Just imagine how our lives would be if all of the technology and inventions we have in today’s modern society were never invented. A history marking event called the Industrial Revolution began in England in the middle of the 18th century and spread to the rest of Europe and the United States in the early 19th century. This era changed the way people worked and lived in drastic ways. New machines were invented and a large part of the population moved from the countryside to urban areas. In the early 1800’s, the Industrial Revolution spread to the European mainland and across the Atlantic to the United States. By 1850, Belgium, France and Germany became leading industrial nations on the continent. Also, Japan was one of the first Asian countries to start producing goods in factories. Russian industrialization started in the early 1900’s. China and India did not become industrial powers until after World War II, largely because both countries were occupied by foreign powers.
Before the Industrial Revolution, the common person worked at home, on farms or in small workshops. Making cloth was done entirely by hand and cotton was spun to thread or yarn on a spinning wheel. In the 1700’s, people began buying more and more goods, so textile traders began to look for faster and cheaper ways of producing clothes. The first spinning machine came up in the early 18th century. By 1780, spinning was done mostly in new factories where workers gathered.
The workday began and ended at certain times. Many factory employees worked up to 16 hours a day for very little payment. This is due to the fact that factory owners wanted to keep production costs low. Sometimes whole families went to work in factories; while men were employed at iron and steel mills, women and children found work in new textile factories. Working conditions were bad and many workers became ill and died. There was no type of union at that time to protect them. Although lower and middle class workers led a hard and troubled life, middle and upper class citizens continued to improve their lifestyle as more items were being invented. They constantly gained more power and money. The Industrial Revolution also led to an increase in Great Britain’s population because people had better housing and better medical care in the towns and lived longer.
The mass production of goods during the 18th and 19th centuries called for new methods of transportation. New roads and a system of canals carried products made in factories to markets all over Britain. Coal, which was needed in factories in great amounts, was also transported on canals. George Stephenson built a type of steam engine that could move on rails. In 1830, the Liverpool to Manchester railroad was opened and in the following twenty years railroads linked all major towns in Britain. By the 1850’s, steam powered ships replaced sailing ships and became the primary way of transporting goods and people across the oceans. This increased world trade because ships were no longer dependent on good and strong winds in order to reach their destinations.
The invention of the steam engine by James Watt in 1876 represented a major advance in the development of powered machines. It was first applied to an industrial operation, ‘the spinning of cotton’ in 1820. A new kind of work-slave not only marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but also the coming age of mass production.
In the England of the 18th century five important inventions in the textile industry advanced the automatic control of work processes. First was John Kay's flying shuttle in 1833, which permitted the weaving of larger widths of cloth and significantly increased weaving speed. The second was Edmund Cartwright's power loom in 1885, which increased weaving speed still further. The third was James Hargreaves' spinning jenny in 1864 and number four was Richard Arkwright's water frame in 1845. Lastly, the fifth invention was Samuel Crompton's spinning...
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