Robert Fulton (November 14, 1765 – February 24, 1815) was an American engineer and inventor who is widely credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat. In 1800 he was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to design the Nautilus, which was the first practical submarine in history.
Fulton became interested in steamboats in 1777 when he visited William Henry of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who had earlier learned about James Watt's steam engine on a visit to England. Robert Fulton died from exposure in 1815.
Robert Fulton was born on a farm in Little Britain, Pennsylvania, on November 14th, 1765. His father, Robert Fulton, was born in Ireland and emigrated to Philadelphia where he married Mary Smith. The father moved the family to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where the younger Fulton attended a Quaker elementary school. Fulton showed an early interest in mechanical things. He especially favored gunsmiths and even offered some suggestions that were adopted by the workmen. As a boy he built rockets and experimented with mercury and bullets. His friends nicknamed him “Quicksilver Bob.”