Robert Fulton is credited with creating the first fully functioning and successful paddle wheel steamboat in 1807. Fulton did not work alone on his designs or the creation of the boat. He was partnered with Robert Livingston, who held a monopoly on the rights to run steamboats in the New York area if he could meet certain criteria.
Livingston had to have a steamboat that would go a minimum of 4 miles per hour. The speed was not an issue once Fulton worked out issues with a weak hull. The first prototype was slow, but it gave the men the base form they needed and with a larger engine than the prototype they managed to travel up the Hudson River successfully at 5 miles per hour.