Thomas Newcomen was an English blacksmith, who invented the atmospheric steam engine, an improvement over Thomas Slavery's previous design. The atmospheric engine invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1712, often referred to as a Newcomen engine, was the first hands-on device to harness the power of steam, which then produces mechanical work. Newcomen engines were used throughout Britain and Europe, mainly to pump water out of mines, starting in the early 18th century. This is an Illustration of Thomas Newcomen's Engine around 1712.
Newcomen engines were used throughout Britain and Europe, mainly to pump water out of mines, starting in the early 18th century. James Watt's later Watt steam engine was an improved version of the Newcomen engine. As a result, Watt is today better known than Newcomen in relation to the origin of the steam engine.
The Newcomen steam engine used the force of atmospheric pressure to do the work. Thomas Newcomen's engine pumped steam into a cylinder. The steam was then condensed by cold water which created an empty space on the inside of the cylinder. The resulting atmospheric pressure operated a piston, creating downward strokes.