Understanding the History of Horsepower

Horsepower is a useful unit of measurement. It helps describe the power of an engine. This unit of measurement is now considered commonplace in our modern society but was unknown until the eighteenth century. James Watt, a Scottish inventor, an engineer had developed an innovative steam engine. He was confident that this new engine would not only help coal mine owners be more efficient. His customers were not as excited about this new machine as he had predicted. They were happy with the work that their horses produced and were reluctant to try Watt's new engine.

Watt devised a plan to prove that his machine would not only match what the horses could do, but exceed it. James Watt studied the work of horses in the coal mine. He measured and calculated to discover that the average horse could move about 33,000 pounds of coal one foot in one minute. This was the only calculation he needed to develop the unit of measurement that we now call the horsepower.

The use of the horsepower was widely accepted by Watt's customers who were now more interested in purchasing the steam engine. Other companies saw the success Watt was having and adopted the idea of using horsepower to sell their machines too. Horsepower became so widely accepted and had stood the test of time and is still in use today.

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