Kinematics of Mechanisms from the Time of Watt

by Eugene S. Ferguson

In an inventive tour de force that seldom, if ever, has been equalled for its brilliance and far-reaching consequences, James Watt radically altered the steam engine not only by adding a separate condenser but by creating a whole new family of linkages. His approach was largely empirical, as we use the word today.This study suggests that, despite the glamor of today's sophisticated methods of calculation, a highly developed intuitive sense, reinforced by a knowledge of the past, is still indispensable to the design of successful mechanisms. (Illustrated HTML available at


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