Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution

How did the Industrial Revolution develop and spread during the 18th and 19th centuries? What were the early industries that came to shape the modern era?

The Industrial Revolution, or revolutions, impacted society in the 18th and 19th centuries with development of machine tools, metallurgy, textile manufacturing and steam power. Economic growth and transportation of goods helped spread these industries throughout Europe and the United States.

According to Maxfield (2009), “The Industrial Revolution began in England and occurred only in England (633),”[1] during the 18th century. This was the first stage of the Industrial Revolution and was “driven more my improvisations and innovations of craftspeople than by scientists working systematically in factories or laboratories.”[2] Some of the influential, achievements in this century include the steam engine in the 1770s, the flying shuttle in 1733, the spinning jenny in 1768 and the cotton gin in 1793.

Goods at the time were largely transported by ship. The invention of the steam engine spurred on railways that connected remote areas across the continents after 1830. This made traveling faster and helped reach remote areas waterways did not cross. By the end of the 19th century, a new “second industrial revolution” emerged. Other countries took command of leading this stage of development. Instead of craftspeople creating new techniques and products, “research and innovation often occurred in laboratories or universities,”[3] which led to “petrochemicals, new soaps, medicines, dyes, electricity and internal combustion engines.”[4]

The Industrial Revolution prompted factories, mass production, labor organization and health and safety laws that are adhered to and improved upon to this day. It also moved people from rural life to urban life where they could find sustained work. As countries became more profitable, cities grew and the railroads connecting these cities helped unify the country’s economic and political statuses.

[1] Jack Maxfield, A Comprehensive Outline of World History, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0, 2009,

[2] “Module 3: The Century of European Dominance,”, para. 2, accessed from

[3] Ibid, para. 4.

[4] Ibid, para. 4.


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