7 junio, 2024

Technical change: what it is, definition, characteristics, examples

What is a technical change?

A technical change It is the introduction of new technologies or technological practices into the human toolkit to solve problems, create products, or perform activities. It also includes changes in the way of doing things. An example of a technical change was the incorporation of the wheel to transport things or people.

In addition to solving problems and improving the way things are done, technical (or technological) changes foster competitiveness within the economic market and can be used as a tool for control and power.

During the history of humanity there have been a series of technical or technological changes that allowed the development of work tools.

In addition, these changes continue to foster the growth of large cities, as well as contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of human beings.

Some examples of technical changes that have been influential are the use of the Internet to communicate, nuclear energy to generate electricity, the use of gunpowder for wars or cars for transportation, among many others.

Characteristics of technical change

– The technical change is cumulative, that is, it promotes other future changes.

– It is revolutionary, in the sense that it generates important changes in the way of doing things and in the way of transforming human life. For example, after the Internet, life without it is unthinkable.

– It is irreversible, since after being implanted it is difficult (if not impossible) to go back. An example is the telephone or computers. Or the writing.

– It is important, because the changes are significant and relevant to society. An example may be the modernization of the textile industry, or the invention of agriculture.

– It is fast in nature, especially in recent times, when changes occur very quickly. This can be seen in the way that smart phones have changed, or the computers themselves.

– It implies a social change, since society gets used to using the new tools and adapts to the new conditions. The perfect example is social networks.

Examples of technical changes

The wheel

This simple invention completely changed human history and continues to be absolutely valid today. This mechanism is needed as much today as it was needed in the first centuries; all of our means of transportation, along with other gadgets, use wheels.

The wheel consists of a circular piece that rotates around an axis. Without the existence of this simple machine, the development of the great ancient civilizations would have been impossible.

In 2003, one of the oldest examples of this invention was found, dating from 3350 BC according to archaeologists.

Tools in the Metal Age

With the entry of the Metal Age, which is divided into the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, a new stage of growth began for the human being. At that time, work began in the foundries, which brought with it a wave of new tools such as hammers, funnels, and weapons.

Thanks to this technological change, humanity began to improve its quality of life by leaps and bounds.

These discoveries allowed the solidification of communities and promoted the beginning of human civilization, which brought with it a remarkable change in the way of interpreting the knowledge of the moment.

The lever

This famous creation also comes from Prehistory; however, during the following years it was perfected by great physicists, such as Archimedes.

The invention consists of a bar that can move freely around a support point. Thanks to the lever it is possible to balance the weight of a mass with another that is twenty times less heavy.

maritime navigation

This discovery allowed the human being to move through the great rivers and trade with other cultures; it also meant the expansion of civilizations, which resulted in great conquests, such as the discovery of America.

Steam engines

The steam engine was one of the creations that most impacted the entire world. In fact, thanks to this the First Industrial Revolution took place. This innovation consisted of an engine used as a driving force through water vapor; therefore, energy was obtained through the conversion of heat.

Electric light

Electric light is the one produced by any device through the flow of electricity. This invention is attributed to Thomas Edison, who made the first lamp in 1878, which stayed on for two days straight.

Thanks to this innovation, it was possible to illuminate the streets at night, extending the period of work and commercial activity in large cities. In addition, the problems generated by the use of oil lamps and candles were eliminated.


After the discovery of electricity, a host of ingenious technological innovations began to emerge. One of these was the telegraph, which consisted of a kind of device that worked by using electric light and whose purpose was to transmit coded messages.


This device allows human beings to cross considerable distances in the shortest possible time, since it is an even faster means of transport than the ship and the train.

For several centuries now, the human being had aspired to cross the skies; Even authors like Leonardo da Vinci had made different prototypes in order to carry out this remarkable feat.

However, it was not until 1890 that humans managed to fly, when the engineer Clément Ader built and tested the first airplane.


The creation of the internet is the most important invention of our time, since it allows a vast communication network worldwide.

This technical change completely modified the way of human learning, since nowadays it is much faster to find any kind of information required.


The printing press constituted a remarkable advance, in the fifteenth century. Thanks to it, books could be printed faster, and knowledge reached more people. Textbooks for universities began to be made, some founded from the 9th and 10th centuries.

the combine

Invented in 1835 by Hiram Moore and James Hascall in the United States, it was a true revolution in agriculture, as it mechanized agricultural processes, streamlined them, and promoted an increase in food production.

The nail

His invention dates back more than 2,000 years, in Roman times. Thanks to the nails, the woods held up better, making the buildings more solid. It was a revolution in construction.


Paper was invented by the Chinese in the first century. Before, papyrus was used, which were sheets made of vegetable fibers, or parchment, made from animal skin. Both methods were very expensive to develop. Paper, on the contrary, was much cheaper.

formula milk

Anyone who is a mother or father can see the importance of formula milk. It was invented in the 1860s by Henri Nestlé when he dehydrated cow’s milk and mixed it with cereals. It meant invaluable help to the most humble people, as babies could survive by being a substitute for breast milk.

the sanitary napkin

It was a real revolution for the daily life of women. In 1896 the first ones came out, made of cotton and gauze, which was a commercial failure, and then World War I inspired the Kotex company to make cellulose towels, with highly absorbent bandages left over from war bandages.


García, R. (sf) Technological change and its implications. A general review. Recovered from acacia.org.mx
Thomas, H. (nd) Innovation and technological change, concepts. Recovered from cedet.edu.ar
Hamel, G. The quest for resilience. Retrieved from revistas.upcomillas.es

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