Thomas Newcomen

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Newcomen, Thomas

(nyo͞o`kəmən, nyo͞okŭm`ən), 1663–1729, English inventor of an early atmospheric steam engine (c.1711). It was an improvement over an earlier engine patented (1698) by Thomas Savery, who shared the later patent with Newcomen. This improved engine was used successfully to pump water.


See study by L. Rolt (1965).

Newcomen, Thomas


Born Feb. 28, 1663, in Dartmouth; died Aug. 7, 1729, in London. English inventor. A blacksmith by trade.

In 1705, together with the tinsmith J. Calley (or Cawley), Newcomen built a steam pump. Work on improving the pump lasted about ten years, until the pump was operating reliably (1712). In Newcomen and Calley’s device, the engine was connected to the pump. Newcomen could not patent his invention, since a patent for a steam-driven water-lifter had been granted in 1698 to T. Savery, with whom Newcomen later collaborated. Newcomen’s steam engine was not a universal prime mover; it operated only as a pump. However, Newcomen’s work merits recognition because he was among the first to convert into practice the concept of using steam to produce mechanical work. The Newcomen Society for the Study of the History of Engineering and Technology is named in his honor.


Konfederatov, I. Ia. Istoriia teploenergetiki: Nachal’nyi period (17–18 vv.). Moscow-Leningrad, 1954.
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