The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution completely changed the economic structure of the world. It took place between the 18th and 19th centuries and it brought socio-economic, technological, and cultural advancement to Europe and America. The era saw unbelievable explosion of technological innovations, which brought complete change in the lifestyles of people in various countries around the world. The first industrial revolution began in the 18th century and it gave rise to the economic development to Britain. The second industrial revolution commenced in the 18th century and continued until mid 19th century causing immense socio–economic and technological advancements in America and Germany.
Before the Industrial Revolution, agriculture was the main source of revenue around the world. Many aristocratic families in Britain owned large lands and they hired farmers to work on their farms. This happened as a result of the English Parliament making changes to land rules and tenant farmers lost their lands to the aristocratic families. While some farmers worked for low wages in the farms, others decided to seek their fortunes in the cities. This led to an increase in the populations of cities. Those who came from the rural areas were utilized as cheap labor in cotton mills that gave rise to the factory concept. As societies were changing in Europe and America, business shifted from the family-centric to the factory-centric.
When the American colonies started to oppose British rule in the 18th century, other parts of the world were undergoing big changes as well. The French Revolution took place in the same century and the concept of democracy was introduced in many countries. Democracy in America after the War of Independence, as well as in other European countries, contributed significantly to the Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution was also marked by a number of major inventions. In fact, it would not have succeeded without some of these inventions. One of the major inventions of the era was the invention of the steam engine. As the steel industry started growing in various parts of the world, the British were trying to find different ways to melt iron and make steel. They found out that coal was better than wood, but mining coal was a difficult task. The mines were filled with water and miners had to go deep into the water to gather coal. In 1712, Englishman Thomas Newcomen designed the first steam engine, which used simple technology to pump out water from the mines. This steam engine was a single piston engine that was not sufficiently effective. Subsequently, inventor James Watt added a cooling chamber to the steam engine and it was patented in 1769 as Watt’s Steam Engine.
Also, the invention of the Spinning Jenny was made in 1767 that was used to make cotton spinning faster. The simple spinning wheel sped up the process of making clothes and it helped to reduce the need for manual labor. The wheel was designed by a carpenter called James Hargreaves. In the following years, path-breaking inventions continued to be made. In 1793, American Eli Whitney made the cotton gin, which was used to separate seeds from cotton. Another important invention was the telegraph system, which was developed by another American, Samuel F.B. Morse, in 1844. This system made overseas communication possible.
The Industrial Revolution also brought about the invention of steam locomotives, automobiles, and radio. It also caused tremendous growth in iron and steel manufacturing units as well as cotton mills. The Industrial Revolution ushered in technological advancements that resulted in the reduction of production costs as well as inventions of machines that used new energy sources. The automobiles allowed fast transportation and communication, which shortened distances and sped up the process of industrial and economic advancement. The Industrial Revolution did not only transform the American and European economies, but it also contributed greatly to the growth of economies in many countries around the world.
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