History of the Industrial Revolution

History of the Industrial Revolution

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The history of the Industrial Revolution that saw new manufacturing processes take root in the West transpired between 1760 and 1840. Industry developed from the hand production of cottage industry to machinery and chemical and steel manufacturing processes. On top of that, steam power and water power enabled the rise of a mechanized factory system, and textiles became the dominant industry, becoming the first to use modern production methods.

The Industrial Revolution changed daily life in ways that both worsened the standard of living for city-dwellers and improved it for the general population (though not meaningfully until the late 19th and 20th centuries).

Rapid industrialization first began in Britain, starting with mechanized spinning in the 1780s, and steam power and iron production after 1800. Soon, mechanized textile production spread from Great Britain to continental Europe and the United States in the early 19th century. As a result, important centers of textile manufacturing and iron and coal production arose in Belgium and the United States, and later for textiles in France.

An economic recession from the late 1830s to the early 1840s was caused in part by the production glut brought by the Industrial Revolution’s early innovations. In consequence, mechanized spinning and weaving slowed and their markets matured. Transport was revolutionized by locomotives and steamboats, and hot blast iron smelting produced the iron that built industrial society. With that, the telegraph revolutionized communications. But rapid economic growth did not take hold until after 1870 with the new wave of innovation known as the Second Industrial Revolution. This focused on heavy industry such as steel, mass-production assembly lines, electrical grids, and the manufacture of machine tools and increasingly advanced machinery for steam-powered factories.

Though the cost of the Industrial Revolution in terms of urban misery was great, the greatly increased productivity that resulted from it gave rise to unprecedented population growth and urban opportunity.

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Industrial Revolution Index | SocietyClassCommunitiesLiving Standards • Population | Culture: Science and Technology: New TechnologyChemistryEvolutionInventionsMedicinePhysics | Working Conditions | Second Industrial Revolution: IndustriesProductsGlobal DominanceResultsSpread | Religion | Political Power | Economy: LaborLabor MovementTrade Unions

Industrial Revolution: Index


Society: Class

Society: Communities

Society: Living Standards

Society: Population

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Science and Technology

Science and Technology: New Technology

Science and Technology: Chemistry

Scince and Technology: Evolution

Science and Technology: Inventions

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Science and Technology: Medicine

Science and Technology: Physics

Working Conditions

Second Industrial Revolution: Index

Second Industrial Revolution: Industries

Second Industrial Revolution: Products

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Second Industrial Revolution: Global Dominance

Second Industrial Revolution: Results

Second Industrial Revolution: Spread


Political Power


Economy: Labor

Economy: Labor Movement

Economy: Trade Unions

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