The Technological Stimulus of the Industrial Revolution

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The period of 1780 - 1860 has been viewed as one of the most explosive periods of economic growth in British history. The Industrial Revolution was primarily focused on the rapid expansion in the iron, textiles, and transportation industries while others experienced much slower growth.


The technology that continued to drive the Industrial Revolution came in the form of invention and innovation. Invention, and the implementation of the invention, was merely the first step in the process. It is estimated that the period of invention terminated in 1780 (McCloskey 251). All progress after that date was due to innovations on existing technology. Initially, the textile mills located their factories near sources of water that were needed to drive the water wheel technology. The introduction of the steam engine radically changed the economics of the textile industry. No longer forced to relocate workers to the site of the source of power, manufacturers were free to build factories at the population centers that provided a ready supply of cheap labor.
Aside from solving the labor issue, steam power was not subject to the changes in weather and seasonal variations that water was. Water was subject to drought and in the attempt to make up for losses in the dry period, water driven mills were often forced to employ child labor during high productivity periods. The loss of this labor source reduced the value of water. Though the cost of water may have been competitive, it could never be a reach the production levels of steam. Without the introduction of the invention of steam, the textile industry could never have reached an economy of scale. ...
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