Before the press, shaping metal was a slow, difficult, expensive, and laborious process. The hydraulic press allows metal to be easily and inexpensively shaped. Today, the same hydraulics power a lot of modern industrial equipment.
Bramah, a farmer’s son, was an innovator who specialized in locks. He created and patented many types of locks. He also, as a digression to his primary work, invented the hydraulic press and receiving a patent in 1795.
Despite the importance of the innovation, Bramah appeared to earn his living from the lock business, not the press.
Bramah also innovated screw-propelled ships.
Henry Maudslay worked for Bramah and was central to core innovations, including building a system that could contain the pressures of the press. However, Maudslay left after Bramah refused him a raise to open his own shop.
Maudslay perfected and commercialized Bramah’s press and also created the screw cutting lathe. Both are key innovations of the Industrial Revolution.