About 2,000 years ago, Greek mathematician Hero experimented with steam power, constructing a rudimentary rotary steam engine. A spinning ball driven by steam jets, he considered the device a toy. More than 1600 years later, two British inventors began to turn steam power into practical devices, Thomas Savery in 1698 and Thomas Newcomen in 1705. James Watt further improved on their inventions, patenting several designs that earned him the title of father of the modern steam engine.