First Industrial Revolution

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

What was the First Industrial Revolution?

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

About the First Industrial Revolution

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


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


The 16th century saw advances in trade, financial methods, banking and navigation, 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 began the foundations of the future industrial society due to the development of heavy industry and mining.

The coalition of traders and farmers raised productivity, causing a demographic explosion, the transition from a manual agricultural 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 industrialization, called the First Industrial Revolution which was characterized by regular population growth and the creation of abundant workforce. These stages were:

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 1820 and 1840.


Several factors in the UK led to the changes of the First Industrial Revolution, which then spread to the rest of Europe:

Consequences of the First Industrial Revolution

Among the main consequences of the revolution we can mention that there were enormous demographic movements from the countryside to the cities, which greatly reduced 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 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 drop in mortality and an increase in fertility. There was greater exploitation at work and the 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, because 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, 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, being this social class the one that possessed the political and economic power displacing the aristocracy.

The working class developed which had to endure inhuman working, 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:

Energy sources

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


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


Among the main representatives of the first Revolution we can mention:

Advantages of the First Industrial Revolution

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

It arose the invention of new machines that promoted technological progress, mainly in the textile industry, the railway appeared, and also the steamship and the steel industry. The means of communication and transport improved considerably, and the telegraph and telephone were invented.


Among the main disadvantages that the revolution brought with it, there was competition between industrial production and the self-employed. The artisans could no longer work at home but had to go to the factories for an established time and had no control over the profits of what they did.

New social classes such as the bourgeoisie and the proletariat were formed. There were many injustices against the working class as companies paid low wages and man’s work had been replaced by machines. Excessive working hours and fines made workers’ lives a misery.

There were constant migrations to the city because 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 great importance for the world and society, and we continue observing these changes to this day. Socio-economic change was of great importance because it consolidated the social division between those who produced and those who had the work force. Technology was increased, machines were created which, although positive, also had many negative aspects. Industrial production and the growth of cities were increased.

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). First Industrial Revolution. Recovered on 23 February, 2024, de Euston96: https://www.euston96.com/en/first-industrial-revolution/

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