Robert Fulton born in Pennsylvania on the 14th November 1765. When he was 21, Fulton went to England in 1786 to study painting. There he met James Rumsey who sat for a portrait in the studio of Benjamin West, where Fulton was apprenticing. Later on he put his efforts to engineering, specializing in canal navigation and shipbuilding. In 1797 Fulton went to France , where the Marquis Claude de Jouffroy had made a working paddle steamer and commenced experimenting with submarine torpedoes and torpedo boats. He designed the first practical submarine, Nautilus, commissioned by Napoleon. Nautilus was first tested in 1800. In that year he met Robert Livingston, United States Ambassador (whose niece he married), and they decided to build a steamboat to try out on the Seine. Fulton experimented with the water resistance of hull shapes, made drawings and models and had a steamboat constructed. At the first trial it sank, but the hull was rebuilt and strengthened, and on August 9, 1803, this boat steamed up the River Seine, watched by a 1 person crowd. The boat was 66 feet long, 8 feet abeam and made between 3 - 4 mph against the current. In 1807, Fulton and Livingston built the first commercial steamboat, the 'North River Steamboat' (later known as the 'Clermont'), which carried passengers between New York and Albany.After 'Clermont' he built more than a dozen other steamships, a torpedo boat and, under the direction of the U.S. Congress, a steam-powered frigate.
Robert Fulton died in February 24, 1815.
Picture from Wikipedia