Robert Fulton
Robert Fulton was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

 and inventor who is widely credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat
A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

. In 1800 he was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to design the Nautilus
Nautilus (1800 submarine)
Nautilus, first tested in 1800, is often considered the first practical submarine, though preceded by Cornelius Drebbel's of 1620.-Background:...

, which was the first practical submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 in history.

Fulton became interested in steamboats in 1777 when he visited William Henry
William Henry (delegate)
William Henry was an American gunsmith from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and a delegate for Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress in 1784, 1785, and 1786.-Biography:...

 of Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster is a city in the south-central part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the county seat of Lancaster County and one of the older inland cities in the United States, . With a population of 59,322, it ranks eighth in population among Pennsylvania's cities...

, who had earlier learned about James Watt's steam engine
Watt steam engine
The Watt steam engine was the first type of steam engine to make use of steam at a pressure just above atmospheric to drive the piston helped by a partial vacuum...

 on a visit to England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...