8 junio, 2024

10 Inventions of the First Industrial Revolution

The inventions of the first industrial revolution they changed the way people viewed their world and how things were done, such as relaying information, transporting goods, or working the land.

This revolution took place in Great Britain beginning in the second half of the 18th century. Over the years it spread to the rest of the world and ended between 1820 and 1840. After the great wars, the nations were forced to produce what they needed for their internal consumption.

This fact gave rise to great inventions that allowed streamlining production processes. Among the reasons for this social and economic revolution are the absence of wars between 1815 and 1914, and the birth of capitalism.

In this sense, the Industrial Revolution was a period of transition between the agricultural and manual economy that prevailed in the 16th and 17th centuries, and a commercial and industrial economy.

The most important inventions of the First Industrial Revolution

1- Flour mills

Flour mills were machines that helped in the processing of flour, but they implied great effort for the operators.

Oliver Evans, in 1780, wanted to change this by inventing a vertical elevator that allowed grain to be lifted through the use of pulleys.

Similarly, he built conveyor belts to carry the flour through the mill and another machine that raked it, making it finer and easier to store.

In this way, the mill that previously required the work of several people, could now be operated by a single person.

2- The sewing machine

Although the sewing machine existed before the Industrial Revolution, it was Elias Howe who improved its design so that it used two threads at the same time, thus increasing sewing speed.

However, a modification was still missing because the machine could only be used with one hand because a crank needed to be turned to make it work.

That was the modification that Isaac Singer managed to make in 1850, replacing the crank with a pedal that left people with both hands free to sew.

From this invention, sewing became an easier and faster process.

3- Mechanical wheat reaper

Population growth in the United States increased the demand for wheat. Farmers could not keep up to meet that demand.

In 1831, Cyrus McCormick invented the first reaper, which he improved himself over the next ten years. The final version of the reaper was drawn by a horse, and had a blade that cut wheat which then fell onto a platform.

In this way, much more wheat could be harvested in less time.

4- Telegraph

Joseph Henry was a pioneering inventor who was experimenting with a telegraph system that worked via electromagnets, but he struggled with the limitation caused by the fact that signals could only travel over a mile-long wire.

Henry sought the help of Samuel FB Morse, and Morse improved the model by using a battery for electricity, an electromagnet, and an electrical switch.

With his version, the user would press a crank making short clicks and long clicks, which made up code that is still useful in situations where all other means of communication fail.

The first telegraph line ran from Washington DC to Baltimore. In less than a decade, the entire United States was connected by the telegraph and communications could be instantaneous.

5- Spinning machine

It was invented in England by James Hargreaves in 1741.

It was one of the machines that opened the doors to the Industrial Revolution as it was the first example of mechanization of the production process in a factory. It was also a pioneer in the particular case of the textile industry.

It consisted of a machine with eight reels turned by a large wheel. It had eight skeins attached to a beam, which extended from the spool end to the wheel end, on a horizontal frame.

This setup allowed a single person to drive eight or more reels at a time.

The Spinning Jenny (name given to the machine in honor of its creator’s daughter) worked manually and allowed up to 80 threads to be assembled simultaneously.

Years later, in 1779, Samuel Crompton invented the Mule Jenny, which worked with hydraulic power and made it possible to produce a thinner and stronger thread.

6- The steam engine

It is an external combustion engine that transforms the thermal energy of the water into mechanical energy.

It was widely used during the Industrial Revolution to move pumps, locomotives, and other items. The process of operation of this engine occurs as follows:

– The steam is generated by heating in a boiler, which is hermetically closed. This produces the expansion of a cylinder that pushes a piston.

– A mechanism transforms the movement of the cylinder piston into a rotation that drives, for example, the wheels of a means of transport.

– To control the steam pressure, inlet and outlet valves are used.

The steam engines used to generate electricity are no longer plunger, but rather a continuous flow of steam passes through them, which is why they are called steam turbines.

There is no consensus on who was the inventor of this device, but the first patent for a modern steam engine was registered in 1606 in the name of Jerónimo de Ayanz y Beaumont.

The steam engine has been replaced by the electric motor (in industries) or by internal combustion (in transport).

7- Railroad

It is a means of transportation that has its antecedents in the carts that rolled on wooden rails in the mines of Transylvania in the 16th century.

These carts came to Britain in the 17th century to move coal from the mines to the ports.

Over time, in England the wooden planks were replaced by iron ones to increase the load of the wagons, but since cast iron did not support the weight, they began to think about human transport.

8- The bulb

Thomas Alva Edison appears in history as the creator of the light bulb, but in reality he was the one who perfected the invention that Humphry Davy made in 1809.

It is a device that generates light from electrical energy. This light phenomenon can be produced by:

– Heating in a metallic filament, thanks to the Joule effect.

– Fluorescence of metals before an electric discharge.

According to Life magazine, the light bulb is the second most useful invention of the 19th century.

9- Car

It is a means of transporting people or merchandise.

Its creation is attributed to Karl Friedrich Benz, in 1886, when he presented the first internal combustion car in the form of a tricycle. And it was his wife, Bertha Benz, who made the first long trip (almost 105 kilometers) in a car.

Henry Ford began producing them in series thanks to an assembly line that he created to manufacture the Model T, in 1908.

10- Telephone

This device, so familiar and useful today, appears thanks to the ingenuity of Alexander Graham Bell, who in 1876 invented a device that transmitted sounds through a cable through electrical signals.

But much earlier, in 1854, Antonio Meucci had already built a similar one in his house to communicate with his wife who was lying sick in a room on the second floor. However, he did not have enough money to patent his invention.

It took 113 years after his death before the United States House of Representatives recognized Meucci as the inventor of the telephone.


Abcpedia. «The steam engine: history, definition, operation, inventor» (2015) in Abcpedia. Retrieved from Abcpedia: abcpedia.com
Cleveland Heights High School Library (n/d). “Inventors and Inventions of the Industrial Revolution” at Cleveland Heights High School Library. Retrieved from Cleveland Heights High School Library: esources.chuh.org
Curiosphere (s/f). «History of the train» in Curiosfera. Recovered from Curiosfera: curiosfera.com
Telesur. «Five inventions of the Industrial Revolution that changed the world» (2016) on Telesurtv. Retrieved from Telesurtv: telesurtv.net.

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