Industrial Revolution

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A Roberts Loom in a weaving shed in 1835. Textiles were the leading industry of the Industrial Revolution, and mechanized factories, powered by a central water wheel or steam engine, were the new workplace.
Arkwright's Mill, Cromford

The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to some time between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, improved efficiency of water power, the increasing use of steam power and the development of machine tools.

CONTENT : A - F, G - L, M - R, S - Z, See also, External links


Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F

  • Early British economists held that the application of the principle of division of labor was the basis of manufacture.... Charles Babbage, believed ... in [an] "Economy of Machinery and Manufacture." It appears, however, that another principle is the basic one in the rise of industry. It is the transference of skill. The transference of skill from the inventor or designer to the power-driven mechanism brought about the industrial revolution from handicraft to manufacture. It will be necessary to refer to this principle frequently throughout this report, in showing the meaning and position of management in industry.
No better single illustration of the application of this principle can be found than in the invention of the lathe slide rest by Henry Maudslay in 1794. This has been ranked as second only to the steam engine in its influence on machinery building, and thus on industrial development. The simple, easily controlled mechanical movements of the slide rest were substituted for the skilful human control of hand tools. So complete has been this transference of skill that today hand tooling is a vanished art in American machine shops.
  • The development of the Watt governor for steam engines, which adapted the power output of the engine automatically to the load by means of feedback, consolidated the first Industrial Revolution.
  • This is the patent-age of new inventions
      For killing bodies, and for saving souls,
    All propagated with the best intentions;
      Sir Humphry Davy’s lantern, by which coals
    Are safely mined for in the mode he mentions,
      Tombuctoo travels, voyages to the Poles,
    Are ways to benefit mankind, as true,
    Perhaps, as shooting them at Waterloo.
  • In the main, Bacon prophesied the direction of subsequent progress. But he "anticipated" the advance. He did not see that the new science was for a long time to be worked in the interest of old ends of human exploitation. He thought that it would rapidly give man new ends. Instead, it put at the disposal of a class the means to secure their old ends of aggrandizement at the expense of another class. The industrial revolution followed, as he foresaw, upon a revolution in scientific method. But it is taking the revolution many centuries to produce a new mind.
  • The development of science has produced an industrial revolution which has brought different peoples in such close contact with one another through colonization and commerce that no matter how some nations may still look down upon others, no country can harbor the illusion that its career is decided wholly within itself.
  • We may well call it black diamonds. Every basket is power and civilization. For coal is a portable climate. It carries the heat of the tropics to Labrador and the polar circle; and it is the means of transporting itself withersoever it is wanted. Watt and Stephenson whispered in the ear of mankind their secret, that a half-ounce of coal will draw two tons a mile, and coal carries coal, by rail and by boat, to make Canada as warm as Calcutta, and with its comfort brings its industrial power.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wealth (1870) The Prose and Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson Vol. II, English Traits, X, p. 362.

G - L

  • [Y]esterday's science fiction is today's fact. The Industrial Revolution has radically altered man's environment and way of life, and it is only to be expected that as technology is increasingly applied to the human body and mind, man himself will be altered as radically as his environment and way of life have been.
  • The Modernist reaction to the Enlightenment came in the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, whose brutalizing effects revealed that modern life had not become... mathematically perfect...
  • Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it—we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

M - R

  • The opening of a foreign trade, by making them acquainted with new objects, or tempting them by the easier acquisition of things which they had not previously thought attainable, sometimes works a sort of industrial revolution in a country whose resources were previously undeveloped for want of energy and ambition in the people; inducing those who were satisfied with scanty comforts and little work to work harder for the gratification of their new tastes, and even to save, and accumulate capital, for the still more complete satisfaction of those tastes at a future time.
  • There is no machine or mechanism [as compared with the steam engine] in which the little the theorists have done is more useless. It arose, was improved and perfected by working mechanics—and by them only.
    • Robert Stuart Meikleham, A Descriptive History of the Steam Engine (1824).
  • La revolution industrielle est commencee en France.
    • Louis Guillaume Otto (1799) cited in: Mikulas Teich, ‎Roy Porter (1996) The Industrial Revolution in National Context, p. 45.
    • Earliest recorded use of the term Industrial Revolution in a letter by Louis Guillaume Otto, in which he announces that revolution began in France.
  • It seems to me that the notion of machine that was current in the course of the Industrial Revolution – and which we might have inherited – is a notion, essentially, of a machine without goal, it had no goal ‘of’, it had a goal ‘for’. And this gradually developed into the notion of machines with goals ‘of’, like thermostats, which I might begin to object to because they might compete with me. Now we’ve got the notion of a machine with an underspecified goal, the system that evolves. This is a new notion, nothing like the notion of machines that was current in the Industrial Revolution, absolutely nothing like it. It is, if you like, a much more biological notion, maybe I’m wrong to call such a thing a machine; I gave that label to it because I like to realise things as artifacts, but you might not call the system a machine, you might call it something else.
    • Gordon Pask (1972) in: Mary Catherine Bateson Our Own Metaphor: A Personal Account of a Conference on the Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation. New York : Alfred A Knopf. Quotes in: Usman Haque (2007) "The Architectural Relevance of Gordon Pask" in: Architectural Design. Vol 77, Issue 4, p. 54.
  • The Industrial Revolution was a watershed in the history of mankind. Three forces – technology, economic organization, and science, in this sequence – each from separate and undistinguished parentage, linked up, inconspicuously at first, to form, hardly a hundred years ago, into a social maelstrom that is still engulfing new and new millions of people, in an irresistible rush.

S - Z

  • What is the end of all the magnificent means provided by the productive activity of American society? Have not the means swallowed the ends, and does not the unrestricted production of means indicate the absence of ends? Even many born Americans are today inclined to answer the last question affirmatively. But there is more involved in the production of means. It is not the tools and gadgets that are the telos, the inner aim of production; it is the production itself. The means are more than means; they are felt as creations, as symbols of the infinite possibilities implied in man’s productivity. Being-itself is essentially productive.

See also

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