According to the BBC, the steam engine offered an unprecedented way to generate power, leading to numerous advancements in technology, manufacturing, transportation and other fields. Ultimately, these advancements led to massive social changes as well, reducing dependence on manual labor and helping to lift entire populations out of poverty.
The invention of the steam engine was a game-changer in many different ways. First, it allowed the generation of power from a chemical source, burning coal to create steam and converting that into physical energy. This led to the development of transportation systems based around steam engine technology such as the locomotive and the steamship, drastically reducing the time it took to transport people and goods across long distances.
It also led to advancements in automation and manufacturing, since that same physical energy could be used to drive tools. A single worker armed with steam power could do the work of dozens if not hundreds of manual laborers in the same time period. Finally, steam power led to the one invention that made the modern world possible: electricity. Steam turbines were the first method of generating electric power on a large scale, and even in the modern world, technologies such as coal, natural gas and even nuclear power generation rely on steam to generate the power that drives the world.