This is a guest post written by Anton Howes and animated by Matt Brown of Extraordinary Facility. This project was sponsored by The Roots of Progress, with funding generously provided by The Institute:

Steam power did not begin with the steam engine. Long before seventeenth-century scientists discovered the true nature of vacuums and atmospheric pressure, steam- and heat-using devices were being developed. Here we’ll explore the long, little-known story of how the steam engine evolved. And have fun playing with the ancient devices.

Some of the interactive animated diagrams:

Read the full essay and try out the diagrams here.

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