|A overview of the history of thermodynamics, originated in the Galileo vacuum device (1632), followed by the Guericke engine (c.1670), based on Galileo's model, the Papin engine (1690), based on Guericke's ideas, and Hooke's heat engine principle (1675), culminating in the the Carnot engine (1824).|
In c.1645, Otto Guericke, after conjecturally having read Galileo’s Two New Sciences, based on the fact that he cited Galileo and his Two New Sciences in the opening pages of his New Magdeburg Experiments on the Vacuum of Space (1663), conducted his now-famous beer keg vacuum experiment, which resulted in him making a vacuum pump (1647), which resulted in his Guericke engine (c.1670).
In 1658, Robert Hooke, under the direction of Robert Boyle, made an improved version of Guericke’s vacuum pump, which the called the “pneumatical engine”.
In 1675, Hooke, in his “New Invention in Mechanics of Prodigious Use, Exceeding the Chimera’s of Perpetual Motions for Several Uses”, stated his new secret mechanical principle, namely: “the vacuum left by fire lifts a weight”, which he encrypted in a Latin anagram.
In 1676 to 1679, Denis Papin assisted Boyle in air pump experiments
In 1690, Papin presented his designs for his Papin engine, wherein, based on the Hooke vacuum engine principle, supposing that he learned this from Hooke during his apprenticeship, the basics of the steam engine were presented, in theory.
In the following decades, the Papin engine design became the prototype design for all modern steam engines: Miner’s friend (1698), Newcomen engine (1712), Smeaton engine (1775), Watt engine (1765-96), Woolf engine (1803), etc.
In 1824, Sadi Carnot assimilated the basic working principles of all previously built steam engines, into the model of the “Carnot engine”, the “Carnot cycle”, and the "thermodynamic system", via which thermodynamics, as a science, was initiated.
Core years | 1823-1882
See main: Thermodynamics pioneers (timeline-table)In a nutshell, thermodynamics is the science, developed between 1823 and 1882, that overthrew the caloric theory, vitalism, perpetual motion theory, and affinity theory, replacing them with the kinetic theory of heat, mechanical equivalent of heat, the conservation of energy (or force), entropy, and free energy, respectively.
The foundations of thermodynamics, according to American mathematical physicist Willard Gibbs, began to be laid in 1850, with the publication of “On the Motive Power of Heat, and on the Laws which can be Deduced from it for the Theory of Heat”, by German physicist Rudolf Clausius, which, according to Gibbs, “marks an epoch in history of physics”. 
The first chapter on the subject of "thermodynamics", according to Scottish physicist James Maxwell, was written by Scottish engineer William Rankine in his 1859 book A Manual of the Steam Engine and Other Prime Movers, titled “Principles of Thermodynamics”.  In the opening section of this chapter, in reference to the results of the mechanical equivalent of heat, Rankine defines thermodynamics as such:
“It is a matter of ordinary observation, that heat, by expanding bodies, is a source of mechanical energy; and conversely, that mechanical energy, being expended either in compressing bodies, or in friction, is a source of heat. The reduction of the laws according to which such phenomena take place, to a physical theory, or connected system of principles, constitutes what is called the science of thermodynamics.”
By mid 1870s, thermodynamics had become an independent branch of science. In the words of German physicist Rudolf Clausius, in the in the 1875 author’s preface to the second edition of his mechanical theory of heat, he states: “the Mechanical Theory of Heat, in its present development, forms already an extensive and independent branch of science.”  Likewise, according to the views of Gibbs: 
“If we say, in the words of Maxwell some years ago (1878), that thermodynamics is ‘a science with secure foundations, clear definitions, and distinct boundaries,’ and ask when those foundations were laid, those definitions fixed, and those boundaries traced, there can be but one answer. Certainly not before the publication of that memoir (Clausius, 1850).”
Historians of thermodynamics
Romanian-born American mechanical engineering thermodynamicist Adrian Bejan, in commentary on Jeffery Lewins’ 2009 book Thermodynamics: Frontiers and Foundations, considers Cambridge to have been one of the leading schools associated with historians of thermodynamics: 
“The University of Cambridge has been a leading “school” in the history of thermodynamics. To the names of Hawthorne, Pippard, Denbigh and Haywood, we now add Jeffery Lewins.”
The following are noted thermodynamics historians, so to speak, having produced books on aspects of thermodynamics history:
One of the first publications to devote a large part of its text to the "history of thermodynamics" was Scottish mathematical physicist Peter Tait's 1867 Sketch of Thermodynamics.  In 1979, Italian science historian Maffioli Cesare published A Strange Science: Materials for a Critical History of Thermodynamics.  Recently, there is was the 2007 A History of Thermodynamics by German physicist Ingo Müller. 
Date Historian Publication 1864 Peter Tait “On the History of Thermo-Dynamics” 1876 Peter Tait Sketch of Thermodynamics 1971 Robert Fox The Caloric Theory of Gases 1971
Donald Cardwell From Watt to Clausius: the Rise of Thermodynamics in the Early Industrial Age
James Joule: A Biography
1979 Maffioli Cesare A Strange Science: Materials for a Critical History of Thermodynamics 1980 Clifford Truesdell A Tragicomical History of Thermodynamics: 1822-1854 1989
Crosbie Smith Energy and Empire
The Science of Energy: A Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain
1999 Tom Shachtman Absolute Zero: and the Conquest of Cold 2001
David Lindley Boltzmann's Atom: the Great Debate that Launched a Revolution in Physics
Degrees Kelvin: A Tale of Genius, Invention, and Tragedy
2007 Ingo Müller A History of Thermodynamics
● Founders of thermodynamics
● History of chemical thermodynamics
● History of differential equations
● History of human thermodynamics
● History thermodynamics
● Timeline of thermodynamics
|Left: The 1971 From Watt to Clausius, by English science historian Donald Cardwell, a frequently cited history of thermodynamics book.  Right:|
The 2007 A History of Thermodynamics, by German physicist Ingo Muller, is one of the first comprehensive "histories" of thermodynamics. 
1. Short history of thermodynamics (by Libb Thims) – Wikipedia, cached article, 11 Sept 2007.
2. Gibbs, Willard. (1889). “Rudolf Julius Emanuel Clausius,” (pg. 262) Proceedings of the American Academy, new series, vol. XVI, pgs. 458-65. In The Scientific Papers of J. Willard Gibbs (Volume II).
3. Clausius, Rudolf. (1879). The Mechanical Theory of Heat (pg. vii), (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan & Co.
4. (a) Tait, Peter G. (1868). Sketch of Thermodynamics. Kessinger Publisher (reprint).
(b) Maxwell, James C. (1878). “Tait’s ‘Thermodynamics’ (I)”, (pgs. 257-59). Nature, Jan. 31.
(c) Maxwell, James C. (1878). “Tait’s ‘Thermodynamics’ (II)”, (pgs. 278-81). Nature, Feb. 07.
5. Rankine, William. (1859). A Manual of the Steam Engine and Other Prime Movers, (chapter III: “Principles of Thermodynamics”, pgs. 299-478). London: Charles Griffin and Co.
6. Muller, Ingo. (2007). A History of Thermodynamics - the Doctrine of Energy and Entropy. New York: Springer.
7. Cesare, Maffioli. (1979). A Strange Science: Materials for a Critical History of Thermodynamics (Una Strana Scienza: Materiali per una Storia Critica Della Termodinamica). Milan: Feltrinelli.
8. Cardwell, Donald S.L. (1971). From Watt to Clausius: the Rise of Thermodynamics in the Early Industrial Age. Cornell University Press.
9. Bejan, Adrian. (2009). “Review: J.D. Lewins, Thermodynamics: Frontiers and Foundations”, OECD-NEA.org.
10. Tait, Peter. (1864). “On the History of Thermo-Dynamics”, Phil. Mag. 28:288-92.
● Clausius, Rudolf. (1872). “A Contribution to the History of the Mechanical Theory of Heat”, Phil. Mag. 43: 106-115.
● Alexander, Peter. (1892). Treatise on Thermodynamics (ch. III: A Short History of Thermodynamics, pgs. 16-28). Longmans, Green.
● Keenan, Joseph H. and Shapiro, Ascher H. (1947). “History and Exposition of the Laws of Thermodynamics”, Mechanical Engineering, 69(Nov):915-21.
● Rabinbach, Anson. (1990). The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press.
● Cheng, K. C. (1992). “Historical Development of the Theory of Heat and Thermodynamics: Review and Some Observations” (abstract), Heat Transfer Engineering, 13: 19-37.
● Cobb, Cathy, and Rarold, Goldwhite. (1995). Creations of Fire - Chemistry's Lively History from Alchemy to the Atomic Age. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Publishing.
● Baeyer, Hans C. von (1999). Warmth Disperses and Time Passes - the History of Heat. New York: The Modern Library.
● Smith, Crosbie. (1998). The Science of Energy - a Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
● Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume Two), (preview), (Ch. 11: "Affinity and Free Energy", pgs. 422-68). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
● Nag, P.K. (2010). “History of Thermodynamics”, in: Basic and Applied Thermodynamics, section 1.11, (pgs. 10-). by P. K. Nag. Tata McGraw-Hill.
● Sandler, Stanley I. and Woodcock, Leslie V. (2010). “Historical Observations on Laws of Thermodynamics”, J. Chem. Eng. Data, Aug.
● History of thermodynamics – Wikipedia.
● History of thermodynamics (notes) – WolframScience.com.