A look at breakthroughs that made the goods we buy more affordable, our lives more comfortable — and our jobs more precarious:
THE FIRST INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
For most of history, people made many goods themselves. That changed with the First Industrial Revolution, which began in England in the mid-18th century and lasted about 100 years.
New mechanical devices that allowed one man to do the work of several flooded the market with products, most notably textiles. Using cords, wheels and rollers, inventors sped up the twisting of threads to make yarn and the weaving of yarn to make cloth.
Next, steam was used to free the new machines from the limits of man's muscle and make them run faster. The new machines produced so much, so fast and so cheaply, more people could afford to buy textiles. Demand soared and so did jobs manning the machines and doing other work.
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