Where Did the Term Horsepower Originate From?

Horsepower is a common term when speaking of automobiles. Most people have a general idea of what it means. The word is often used to put vehicles and machinery in a certain class. It is understood that more horsepower means a higher quality of the engine. Whereas less horsepower may represent less strength, but an automobile that is designated for specific purposes.

The word itself was invented by an engineer named James Watt. Watt created a steam engine in the 1800s. James needed to market his product. He came up with a unique way to help people understand what his equipment was capable of doing. Watt had spent time in the coal mines. He observed the work of the horses in the area. He estimated that each one could do 22000 pounds of work in one minute. James rounded the number up to 33,000. His estimate means that a vehicle with 1 horsepower can pull 33 pounds in 1 minute.

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