A historical period spanning from the 18th to the 20th century, the industrial revolution allowed the modernization of many countries. A real revolution that counts two. Linternaute.com takes stock.
Beginning in Great Britain from the 18th century, the first industrial revolution caused great economic and social upheavals. It appears in a particular context, conducive to progress and where the capitalist spirit is increasingly developing.
Thus until 1830, great economic, technical and social changes will reshape Great Britain, before spreading to Europe and the United States. A second industrial revolution will take place thereafter from 1896.
A context conducive to the industrial revolution
During the 18th century, all the elements were brought together to promote the development of the industry in the heart of Great Britain. The rural population, ruined by the enclosure system, is forced to abandon the land.
The only way out is to go to urban centres to work. The landlords, wealthy owners who now hold agricultural land, are working to improve farming techniques. It is the beginning of the “agricultural revolution”.
The increase in production then makes it possible to meet the needs of an ever-growing population. Also, as the operations require less and less labour, workers are turning to other sectors.
At the same time as this event, Great Britain experienced a very strong increase in its population. With fewer and fewer deaths and more and more births, the workforce is increasing just like consumers.
The industrial revolution in England
Gradually, urban centres will be created and developed. The installation of different companies in the same place improves the profitability of production. Technical progress is always renewed, constantly increasing industrial output.
The textile industry is the first to be affected by mechanical progress. While spinners work mainly at home, the use of hydraulic power to operate new weaving machines will give rise to workshop activity.
Factories and factories will then develop considerably, causing the ruin of artisans. All these advances allow unprecedented growth and productivity for the cotton industry.
What was the downside of industrialization?
From 1830, the industrial revolution spread to France, then to the United States, Germany, Japan and Russia. But England is far ahead of its neighbours and enjoys a particularly powerful economy.
In addition to economic development, the industrial revolution brought great social and human upheavals. The workforce employed in factories, factories or mines works and lives in particularly difficult conditions.
The wages are low and the children join their parents to increase the household income. This new class of proletarians opposes the industrial and proprietary bourgeoisie, to which the term “capitalist” is attributed.
From this situation arises, at the end of the 19th century, the question of social condition. It was during this time that the first unions were formed.
2nd industrial revolution after the depression, a new revolution
After an economic depression of several years (1873-1896), a second industrial revolution took place. It began at the very end of the 19th century and did not end until 1929, during the great economic crisis.
While the first industrial revolution was based on coal, metallurgy, textiles and the steam engine, the second found its foundations in electricity, mechanics, petroleum and chemistry.
The discovery of gold mines in Europe and the United States also helps to boost industrial production in the countries concerned.
The consequences of industrial revolutions
The economy of the countries of Europe and North America is then considerably upset by the development of heavy industry and emerging new industrial sectors, such as that of the automobile.
To maintain economic stability, manufacturers invent new methods of production and management. At the beginning of the 20th century, Fordism and Taylorism appeared. Similarly, the economy takes on a new face with the birth of trusts, cartels or with the multiplication of shareholders.
The industrial revolution in summary
Industrial revolutions always mark decisive turning points in history. England was the first to know the effects. Based on new sources of energy (coal), on new materials (iron, steel), and progress (textiles, steam engine), the industrial revolution propelled the country to the rank of first economic power.
But after the Vienna crash in 1873, a great depression affected both Europe and North America. It was not until 1896 that a second industrial revolution took shape, based in particular on electricity, petroleum and chemistry. After shaping a new economy, it ends with the crash of 1929.
It seems that a third revolution occurred in the 20th century, concerning in particular information technology, the development of means of transport, nuclear power and, above all, telecommunications. However, experts agree that it is still too early to assess it.
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION KEY DATES
1705: Thomas Newcomen builds a steam engine
- The British Thomas Newcomen is developing, with engineer Thomas Savery, the first usable steam engine in the industry. A few years earlier, Thomas Savery had already invented a steam engine, used in particular for pumping water.
- The association of the two men, therefore, makes it possible to improve this device by an atmospheric engine system, or “fire pump”.
- Newcomen used it for the first time in 1712, in a mine, to operate water pumps. Not very practical and with low efficiency, it will be greatly improved by the engineer James Watt in the years to come.
1709: First use of coke in metallurgy
- Settled in Coalbrookdale, an English village, Abraham Darby succeeds in melting iron ore using coke. The latter is produced by distillation of the coal. For years, the use of coal as an energy source for melting has resulted in deforestation in some European countries.
- For this reason, new methods of combustion had to be developed. The iron obtained by Darby is not of very good quality. But over the next few decades, he and his family will be able to improve the process.
1733: John Kay improves weaving
- The British John Kay developed the “flying shuttle” to improve the speed of weaving. This new mechanical system makes it possible to weave the threads at a considerable speed and in the form of much larger fabrics. It, therefore, requires less labour.
- However, the production yield of threads will become insufficient and the weavers will quickly run out of raw material. This is the reason why many engineers will also seek to perfect the spinning.
1767: First spinning machine designed by Hargreaves
- The British weaver James Hargreaves invents his “spinning jenny”, a spinning loom allowing eight threads to be obtained simultaneously, thanks to the action of a single person.
- Hargreaves filed a patent in 1770 and the number of woven threads increased thereafter. However, this system requires human intervention and will not be used by industry.
1769: Richard Arkwright invents his mechanical weaving machine
- Richard Arkwright files a patent for his “water-frame”, a weaving machine inspired by that of Hargreaves but powered by a hydraulic motor. It thus marks the birth of the first mechanical weaving machine.
- It is also the end of weaving at home, since it is now necessary to employ personnel in the factory, to run the machines. Arkwright also founded a factory himself in the early 1770s.
1769: James Watt improves the steam engine
- The improvements made to the Newcomen and Savery steam engine by the Scottish James Watt are the subject of a patent: addition of a separate chamber to condense the steam and produce more energy; double-acting system, in which the steam itself actuates the piston; flywheel and ball regulator to adjust the speed of operation of the machine.
- James Watt will continue his improvements until the 1780s. Following years of experiments, he will manage, with the collaboration of Matthew Boulton, to mass-produce his machine.
- After the year 1800, there will be other engineers to further improve the system. Both powerful and capable of producing considerable energy, the steam engine will be used more and more in.
1779: Samuel Crompton perfects the weaving machine
- Samuel Crompton draws on Hargreaves and Arkwright’s previous inventions to develop his “mule-jenny”. This mechanical weaving machine can produce a considerable amount of thread for all types of thread.
- However, it reverses the situation, since the weavers will not be able to keep pace with production and will soon find themselves with surplus raw materials.
February 13, 1784: Henri Cort invents puddling
- The British Henri Cort developed the puddling process. This refines the cast iron – in other words, reduces its carbon content – to obtain better quality iron or steel.
- Arranged in a very high-temperature oven, the cast iron is brewed using a hook and oxidizing slag. This invention is one of the most important advances in metallurgy during the British industrial revolution.
1785: Cartwright invents the first mechanical loom
- The British Edmund Cartwright developed the very first mechanical loom. Since the invention of the Crompton weaving machine, the production of yarn far exceeded the capabilities of weavers.
- The Cartwright system will, therefore, make it possible to harmonize the production of raw materials with that of weaving.
1801: British parliament enacts the General Enclosure Act
- Great Britain establishes a law establishing definitively the enclosure within agriculture. From now on, all agricultural plots will be closed and private. The enclosure system, implemented since the 13th century, consists of fencing the terroirs.
- This system began to develop in the 15th century. The big landowners drove the peasants out of the commons and the empty pastures, putting an end to community farming, in favour of individualist production. Ruined, the expelled were forced to turn to other production sectors.
- In the centuries that followed, the system further expanded and, after 1760, spread throughout the country. The enclosure then opened the doors to commercial agriculture and led to the British agricultural revolution.
February 21, 1804: First test of a steam locomotive
- The first steam locomotive was started in England by Richard Trevithick and reached a speed of 8 km / h. Twenty years later, a line carrying passengers is opened.
- But above all, the rapid transport of large quantities of materials between the various economic zones will play a fundamental role in the industrial revolution in England.
September 28, 1825: First passenger transportation by train
- English mechanic and true inventor of the locomotive, George Stephenson gives birth to the first railway line which is open to the public. For commercial use, it links Stokton to Darlington. England will be the first country to have railway lines.
- In 1829 George Stephenson developed a speed record-breaking locomotive called the “Rocket”.
August 27, 1859: Oil spurts in Pennsylvania
- Colonel Edwin Drake builds the first derrick in Titusville, Pennsylvania. The precious liquid spurts as soon as the well reaches 23 meters deep.
- Petroleum is then used as fuel for oil lamps, but recently it has also been distilled to produce fuel. The black gold fever begins and the discovery of new deposits will bring up desert cities.
March 6, 1869: Chemistry: Mendeleïv presents his periodic table of the elements
- Russian chemist Dimitri Ivanovitch Mendeleev presents his “periodic classification of the elements” to the Russian Chemical Society.
- His classification of the 63 known chemical elements enabled him to discover that the chemical properties of each element are repeated at regular intervals.
- Thus, in its table, all the elements of the same column display comparable properties. His invention will revolutionize the world of chemistry and newly discovered elements will naturally find their place in Mendeleev’s painting.
May 9, 1873: The Vienna crash
- The stock market collapses in Vienna, Austria. Very quickly, the crash will affect Germany, then the United States. It is the beginning of stagnation, even an economic crisis which will last until 1896.
- Europe and North America will thereafter regain their economic growth, thanks in particular to the petroleum industries, the electricity and chemistry. This period will be called the “second industrial revolution”.
October 21, 1879: Edison invents the incandescent lamp
- The first incandescent bulb was operated by Tomas Alva Edison in his New Jersey laboratory at Melo Park. For the filament, he then uses bamboo from Japan, which he put in a vacuum interrupter, itself supplied by weak voltages.
- When it chars, the bamboo attached to two platinum wires which conduct electricity begins to produce electric light. The American inventor was then only 29 years old. The American public will be amazed at the presentation of their invention on January 1, 1880.
January 29, 1886: Carl Benz patents the first automobile
- Installing a combustion engine on a tricycle with a gearbox and a differential, Carl Benz built what is considered to be the first automobile.
- Certainly, motorized vehicles had already been built, such as the steamer by Joseph Cugnot, but the tricycle of Carl Benz is the first successful automobile which will be able to generate commercialization and industrial production.
- The automobile quickly developed and gave birth to many brands and models. As for Carl Benz, he will become the head of a flourishing company which, throughout the mergers, continues today under the name of DaimlerChrysler.
1911: Taylor publishes “The Principles of Scientific Management”
- Frederick Winslow Taylor, an engineer of German origin, publishes a work in which he presents his organizational system of work. Later called “Taylorism”, the latter is based on a scientific organization of work and aims to improve the speed of execution and production of employees.
- After years of analysis within his company, the Midvale Steel Corporation, he recommended, first, the separation of the tasks to be performed. The leader’s design and time while the workers limit themselves to execution, on positions assigned to them.
- This new method obtains good results but will not be appreciated by the workers, who say they are transformed into simple machines.
January 14, 1914: Birth of Fordism
- An innovative method of working on the chain has been introduced by the American car manufacturer Henry Ford: chain assembly. Thanks to this innovation, the construction time required for the Ford “T” is greatly reduced.
- It goes from 6 hours to 1:30 … with a productivity of the factory multiplied by 4. Now static, the worker assembles the parts that pass in front of him. It is the birth of Fordism.
October 24, 1929: Black Thursday on Wall Street
- The New York Stock Exchange collapsed that day. In just a few hours, 12 million titles are sold on the market. Seeing the fall in prices, speculators try to get rid of all their actions as quickly as possible. Prices drop 30%.
- The “crash” will be confirmed on Tuesday, October 29. “Black Thursday” kicks off the most serious economic crisis in history, the ” 1929 crisis “. The United States finds itself in effect ruined, and the whole world impacted, at both political and economic levels.