either twelve days or two weeks. He tried to get a job in the instrumentation field although the shopkeepers could not give him a job as he did not do an apprenticeship and was too old. Finally though he found John Morgan of a company called Cornhill who agreed to bend the rules and offer an apprenticeship for a year. James Watt knuckled down and wanted to learn everything he wanted in one year that would have normally taken three or four years. After six weeks Watt learned that much he outstripped another apprentice who had been at Cornhill for two years! After the apprenticeship Watt found it hard to set up shop in London and due to his father's ill health decided to spend some time at Greenock. He then moved to Glasgow...
References: Andrew Nahum, James Watt and the Power of Steam, Wayland Publishers, 1981
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