The Industrial Revolution

The Beginning of the Industrial Revolution

Before the early 1800's, most products used in everyday life were grown, produced and created at home or in a small village setting. People were self reliant, which also meant they worked from sun rise to sun set to support just themselves and their families, just to get by. But all of a sudden some big changes happened. Inventors in technology and production went wild with imagination and innovation. Using new types of power, such as steam power, and new types of tools in big machinery made producing mass quantities of goods possible for the first time ever! Creating textiles, iron, paper, glass and other items quickly and in large quantities changed everything. At the same time, shipping methods for these items grew by the use of steam ships and boats, and trains. This allowed large quantities of mass produced goods to be shipped anywhere, to anyone. For the first time, any person could purchase ready made goods and even food instead of relying only on themselves and their farms and small communities. And for the first time many people could work for a factory or manufacturer of these goods, earn income, and buy what they needed instead of solely relying on themselves to make or provide everything they needed. The industrial revolution changed everything!

The Inventors of the Industrial Revolution

There were many inventors and their inventions that added to the growth of the industrial revolution, but some of the most important are not to be forgotten. For example, James Watt. A Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer and chemist, he invented and promoted a steam engine that revolutionized factory work. Eli Whitney was another inventor, an American, who invented the cotton gin. This machine made the process of extracting cotton fiber from cotton seeds, which turned cotton farming into the cash crop of the American South. Henry Bessemer was another English inventor who created a steel making process that made creating steel efficient and led to large production of steel. And then there was Edward Jenner. He was a physician and his work with the study of disease, focusing on small pox, lead to the creation of a smallpox vaccine. He added to the understanding of disease processes and created a way to keep millions of people healthy. Finally, another scientist, Louis Pasteur, added his knowledge to the industrial revolution. He is well known for inventing a process to stop foods and liquids from making people sick. He also helped produce a vaccine for rabies. Each of these inventors added greatly to the industrial revolution that changed the world.

Change and the Industrial Revolution

Each new invention, each new factory, each new process for production brought new changes in the way people did things. Instead of living in mostly rural areas, people flocked to cities by the millions. Factories sprung up as far as the eye could see. Housing for the new factory and industry workers was crowded and dirty. People learned to rely less on only themselves to survive. Before the industrial revolution took hold, the world changed slowly, society changed slowly. This is because there were no mass produced ways of creating change. With new technology, the world changed very, very rapidly. Ways of life changed just as rapidly to keep up. During this time of rapid change, so many positive outcomes happened. People became more educated, learned more about the world outside their own, their standard of living increased more than at any other time, their ability to grow as individuals and as a society increased. To keep up with changes, societal rules, business rules have to also change but these don't usually change as quickly as technology changes.

Society Will Never Be the Same

The inventions of the Industrial Revolution changed society. A typical family in the times before the growth of factories and transportation lived in a rural area. They may have built their home over time, themselves. They probably owned some farm animals--some chickens for meat and eggs, a cow or two for milk, a pig for meat once a year. They would have had a garden with vegetables and maybe some fruit trees. Trading with others in their villages they would have knit their socks from yarn they made and dyed, sewed clothing with fabric they wove, ate meals made with much of the ingredients they grew themselves and traded and sold their own goods and services. Work like this allowed for not much else in life. As industrial inventions were made popular, all of this changed, and fast. Families moved in to urban areas by the thousands. They lived in small crowded city dwellings. Working in factories and shipping industries allowed them to earn wages and make a living working for others. Their income was then used to purchase the goods they manufactured. The study of diseases and how they worked helped people to become healthier than ever before. Inoculations and understanding disease transmission led to people being freer from deadly illness. Society would never be the same.