Responses to the Industrial Revolution
- The Luddites
- Robert Owen and Utopian Socialism
- The Government Response to Child Labor: The Factory Acts
- Responses to Public Health Challenges
- Karl Marx and Socialism
- The Spread of Industrialization and its Phases
Because of the Industrial Revolution,British society changed thoroughly, rapidly, and permanently. Throughout the Revolution, workers, owners, and the government responded differently to its negative effects. As we have seen, in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, the government and the owners largely expected that the marketplace would magically self-correct the worst ills. But it rarely did. When the government finally did intervene, it did so usually on the side of owners, in the name of public safety and order. For example, workers’ unions were rendered illegal through an act of Parliamentin 1799. And the House of Commons continually rejected minimum wage laws put forward by workers (Thompson 278). With the government and owners initially unwilling to enact reforms, workers, reformers, and critics responded in their own creative ways, sometimes rebelling, and sometimes experimenting with new ways to organize work and society. Decades into the Industrial Revolution, the British government began considering gradual reforms of its own.
“Chant no more your old rhymes about bold Robin Hood
His feats I but little admire
I will sing the achievements of General Ludd,
Now the Hero of Nottinghamshire” (547).
The most dramatic uprising against the negative effects of the Industrial Revolution in Britain began around what was left of the deforested Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, the land of the fabled Robin Hood. The rebels were skilled weavers and other pre-industrial artisans who saw in the new textile machines the destruction of their traditional craft, their livelihood, and their community. In 1811, when the uprising began, about half the families in the Nottingham region were unable to support themselves and were reduced to Poor Law charity (Sale 66). And because the government had passed laws making it illegal for workers to meet, form a union, or go on strike, this desperate group met covertly and swore secret oaths of allegiance to each other. These rebellious artisans wrote anonymous letters to factory owners warning them to close down or face the consequences. Then they raided factories at night and destroyed the new textile machines that took away their jobs. Neither the sheriff of Nottingham nor the new factory owners knew precisely who the secret members were. But the rebels signed their first letter of demands, “From Robin Hood’s Cave” (3).
These rebellious and skilled artisans became known as the “Luddites” (pronounced “LUHD-eyets”). Since the organization was so secret—after all, swearing an oath of obedience to the group was a crime in itself—there remain today no surviving documents or testimonies that clarify for certain the origin of the name. Some evidence suggests the name is derived from an old children’s story about a child, Ned Ludd, who broke his knitting frame in anger to spite his father. Some historians suggest the name refers to the Celtic God, Lludd. Still others find evidence of an ancient King Lud who ruled over a city that later came to be called “Ludon” or “London” (78). In any case, the group often signed its letters as “King Lud” or “Ned Ludd.” So, the group became known as the Luddites.
Read this primary source letter from the Luddites to a factory owner. What are the Luddites demanding? If you were a skilled weaver who was worried about losing your job to new weaving machines, would you consider joining up with the Luddites? Why or why not? What would be your response to this letter if you were a factory owner who had invested money in new power looms or spinning mules?
Ned Ludd’s Compliments and hopes you will give a trifle toward supporting his Army as he well understands the Art of breaking obnoxious frames [machines]. If you comply with this it will be well, if not I shall come upon you myself.
Edward Ludd (80)
Read this primary source evidence of a Luddite secret oath. What do you think is the purpose of this oath? What might the Luddites do with a fellow member who broke the oath? Why do you think the British government made the giving or taking of this oath illegal and even punishable by death? If you were a skilled weaver who was worried about losing your job to new weaving machines, would you consider taking this Luddite oath? Why or why not?
I, ___, of my own voluntary will, do declare, and solemnly swear, that I never will reveal to any person or persons under the canopy of heaven, the names of the persons who compose this Secret Committee, their proceedings, meeting, places of abode, dress, features, connections, or anything else that might lead to a discovery of the same, either by word or deed, or sign, under the penalty of being sent out of the world by the first brother who shall meet me, and my name and character blotted out of existence, and never to be remembered but with contempt and abhorrence; and I further now do swear, that I will use my best endeavours to punish by death any traitor or traitors, should any rise up amongst us, wherever I can find him or them, and though he may fly to the verge of nature, I will pursue him with increasing vengeance. So help me God, and bless me to keep this my oath inviolable.
The Luddites carried out their raids with such secrecy, discipline, and swiftness that they initially caught factory owners, the police, and government officials by surprise. In one factory, for example, Luddites quietly broke ten new textile machines and slipped out into the night, despite the presence of a magistrate and his troops guarding ten yards away (82). The Luddites succeeded in their work despite interrogations of local villagers, large rewards offered to anyone who could supply information, and thousands of British cavalry brought in to occupy key towns. In 1812, Parliament even passed a law, aimed specifically at the Luddites, threatening the death penalty to anyone who smashed industrial machines. The famous Romantic poet, Lord Byron, was appalled by Parliament’s threat of death to Luddism and asked, “Are these the remedies for a desperate and starving populace?” (97) Still the Luddites succeeded in destroying 100,000 British pounds worth of machines and factories.
On the few occasions when Luddites were caught, they would rarely reveal any information to the authorities. After an attack on one factory in 1812, five injured Luddites were caught when the owner defended his factory with cannons and guns. The local constable refused water and aid to the injured Luddites unless they divulged who their leaders were, and evidence suggests that the captives were tortured. Still they refused to reveal information about their fellow Luddites. A clergyman stayed with one young, dying Luddite in an attempt to get information from him before he died. The dying man reportedly said, “Father, can you keep a secret?” The clergyman leaned close eagerly and said, “Yes! Yes!” And the young man replied, “So can I”—he died shortly thereafter. (Thompson 562)
After initial Luddite successes in destroying machines and intimidating factory owners to comply with Luddite demands, owners and the government stepped up their efforts to stop the uprising. Mill owners increasingly hired private security to defend their property. Having already sent in troops and made membership to the Luddites a capital offense, the government then created special tribunals tasked with finding—often through the use of spies and bribery—and trying Luddites. A government official gave instructions to the tribunal to execute some suspects to intimidate the Luddites: “Perhaps the guilt of the convicted was not of prime importance as long as the violated laws were upheld and sacrificial victims could be found as an example to the rest of society” (Sale 168). As a result, on June 12, 1812, in Manchester, eight Luddites were hanged, including a 16-year-old boy, though there was no evidence that they had done anything more than attend a food riot with hundreds of others (169). Then, in January of 1813, again in Manchester, the special tribunal executed 14 Luddites after a trial that lasted just one day. The average age of these Luddites was 25 (181-182). These quick executions succeeded in deflating the uprising. Sporadic attacks on machines continued through 1816, but the movement essentially died with those 14 men executed in Manchester.
Though short-lived, the lost cause of the Luddites left many legacies for industrial society. The reaction to the uprising helped form and strengthen an alliance between the old aristocratic British government and the new industrialists. As one historian wrote, the “prophets of progress” had won and would not face a serious challenge again in Britain (200). In one sense, the Luddites were conservative rebels, raging against the new industrial inventions, fighting futilely to stop the progress of the Industrial Revolution. But, soon after the rebellion, legislative-reform movements took hold and fulfilled some of the more progressive Luddite demands, such as minimum wage laws, child and female labor laws, and the right to organize as workers. So, in this sense, the Luddites were forward-looking progressives rather than conservatives. The Luddite experience also reminds us that Industrialization, even while creating new industries and fueling economic growth, was also a destructive process that alienates those most negatively affected. The uprising dramatically reminds us to ask important questions, even today, about progress and industrialization. Which groups in society benefit from industrialization? Which do not? What should the government do, if anything, to help workers in declining industries—such as manufacturing in the U.S. today—to transition to growth industries?
The Luddites have also become a symbolic point of reference for critics of modern industrial society. Contemporary essayist, poet, and neo-Luddite Wendell Berry reflected in 1990 on the over-hyped march of industrial progress: “I do not see that computers are bringing us one step closer to anything that does matter to me: peace, economic justice, ecological health, political honesty, family and community stability, good work. . . I am a Luddite” (258). And one historian recently commented on how the lost cause of the Luddites remains with us because it still teaches us important lessons: “In some of the lost causes of the people of the Industrial Revolution we may discover insights into social evils which we have yet to cure” (Thompson 13). Which social evils from the Industrial Revolution have yet to be cured? Who are the Luddites of today? Is there cause today for another Robin Hood to rise up from Sherwood Forest?
A small movement of writers and philanthropists responded to the negative effects of the Industrial Revolution by designing and trying to implement new ideal, or utopian, communities. They were similar to Romantic poets at the time—such as Robert Blake, William Wordsworth, and Percy Bysshe Shelley—who also reacted against all that was ugly about the effects of industrialization. Romantic poets turned their gaze to nature for inspiration. But some utopian communities sought to create cooperative industrial environments in response to what they viewed as individualistic, competitive, and exploitive capitalist societies. They dreamed of communities that focused on creating more dignified working conditions and better treatment of women and children. Some radical utopians focused on socialism—an economic system (about which you will learn more in the next section) that focuses on cooperation and equality amongst all economic classes in society. One of the most well-known utopian socialists was a factory owner named Robert Owen (1771-1858). He wrote about and tried to put into practice utopian factory communities in which workers were treated fairly and encouraged to reach their potential (“Robert Owen”).
In 1799, after making his fortune managing textile factories in Manchester, Owen bought the only four cotton mills in a small town in Scotland called New Lanark (“Robert Owen”). He then began experimenting with putting into practice his utopian dream of a cooperative industrial town. Concerned with the welfare of his workers, he went to great expense to ensure they had education, houses of their own, and access to doctors. Owen focused especially on education and children. He disallowed physical punishment of young people, common in these times as a form of discipline. Children under ten years of age could not work in his factories and had to attend a school that he had built. Owen also created, in 1816, the first known nursery of the industrial era for children under age six; as a result, mothers could go back to work six months to a year after childbirth. Owen also ensured that the factories, streets, and community buildings were clean and well tended (“Biography of Robert Owen”). Despite all the expenses that Owen incurred to improve the welfare of the workers, New Lanark succeeded commercially. The utopian community became famous throughout Europe because it showed that factories could treat families with dignity, improve working conditions, and still make a profit. Owen’s utopian experiment was famous and rare. In 2001, The United Nations even declared New Lanark a World Heritage Site that should be preserved for all to see. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit each year (“World Heritage Site”).
As you read in an earlier section, the British Parliament set up a commission in 1832 to investigate child labor in factories. Based on those findings, Parliament felt compelled to respond. As a result, the government passed The Factory Act of 1833 to regulate excessive child labor. The act set limits on how many hours per day children could work. This was the first ever government regulation of the industrial workplace. It was a very small step: even after the reform, nine-year-old children, for example, could still work nine hours a day, six days a week. Factory owners had resisted the law because they said it would slow down production, increase the cost of their products, and make them less competitive. And, some parents of the child workers worried that their families would have less money to survive as a result of the lost income. Nonetheless, this first child labor law set a new precedent: that the British Parliament might reluctantly take it upon itself to regulate abuses in the industrial workplace.
The key provisions of the Factory Act of 1833:
- Children 8 and younger could not work in factories.
- Employers had to have an age certificate for their child workers.
- Children between 9-13 years could work no more than 9 hours a day.
- Children between 13-18 years could work no more than 12 hours a day.
- Children could not work at night.
- Four factory inspectors were appointed to investigate thousands of factories throughout England and enforce the law (“1833 Factory Acts”).
Do you think this new law put an end to the abuses of child labor? Why or why not? Why might the new law be difficult to enforce?
Read the following primary source account of a Factory Act inspector. How long had the boys worked in the factory on the day he inspected? Why might a factory owner make children work that long? Before the Factory Act of 1833, what would prevent a factory owner from employing children this many hours?
My Lord, in the case of Taylor, Ibbotson & Co. I took the evidence from the mouths of the boys themselves. They stated to me that they commenced working on Friday morning, the 27th of May last, at six A.M., and that, with the exception of meal hours and one hour at midnight extra, they did not cease working till four o'clock on Saturday evening, having been two days and a night thus engaged. Believing the case scarcely possible, I asked every boy the same questions, and from each received the same answers. I then went into the house to look at the time book, and in the presence of one of the masters, referred to the cruelty of the case, and stated that I should certainly punish it with all the severity in my power. Mr Rayner, the certificating surgeon of Bastile, was with me at the time (“Extract from a Factory Inspector’s Report”).
The Factory Act of 1833 turned out to be the first of many laws that gradually regulated working conditions and hours for children. At first, there were too few inspectors to enforce the law, but by the end of the 19th century regulations were enforced more strictly. Nonetheless, even after one hundred years of industrialization in England, the hours and working conditions were still very severe by today’s standards. More still, Parliament ongoingly refused to regulate factories to protect adult male workers. Read the table below that summarizes the laws that Parliament passed over the course of the 19th century to improve working conditions in factories.
Summary of the Factory Acts
(“1833 Factory Act”)
As the British government increasingly regulated child labor in factories, they also gradually instituted a public school system. The 1880 Education Act made school compulsory for children up to age 10. The 1918 Education Act made school mandatory for children up to age 14. And, in 1944, some 150 years after the start of the Industrial Revolution, the government funded and mandated secondary education for all citizens through age 18 (“Education Legislation in England”).
You read earlier about the ineffective preindustrial medicinal practices that lingered into the 19th century. Poorly educated doctors still bled patients, consulted astrology for treatment, and often did more harm than good. These medieval practices became appallingly insufficient in the dense working-class neighborhoods of the new industrial cities, which became, with theirpoor sanitation, breeding grounds for diseases.
Fortunately, healthcare did gradually improve during the Industrial Revolution through advances in science and technology that focused on preventions and cures. Eventually, sound scientific research and experimentation established the basis for a professional medical community. During the 1850s and 1860s, diagnostic aids that doctors typically use today—the stethoscope, the ophthalmoscope, and the thermometer —came into common use. Microscopes improved enough to allow for the examination of microorganisms. During the 1880s and 1890s doctors began to use preventive inoculations to systematicallycontrol contagious diseases. And by the end of the 19th century, hospitals began to use general anesthesia and antiseptic, which allowed physicians more carefully to perform surgery and greatly reduced the amount of hospital deaths (Haley).
Perhaps the most dramatic example of a scientific breakthrough occurred at a drinking well in London in 1854. A physician, John Snow, traced an epidemic outbreak of cholera back to a specific well in the Soho neighborhood of central London. Snow applied the scientific method to the situation and hypothesized that cholera spread through the use of tainted water. So he made a detailedmap showing where victims lived in the area:clustered around a single contaminated well. The dot map showed that greater distance from the well meant fewer incidents of plague. This cholera map provided conclusive proof of how the disease spread (it was later discovered that the well had been dug just two feet from an old sewage pit). The epidemic subsided soon after the city disabled the pump. Snow also demonstrated that households getting water from downstream pumps—infected by nearby sewers—suffered a death rate fourteen times greater than those that pulled water from upstream pumps. As a simple public health solution, Snow recommended boiling water before use. Snow’s investigations and experiments led the way to improved public health and hygiene in the new densely packed urban areas (Haley).
The British government addressed public health by passing regulatory laws to curb the ills of working-class urban living. The Public Health Act of 1848 set up local health boards, investigated sanitary conditions nationwide, and established a General Board of Health. The local boards had the responsibility of ensuring that water supplies were safe. And in the 1875 Public Health Act, the government took on more responsibility for public health, adding housing, sewage, drainage, and contagious diseases. This Each new law was a big step forward for modern medicine and public health, and a far cry from the medieval bloodletting that had occurred only decades earlier (Haley).
Because of advances in medicine and public health, life expectancy increased over the course of the 19th century. Life expectancy at birth, in the high 30s in 1837, increased to 48 by 1901 (“Victorian Medicine”). Much of this change was due to improvements in keeping infants alive. Polluted water and damp housing in new urban areas were probably the main causes of high infant mortality rates in the first era of the Industrial Revolution. By the mid-19th century, the infant mortality rate decreased from 150 out of 1000 children killed by age 1 in 1840 to 100 in 1870, a 50% drop over30 years. (Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire 160)
Though the government made industrialization more palatable by gradually stepping in to improve public health in the crowded cities, some other critics of the Industrial Revolution sought to overthrow the capitalist system entirely.
"I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate (the) grave evils (of capitalism), namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society."
In the previous section on the effects of the Industrial Revolution, you learned about the economic system known as capitalism (the free market economy), in which private businesses compete to produce the best products and services for consumers. The government, capitalists believe, should not intervene to tax or regulate businesses. They contend that, when left on its own, the free market can solve economic problems through competition and free trade. Primarily, capitalists hold that government should protect private property and individual freedoms. However, in the 19th century, some people in England and the rest of Europe, known as socialists, believed that capitalist societies rewarded greed for power and wealth at the expense of economic justice, social cooperation, and the common good. Socialists argued for an economic system based on human dignity and equality that would provide guaranteed healthcare, housing, jobs, education, and pensions for all citizens. To carry out these costly public benefits, a socialist government would own the property and wealth of a nation and put them to use for the common good. In short, socialists called for an overthrow of private property and the entire capitalist system.
The most important socialist thinker was undoubtedly an economist and philosopher named Karl Marx (1818-1883). Though German, Marx spent most of his life in England reflecting on and writing about how to redress the negative effects of industrialization that you read about earlier. Unmoved by gradual reforms, Marx believed a complete overthrow of capitalism was necessary and inevitable. Though he died in obscurity in London—only about ten people attended his funeral—he is widely viewed today as one of the most influential and radical thinkers in world history. His ideas challenged the very economic foundations of the modern world and eventually led to uprisings against western capitalism on every continent. In the United States, the government viewed his ideas as threatening enough to ban citizens from joining Marxist-inspired political groups. In 1954,the Communist Control Act outlawed the Communist Party in the United States and instituted a $10,000 fine and up to five years in prison for anyone who was a member.
Marx’s theories of socialism must be understood as reactions to early 19th century capitalism. He focused much of his work on analyzing and critiquing capitalism, which he believed served the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the poor. He thought that capitalism’s emphases on private ownership, competition, and efficiency actually harmed society. Socialists such as Marx argued that it was the supporters of capitalism—such as factory owners and big corporations—that fought against laws to protect children in the workplace, against healthcare for the poor, against support for the elderly when they retire, and against laws to protect worker safety. Capitalism did not effectively provide key public needs, such as education and healthcare for all, national defense, workplace safety, clean water, and a clean environment. Socialists believed that capitalism inevitably resulted in unequal classes in which the wealthy relentlessly exploited the working classes.
Marx believed that all societies would inevitably go through a series of economic stages from feudalism to capitalism to socialism. Eventually the masses would find capitalism wanting. Marx analyzed how workers created the real value of manufactured goods through their labor, and how the owners nevertheless profited the most by using their wealth and power to exploit the powerless workers. The rich continually got richer and the poor got poorer. He observed how most governments—controlled by the upper classes—made it illegal for workers to organize or go on strike to demand better working conditions. In capitalism, Marx argued, the lower and upper classes live in a continual state of tension and conflict. “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,” Marx wrote in 1848, in his seminal Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels).
Marx argued that the working classes of the world would struggle to gain power against the wealthy classes and eventually rise up and overthrow them. As the lower classes grew larger, they would gain more power and more awareness that they were exploited. Eventually, they would revolt. But for this to occur, workers would need to unite across national and cultural boundaries with brethren of their economic class. Marx believed that French, German, and English workers would come to identify with their economic class more than their own countries. In the final line from the Communist Manifesto, Marx urged the workers around the world to come together: “Workers of all lands unite!” (Marx and Engels). These would later be the words chosen for his tombstone. The revolutionary working classes would seize all the land and property and create a new socialist society based on equality and the common good.
In a new socialist society, the government would own the property and ensure cooperation and equality. The government would guarantee all citizens the right to food, housing, healthcare, a job, retirement benefits, and healthy working conditions. In return, citizens would forgo private property and instead hold it in common or commune. There would be no more upper or lower classes. Equality and economic justice would be achieved. Indeed, people would learn to cooperate so well that, over time, the need for any government or state would wither away. At such a point, true “communism” would be achieved, and people would naturally share resources with each other. The last stage of Marx’s theory, then, was to be communism, a stateless and classless society. Marx did not live long enough to see any country attempt a socialist economy. But socialist revolutions did begin to occur a few decades after he died.
Summary of Marx’s Theory
- Private ownership of businesses and property
- Goal is for private businesses to compete
- The result is unequal economic classes
Tension between the wealthy and working classes as the rich exploit the poor
Working class rises up and overthrows the upper class
- Government owns all bussineses and property
- Economic equality
- Economic cooperation replaces competition
- Goal is a classless society
- All wealth and property held in commune
- People cooperate together so well that the need for government withers away.
The largest socialist countries in the 20th century were autocratic governments in which a few leaders centrally planned and controlled the government and the economy. Russia had a revolution in 1917 and created a socialist dictatorship—led by Stalin—that stressed equality over freedom; there was no democracy, private property, free press, free speech, freedom of assembly, or freedom of religion. And a terrifying secret police kept a watch on all citizens; political dissidents were sent to prison. Millions suffered through Russian Socialist tyranny until this system collapsed in 1990, mostly because the centrally planned economy could not keep up with the economic growth and innovation of the capitalist west. You will learn more about the rise and fall of socialism in Russia in future chapters. Due to this failure in Russia, the comparable floundering of socialism in China, and the lack of freedoms in both of these countries, many westerners opposed socialist or communist governments throughout the 20th century. (Note: China and Russia called themselves “communist” because they sought to achieve that ideal stage in Marx’s theory. In reality, neither succeeded past socialism.)
Some countries in Europe, however, were democratic politically and socialist economically. Sweden, for example, created a successful democratic socialist system. They enjoyed all the freedoms— of press, speech, assembly, and religion—to which western democracies have been accustomed. And, private property was allowed. Still, the government owned many businesses, and collected very high taxes from its citizens—in some cases over 65 percent—to provide services to them “free” of charge or at greatly reduced prices. Some of these benefits included universal healthcare, dental care, paid leave for new mothers, child care, preschool, public education through college, eight to ten weeks annual paid vacation, twelve months, compensation for work injuries or lost work days due to sickness, unemployment insurance, and pensions for the elderly. The tax rate needed to pay for all those benefits was very high, twice that of the United States. Despite the high taxes and government interference in the economy, Swedes maintained a standard of living as high as the United States. In this one example, Marx’s utopian ideal of socialism seemed to work. He would have liked Sweden.
What do Marx’s critics today say about his theories? Well, clearly Marx overestimated the likelihood that workers would unite across cultural boundaries such as language, religion, and patriotism. It didn’t happen. Also, during Marx’s lifetime, the middle class in each country was fairly small and the working class was large. He assumed conditions would stay that way and that the key class tension would be between an upper and lower class. Instead, the middle class grew and grew as industrialized countries became wealthier. This middle class felt it had a stake in the capitalist system that provided it with some prosperity and opportunity. Rather than rebel, the middle class tended to serve as ballast and providingstability. Most people today in industrialized countries identify themselves as “middle class.” In a survey in 2008, for example, 72% of Americans identified themselves as “middle class” or “upper middle class” (“Inside the Middle Class”). Marx also underestimated the long-term influence of organized religions. He described religion as the “opium of the masses” because he thought that it supported the status quo of capitalist exploitation (Marx). He thought that the workings classes would soon come to understand this and reject religion. Yet, religion has maintained an important presence in the lives of people living on low incomes throughout the world. In short, Marx overestimated the degree to which people would identify with the working-class experience, especially once industrialization brought a measure of prosperity to more developed countries. Though Marx failed to foresee how modern industrial society would develop after his lifetime, his critique of the negative effects of capitalism remains relevant today.
The Industrial Revolution is an era that began in England at the end of the 18th century, and has yet to end. We can distinguish three phases of the Industrial Revolution in modern world history, based on when various countries and regions began to go through the process and what key technologies and industries stood out in the most developed countries.
The first phase (1770s to 1870s)
As you have read, this phase started with Britain and then spread to other countries in Northern and Western Europe—especially France and Germany—and the United States. Textile inventions led the way and steam power became the dominant technology, culminating in railroads. Coal, iron, and steel also became key industries. This phase of industrialization resulted in cheap manufactured goods from Europe flooding world markets and bringing wealth back to the West. The rest of the world, for the most part, became more dependent on supplying raw materials, such as oil and rubber, and export crops, such as sugar, coffee, cotton, and fruit.
The second phase (1880s to 1950s)
Additional countries, usually culturally associated with Europe, began to industrialize, including Russia, Japan, other nations in Eastern and Southern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Britain and the other previously industrialized countries became highly urbanized. The last craft industries, such as shoemaking and glassmaking, became industrialized. The most developed countries, such as the United States, mass-produced consumer goods—such as dishwashers, furniture, and even houses—for the growing middle classes. The service sector grew and matured with jobs for teachers, waiters, accountants, lawyers, police, and clerks. Key inventions included the assembly line, the automobile, and the airplane. Western countries and businesses typically controlled world trade and took direct or indirect control of key industries in less developed countries, enriching themselves in the process.
The third phase (1960s to present)
The so-called “Asian Tigers” (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea) rapidly industrialized by taking advantage of their educated and cheap labor to export inexpensive manufactured goods to the West. Other countries in Asia and the Americas—such as China, India, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina—began to develop key economic sectors for export in the global economy. The world moved gradually toward global free trade. Western countries in Europe and North America turned increasingly to service and high technology economies as manufacturing moved to the cheap labor markets of developing countries. The key new inventions of this phase were the computer and the Internet. This era is now referred to as the “Post-Industrial age”—since the most developed countries focus on service jobs rather than manufacturing—or the “Information Age.” With only a few exceptions, the poorest nations have not become wealthy in the fiercely competitive global market. There is an increasing wealth gap between more developed and less developed countries in the world.
The Information Age we live in today is defined by the development of the computer. Read the “Timeline of the History of the Computer.” What surprises you about the history of the computer? Where did most of the advances occur? Why might they occur there? How is this high-tech revolution similar to or different from the Industrial Revolution you learned about in England?
1938 The Z1, the first programmable computer, created by Germany’s Konrad Zuse in his parent’s living room.
1939 Hewlett-Packard (HP) founded in a garage in Palo Alto, CA. Creates test equipment for engineers.
1942 The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), the first digital computer, designed and created at Iowa State University.
1948 Bell Lsabs’ invention of the transistor improved reliability of computers and greatly diminished their size.
1948 International Business Machines’ (IBM) Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator completed 50 multiplications per second, used 12,500 vacuum tubes for memory, and took up a floor space of 25 by 40 feet.
1953 IBM sold its first electronic computers, mostly to the federal government.
1956 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers built the first general-purpose programmable computer with transistors.
1958 First very rudimentary integrated circuit created at Texas Instruments. The integrated circuit is known as the computer “chip,” the building block of modern computers.
1959 IBM sold first transistorized mainframe computers to research labs and the government.
1964 Control Data Corporation (CDC) supercomputer performed 3 million instructions per second and remained the fastest computer in the world until 1968.
1966 HP introduced its first general purpose computer, the HP 2115.
1968 Integrated Electronics Corporation (Intel) founded in Mountain View, CA. Intel soon became the world’s largest computer chip maker.
1969 The original Internet, ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), created by the United States Defense Department for communication with research projects between universities. The first transmission was between a computer at UCLA to a computer at Stanford University.
1970 Xerox opened the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) which produced key inventions in the evolution of the personal computer, including graphic user interface, the mouse, Ethernet, and the laser printer. Xerox did not sell the technology but other entrepreneurs—such as Steve Jobs from Apple—took the ideas and successfully marketed them.
1971 The Kenbak-1, known as the world’s first personal computer using integrated circuits, sold for $750.00 in Scientific American magazine. It was built in the inventor’s Los Angeles garage. The company went bankrupt after selling only 40 machines in three years.
1971 Intel sold its first microprocessor, the 4004.
1971 First email sent by researcher Ray Tomlinson on ARPANet from computers that were sitting side by side. Tomlinson chose the “@” symbol to distinguish which user was at which computer.
1972 HP introduced the small, fast solid state memory HP -35 calculator that could perform a broad range of algebraic functions.
1974 Xerox PARC designed the first computer with a mouse for input, that used windows, offered menus and icons, and could link to a local network. They never sold them but instead gave them to researchers and universities.
1975 Altair 880 computer kit, based on Intel’s microprocessor, sold for $297.00. Ed Roberts, the inventor, coined the term “personal computer.” It came with 256 bytes of memory.
1975 Microsoft founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to license BASIC as the software language for the Altair computer. Headquarters later moved to suburbs of Seattle, WA.
1976 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak start Apple computers in Cupertino, CA. Wozniak designed the Apple I, a single mother-board computer.
1977 The self contained Apple II, with cassette tape memory, is a success. Commodore and Tandy produce similar personal computers.
Oracle founded in San Mateo County and later becomes the largest database management software company in the world.
1981 IBM introduced its “PC” (personal computer) running on an Intel processor and Microsoft MS-DOS operating system.
1982 Stanford University Network (SUN) Microsystems founded. Headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, SUN became a world leader in selling workstations and network servers, and later designed the JAVA programming language.
1983 Microsoft introduced its word processing program, Word, which goes on to sell more than any other word processer in the world.
1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh personal computer, with a graphic user interface and a mouse.
1985 Microsoft released the Windows operating system.
1986 Pixar founded in Emeryville, CA (near Oakland) to create computer generated animation movies. They later succeeded in winning 23 Academy Awards for such films as Toy Story, Cars, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and Up.
1994 Yahoo search engine founded by Stanford graduates in Palo Alto, CA.
1994. Amazon founded in Seattle, WA, and soon becomes the world’s largest online retailer.
1995 Microsoft released Internet Explorer, which becomes the most widely used Internet browser in the world.
1995 eBay founded in San Jose, CA.
1998 Stanford PhD students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founded Google which becomes the most widely used Internet search engine.
2001 Apple released the first iPod.
2003 Apple unveiled the iTunes music store. Within five years it becomes the world’s largest music seller.
2004 Facebook launched its highly successful social networking service. Founder Mark Zuckerberg established the headquarters in Palo Alto, CA.
2005 YouTube founded in San Mateo County, CA and quickly becomes the largest video hosting site in the world.
2007 Apple released the first iPhone.
2010 Apple released the first iPad. 10 billionth song downloaded from iTunes.
2011 Apple released iCloud and became the most valuable company in the United States.
(“Timeline of Computer History” and Wikipedia.org)
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- The Luddites
- Robert Owen and Utopian Socialism
- The Government Response to Child Labor: The Factory Acts
- Responses to Public Health Challenges
- Karl Marx and Socialism
- The Spread of Industrialization and its Phases