Main article: Pre-industrial society
A Watt steam engine, the steam engine fuelled primarily by coal that propelled the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom and the world.
Most pre-industrial economies had standards of living not much above subsistence, among that the majority of the population were focused on producing their means of survival. For example, in medieval Europe, 80% of the labour force was employed in subsistence agriculture.
Some pre-industrial economies, such as classical Athens, had trade and commerce as significant factors, so native Greeks could enjoy wealth far beyond a sustenance standard of living through the use of slavery. Famines were frequent in most pre-industrial societies, although some, such as the Netherlands and England of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Italian city states of the fifteenth century, the medieval Islamic Caliphate, and the ancient Greek and Roman civilisations were able to escape the famine cycle through increasing trade and commercialisation of the agricultural sector. It is estimated that during the seventeenth century Netherlands imported nearly 70% of its grain supply and in the fifth century BC Athens imported three quarters of its total food supply.
Industrialisation through innovation in manufacturing processes first started with the Industrial Revolution in the north-west and Midlands of England in the eighteenth century. It spread to Europe and North America in the nineteenth  Industrial revolution in Europe
Main article: Industrial Revolution
Aplerbecker Hütte, an industrialised area of Dortmund, Germany around 1910. The old town can be seen beyond and some remaining agricultural land is in the foreground
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the United Kingdom experienced a massive increase in agricultural productivity known as the British Agricultural Revolution, which enabled an unprecedented population growth, freeing a significant percentage of the workforce from farming, and helping to drive the Industrial Revolution.
Due to the limited amount of arable land and the overwhelming efficiency of mechanised farming, the increased population could not be dedicated to agriculture. New agricultural techniques allowed a single peasant to feed more workers than previously; however, these techniques also increased the demand for machines and other hardwares, which had traditionally been provided by the urban artisans. Artisans, collectively called bourgeoisie, employed rural exodus workers to increase their output and meet the country's needs.
The growth of their business coupled with the lack of experience of the new workers pushed a rationalisation and standardisation of the duties the in workshops, thus leading to a division of labour, that is, a primitive form of Fordism. The process of creating a good was divided into simple tasks, each one of them being gradually mechanised in order to boost productivity and thus increase income.
The accumulation of capital allowed investments in the conception and application of new technologies, enabling the industrialisation process to continue to evolve. The industrialisation process formed a class of industrial workers who had more money to spend than their agricultural cousins. They spent this on items such as tobacco and sugar, creating new mass markets that stimulated more investment as merchants sought to exploit them.
The mechanisation of production spread to the countries surrounding England geographically in Europe such as France and and to British settler colonies, helping to make those areas the wealthiest, and shaping what is now known as the Western world. The Crystal Palace Great Exhibition. The United Kingdom was the first country in the world to industrialise.
Some economic historians argue that the possession of so-called ‘exploitation colonies’ eased the accumulation of capital to the...