First Industrial Revolution


The First Industrial Revolution was a process that began in Great Britain in the 18th century , from where it spread to other parts of the world. Although previously used by French writers, the term Industrial Revolution was first popularized by the English economic historian Arnold Toynbee to describe the economic development of Great Britain between the years 1760 and 1840. The development of modern Europe between the 1780s and 1849 was an unprecedented economic transformation that encompassed the early stages of the great industrial revolution and an even more general expansion of business activity.


First Industrial Revolution

It was a process full of transformations in the process of the production of goods where the artisan workshops that had all the production authority lost it due to the arrival of new technologies and machine.


What was the First Industrial Revolution?


The First Industrial Revolution was a movement full of technology and science that allowed man to have new means and elements to progress that made the production, cultural and economic development of society in general more viable . It consisted of a series of changes in production processes due to the introduction of innovative procedures that increase production and resources in a more efficient way.


The main characteristics of the First Industrial Revolution were the following:

  • The manual labor is replaced by the work of industrial factories .
  • The railroad was invented, which was the revolution in transportation.
  • The steamship was created that allowed the transfer of larger ships at higher speeds.
  • Roads and canals were built to improve transportation.
  • There were great technological changes that were the basis of industrial production.
  • There is private investment and mass production of goods.
  • There was low cost in production thanks to the machines.
  • Low cost of labor .
  • The new imperialism emerged , which was based on economic conquest through the sale of industrial products.
  • Creation of the mechanized factory system .


In the 16th century, advances in commerce , financial methods , banking and navigation emerged , advances that were affected by epidemics, constant and long wars and famines. From the middle of the 18th century, Europe moved away from the rest of the world and started the foundations of the future industrial society due to the development of heavy industry and mining .

The coalition of merchants with farmers raised productivity , causing a population explosion , the transition from an agricultural and manual economy to a commercial and industrial one, whose ideology was based on rationalism , reason and scientific innovation.

Stages of the First Industrial Revolution

There were two stages that marked the industrialization , called the First Industrial Revolution which was characterized by the regular growth of the population and the creation of abundant labor . These stages were:

  • First stage : mechanization occurred initially in the manufacture of wool, then it was extended to the metallurgical sector , transport , agriculture and other sectors of the economy. Machines were invented , the energy of mineral coal was used by transforming it into mechanical energy to make the machines work. Industrial products were sold and produced to the world and the colonial system expanded .
  • Second stage: it  was characterized by scientific and technical progress that developed the means of production, work and organization. The improvement of production occurred with the introduction of electricity and oil , steel and new forms of work. Financial capitalism , lighting and metallurgy emerged .

Where it was developed

The First Industrial Revolution developed in the kingdom of Great Britain , from where it later spread to Western Europe and Anglo-Saxon America , ending between the years 1820 and 1840.


Various factors in the United Kingdom led to the changes of the First Industrial Revolution, which later spread to the rest of Europe:

  • Parliamentary Monarchy:  created the division of powers, guaranteeing individual freedom and legal security to give rise to the business class.
  • Availability of labor : the lands of the community were taken by nobles evicting the peasants.
  • International trade : English naval capacity prevailed over world trade, opening markets and finding new consumers.

Consequences of the First Industrial Revolution

Among the main consequences of the revolution we can mention that there were huge demographic movements from the countryside to the cities, which greatly decreased the peasant population. Two new social classes were created : the proletariat , which was a social sector that had few economic resources but did not own the means of production, was an urban population where extreme poverty existed; and the industrial bourgeoisie , which was a sector of society that accumulated wealth due to the exploitation of the proletariat.

With population growth there was a sharp decline in mortality and an increase in fertility . There was greater exploitation at work and workers’ movements began to develop, thus creating trade unionism.

Social changes

With the revolution there was a notable increase in the demographic indexes, changing the mortality and birth rates , since there was better food, more hygiene and medicines. The use of goods is encouraged and the different means of transport such as railways and automobiles, the telegraph , radio and comfort in general are modernized.

There was a displacement of the population towards the cities that also generated the movement to other continents such as North and South America. Imperialism and the bourgeoisie emerged , this social class being the one that possessed political and economic power, displacing the aristocracy.

The working class developed that had to endure inhumane labor , economic and social conditions , but this situation led to the creation of socialist currents and the organization of trade unions .


During the revolution there were inventions that made possible the emergence of factories , the acceleration of production and profits . Among the machines that were invented we have:

  • Steam machine
  • Steam locomotive
  • Steamboat
  • Hargreaves Machine
  • Hydraulic Loom
  • Mechanical Tissue

Energy sources

The energy sources that were used during the First Industrial Revolution were:

  • Petroleum : served as fuel for cars and engines and had an important role in the chemical industry.
  • Electricity : essential for the illumination and transmission of electromagnetic signals as in the case of the telegraph.
  • Coal : it replaced wood and was used in domestic consumption.


The main means of transport that were developed in the First Industrial Revolution were the following:

  • Locomotive : Richard Trevithnick, developed the first locomotive that worked to tow, by iron rails, wagons that were usually drawn by horses , and it was used to transport iron .
  • The ships : they were propelled . During the second half of the 19th century they reached a load capacity of 2,000 to 3,000 tons and were faster .


Among the main representatives of the first Revolution we find:

  • Thomas Robert Malthus
  • James watt
  • Adam smith
  • David ricard
  • John Stual Mill
  • Earl of Saint Simon
  • Robert Owen
  • Charles Francoise Fourier

Advantages of the First Industrial Revolution

With the First Industrial Revolution there were new mechanisms of work, the emergence of industry made work more productive thanks to the mechanization and division of mimes. Factories and workshops arose that developed the industry taking advantage of new forms of energy.

It came the invention of new machines advanced the progress technology , mainly in industry textiles , appeared the railroad , the boat of steam and steel industry . The means of communication and transportation were greatly improved and the telegraph and the telephone were invented .


Among the main disadvantages that the revolution brought with it, there was competition between industrial production and independent workers . Artisans could no longer work at home but had to go to factories for a set time and had no control over the profits of what they did.

There were new social classes such as the bourgeoisie and the proletariat . There were many injustices against the labor sector as companies paid low wages and human labor had been replaced by machines. Excess working hours and fines made the workers’ lives a pittance.

There were constant migrations to the city as the peasants decided to leave that kind of life, and this led to a series of epidemics and diseases such as cholera.


Its importance lies in the creation of new machinery and tools to facilitate production , make it more abundant and cheaper. The social changes were of paramount importance to the world and society, and these changes we observe to this day. The socioeconomic change was of great importance as it consolidated the division of society between those who produced and those who had the workforce. Technology was increased , machines were created which, although positive, also had many negative aspects. The increased production industry and the growth of cities.

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