Robert Fulton (1765 - 1815) was an American inventor from Pennsylvania. He moved to France during the French Revolution and there started working on the "Nautilus" which was completed in 1800. It is considered the first practical submarine. Cornelius Drebbel (1572 - 1633) had worked on the creation on navigable submarines from 1620 to 1624 but his creations could only stay submerged for up to three hours and failed to generate sufficient interest. Fulton's creations was intended to have sufficient provisions for twenty days at sea. Fulton tried to sell the Nautilus to first the French Navy and then the British one but failed to convince officials of its usefulness.
He had more success while working on a steamboat. Several 18th century inventors had created steamboats, including Denis Papin (1647-1712), Jonathan Hulls (1699-1758), William Henry (1729-1786), Claude Francois Dorothee, Marquis de Jouffroy d'Abbans (1751-1832), James Rumsey (1743-1792), John Fitch (1743 - 1798), Patrick Miller (1730-1815) and William Symington (1764-1831). They had essentially improved on each other's designs but had all more or less failed to find commercial success for their inventions. Fulton managed to get his wealthy uncle-by-marriage Robert Livingston to finance the creation of the North River Steamboat.
The Steamboat was launched in 1807 and started making regularly scheduled trips across the Hudson River from New York to Albany. Managing to complete the distance in about 62 hours, including several stops, it outpaced other ships and gained the preference of several customers. It was the first commercialy succesful steamboat service. Fulton created two more ships to cover the increased demands for the steamboat's services, "Car of Neptune" (1809) and "Paragon" (1811). Fulton died a wealthy man.