1780 - apprenticed as a stonemason. 1783 - changed to be apprenticed to his uncle as a millwright. 1787 - engaged as an engineer with James Inglis near Motherwell in Lanarkshire. 1788 - went to London to gain experience with the distinguished engineer John Rennie. 1790 - returned to Glasgow. 1797 - became a member of the Glasgow Corporation of Wrights. 1798 - assisted by Glasgow engineer John Thomson, began experiments into ship propulsion by steam. 1806 - moved with his wife to Helensburgh where she had become the Superintendent of the new Baths Hotel. 1807 - became the first Provost of Helensburgh. 1812 - PS Comet was launched and, despite technical shortcomings, demonstrated the feasibility of paddle steam propulsion. 1819 - lengthened PS Comet by 20 feet. 1821 - following the sinking of PS Comet, designed and built a second 'Comet' which was lost off Greenock in 1825. 1822 - a Government White Paper gave him the credit for the first practical steamship.