Smaller, insular and steam powered boats that works on lakes and rivers are usually referred as SteamBoat. After being applied to larger ocean going vessels, steam power became more reliable. In 1729, English physician John Allen described and patented steamboat. Jonathan Hulls made Newcomen engine powered steamboat that used a pulley instead of a beam and for rotary motion it used a pawl and ratchet. In 1736, Jonathan Hulls was granted a patent for this in England.

First steam boat

Pyroscaphe was the first boat to be propelled by a steam engine. It was built in france by Claude-François-Dorothée, marquis de Jouffrey d'Abbans(He claimed to be the first inventor, had a life span 1751–1832) in 1783 and had 2 paddle wheels and was therefore a paddle steamer. The 45,2 m long boat had the first demonstration on 15 July 1783 on the river Saône in France. The vessel ran up with a speed of six miles per hour, in the presence of representative scientific men and thousands of enthusiastic spectators. It was not really successful, since the machinery of the ship failed after fifteen minutes of work, but in 1783 Jouffroy carried out a second trial with a much larger engine built three years earlier at Lyon. This larger boat, the Pyroscaphe , was propelled by two paddle wheels, substituted for the two “duck’s feet” used in the previous trial. In 1803, more than 20 years after d'Abbans inaugural trip, Robert Fulton would succeed in sailing a steamship of his conception on the Seine.

Most steamboats has same basic design. They had a body made of timber and a wooden paddlewheel. There are many types of steamboats in past. Main of them are:

*Paddle wheelers: Paddle wheelers are mostly built in 19th and 20th century. The paddlewheel had a circular center with spokes coming from it like a bicycle wheel. Planks were attached to the spokes to make the paddle. Boats with paddlewheels on the side are called sidewheelers. Boats with a paddle wheel at the rear are called sternwheelers.
*TugBoats: Tugboats assisted boats in entering ports and moved vessels hundreds of times their own weight. The Charlotte Dundas , built in 1802 by william symington, was the first steam powered tugboat.The first boat to serve exclusively as a tugboat in [New York\ Harbor was the Rufus King, in 1828.
*Snag Boats:Snag Boats removed snags that hindered river navigation from waterways. The first snagboat was Henry Miller Shreve's Heliopolis. The U.S. Snagboat Montgomery is one of the last two sternwheel snag boats in the United States. The other is the W.T. Preston.
*TowBoats: Towboats pushed barges up and down rivers, making trade more efficient. Towboats are still used today. As of 2008, they have been “a vital part of the U.S. marine transportation system which moves more than 800 million tons of cargo each year. They carry coal, grain and other commodities.
*ShowBoats: Showboats were the most famous steamboats. They were used for theatrical and musical performances, circuses, and parties. The showboat era ended in the 1940's. The Goldenrod, the last known showboat to be on the Mississippi, was tied permanently at St.Louis in 1943.