The History of Horsepower

Most people have heard of "horsepower." It is a term that is important for those looking to buy anything from a lawn mower to a new truck. Even though the term is part of everyday speech, most people aren't entirely sure of the meaning or origin.

James Watt (1736 - 1819) was an engineer who has become known as the originator of the term "Watt" as a unit to measure power. He is also responsible for many inventions and innovations, including improvements in the field of steam engine manufacturing. Watt, who was working with ponies in a coal mine, observed that an average pony could lift approximately 220 lbf (pound force) at about 100 feet per minute. Watt then decided that a full-grown horse could lift about 50% more than a pony and did some calculations. Watt came to the conclusion that a single horse had the power of 33,000 foot-pounds of work per minute.

James Watt started using the term "horsepower" in advertisements to sell his newest steam engine. He used this term to appeal to a society and customer base used to using actual horses to do manual labor.

Today we still use the term horsepower to refer to an engine's power. To find out more about horsepower and how to choose the right car, contact Bill Hood Mazda in Hammond, LA.

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