Technology develops over time in an unpredictable, haphazard fashion. We tend to think of a moment in history when one brilliant invention changes the world. The reality is more prosaic, of length, chaotic progression in which unrelated forces, over time, add, refine and apply technology.
The steam engine, the machine at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, illustrates this process. It was invented by Thomas Newcomen in 1711 to pump water out of his flooded coal mines. More than fifty years later, while repairing a Newcomen engine, James Watt refined it to produce more power, thereby enabling its wider deployment.