In the 16th century or before invention of steam engine all work was done by manually and by help of bull.
In the 19th century, steam engines were used as the prime mover for transportation in locomotives, steam ships, traction engines, steam lorries and later in road vehicles such as the Stanley Steamer. Steam engines powered industrial utilities such as water pumping stations. Steam engines were the power source that made the Industrial Revolution possible, and saw widespread commercial use powering machinery in factories and mills.
In non-mobile applications, steam engines at the point-of-use have since been largely replaced by electric motors connected to the electric grid. However, the power plants that supply power to the electric grid, predominantly use steam turbines, so indirectly they are still steam powered. In mobile applications, nearly all small steam engines have since been superseded by internal combustion engines. Notable exceptions are the marine prime movers of some large ocean vessels.
A steam engine requires a boiler to heat water into steam. The expansion of steam exerts force upon a piston or turbine blade, whose motion can be harnessed for the work of turning wheels or driving other machinery. The expanded steam must be condensed and reused, or replaced by a source of cold water. This 'feedwater' is typically pumped up to a high boiler pressure. As in a pressure cooker, pressure raises the boiling point, and this is essential to run the turbine efficiently and effectively. One of the advantages of the steam engine is that any heat source can be used to raise steam in the boiler, the most common being the combustion of wood (biomass), coal or oil. In general, these fuels are more economical to use than the fuels that can be used in internal combustion engines.